Sometimes it’s due to a sincere repentance for fornication. Usually, it’s done as a sop to conscience or out of a consumerist desire to make sex hotter after the wedding day.
Here’s a bogus factoid from the article: “Sexual abstinence is nothing new, of course: it is prescribed for Muslims from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, Roman Catholics during Lent and Orthodox Jews during a woman’s menstrual period.”
“Of course”? I missed the memo from the Vatican instructing all Catholics to abstain from sex during Lent. I thought maybe the reporter mistook the movie “40 Days” for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But Stephen Riddle tells me she probably just fell into a time warp since this was a practice in medieval times. Which just goes to show that NY Times reporters should check their facts every thousand years or so.