Sex is everywhere in our society. Television, dramas, music video’s, and advertising abound with sexual images and innuendo. The average American child, who watches about 20 hours of television a week, is subjected to an implicit sex education. Michael A. Carrera, who teaches at Hunter College in New York, says there are about 20,000 scenes on television each year that suggest sexual acts, all of them without regard to the outcome.
In a comprehensive study of sexual behavior, Samuel Janus and Cynthia Janus (1993) compiled the Janus report, which surveyed 2,765 Americans age 18 to over 65. The researchers found that sexual activity had begun earlier in life for members of each age group than it did for the next oldest age group among both males and females, and that the age of first intercourse has become progressively younger over the years. Of males in the younger age group, 91% had had sex by age 18; only about 60% of the males 65 and older had had sex by that age. By the age of 18 to 26 year old women 83% had had sex; of the women 65 and older, only 41% had had sex by the age of 18.
There is a shift in attitudes about premarital sex. In a Seventeen Magazine survey, 44% of the girls and 54% of the boys thought there was nothing wrong with premarital sex. Moreover, by the age 15 24% of both girls and boys reported having had sex.
In 1994 the University of Chicago study found that about 25% of the husbands and 15% of the wives had been unfaithful at least one during their marriage.
Furthermore, the U.S. Census bureau released a report offering a historical perspective on the state of marriage in 1994. From 1970 the number of divorced adults quadrupled from 4.3 million to 17.4 million in 1994. In addition, the number of cohabiting couples with children in the home has increased 550% from 1970 to 1994, children are present in 40% of cohabiting unions, and 27% of all nonmarital births between 1970 to 1984 were to cohabiting couples.
Views on Premarital Sex
The Natural impulse rule.
This view says that sex is a natural human impulse or instinct. Just as food can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, so one can enjoy a casual sexual encounter with some one without deep feelings of love and affection. Thus, greater human happiness is attained if people can take whatever pleasure they can get from sex without the burden of moral guilt. Some defend free love on the basis of hedonistic utilitarianism (the view that we ought to act to maximize pleasure). Thus any act that would increase pleasure ought to be performed. This is not a new view at all, because the apostle Paul alludes to some in the city of Corinth having this idea in I Corinthians 6:12-13.
However, studies have shown that can be significantly more emotionally fulfilling and physically satisfying when shared in marriage. The University of Chicago and the State University of New York at Stony Brook did a study called the National Health and Social Life Survey, a staff of 220 interviewers spent seven months interviewing 3,432 respondents. Of all sexually active people, the group with the highest percentage reporting being extremely or very satisfied with the amount of physical pleasure and emotional satisfaction they received from their partner are the faithfully married respondents. The faithfully married were also least likely to report sex making them feel sad, anxious, worried, scared or afraid, or guilty. The study also revealed that married couples, compared to single people, have more sex and are more likely to have orgasms when they do have sex. Nearly 40% of those married reported that they had sex twice a week, whereas only 25% of singles said that they had sex twice a week.
Moreover, a study conducted by the researchers at the University of Maryland and the National center for Health statistics, looking at a nationally representative sample of women ages 15 to 44, found that women who were sexually active prior to marriage faced a considerable higher risk of marital disruption than women who were virgin brides. And if young women get pregnant in their teens, they are less likely to finish High School, and less likely to find high paying jobs in the labor force. Planned Parenthood reports that 1.1 million American girls between fifteen and nineteen become pregnant every year. More than two thirds of teen mothers bear their children out of wedlock, and those who marry have a high rate of divorce. The majority of teen mothers are forced to live on welfare, and that dependence usually lasts until their children are grown. David Ellwood, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University said: The vast majority of children who are raised entirely in a two parent home will never be poor during childhood. By contrast, the vast majority of children who spend time in a single parent home will experience poverty. In addition to this, a 1990 government survey conducted by the Centers for Disease control found that 1 in 25 students reported having had a sexually transmitted disease. There are an estimated 19 million new cases of STD’s each year in the United States, up from 15 million nearly a year ago. Experts don’t have exact numbers because not all diseases are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and many people don’t know they are infected. Among the most shocking estimates are that one in five Americans has genital herpes and more than half of women will contract HPV, or human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer. At least a million Americans are living with the deadly AIDS virus.
There are some who believe that living in a cohabitating relationship will lead to a healthy marriage. However, studies in Canada, Sweden, and the United States found that cohabitation increased rather than decreased the risk for marital satisfaction. There is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lower martial stability. It was also discovered that the longer the cohabitation the higher likelihood of divorce. On the basis of this evidence we should resist the idea that cohabitation provides superior training for marriage or improves mate selection.
The Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire reveals that cohabitators are much more violent than people who are married. They found that the overall rates of violence for cohabitating couples were twice as high when compared with married couples.
Cohabitation also has a specific impact upon children. Children are present in 40 percent of all cohabitating couples. Michael Gordon and Susan Creighton, presenting their research in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, explain that a number of studies have shown that girls living with nonnatal fathers (boyfriends and stepfathers) are at a higher risk for sexual abuse than girls living with natal fathers.
Sex is a powerful force, and societies around the world have found it necessary to develop some rules regarding sexual behavior. Where are we going to get the directions? Where are the best directions for the gift of sex? Hugh Hefner? Jerry Springer? MTV? Cosmopolitan? No. You’ve got to go to God’s word.
The bible has much to say about sexuality, both negatively and positively.
The bible is clear on what it says about premarital sex.
Any sex, no matter how nice it looks on the movie screen, outside of God’s perimeter of marriage, is willful disobedience. It’s thumbing your nose to God and saying, “God, I know better. I know You invented this thing, but I know better. I know You created it, but I know better”.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified and that you should avoid sexual immorality and that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” People say all the time, “I want to know God’s will.” You can start right there. That one is real obvious. If you want to know God’s will for your life, here it us – Avoid sexual immorality and be holy. Learn to control your sexual appetites. God’s no killjoy. Remember He invented sex but every gift must be controlled. (A good example for that is Joseph in the Old Testament.) God made water. It’s a gift. It can either satisfy you or it can drown you. God created fire as a gift. It can either warm you or it can burn you.
The Bible says that sexual sin is in a class by itself. The verse you can look at is 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body. But he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” New Living translation: “Run away from sexual sin. No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one.” The Message: “There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from others. In sexual sins we violate the sacredness of our bodies and these bodies were made for God given and God modeled love, for becoming one with another.” God says, yes, there is a difference. Why? Because the scars are permanent. The shame does not seem to go away. The sense of loss affects everybody. Some said – we do not have a condom for the heart.
The bible is also very clear about extramarital sex.
The National Opinion Research Center, in 1994 found that about 21% of men and 11% of women had an extramarital affair. The likelihood of underreporting is great because, as family therapist Frank Pittman said, if people would lie to their own husbands or wives, they would lie to a poll taker. Adultery was condemned by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:27-28. Furthermore, in Hebrews 13:4 God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex. I don’t know if that could be any clearer. It says that sex is for a husband and a wife.
It may surprise many people that the bible has some very positive things to say about sex in marriage. This is a gift that’s handcrafted by God for us. It’s valuable because our sexuality determines our identity. Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female…” Right at the beginning, that’s who we are, male and female. Part of being created in God’s image is being a man. Part of being created in God’s image is being a woman. Part of being created in God’s image is our sexuality. If we miss that, we miss one of the main truths – the first truth in the Bible about who we are. That’s the value of God’s gift. Our sexuality affects all of who we are. It affects our body, our mind, our soul and our spirit.
God’s direction in marriage is to be unselfish with your body. Notice a couple of verses in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5. There’s the idea of sharing one another. There’s the idea in the scripture of serving one another in marriage.
We need to honor God for what He’s done. Honor God for His great gift. The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. You are not your own. You are bought with a price. So honor God with your body. We can honor God with the way we react to our sexuality. It is my belief and one supported by the bible, that monogamous marriage is the relationship that best provides for the most favorable avenue to express human sexuality. It is best for the overall well being for the adults involved, and also provides the best place for the socialization and moral direction of children.