“Sex is natural, right?” my college-aged friend asked. “I mean, we’re all homosapiens, and sex is an enjoyable part of normal life, so why shouldn’t we do it?” She was talking about the prevalent attitude towards sex on her university campus. Even if students aren’t part of the hookup culture and don’t participate in casual sex, many feel like premarital sex is okay, especially if it’s with someone you really love in the context of a committed relationship.
If you’re a Christian college student, you’re in a tough spot.
When it comes to sex, there’s a huge disconnect between what you see in the world and what you hear in church. Through music, movies, advertising, and social media, the world around us literally screams, “Sex! Everyone is doing it. Have it now.” However, the church is usually SILENT on the topic.
And I’m really sorry about that. Because our silence isn’t helping you one bit.
I want you to know I’m trying to understand the tough choices you face. If you decide to wait until marriage for sex, people around you might think you’re weird. If you’re sexually active already, you might be asking, “Why would God limit this to marriage? That seems unfair.”
If you’re a student, I hope you’ll read this with an open mind, without judging me. During 25 years of ministry, I’ve talked with more than a few young adults who have been sexually active before marriage. I love and feel compassion for each one. (If you’re an older adult reading this, I pray you’ll be the kind of person that a young adult can talk to about ANYTHING and feel safe, loved, and accepted.)
Let’s take a look at Eugene Peterson’s translation of 1 Corinthians 6:16-20 from The Message:
“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’ Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’ There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?… Let people see God in and through your body.”
I want you to know 5 things:
Who You Are
Human beings are the crown of all creation. God treasures you. You are a temple of His Holy Spirit. You are sacred and valuable, worthy of highest respect. Your body is a precious gift that God means for you to give to the person who honors you by committing him or herself to you for life. According to this passage, if we have sex with someone who hasn’t made a marriage commitment to us, we “violate the sacredness of our own bodies.”
God’s Design for Sex
God means for sex to be a gift for pleasure and procreation, a physical and spiritual outworking of the oneness he planned for marriage. It’s the most intimate dimension of human relationship and an important part of the bonding process between a man and woman.
In his book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, Dr. Joe McIlhaney explains recent discoveries in neuroscience. Sex releases chemicals in the brain that create strong emotional bonds and the desire for more physical intimacy. Since God means for marriage to be a permanent relationship, it makes sense that he designed sex with a powerful function to cement two people together.
How His Design Can Protect You
Following God’s plan protects single people from damaging side effects of physical intimacy outside of marriage. One danger of pre-marital sex lies in forging a strong emotional and spiritual tie with another person before the relationship has the secure foundation of commitment. Later, when the relationship ends, the breakup is more painful because of the emotional and chemical bonds created by physical intimacy.
Experiencing such profound loss leaves a young person needy, with a body that’s already wired for sex, according to McIlhaney. This puts him or her at risk for seeking another relationship too soon and becoming sexually active again. Premarital sexual activity can impair a young adult’s ability to think wisely when it comes to choosing a life mate. Also sex with multiple partners can lessen a person’s capacity to create a life-long bond later, whereas waiting for marriage to have sex ultimately strengthens that bond.
What if You’ve Already Had Sex?
If you’ve had sex outside of marriage, know that God forgives and restores all things. Don’t let guilt come between you. There’s no sin His love doesn’t cover. His mercies are new every morning. Recognizing our sin and asking for forgiveness pave the way to restoration. In Christ, you are a new creation; the old has gone and the new is come.
If you’re hurting after a broken relationship, I’m sorry. I pray that God sends someone you can trust to talk with about it. Know that God has plans to give you hope and a future. He restores and heals broken hearts. Will you please give yourself time to heal fully before you enter another relationship?
Part of repentance is deciding to abandon our own ways and choose God’s ways instead. I encourage you to make a new decision for abstinence. Maybe it seems overwhelming to say, “I’m choosing to wait until marriage for sex.” How about trying a short-term commitment? “I’m choosing abstinence this semester.” And continue from there.
Ultimately, our call as Christians goes far beyond a decision for sexual purity. God’s calling us to honor Him with our whole life and to pursue “oneness” with Jesus: to know Him, obey Him, and serve Him.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:32, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.” A few verses later he says this about the unmarried woman: “Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” (v. 34)
This is a unique time in your life when you’re free to put everything into running after Jesus, to get to know Him and follow His plans for you. If you make seeking Jesus your top priority now, you’ll build a strong and healthy foundation for your future.
I hope you’ll run your race in such a way as to get the prize. I’m cheering you on.
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy writes about real life faith on her blog, faithspillingover.com, on Facebook. and on Twitter.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 21, 2016