It is no shock to you when I say that we live in a world and society today that is obsessed with sex. Sex is used to sell everything from cars to soft drinks to chewing gum to a new football league. Magazine covers feature barely clothed young women, and the article titles say things like "50 Ways to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed."
Playing with leaves We find graphic depictions of sexual activity in novels, science fiction, music, movies and television. In fact, current statistics show that 2/3 of all network prime time television includes sexual content—averaging more than five scenes an hour!
It has been well documented that exposure to large amounts of sexually oriented content changes the way a society views sex--especially how the young people view it. The result is that by age 15, 44 percent have engaged in some level of sexual activity and by graduation from high school, that figure is over 80 percent. The United States, where the largest proportion of sexually-explicit movies are produced, has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the industrialized world—nearly a million a year. Additionally, three million teens are infected with some form of STD (sexually transmitted disease) every year. And every single hour, two people between 13 and 24 will contract HIV.
Where are the boundaries?
The common belief among many youth today is that sex is something to be experimented with freely. Some have reasoned that only sexual intercourse is actually sex and so anything else is OK because it isn't really sex and so it isn't really wrong. These teens conclude that as long as both of you want to do it, what's the problem?
Living in such a society, even teens regularly attending church can be confused about what is right and what is wrong. If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God, what is acceptable to do on a date and what is not? One young person told me, "We were always told not to have sex before we are married...but no one told us how to do that. No one told us what the boundaries were." Do you know what the boundaries are?
In order to understand where the boundaries are, we need to understand something about how and why God created sex.
How God made us
When God created human beings, He created them male and female (Genesis 1:26-31). Sex was not a surprise to God; rather it was something He created on purpose! And as Genesis 1:31 records, He looked at it all and called it "very good"!.
God made the sexual relationship to be very enjoyable—a wonderful pleasure for a husband and wife to share together. But have you considered that God didn't have to do it this way? He could have designed us to reproduce like plants or so that sex was just another biological function and nothing special or pleasurable. But God had something else in mind.
Scientists recognize the sex drive as one of the strongest drives in human beings. And they have also been able to determine that the sexual union creates a bond between a man and woman that is created in no other way. God created the sexual union to bind a husband and wife ever closer together—making their marriage stronger as the years go by!
The same research has also determined that this bond exists only in a monogamous relationship (an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman). If sex is shared with another person, that bond is shattered! And this is no surprise to God. He has written throughout the Bible that we are to avoid any use of sex except within the confines of marriage.
But we still haven't answered the question. Where are the boundaries? What is acceptable behavior for teens and single young adults sexually? What does God expect?
As we've already mentioned, many people today feel that sex refers only to sexual intercourse and, therefore, not fondling and petting. And thanks to an ex-president of the United States, even oral sex doesn't count according to this view. But nothing could be further from the truth! There is a reason all these other things are called sexual activity! Long passionate kisses, fondling, petting and so forth are all part of the act of sex. They are designed to prepare a husband and wife physically, mentally and emotionally to consummate the act with intercourse.
When to awaken love
The Song of Solomon says, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem...do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases" (2:7; 3:5; 8:4). Don't allow yourself to be drawn into a situation where you get your body and your passions "stirred up" before it is proper! You run the risk of damaging yourself and destroying the precious gift of virginity that rightfully belongs to your future mate!
When it comes to sex outside of marriage, Paul told us to "flee fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:18, King James Version)—not just resist it or try to avoid it, but to flee, run away, get out of there! The temptations are too strong and the desires too intense to go part way and then think you can stop.
In spite of some people's objections to the contrary, premarital sex does carry an emotional and psychological penalty. Those who engage in sex before marriage are statistically less likely to have a lasting marriage because they have weakened the special, unique bond God intended the sexual union to provide between a husband and wife.
So what should you do? Here are some suggestions from one who used to be a teen and then a single young adult and who now is the father of teens. These are concrete ways to help you avoid the heartache, misery, disease and unwanted pregnancies plaguing so many young people today.
Don't pair off in a quiet or secluded place. When others are around (especially responsible adults), we are naturally more inhibited and less likely to get involved sexually. So make it your goal to keep other people around—until you are married!
Don't think you must give in to sex to have friends or be popular. If another person doesn't want to be with you unless he or she can get something from you sexually, then realize this isn't the kind of friendship you need! God respects you more than that and you can certainly respect yourself more than that!
Don't get caught in the "kissing trap." Despite what others may tell you, now is not the time for passionate kisses. If you are truly in love and are marrying for the right reasons, neither you nor your mate will be overly worried about being a good kisser. You will have the rest of your lives to practice and get better at it—and practice you will! But a kiss now will lead to something else tomorrow, and even more, later. Stop it now by setting the boundary before the first kiss.
Commit yourself to God's way and ask Him for help. Make a decision right now and in prayer, ask God to grant you the strength to follow through. Ask Him to help you make your body off limits to everyone in every way until you are married. You may not know or have met him or her yet, but there is a very special person to whom you can be very happily married one day. And that wonderful person deserves you pure, clean and unused!
If you've sinned, ask God for forgiveness and start over. Some people mistakenly believe that if they have had improper sex, they might as well continue. This, of course, is not true. While it is always best not to have sinned in this way, God will forgive those who sincerely ask Him for forgiveness and who, with God's help, change their ways. While some penalties may still be involved because of the sin, God always respects the character shown by people when they repent.
With the help of God, you don't have to get caught in the "sex trap" that so many youth today experience. Sex, with all its excitement and wonder, was designed to be your wedding gift—a wedding gift from God! Don't share that gift with anyone before the wedding. And if you've unwrapped this gift ahead of time, carefully put it back for the right occasion. And remember, this gift will last a great deal longer than a toaster! VT