A few years ago, a professor named Chap Clark decided to do a study of adolescent high school students to find out what they thought about sex. Since close to half of high school students are reportedly sexually active, Chap Clark wanted to find out what the stories behind the statistics were. What he found shocked him.
“I was surprised to realize that for most mid-adolescents the issue of sex had lost its mystique and has become almost commonplace. They have been conditioned to expect so much from sex and have been so tainted by overexposure... as one student told me, ‘sex is a game and a toy, nothing more.’”
Because of how our culture treats sex, this attitude has become a reality across North America.
Sex sells and pop culture sells sex
In today’s culture, it is extremely difficult for a Christian to adhere to Christian values. Our popular culture is working against us – the music industry, Hollywood and television all use sex and extremely explicit material to sell their products.
Music genres such as hip hop and rock glorify sex as something that everyone should be doing, a casual activity to be pursued and celebrated. There’s a reason rock music accompanied the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and ‘70s with the symptomatic tagline “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” The message is simple: do whatever makes you feel good. The world is full of pleasures. Go out and get your share. The title of a song by the Canadian band Nickelback sums it all up: Sex is always the Answer.
Hollywood and television sell the same message, with movies increasingly showing sex as glamorous, casual – and most importantly – something that doesn’t have any consequences. In fact, when I was attending Simon Fraser University, one classmate said to me, “Guys these days don’t have any excuse for not having sex. Music and TV have done half the job for us.”
Is sex worth protecting?
For many young Christians, that is the essential question. Is sex actually a big deal?
Christian young people are some times inclined to look at extramarital sex as yet one more thing we are not allowed to do in a long list of demands given to us by God in the Bible. So yes, we know that technically we are not allowed to have sex outside of marriage. But, we can rationalize, we’re not allowed to lie, be lazy, disobey our parents, or be disrespectful of authority either. So extramarital sex is wrong, sure, but is it any bigger deal than any other sin?
That answer is, yes. And in many ways.
Having sex outside of marriage can impact our entire lives in ways we don’t even comprehend.
What Christians often do not realize about the laws given to us by God in the Bible is that He did not give us these rules purely to restrict us. We might sometimes think these rules are simply a long, seemingly arbitrary list, that limits are possibilities for fun. But the truth is, in many cases, God gave us these rules to protect us from ourselves. Because God created human beings in His image, God also knows infinitely better than we do what lifestyle is best for us, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
Just to give you a quick example to illustrate what I mean, the dietary laws God gave in the Old Testament included a number of prohibitions about certain foods. We now know that many of these restrictions were also quite helpful from a health perspective. With the limited cooking technology of that day, including the lack of refrigeration, and lack of knowledge concerning bacteria, many of the foods on the prohibited list would have poisoned the eaters. In essence, God gave His people the first health codes.
The same concept applies to sex. Sex in and of itself is not a bad thing—in fact, it is quite the opposite. It is a beautiful creation of God given to mankind in the Garden of Eden. Sex was one of God’s great gifts to men and women, and one that He gave for them to enjoy and cherish. However, if sex is used outside of the context in which God created it, it can have devastating and poisonous consequences.
The consequences of sex outside of marriage can be placed into three categories: physical consequences, psychological consequences, and spiritual consequences.
1. Physical consequences
Before 1960, there were only two Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) that were widespread enough for people to worry about: syphilis and gonorrhea. Only two diseases! However, when people started to ignore the limits that God had placed on sex, the consequences were not just spiritual. Because humans ignored the natural order that God created, the consequences were very physical.
Today, there are twenty-five categories of STDs. Not twenty-five new STD’s, twenty-five new categories.
For example, you may have heard of herpes. Herpes is an incurable sexual disease. You can get herpes from one sexual encounter, and you will have it for the rest of your life. One in five Americans over the age of twelve has this disease. Herpes comes in eight different strains, and you can contract anywhere between one and all eight strains at the same time. You also may have heard of the STD hepatitis. Well, there isn’t just hepatitis B, the one you most likely have heard of. Hepatitis comes in strains A through G.
Approximately one in four high school students will graduate with an STD. Most of them have no idea that they have contracted one. In fact, one half of sexually active single adults has, or will have, at least one STD. Four out of ten girls will contract an STD the very first time they have sex.
Let me put the enormity of this problem in perspective for you.
Every day in the United States, 1,500 people die from cancer. Another 2,600 die from a heart-related illness like a heart attack or a stroke. And every day, more than 50,000 people will contract a sexually transmitted disease. That’s 19 million people every year! There are only 300 million people in the entire United States. From an economic perspective, direct medical costs associated with sexually transmitted diseases in the United States are estimated to be thirteen billion dollars annually. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch – or “free love.”
Some of you would immediately point to the fact that there’s medication to control even the incurable STDs.
Yes, you can control diseases like herpes with medication. But if a woman has a herpes outbreak during childbirth, there is a significant chance that her child will die.
And there are STDs that are lethal. I’m sure you’ve all heard of AIDS. While AIDS does happen more often in homosexuals (once again an example of contravening God’s natural order) it is increasingly common in heterosexuals as well. Men and women have been arrested and put in jail for sleeping with people and not first informing them that they were HIV positive – the reason this is a crime is because, as a result, their “casual sex partners” may die of AIDS.
Incidentally, condoms rarely prevent STDs. This is according to a man known as the “Condom King,” Dr. Thomas Fitch of the Center for Disease Control.
Sexually transmitted diseases, even the curable ones, are no picnic either. Here is how abstinence speaker Lakita Garth describes a very common STD, genital warts:
“If you get genital warts, you’re going to start growing warts in your genital area. They grow on top of each other, and they’ll begin to form nodules and clusters that look like broccoli. They’re called condyloma. They make it painful to sit and painful to walk. And they’re most painful when they’re being removed.”
Now if someone thinks that an STD is unlikely because they are only having sex with one person, Dr. Everette Koop, the former U.S. Surgeon General warns otherwise:
“When you have sex with someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the last ten years, and everyone they and their partners have had sex with for the last ten years.”
The bedroom could end up pretty crowded.
The final physical consequence of casual sex is one that should seem so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to point out, but many in today’s culture seem to have forgotten it: pregnancy. For some strange reason, when people decided that sex could be “recreational,” they forgot the very simple fact that sex creates babies. It’s why your genitalia are called “reproductive organs,” not “recreational organs.”
Anyone having sex outside of marriage is clearly not ready for a child – children need responsible committed parents. So sex before marriage has, in our culture, led to two devastating circumstances.
One, the baby gets raised without the benefit of having a father around.
Two, the baby is not raised at all; it is aborted. Every year in Canada, over 100,000 unborn children are brutally destroyed. In the United States, it is over a million.
When people around you are casually talking about their sexual conquests, remember that millions of tiny children are being horrifically destroyed so that our culture can engage in “recreational sex.” Millions of babies have been sacrificed on the altar of our lust and ultimate selfishness. Phrases such as “casual sex” and “recreational sex” are merely a flimsy facade attempting to shield a mass grave containing millions of dismembered pre-born corpses: our very own sacrifice to the Molech.
2. Psychological and Emotional Consequences
Aside from physical consequences, there are also psychological and emotional consequences to having sex outside of marriage. Many people today think that they can have casual sex with a number of different people, especially during their college years, and then settle down and marry their dream partner without any real impact on the relationship they hope will last a lifetime.
The fact actually is that since God created humans to be monogamous – one man and one woman, just as God created Adam and Eve – sex outside of marriage has a huge impact on future relationships.
Many readers have probably heard of the concept of “never being able to forget your first love.” This is a common theme in both literature and poetry, where everyone seems to agree that forgetting your first love is always the hardest, if even possible.
There is actually a biological and psychological explanation behind this phenomenon. Sexual contact releases powerful chemicals into the brain called neurotransmitters. These chemicals trigger immediate sensations – but they do far more. In their book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children, authors Dr. Joe McIlhaney Jr. and Dr. Freda McKissic Bush write:
“When two people touch each other in a warm, meaningful and intimate way, oxytocin is released into the woman’s brain. The oxytocin then does two things: increases a woman’s desire for more touch and causes bonding of the woman to the man she has been spending time in physical contact with.”
The bonding agent most active in the male brain is called vasopressin. As McIlhaney and Bush explain:
“Vasopressin seems to have two primary functions related to relationships – bonding of the man to his mate and attachment to his offspring... vasopressin seems to be the primary cause of men attaching to women with whom they have close and intimate physical contact.”
However, when men and women decide to have sex with multiple partners, they begin to lose their ability to bond with a partner, which is why promiscuous people have a far harder time staying in a long-term relationship. There is a simple example to illustrate this: try putting masking tape on your arm. The first time you pull it off, it will be painful. The second time you pull it off, it will hurt less. If you keep doing it, there will be no bonding between the adhesive and your skin at all.
God created men and women to be monogamous, and when He told us in the Bible to avoid sex outside of marriage, He wasn’t simply giving us a restriction — He was informing us how our biology and psychology function, and telling us what would lead to the healthiest, most fulfilling relationships.
Since we have ignored this, statistics tell us that sexually active teens are three times as likely to face depression if they are female, and twice as likely if they are male. They are three times more likely to attempt suicide if they are female and seven times more likely if they are male, and far more likely to divorce if they marry. As Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll puts it, today’s pattern is “hook up, shack up, break up.”
3. Spiritual Consequences
Obviously, all sin has spiritual consequences because it is rebellion against God. Because having sex outside of marriage has such a power to affect lifelong relationships, it is more likely to affect men and women in this area as well.
God created sex to be shared between a husband and a wife. God, by the rules set out in the Bible, warned us of the power of sex and the impact it could have outside the natural order. Sex is extremely powerful, and can enslave those who become obsessed or addicted with it. Unhealthy and sinful obsessions have obvious consequences for one’s church and spiritual life.
For example, pornography is a $60 billion a year industry. One thousand dollars is spent in the United States every second on pornography, and a new porn film is made every hour. Pornography, because people are so visual, actually triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing what are known as “erototoxins.” These erototoxins literally rewire your brain, and the images are often burned into one’s memory, inerasable.
Sex in its true form is one man and one woman, giving themselves to each other. Sex is not intended to be a biological activity to stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers; sex, according to the Bible, is two “becoming one flesh.” While today sex is characterized as “getting some,” it is supposed to be about giving yourself to your spouse.
Abstinence speaker Lakita Garth relates an interesting story. When she told her college roommate that she wasn’t having sex, her roommate looked at her aghast. “Don’t you feel like you’re missing out on anything?” she asked.
“I have missed out. I have missed out on the thrill of waking up wondering if my early pregnancy test will turn blue. I missed out on not getting to walk into a clinic with my best friend holding my hand because my boyfriend isn’t going with me unless he’s dragging me in. I missed out on sharing the same joy as my ex-roommate, who has pinpointed the day her child would have been born if she had not aborted, and who cries herself to sleep every year because she’s named him and celebrates his birthday. I’m even more saddened that five years from now I’ll miss out on waking up to stare at the ceiling of an AIDS hospice like my cousin Ricky and my friend Rod before they died...You’re right. I’ve missed out... on all the wonderful opportunities you’ve opened yourself up for.”
In a spiritual sense, sex is a powerful action that can take over your mind, destroy your relationships, and ruin your chances to have a healthy church life. Getting involved with sex outside of marriage has the chance of numbing or destroying your conscience. That is not fire we should be playing with.
So, we looked at all the horrible consequences of sex outside of marriage. And we’ve also looked at how God has tried to protect us from these consequences by telling us, in his Word, how sex should be treated. We’ve gone over STDs, abortion, the destruction of emotional bonding, and how porn addiction can change you forever.
But the good news about sex is that the Bible has it one hundred percent right. Even the secular, sex-obsessed culture has noticed that Christians have it right when it comes to sex. Sure, they make fun of us and call us prudes. But statistics everywhere show that married people have the most satisfying sex lives. The statistics even show that married people have far better sex lives than those who just live together, because of the commitment shared by those who have dedicated themselves to each other in marriage. In all polls taken, the simple fact is that married people have more sex, and better sex lives.
Sex is not a negative thing. Sex is an extremely positive thing – when it is enjoyed in the context of God’s plan and the natural order He has created. Christians who wait for sex, unlike many in the outside culture, have something actually fulfilling to look forward to. This is not about Christians demonizing sex – it is about Christians enjoying sex in the way God intended.