The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I'm a junior in high school in a large suburb. That means I'm surrounded by all the corruption some teens do. People in my school are all about hook ups, which I think is irresponsible and selfish. However, one of the biggest things about Christianity is is one I have to say I disagree with.  Basically our church says premarital sex is bad -- don't do it. Well I did some research and I find more than 95% of people do. I have great parents, but I never received the talk. That means my own morals developed about sex and my own thoughts and beliefs evolved. I can't really control what my body decides is right or wrong. My personal take on this is do it with someone you really love and care about. Why do I think this, instead of only ever having it after the wedding? Well,

  1. I know I want to have sex someday, though I haven't yet. That's a given. But I'm not sure if I really want to get married. How would I know if there's true love for someone out there if I haven't met them, and how would I even realize I love someone?
  2. I can't ignore that there is a very small percent of people who actually wait. Normal male thoughts are that the guy shouldn't be clueless in bed, especially a virgin. It makes us sound lame, weak, and lowers our self-esteem. It doesn't help that I am in pretty good shape with a lot of friends. Nobody could ever guess I would be the type who's waiting. 
  3. Why does the Bible only focus on the act without the intentions behind it? Premarital sex could range anywhere from having sex with a trio of prostitutes, to having sex with a girlfriend you love and have been exclusively committed to for a long time. Our pastor makes it seem like having sex with a girlfriend makes us foolish and doesn't consider the intentions behind it and assumes it's all completely lust fueled.

Although I don't participate in it, I really cannot guarantee I would wait another 8-12 years. It's already hard right now. I'm sure I could hook up with some girl and do it if I really wanted. Sure, I'm a guy and probably could do it, but I have standards, but they aren't as strict as the Bible. I simply don't see it wrong to have sex with a girl you love and care about, if you both want to and aren't at a stupidly young age of 16 where you think you know it all but don't. I plan to wait much later than 18 for everyone's sake. But it seems normal in committed relationships. It's intimate and romantic. If you don't do anything sexual, even though you both love each other, it seems almost as if you are just friends with the opposite sex. I'm probably rambling by now. It just seems too unrealistic to wait that long. I guarantee you that most people who have sex with a significant other are not bad people or have lust-filled hearts. I just think it builds emotional connection and is a normal thing to do between normal responsible adults who have normal sex drives toward each other.

We hear the divorce rate is almost 50%. Polls show men and woman who are married are both over 60% likely to want to have an affair if they knew they wouldn't get caught. Seems like everyone in college has drunken sex, go wild and crazy, cheat on spouses, kill people, do all kinds of stuff, some marry who want money, some marry someone they don't even care about! Yet I'm aggressively scrutinized as some crazy immoral sinner of a guy for having a good heart behind a normal desire and craving of a guy and with the rate of almost everyone not waiting anymore, the oddity that everyone in church seems to be against it gives me a sense of hypocrisy. The statistics don't support the number of people I see bashing me about possibly not wanting to wait.

Seems as biblical times were filled with prostitution, men buying a virgin wife, treat them like property, and society just seems completely different. Saying that there cannot be any stretching or skewing to make things apply better to society now would be an unrealistic expectation.

Bible verses aren't helping me. I leave church feeling like "yeah I should wait, its probably the right thing". But then as soon as we step back into the world, get even a slight bit of horniness, we go back to our original thoughts. To give an analogy, its like telling a NBA player to stop playing basketball just because they have to listen to authority even though they love it. You tell little kids, even teenagers, "don't do this!" and they'll do it. It seems the more of a sexually repressive environment someone grows up in, the more likely they'll want to do it.

Simply put, I have my own views on it. The only reason that I haven't actively been looking for a girlfriend yet is because that I know there's an insanely high chance that like most normal couples, sex will happen at some point down the road. It's severely limiting my field of girls to choose from someday, as the only people I know who are and want to wait are the super innocent, super devout Christian ladies who think its sinful to wear a bikini and act like a normal person. I am just like any other teen, except not having sex or anything of legal trouble. I'm just not uptight about it. I still have my fun and do stupid things once in a while. I just feel that the people who want to wait for marriage would be literally offended by everything ungodly that I would do, like cuss once in a while, listen to normal modern music, etc. I'm not super religious and don't read the Bible every day. I just try to live life and see what happens day to day. The more I think about it, the more it just stresses me. My family isn't crazy religious either. Yes, we go to church and pray, but it's not a God dominated household and they're very realistic parents. They support abortion if it was after rape and gay marriage. They seem to be pretty realistic people. I'd love to know what they're opinions are, but it's simply hard to bring up the topic.

Everyone goes through life and makes mistakes and learn from them. I can't learn from them because I'm simply told no, and the more it's emphasized as being bad, the more guilty I feel for being a dude. 

I just need guidance. I simply don't think I can overcome this as my brain has already developed it's sense of right vs wrong. If I could stop caring so much and see what life takes me through, then it seems much less stressful. if I don't enjoy something, then I'll know instead of having a desire every single day if I don't.


Answer

There are different ways to argue a position. You've chosen the shotgun method. You issue a large series of small points, each not being very significant, but you are hoping that in mass enough of them might defeat any counterpoint. The problem with the shotgun approach to arguments is that it is hard to maintain consistency between your various points. Internal contradictions are frequent and destroy your reasoning.

Nearly Everyone is Doing It

You cited a survey called "Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003" that by age 44, 95% percent of people who have had sex, have had sex before marriage. This should not be taken as having sex all the time, but that somewhere in the 44 year period fornication took place at least once. It is a sad commentary on the immorality of people in the United States. However, it is not proof that it is a good or positive trend. The majority is not always right and when it comes to righteousness, the majority is generally not right. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). In other words, if you take a long term view, considering whether you go to heaven or hell, following the majority will take you to hell.

Most People Do Sinful Things

You are correct that most people sin, so what I said before should not have been surprising to you. "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one" (Psalms 14:2-3). But the fact that people sin is not evidence that people should sin. What you have overlooked is that what they do is still sin. Rather than proving that fornication is acceptable, it is an agreement that fornication is against God's Will.

When a sin is commonly done, of course it is viewed as "normal." Most of the world's population lives in poverty, so should we see poverty as acceptable because it is normal? Commonality doesn't turn a wrong into a right. By the way, when the New Testament was written, fornication, adultery, idolatry, and homosexuality were common sins. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Even though they were common, it was still taught that they were wrong.

I Have My Own Standards of Morality

If you were your own standard of morality, perhaps this argument might have weight, but you are not in a position to judge your own actions. Things that might seem good to you are not necessarily good. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25).

The book of Judges details a period of Israel's history when people basically did as they pleased. "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). As you progress through the book you find that the sins Israel became involved in went from bad to worse to outright disgusting. Why? Because "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." This is a recipe for chaos.

A part of the problem is that being human, you don't know everything. You can't always see the long term results of your decisions. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

Ultimately what you are overlooking is that your actions are being judged by God. "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds"" (Romans 6:5-6). God will judge those who commit sexual sins. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). God's decision on the matter has been pre-announced. "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Ephesians 5:5).

Today's Culture Is Very Different from Biblical Times

A problem people have is an assumption that people today are superior to people in the past. It isn't that people have changed. Sure, we have better technology, but the spiritual problems still remain the same. People don't often realize it because they don't know their history. "There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after" (Ecclesiastes 1:11). Lying, cheating, stealing, fornication, murder, etc. remain issues with the human race.

What you are arguing is called moral relativism. It is a belief that people can define truth in contradictory ways and still be correct. The standard of right and wrong appealed to is one of self (as you did in the previous section), time, or situation. Moral relativism is the natural result of attempts to explain and enforce ethics without an appeal to an ultimate source of right and wrong. The standard taught is one that appeals to a person's feelings of right and wrong.

Relativism fails because a higher standard is still recognized beyond the individual. You get upset if someone lies to you, even though lying is generally accepted in society and you may have told lies yourself.

God teaches that there is an absolute standard of morality. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me"" (John 14:6). Notice: the way, the truth -- there is only one. It doesn't change by person, era, or situation.

I Want Sex, But I'm Not Certain I Want to Get Married

The desire for sex is built into all humans, not just males. But the fact that a desire exists is not evidence that it should be satisfied as the person sees fit. You have a desire to eat, but does that mean it is good for you to eat whenever you want and as much as you want? Such would be unhealthy, as well as being the sin of gluttony. Therefore, your parents were not unfair or mean to make you wait until mealtime to eat because there is a time and place for eating. Sex is not that much different. Indiscriminate sex is unhealthy. It leads to sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are not prevent condoms and the risk of catching the disease is only reduced by condoms for the remainder. "Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away" (Proverbs 6:32-33). There is an appropriate time and place for sex and that is within marriage. "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?" (Proverbs 5:18-20).

When you tell me that you don't want to be married, it tells me that you are afraid of making a permanent commitment to another person. Yet, you admit that sex "seems normal in committed relationships." Where I disagree with you is that jumping into bed with a girl is not a commitment. Neither is calling someone girlfriend and boyfriend a commitment. At best, the later is an "I'm thinking about staying around for a while." When people can leave a relationship at any moment for any reason, there is no commitment. Marriage, however, is different. It is a formal vow, made before witnesses, that you will remain with a person for the rest of your lives. It is enforced by God and recognized by governments. "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6).

Instead, you pretend that marriage is too hard to take seriously. You ask how could there be a true love for you and how could you know you are in love. Interesting questions if you think about it. If you can't tell you are in love, then when you have sex with some female it can't be because you love them -- after all, you claim that it isn't possible for you to know when you are in love. Yet later you contradicted yourself: "I simply don't see it wrong to have sex with a girl you love and care about." If you know you love a girl to have sex with her, then you know you could marry her. See:

The stance you take puts you in direct opposition to God. "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9).

Oddly, I do agree with you in part. Sex should be reserved for those who are in love and are in a committed relationship. When a man and woman are willing to bind themselves with vows before God to being man and wife for the rest of their lives, that is proof of their love for each other and their commitment to each other. But you want to discard this hard evidence for subjective claims of love and commitment -- claims that most often prove to be false.

I Can't Wait that Long to Have Sex

You state that younger teenagers shouldn't be having sex, even though they are certainly capable of it. You realize that you are better off waiting until after you are officially an adult or perhaps a few years older. But you then state that waiting another 5 to 8 years is just too long. However, notice that you make a false assumption. You are already planning to wait until your mid to late twenties to consider marriage; yet, there is no rule requiring you to wait that long. You've placed an artificial restriction on yourself and then claim that God's restriction (which doesn't have an age limit) is unreasonable. There is no reason you could not get married in your late teens or early twenties if you wanted to do so.

Perhaps you will counter that marriage in your late teens or early twenties is not safe because you may not make a good choice in a spouse. But then by that same argument, you are too young to be engaging in sex that can lead to the conception of a child. If you are old enough to say you know what you are doing when you get naked with a woman, then you are old enough to be responsible and get married before sex.

It Isn't About Lust

Let me see: You want sex with only claims of love and commitment. You want sex because your "body decides [what] is right or wrong" and not your reason. You also say it is about the "normal desires and cravings of a guy." Lust is a strong desire for something that is unlawful to the point that the person is mentally justifying the immoral act. Seems to me that it is very much about lust for sex without marriage. You're just in denial.

There is a big difference between sex before marriage and sex after marriage. Before marriage, sex is about satisfying the cravings of the individual. It is a selfish act that just happens to be done with another person. But God teaches that sex in marriage is a giving act. It is about pleasing the other person, which just happens to also bring pleasure to the giver. "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken" (Deuteronomy 24:5). "Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (I Corinthians 7:3-4).

A Guy Shouldn't Be Clueless in Bed

This is an empty argument. The first time a guy has sex, whether he is committing fornication or is married, he is unskilled in the act of sex. This isn't an argument that fornication should take place.

When people do things God's way, then you have a man and woman, both never having had sex before, learning together what pleases the other person best. Sure there will be mistakes at first, but that is to be expected. However, there won't be any unreasonable expectations, comparisons to prior partners, or worries that you aren't as good at sex as her past partners.

Don't Intentions Make a Difference?

Intentions are not the same as reality. A person who intends to get married still isn't married. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:13-14). You don't know absolutely that you will get married because you don't have absolute control over the future.

Let's pick another sin and make a similar argument. Suppose someone stole your vehicle. Would you accept the argument, "I was only borrowing it. You weren't around to ask, so I thought you won't mind. I had every intention of returning it sometime. So, I'm not a thief because I am planning to return it to you at all cost." Most people would not accept the excuse. Stealing is wrong, intentions to make it right later doesn't change the fact that it is still stealing, and you can't guarantee the future.

Solomon used the illustration of a hot coal that rolls out from a fire. You didn't notice it, so Solomon asks the question: "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). You accidentally step on the coal, apologize profusely to it, so of course it understandingly doesn't burn you (Not!). Your intentions do not change the nature of a hot coal. In the same way, your intentions do not change why sex outside of marriage is wrong. It doesn't change that you don't love the woman enough nor are committed enough to the woman to get married to her. It doesn't change that you are taking the chance of conceiving a child. It doesn't change the risk of picking up a sexually transmitted disease.

Solomon uses another illustration: "People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house" (Proverbs 6:30-31). When a person steals, even if he did so because he was starving, it still remains that he sinned. Now a judge might find sympathy for the man and reduce his penalty, but he is still guilty of stealing. However, it is different with sex. No one has to have sex. You've had the ability to have sex for years, but you are managing to survive without it. When the law is broken to have sex, there is no excuse that it must be done because everyone knows you only did it because you wanted to.

It Isn't Enough to Say "Don't Do It."

I agree. The laws should be explained. But even when you don't have an explanation at the moment, you should have enough respect for God that knowing God said "no" ought to settle the question. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

You are not being told "no" because you are male. You are being taught what God said was wrong. It is expected that you will have sex, but God says to wait until you are married.

Devout Christians Aren't Normal

Perhaps a better way to put it is that faithful Christians aren't worldly. "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you" (I Peter 4:1-4).

My Parents Are Realistic

Like your parents, you have a high tolerance of worldly behavior and because you and your parents accept it, you assume God should accept it. Yet, it is not realistic -- it isn't based on reality. It ignores the fact that God said that sin will be punished. "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds"" (Romans 2:5-6). Thus, knowing that people sin does not lead to the conclusion that God accepts people's sins or that sin should be promoted. Sin was very common before the flood. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). But then God destroyed the world with a flood.

Even when a person does not personally engage in certain sins, it does not mean they have committed no wrong. After giving a long list of sins, include fornication and homosexuality, Paul said of people, "who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).

Since your parents cannot take the place of God in deciding what is right or wrong, appeals to what they tolerate doesn't determine whether fornication is right or wrong.

I Need to Make My Own Mistakes to Learn from Them

Learning from your mistakes is one way to learn, but it is a very harsh teacher. I don't have to use drugs to know that they are harmful. I don't have to jump off a cliff to learn that I can't fly. I am going to make mistakes, but the wiser course is to limit the number of mistakes I make by heeding the wisdom of God.

"Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But he who listens to me shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil" (Proverbs 1:23-33).

The best time to learn is before disaster strikes. If you wait until it comes, then you won't be able to avoid the consequences. It will be like someone waiting until he sees a tornado coming to dig a storm shelter.

I've lost track of the number of people who wish they never tried drugs or waited until they got married to have sex. Just because you don't think the risks are significant, it doesn't mean they are not there.

Very eye-opening and provided a perspective most people don't think about. Thank you very much for spending the time to help me out when you could've easily done something else. It's simply too detailed and perfect to just grasp once and forever. I will likely have to refer back numerous times to this in the future. It won't be easy, but with all the advice I read that I also agree with, it certainly makes it possible if you don't make compromises. It's so easy to do the common thing and definitely requires some willpower to boldly do the opposite.