I feel compelled to delve into a very touchy subject here. My heart is burdened by the record numbers of young people who are engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage, evidenced by the rates of abortions, out-of-wedlock births, and couples cohabiting. Not enough is being said these days about the dangers of extramarital sex, and our young people are suffering for it. I realize that I might step on some toes here, but I believe that this subject is important enough to push forward anyway. Please read the following with a prayerful heart, and if you agree in your spirit with what I have to say, I ask that you share it with those in your circle of influence.
Here are some reasons why I believe that sex outside of marriage is bad for you:
1. It is physically dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1,422,976 cases of chlamydia were reported in the U.S. in 2012 alone! When you add in gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, HPV, genital warts, and other STDs, we’re talking massive numbers of people who are affected by these disgusting diseases (and if you’re not convinced they’re disgusting, try googling images of sexually transmitted diseases and see what pops up). The fact is, these diseases are optional. They aren’t like a brain tumor or Type 1 Diabetes….you get to choose whether you contract an STD by your lifestyle. People in monogamous, lifetime marriages just aren’t targets for these things.
Did you know that some STDs are symptomless, so people might not know that they have them until years later when maybe they have infected others or they might be dealing with some heartbreaking consequences? Did you know that some STDs can cause infertility? Some can cause cancer? Some can even cause death? I don’t know about you, but for me, a few moments of pleasure aren’t worth such risks.
2. It harms your relationship with the Lord.
The Bible tells us that sex outside of marriage is sin—this includes sex between unmarried people (aka fornication), adultery, and homosexual sex. Any sin that we allow into our lives separates us from God. That’s why Jesus had to come into the world and die and be raised again. Because we sin, we need a perfect sacrifice to bridge the gap between us and our Holy God.
Listen to what God has to say: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
And this: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)
And this: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people….For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:3,5)
3. It harms your spirit.
God created each of us with a conscience. That means we inherently know right from wrong. As we live our lives and make choices that are contrary to God’s plan for us, our consciences might become seared or dulled, but deep down we usually know whether something is good or bad.
This should be especially true for those who have Christ in their lives, yet we see young people today who claim to know Christ but are living together without being married. I think one contributing factor is the lack of stigma in our “anything goes” culture, but I think churches are to blame, too. We often try so hard to make people feel comfortable in our churches that we fail to speak the truth on matters of sin. That is a disservice to a seeking, hurting, lost world that wants to know the truth.
Here is truth: Sin is bad for us. Sin hurts us. That’s why God tells us not to do it. He wants the very best life for His children, but when we get ahead of Him and go our own way and make choices that are outside of His plan, we get hurt. Period.
4. It robs your future spouse.
When two people unite sexually, a bond is created between them. When that bond is created outside of a committed marriage relationship, pain and heartache and guilt are often the consequences. It might not happen right away, but eventually people suffer because of engaging in sex outside of marriage. When they then move on to other relationships, they carry a part of the previous partner with them, and it is difficult to get past the pain.
I don’t know about you, but when I go to the grocery store to buy produce, I want it to be fresh and free from blemishes. I don’t want fruit that has been handled and nibbled and sampled.
Isn’t that sort of like people who engage in sex before marriage? They have tarnished themselves and have given away a precious part of their souls before the right time. They have robbed their future spouse of sharing the most intimate part of their lives only with them.
There’s a reason that a bride wears white in her wedding. It symbolizes that she is pure, that she has saved herself for her husband. What a precious gift a young couple can give to each other….the gift of purity in their marriage with no skeletons in the closet, no shameful memories, no soul-ties with another.
When I first started dating my husband, I didn’t know much about his past relationships and specifically whether he was still a virgin. That was one thing that was a must on my list for a potential husband. I wasn’t sure how to find out without coming out and asking (which I was too shy to do). We were riding in the car one day, and I asked if he would be willing to listen to a tape with me. It was a sermon (if I remember correctly, by Mark Rutland) about pre-marital sex. After it started playing, Trevor turned to me and said, “I’ve never had sex before.” Well, there you go! That answered my question and put my mind at ease.
As is the case with so many young people, Trevor and I regret some things that we did while we were dating and in prior relationships. However, by the grace of God, we both stood at our wedding as virgins. It wasn’t easy, and opportunities were there for both of us to give away our virginity. We had to make a conscious decision not to do things that we were tempted to do because we knew that God’s plan was better. It always is.
If you have already engaged in sex outside of marriage, all is not lost. We serve a mighty God who is still in the business of healing, restoring, and making things new. I know people who lived in promiscuity before marriage, but God has done a miraculous work of healing in their lives. If they could live their early lives over and save themselves for each other, would they? Absolutely! Are they training their children to live lives of purity for their future spouses? Most definitely.
They key is to start now, right where you are….
Are you considering giving away your virginity? Make a vow to the Lord to remain pure until marriage and seek out like-minded Christians to hold you accountable.
Do you need to break off a relationship that is unhealthy? Ask God for the strength to do it.
Do you need to move out if you are living with someone to whom you aren’t married? God can help you.
Are you suffering because of past choices to give yourself physically to another? Consider this: “He himself [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
If you need some encouragement to let God lead in this area of your life, here are a few books that I read as a young adult that might speak to you, too:
No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green
Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot
Knight in Shining Armor by P.B. Wilson
The Bible by God
And here’s a huge list of books related to sexual purity from which you can choose.
One last thing: God loves you. He is for you. He wants the best for you. If sexual purity were impossible, it wouldn’t be His standard. By His strength, you can live in purity, and you’ll be so glad that you did!