Biblical and Practical Thoughts on Parenting, Part 19: Eight Common Objections to Sexual Purity and Eight Common Sense Answers
Crucial moral battles are being fought in our culture. Nowhere is this seen more vividly than in the present sexual attitudes and behaviors of Americans. Each of us needs to think through the implications of sexual alternatives and choose a personal sexual ethic based on intellectual, biblical and Christian factors.
Note the following arguments for being sexually active prior to marriage and the biblical response:
1. Biological Argument
Perhaps the most common argument used to justify pre-marital sex is that the sex drive is a basic biological one. The analogy to the sex appetite is fallacious. Humans cannot live without food, air, or water. But we can live without sex.
While recognizing that human beings share many common characteristics with animals, we do not find comparable sexual behavioral patterns in the animal world. Human sexuality is unique in that it includes, but transcends, physical reproductive elements. It reaches an intimacy unknown among animals (1 Cor. 6:12-13, 15-18).
2. Statistical Argument
A second argument reasons that everyone is doing it. First, this is not true. A study of college freshmen showed that two-thirds of men and slightly more than one-third of women “support the idea of sex between people who have known each other only for a short time.” As sobering as such statistics may be, they indicate that not everyone is sexually active. Further, statistics do not establish moral values. The Bible does! A majority can be wrong (Josh. 24:15).
3. Proof of Love
A third argument suggests that sexual activity tests or provides proof of love. Reluctant partners often give in to this pressure with the underlying hope that sex will somehow cement the relationship. But any person who insists on making sex the ultimate proof of a genuine relationship isn’t saying “I love you,” but rather, “I love it.” True love concerns itself with the well-being of the other person and would not interpret sexual hesitation in such a selfish way (Phil. 2:3-4).
4. Psychological Argument
That sexual restraint is bad for your psychological health is a popular idea. But disciplining one’s sex drive is not unhealthy. Sexual and aggressive energy can be redirected by nonsexual and nondestructive goals (1 Cor. 9:27).
But, unlike abstinence, guilt caused by premarital sex can produce devastating results. Guilt often is anger turned inward, producing depression, a lowered self-esteem, and fatigue. Further, chastity and virginity contribute very little to sexual problems. Unsatisfying relationships, guilt, hostility toward the opposite sex, and low self-esteem do. In short, there are no scars where there have been no wounds.
5. Experiential Argument
I don’t want to appear as a sexual novice on the wedding night. But the body was designed to perform sexually and will do so given the opportunity. This is not to say that sexual skill cannot be gained through experience. It is to say that every skill must have a beginning point. This should be your wedding night. Healthy sexual adjustment depends much more on communications that technique.
A deeply committed couple with no sexual experience is far ahead of a sexually experienced couple with shallow and tentative commitment, as far as the marriage’s future sexual success is concerned (S.S. 4:1-5:1; Eph. 5:31).
6. Compatibility Argument
How will I know it will work unless we try it out first? But the human sex organs are wonderfully adaptable. Physicians tell us that compatibility is 99 percent guaranteed, and the other one percent can become so with medical consultation and assistance.
Of greater importance is person-to-person compatibility. Sexual dysfunction is usually psychologically based. Building bridges of love and mutual care in the non-physical facets of the relation are the sure roads to a honeymoon that can last a lifetime (1 Cor. 7:1-5).
7. Contraceptive Argument
The contraceptive argument supposedly gives a green light to sexual activity by removing the fear of pregnancy. But the simple fact is that pregnancy (along with sexually-transmitted diseases) always remains a possibility.
Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman is not exclusively their private affair. Sexual intercourse must take place with a view toward facing consequences such as unplanned pregnancy. The time of moral decision in sexual matters comes before one decides to have sex with someone, not later when unforeseen circumstances take things in the wrong direction (Gal. 6:7-10).
8. Marital Argument
Perhaps the most prominent defense of premarital sex among Christians is the marital argument, which says, “We are in love and plan to marry soon. Why should we wait?”
Loss of respect and intensity of feelings may occur, as well as guilt and dissatisfaction. Restraint adds excitement to a relationship and makes the honeymoon something very special, not just a continuation of already-established patters.
Contemporary studies indicate that the marital argument is not sound. Of 100 couples who cohabit, 40 break up before they marry. Of the 60 who marry, 45 divorce-leaving only 15 of 100 with a lasting marriage. Thus, cohabitation has two negative effects: it increases the number of people who don’t marry, and dramatically raises the divorce rate of those who do.
Engaged couples, according to Paul, should either control their sexual drives or marry (1 Cor. 7:36-37). Sexual intercourse is not proper for engaged couples.
The biblical standard that puts sex within the fidelity and security of marriage is the most responsible code ever developed. You are justified in following it without apology as the best standard for protecting human, moral, and Christian values that has been devised.
This was adapted from “Why Wait Till Marriage?” by Jimmy Williams and Jerry Soloman (Probe Vanguard, Spring 1994)
“Try to separate sex from deeply committed love, and you end up with an act that only apes what sex is meant to be.” Tim Stafford, Why Wait for Marriage? (1989).
“ Sexual encounters outside of marriage, whether or not they include intercourse, give an illusion of intimacy that can be mistaken for the lasting commitment that makes a marriage work.” Randy C. Alcorn, Christians in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution (1985).
“Sex outside of the marriage relationship always has qualifiers which either dilute the experience, or in many cases change sexual intercourse from what God intended to something far less.” Earl D. Wilson, Sexual Sanity (1984).
“We need to put sex into the perspective of what God intended for it; a means of expressing love between a man and a woman committed to each other for life in marriage.” Ronald Burwell, “The Most Important Thing in the World and Other Myths about Sex” (1981).
For more of this series, see here.