Lining supermarket check-out lanes, amid candy bars and breath mints, are enticing headlines in bold, eye-catching letters: “101 Sex Secrets”; “43 Ways to Improve Your Love Life”; “15 Ways to Drive Him Wild”…
Sex is everywhere. It permeates television shows, the Internet and magazines. Even children’s movies have thinly veiled sexual undertones.
Over the last 100 years, Western nations have shed every hint of Victorian era prudery: condoms were made widely available to the public after soldiers returned home from WWII; the “free love” 60s gave way to the counter-culture 70s; standards on sex continued lowering in the 1980s; and even more in the 90s, with a high-profile case involving the President of the United States.
Today, society’s carefree thinking on sex out of wedlock is simply, Why not?
Believing that “most are doing it anyway,” high school administrators build sexual education programs around this mentality.
In fact, the modern adage is true—most are doing it anyway. A 2002 study of 40,000 Americans found that 95 percent had premarital sex. The report, by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that researches sexual health, stated that 93 percent of them did so before age 30 (USA Today).
Is this a bad thing? Most say no.
Sex does have tremendous health benefits. According to WebMD, some may even surprise you: It relieves stress, boosts one’s immune system, burns calories and improves heart health, increases self-esteem, and can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Sexual activity can even help one sleep better at night.
We are sexual creatures with an innate sex drive, the thinking goes. This is all natural, so really, why not?
Undoubtedly, there are dangers for the sexually active person: sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and emotional scarring from a promiscuous lifestyle of multiple sex partners. Nonetheless, “experts” assert that if you are smart and practice “safe sex,” the health benefits of sexual activity could outweigh the negatives.
Obviously, people who live with reckless abandon—getting drunk and waking up not knowing what they did with whomever the night before—practice risky sex.
It seems easy to conclude—given the health benefits, knowing that sex is fun, being “smart” and using contraceptives, and having only one sexual partner at a time—there is little downside to premarital sex.
But something is missing from the prevailing mindset that sex is okay outside of marriage.
A pamphlet created by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) illustrates what society thinks of sexual activity out of wedlock. The booklet, tellingly titled Pleasure, attempts to foster frank discussion between adults and teens about sex, and the enjoyment it can bring. It even glibly mentions that an “Orgasm a day keeps the doctor away”—then details health benefits of sex.
The publication is the latest effort by Britain—where teenage pregnancies are rampant—to meet young people “where they are” and talk openly about sex. Educators hope to arm teens with enough information to dispel the mystery of sex so they can decide when they are ready to lose their virginity. The pamphlet even encourages regular masturbation for health benefits!
“One of the things young people say a lot is that the sex education they get is virtually meaningless, it’s too biological and doesn’t relate to how they are feeling,” said a professor of health psychology in a statement published by the NHS Centre for HIV and Sexual Health in Sheffield. He wrote Pleasure’s introduction and advised on its content.
In addition, the United Kingdom is spending millions on “awareness and contraceptive campaigns.”
Essentially, educators have concluded they are no longer able to stop children from having sex. The best they can hope to do is teach them about it and how best to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Steve Slack, director of the center, who assisted in writing the pamphlet, said it this way: “Far from promoting teenage sex, it is designed to encourage young people to delay losing their virginity until they are sure they will enjoy the experience” (The Associated Press).
Religious groups have taken offense with what the Pleasure pamphlet promotes, thinking this sort of approach goes too far.
In general, churches of professing Christianity encourage young people not to be intimate before marriage (e.g., fornication) because it promotes promiscuity, can lead to emotional scarring, may result in unwanted pregnancies—and, most importantly, destroys the sanctity of marriage.
Quoting biblical passages that issue commands to “not commit adultery” and “flee fornication” (I Cor. 6:18), these “faith-based” groups say “No” to sex before marriage.
And, just as with the “sex for health and pleasure” crowd, proponents of “waiting until you are married” can back up their beliefs with scientific evidence. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the “most reliable ways to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an unaffected partner.”
Sex before marriage means a stronger likelihood of divorce later.
But the bad relationship does not stop with the parents. Often, children from a broken home suffer numerous consequences.
In contrast, an attentive parental unit can keep kids from risky sexual behaviors.
Reporting on a study of 3,206 teens conducted by Boston College, MSNBC said, “The more attentive the dad—and the more he knows about his teenage child’s friends—the bigger the impact on the teen’s sexual behavior, the researchers found. While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen’s sexual activity, dads have twice the influence.”
Even the “safest” sex can result in unintended pregnancies—birth control works only most of the time. These can lead to the difficult and tragic decision to abort, a decision a woman will carry with her forever.
But why only sex inside marriage? Why can’t someone reap all the physical benefits of sex outside of wedlock, just as long as they are “smart” about it?
Many view God as prudish—not allowing people to freely enjoy sex. Some even believe sexual activity is shameful.
There comes a time in life when parents notice their children are growing up, transitioning from childhood to becoming an adult. It likely begins by observing their sudden changing appearance, or maybe an increase of their interest in the opposite sex.
Parents should be clear that this transition is relatively lengthy—it takes the entire teenage years, sometimes even longer, to complete. While the physical transition may be shorter, transitioning mentally and emotionally into adulthood is longer, as well as more important.
For some parents, this can be an awkward period, as they may be uncertain as to what they can do to assist or guide their children. Tragically, for others it can almost be a non-issue: Some parents do not realize or care enough (thinking it is society’s responsibility), or figure that learning life in the “school of hard knocks” is a better way to go.
Any change in life creates a vacuum. Certainly, the change into adulthood is a significant one. Most adults can recall their own experience with the changes that the shift in hormones brings. Naturally, these changes raise questions—that need answers! While the world should not revolve around any preteen or teenager, and not every single question has an answer, parents must take a significant role in educating their children—in fact, long before this critical juncture in life. Doing so will make the challenge much easier!
To do otherwise, to not fill that vacuum, will ensure that someone else will fill it, possibly a schoolmate, a teacher—or, in a worst-case scenario, a pervert! While a good teacher could play a complementary role, it should be primarily the parents’ responsibility. Any other options will be disastrous.
While a child’s friends are ready to offer information or advice, they are going through the same transition, and therefore can shed no real light on the matter. Again, when we consider mental and emotional maturity, a parent should be able to answer questions from a clearer perspective.
One of the most significant questions that will arise: When is the right time to begin sexual relations? Sadly, to consider this question in any way connected to marriage is almost passé. A long, healthy marriage itself is almost the same: Society lacks a good understanding of its meaning and purpose.
Consider what is typical for today’s approach to answering the question of when is the right time to begin sexual relations. If parents are involved, they will generally base any discussion with their child on their own experiences, both past and present. What are those experiences?
For those who believe waiting until marriage is unrealistic, here are a few scenarios:
One might hope that his children will wait until they are a little older—but how old? What criteria would one use? In addition, how does a parent respond when asked, “How old were you?” or “Why did you not wait until you were married?” If answered truthfully, what example does that set for the child?
If divorced, what example do parents set in regard to dating and sex? Do they believe it is acceptable for them, as supposed mature adults, to have sexual relations outside of marriage whenever they feel like it? If so, should they expect anything different from their children?
Consider for a moment the emphasis on the self: What feels right for me, or What I believe is the right choice for me, at this particular moment in time. Contrast this with concern for the future, for the next, and even subsequent, generations of your family, the value of a future mate, the value of sex with that mate, and even life itself, when one has a child with that mate.
Next, if waiting until they are a little older is not a concern, some parents might wish to avoid the unpleasant scenarios of a pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. Awkward and untimely discussion—and even the supply of contraceptives—typically ensues. In a worst-case scenario, any of the parties involved may consider, even demand, an abortion—for some, to prevent the appearance of promiscuity; for others, to rid themselves of responsibility.
To learn more about the hidden meaning behind sex, marriage and the family unit, read David C. Pack’s book Sex – Its Unknown Dimension.
Nothing could be more wrong! The Creator made all things—including the pleasures of sexual relations.
Almost immediately after creating man and woman, He blessed the couple in a marriage ceremony (Gen. 2:18, 21-24). Notice that verse 25 says the first couple “were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Then God commanded them to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). There is only one way to be “fruitful” and “multiply”—through sex!
In other words, one of the first things God did after creating human beings was sit them down for a true and right “sex talk.” As He is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33), God would have laid out the rules of sex and marriage to Adam and Eve.
Note that God looked at His entire creation and pronounced it “good.” This includes our bodies as they are, including the sexual organs. He also created our hormones and the emotions we feel. All of this included great purpose and design.
Again, God established the institution of marriage, including sexual relations. As the Creator and Author of marriage and sex, God is also the supreme authority on these subjects. Therefore, we should consider His Word, the Holy Bible—a wonderful Instruction Manual to guide us.
Despite giving us free moral agency and dominion over the earth, God did not intend for us to simply seek pleasure whenever and however we see fit. He provided us with laws—instructions and boundaries in personal conduct—based on His perfect knowledge and love.
The Ten Commandments are a foundation to all of the laws, principles and instructions in the Bible (Ex. 20:1-17). The Commandments can be broken down into two groups: the first four express love toward God, and the last six show love toward fellow man.
Sex outside of marriage directly breaks at least five of the Ten Commandments, expressing hatred—putting the self first at the expense of others—toward one’s fellow man: coveting (desiring what you cannot have), stealing (taking what does not belong to you), dishonoring one’s parents (shaming them through personal conduct), adultery and lying. (Of course, to break any of God’s Commandments is to break all of them; Jms. 2:8-11.)
From ancient times, tradition required that a woman’s father and brothers protect her from harm, in particular, from men who might take her virginity. Her father was expected to “hold her hand”—protect and lead her—through life as she grew up. As she entered adulthood, he would then give her hand to her husband in marriage, who would assume the role of her protector and leader.
A woman’s virginity was not hers to give away! It belonged to her future mate. Of course, most today view this as archaic. But can one look at modern secular society—its widespread permissiveness—and conclude that “civilization” is better off?
Both men and women are to save their virginity for their future mate. To do otherwise is stealing! Premarital sex is often “given” or “sold” in exchange for attention, appreciation or “love” (actually, lust). Yet it is not a person’s to sell.
But why did God create the joys of sex for a man and a woman to share exclusively within marriage? Because of what the God-ordained institution of marriage, and family unit that it produces, represents. It contains a spiritual dimension hidden even from the understanding of men’s religions!
It is a sad reality that the vast majority of mankind, including educators, scholars and even religious leaders, has cut itself off from spiritual understanding that would bring true joy and prosperity—including how to have a happy marriage and successfully rear children. Why?
Because “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin—breaking or transgressing God’s Law (I John 3:4)—cuts man off from his Creator. Thinking he already knows how to direct his own steps through life (Jer. 10:23; Prov. 16:25), man will not consider the actual, godly truth of any matter, including premarital sex.
God Himself IS a family—the God Family, currently comprised of the Father and Jesus Christ. God is expanding His Family through mankind—each and every one of us will be given the opportunity to become His spiritually begotten sons—ultimately to be born into His kingdom (John 3:16). We were, after all, physically created in His likeness (Gen. 1:26). Our bodies, including their proper functions, are for a greater purpose, ultimately pointing toward our Creator and Father in heaven.
Physical marriage and sex are a part of that process. As such, they deserve respect. Sex is an important way by which husbands and wives express love—that is, outgoing selfless concern for another. Real love—as defined by God, not men—is the foundation of holy, righteous, godly character (I John 4:8, 16), and an integral part of God’s Family and soon-coming kingdom.
Adultery and fornication emphasizes the self: What feels right for me, or What I believe is the right choice for me, at this particular moment in time.
Contrast this with establishing the right foundation for marriage: loving and respecting one’s mate, valuing and appreciating the true purpose of sex, starting a family, shaping and molding one’s children for success—all of which will affect the wellbeing of future generations.
Premarital sex does untold damage to oneself and his or her future spouse. It is simply an act of selfishness. On the other hand, the marriage institution and the children produced within it serve as a type or pattern of the spiritual process by which one becomes a member of God’s Family.
Any form of sex outside of marriage works against God’s Plan for humanity!
This knowledge brings an extra level of honor and respect for the institution of marriage, and sex within it. It also brings with it responsibility.