Have you ever wondered, What exactly is sex? Is our definition of sex God's definition? When asked, most people would probably say that sex is simply intercourse between two people. Many in our society have come to see sex as that narrow definition.
But is sex only intercourse? The Bible shows that sex is so much more. It includes sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy and the union of two people, even if they haven't "gone all the way."
Satan's use of sex in our society
Satan has used sex in this world to destroy the God-designed sanctity of marriage, working through people's desires, insecurities and ignorance. There are many different reasons people have sex at a young age. Boys and girls may have sex because society promotes it as normal, fun and exciting. They may have sex to try to heal a relationship or to make up for other problems they are having. They might use sex as a way to get affection or to feel loved and connected to someone. Girls or boys may believe they can keep their boyfriend or girlfriend from leaving them by having sex. And sometimes it is simply the case of trusting the wrong people. Just because someone is a "Christian" or "in the Church," doesn't mean he or she will never pressure you to go further than you want to.
Sadly, some people who have already gone down this road believe they've already messed up and lost their virginity and, therefore, God has no use for them. The damage is done and they can't take it back, they reason, so they might as well keep having sex.
Then there is the much too common excuse: "You have to have sex with this person before you get married to him, so you know if you're ‘compatible' or not." Have you ever kissed someone and been reminded, for one reason or another, of someone else you've kissed? Do you want to be thinking of someone else when you are kissing your spouse?
Satan has made it almost impossible to remain pure in this world. He has given us the illusion that sex equals love, that everything we see in the movies—all the hype that surrounds sex—is true. The constant barrage of pornography in our world today is often too enticing for curious boys and girls. These images demean sex and desensitize watchers to the real effects of premarital sex. In 1 John 2:16 1 John 2:16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
American King James Version×it tells us that the lust of the flesh, what Satan is constantly trying to get us to go after, is not of the Father but of this hurting and damaged world.
God's purpose for sex
Is this what God wants for us? Surely not! The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:
 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;
American King James Version×, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor." Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5:5For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
American King James Version×adds, "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."
God intended sex to be a union of two lives into one (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×), uniting with Him in a covenant bond, not something to be treated lightly. Hebrews 13:4 Hebrews 13:4Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
American King James Version×says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." God intended sex to be a wonderful experience shared between a husband and wife.
The book Song of Solomon shows us that God views sex as a right, wonderful and beautiful intimacy between two people, but only in the right context, which is marriage. When you have sex with someone, you "own" a part of that person. It is God's intention that this only happen within the loving commitment of marriage.
What is sexual immorality?
What does the Bible mean by "sexual immorality"? In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:
 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;
American King James Version×the Greek word used is porneia. The definition of porneia tells us that sexual immorality encompasses any illicit sexual activity, including fornication, sex outside of marriage and indulging in lustful thinking (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance With Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, 1994). We shouldn't let our passions overtake us (1 Thessalonians 4:5-8 1 Thessalonians 4:5-8  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:  That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.  For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.  He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his holy Spirit.
American King James Version×); we see that by doing so we would be rejecting God.
But really, how does this affect our lives in the long run? Can having sex outside of marriage really hurt us? Let me share a few people's stories to show how sex outside of marriage has affected them.
When "Janelle" (names have been changed to keep their anonymity) was 19 years old, she had sex for the first time. Why did she do it? Her parents had continually told her "no dating out of the Church and absolutely no sex before marriage." Why do we do anything we know and feel is not right, as Janelle did? Sometimes it boils down to a desire to "feel" better and a lack of real understanding. Janelle knew her parents said it was wrong, but she didn't know why or what God said about it or what the consequences would be.
In this relationship she was mentally and emotionally abused. Her boyfriend told her that he was the only person who would ever love her. Why did she stay with him? He was always "supportive" of her religion, she was comfortable with the familiarity of their relationship, and she was scared of being alone.
He pushed pornography and sex on her until she finally broke down and gave in. After she had sex, she felt like she had lost God's trust. This made her even more scared to leave her boyfriend, and so it continued for over a year. The mental anguish and threats got worse and the sex brought tears to her eyes every time she had it. Somehow, God and her parents eventually saved her and she learned that she could be forgiven if she asked God to forgive her and help her forgive herself.
After her experience, her body and mind were trained to think sex was bad. Unfortunately this training has followed into her marriage; it was, and may always be, difficult for them to fully enjoy sex. Moving on from her past and the destruction it caused will take a long time to overcome. Through counseling, continual love and commitment, they will make it, but she would do anything to have known then what she knows now and give both her husband and herself the special intimacy and bond God intended for them to have.
Sarah's story is different from Janelle's. Sarah met the man she would marry, Justin, when she was young, just 13 years old. They met at a church dance and started dating soon after that. They kissed and "made-out," but they didn't get more physically involved at first. Sarah always tried to do what she thought God wanted her to do, and she knew that sex before marriage was wrong.
A couple of years into the relationship, they had gotten much more intimate, but never crossing the lines of what they thought of as "real sex"—intercourse. Sometime after that, Justin had been drinking and another girl shared the same intimacies with him. Sarah was devastated, and they broke up. However, they kept in touch, both realizing it was probably a good idea to date other people, since they were still young.
Sarah had a couple of relationships after they broke up, one or two that were "serious" and she shared the same intimacies with these boys that she had shared with Justin. Later, Sarah and Justin started dating again, but she was racked with guilt over the other relationships she'd had and was still hurt from the initial break-up with Justin. She felt guilty for crossing so many lines with him before they were married. Later, when they did get married, she still viewed sex as something that was bad. This mentality and belief created many sexual problems for her. Now almost five years later she still hasn't recovered from her past.
The next story is of Samantha. She had a boyfriend in high school who wasn't in the Church. She knew it probably wasn't a good idea to date outside the faith, but she had been infatuated with him for a couple of years. When they started dating, it was like a dream come true. They were pretty serious, although she knew ultimately that he wasn't the one for her. One night at his house, they were "making out" and they ended up having sex. She didn't know if she said it out loud or just in her head, but she said "No," she did not want to do this.
She was devastated by what she'd done but by then, it was too late. The next day at school, she couldn't look him in the eye and went out of her way to avoid him, not knowing what to do next. A day or two later she had come to the conclusion that what was done, was done. God was mad at her, she reasoned, and there wasn't anything she could do to change what had happened. She knew that she was only supposed to have sex with one person, so this was it for her and she'd have to live with the choice she made.
She stayed with her boyfriend for quite a while, continuing in their physical relationship. She never enjoyed the sex, and he made her miserable. He ended up cheating on her and breaking up with her, leaving her carrying guilt and shame for what she'd done. Years later, she hasn't forgiven herself even though she realizes that because she's repented, God has. She is still battling guilt and shame and wonders if anybody will want her now.
Madeline's story starts out similarly to Samantha's. She had a boyfriend outside the Church while in high school. They too had sex. Madeline tried to block out her first-time experience, also being racked with guilt for something she knew was against God. But the almost unthinkable happened—she found she was pregnant. Unable to face the Church or her family for the consequences of her actions, she had an abortion.
She continued her relationship with her boyfriend and it lasted quite a while. After they stopped dating, she ended up in other relationships that became physical and thought less and less of the consequences and what God wanted sex to mean. After a couple of years, she stopped coming to church altogether and is now questioning the validity of the Bible itself. Sex took her completely away from God.
What can we learn?
There are many conclusions we can draw from these stories.
• Sex isn't bad, when it's in the loving commitment of marriage, as God intended. But you can't "own" several people before marriage and have their memory ever disappear completely.
• Some people think they need to figure "it" out for themselves, but they don't always realize what they're getting themselves into.
• There are emotional and sexual consequences that stay with you and affect you long after the relationship is over, no matter how physical you choose to be.
• Just choosing not to have sexual intercourse doesn't mean that you can avoid emotional hurt or sexual problems. Being physically intimate is emotional, even when intercourse isn't involved.
• It's important to talk about what the Bible says about sex and God's purpose for sex and intimacy in marriage. Make this a Bible study topic.
• Don't allow guilt to rule you or eat you up inside. Although sex before marriage is not what God intended, God forgives when we repent, and we can move on from our mistakes. If you're truly sorry for your actions and you understand where you've strayed from God's way, repent and God will forgive you. Learn how to forgive yourself. God still has a use for us even if we've messed up.
How can we keep on the right track?
We should strive to be as God said and remain sexually pure. And there are things that we can do to help us remain pure in Satan's world.
• I know it's cliché, but avoid being alone with a person of the opposite sex. It's easy to keep away from temptation if you don't put yourself in a position where things can get out of hand.
• Have a plan to get out of a situation you know you shouldn't be in. If things are going farther than you want with your boyfriend or girlfriend, say you need to go to the bathroom, find some way to break the mood or just be straightforward that things are going farther than you want.
• Know where to draw the line before you're in a difficult situation; in other words, don't let somebody else dictate your relationship. If your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't like it, you need to think about if you really want to be with somebody who doesn't respect your decision.
• Have somebody you're going to be accountable with—a friend who wants to remain true to God. Motivate each other and help each other through hard times and tough decisions.
• For you girls, go to a Princess Workshop, if one is offered in your area. A Princess Workshop is given by various women in the Church and it helps show you how to empower yourself through God and God's plan for you.
• There are a couple books I would recommend that are very good and in line with God's teachings:
— I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris.
— And the Bride Wore White: The Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity by Dannah Gresh.
No matter where you are in your life, this is an outlook you can have. Sex in marriage is a beautiful thing and keeping it there will help you avoid sexual and emotional hurt and problems. God wants us to have a wonderful, healthy sex life, but He wants us to make a covenant with our spouse and Him first. VT