Many people mistakenly think everyone is having sex before marriage, but the facts show otherwise—with good cause.
We live in a Nike world—a "just do it" society, to borrow the advertising slogan. This phrase has become part of everyday language for many Americans. And, in some cases, it is good advice.
For example, instead of getting overly uptight about whether a school report will be perfect and procrastinating about getting it started—just do it. Write the report and be finished with the project. Or instead of complaining about some chore around the house that you don't particularly like—just do it. The job will be finished that much sooner, and you can go about whatever else you want to do.
But is "just do it" good advice in all cases? Consider the matter of sex. Much of the entertainment media in the Western world implies or plainly tells us that sex is for everyone, at any time. Movies and television shows usually depict illicit sex between unmarried people as common or expected.
The lyrics of many modern songs carry the same message. Sex sells, and the message is that having sex with anyone you love—or think you love—is perfectly acceptable. The idea that sex should be reserved for marriage is looked down on as an outdated notion held by religious people who are missing out on something good. The slogan seems to be "just do it" when you want and don't worry about whether or not you are married.
If you listen to the entertainment world, you might also get the impression that everyone is "doing it." After all, Hollywood producers often say they are only mimicking true life. And all too often young people fall for that lie. They can begin to feel embarrassed by not being experienced sexually—by being a virgin.
Word meanings change
It's funny sometimes how fluid the English language is. Words take on different connotations over time, depending on the prevailing actions and attitudes of the day.
The word virgin has experienced that shift. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary says virgin means a person who has never had sexual intercourse. It also lists many other meanings for the word—including pure, first, not exploited or not previously used. These all have the connotation of something that is beautiful and of the highest quality. Yet society often views being a virgin in the area of sex as out of date or bad. How ironic!
If you believe in God, then you probably understand that He is the one who created human beings—and therefore also the Creator of our sexuality. Genesis:1:27 says that "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Sexuality was no surprise to God. He designed it and intended people to reproduce and populate this planet, having mastery over all its living creatures.
The next chapter gives some details of how God created a man and then created a woman from one of the man's ribs. Thereupon God established marriage, explaining, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis:2:24). As the New Testament later explains, marriage is to be honorable (Hebrews:13:4).
The rest of the book of Genesis shows it was pretty clear to most people in early ages that it was wrong for a person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse. When God wrote His law on stone tablets for ancient Israel, He included a statement about being sexually involved only with your spouse.
It is the seventh of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus:20:14; Deuteronomy:5:18).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that you don't have to carry out the actual act to commit adultery—all you have to do is look lustfully at someone and wish you could have sex with that person and you've already broken God's commandment in spirit (Matthew:5:27). Our Western society has gone way past the looking stage in the illicit sexual activity it condones and encourages.
Why restrict sex?
It's very natural to ask why God gave such strict instructions about the use of sex.
If He created it, surely He knows how enjoyable it can be. So why does He restrict sex to marriage? Let's examine two passages—one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.
Proverbs:6:32 says, "So one who commits adultery is a senseless fool: he dishonours the woman and ruins himself" (Revised English Bible). Those are pretty strong words about the real-life consequences of sex outside of marriage.
Notice that the teaching of God has not changed in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians:6:18-20 Paul says: "Run away from sexual sin! Any other sin which a person might do is outside his body, but if a person commits a sexual sin, he is sinning against his own body. Surely you realize that your body is a temple sanctuary? You have the Holy Spirit from God. The Holy Spirit is inside you—in the temple sanctuary. You don't belong to yourselves. You were bought; you cost something. Use your body to give glory to God!" (Simple English Version).
Both of these passages point out that there are negative consequences for sexual sins.
These scriptures show why God gives the instruction He does about sex. He only wants the best for us, and sex outside of marriage will turn out to be bad for us.
The next question that might arise is, "What specifically are those negative consequences?" The last passage quoted shows there are clearly spiritual consequences. God is not pleased when we misuse the wonderful gifts He has given us, and our relationship with Him will suffer. For those who want to please God and appreciate the awesome sacrifice of Jesus Christ, this alone should be plenty to make us determine we don't ever want to disappoint God by misusing sex.
However, there are other aspects of the negative consequences that are perhaps more visible or noticeable. In the United States, the "free love" approach began in earnest during the 1960s. What has been the fruit of some 40 years of promiscuity?
Divorces have skyrocketed to the point that there is a divorce for every two new marriages, and sexually transmissible diseases (STDs) have run rampant. The consequences of STDs range from irritation, embarrassment, sterility and lifelong pain to death, especially in the case of AIDS.
Teens' shifting attitudes toward sex
Apparently the warning message is starting to get through to more young people today. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released a report in September 2002 that indicates more young people are saying, "let's not" when it comes to matters of sex.
It notes that between 1991 and 2001, the number of high school students who say they have never had sexual intercourse increased by 8.5 percent. The same report shows that well over half (54.4 percent) of all high school students have never had sexual intercourse. They have rejected the "just do it" mantra and the percentage tells us there are more virgins than nonvirgins. Perhaps young people are realizing that being a virgin means there are fewer emotional heartaches as well as freedom from worry about STDs. Sex creates a strong emotional bond—as God designed it to. If that bond is created with someone other than a spouse, the odds are extremely high that at some point it will be broken—resulting in deep emotional pain and suffering. Following God's laws will help people avoid that pain.
It's interesting that the same report says that 67 percent of high school students are not currently sexually active. That means some have had sex in the past, but are no longer sexually active. There are obviously many young people who have made mistakes in the area of sex, but have stopped. Sometimes after making a mistake in this area people get discouraged or even depressed.
It is easy for them to reason that since they cannot turn back the clock, they may as well just keep on being sexually active.
Choosing "second virginity"
This logic is faulty because God always allows us to repent and change. If you've made a mistake, why heap on more negative consequences by continuing illicit sexual activity? It makes much more sense to repent—to ask God to forgive you and determine to remain sexually pure from then on until marriage when you will be able to experience the true joys of sexual love with God's richest blessings.
Some have used the term "second virginity" to describe such a situation and to encourage people who have made a mistake that it truly is worth the effort. God will forgive, so there is no reason to keep heaping on more negative consequences.
God's instructions are infinitely logical and sound. They provide correct information, rather than what the entertainment industry portrays. Remaining a virgin has wonderful blessings—physical, emotional and spiritual. Perhaps it's time we shifted the meaning of that word back toward something that is beautiful and of the highest quality.
Entering marriage as a virgin shows that a person has chosen to remain pure and unexploited for his or her future mate. And if someone has already made a mistake in this area, "second virginity" will bring blessings from that point forward. The past cannot be undone, but there will not be any additional negative consequences.
God definitely knows what He's talking about. Virginity is worth it. Don't let anyone deceive you into thinking it is not—or that "everyone" is having sex. Don't be fooled by movies or soap operas. Married people, true to their partners, are the ones who really experience the intimate joys of God's gift of sex. GN