Several of the Many Bottom Lines on Sex

As a precaution, this post is on the longer side, and is intended to be informative because of it. And if you have trouble talking or reading on the subject of sex for any reason, we encourage you to read this post anyway – we hope that you will find it interesting and helpful, if not for yourself, then at least to have the knowledge if you ever are sought out and asked for guidance on the topic by another individual.

We all have to eat, and we can either provide our bodies with high-quality fuel or health-robbing junk and excess. We all move our muscles, and the way we do so can make us well-conditioned or weak. We are all sexual beings, and we can express our sexuality in ways that are fulfilling and life affirming, or destructive and even deadly. There are, in other words, healthy and unhealthy ways to experience sex.

When it comes to this important subject, we believe that with sex (and indeed with the rest of our lives as well) we should look to the Bible and go with what it says. The teachings that we find from Scripture on this subject are straightforward and unambiguous. They are medically, emotionally, and spiritually unassailable. If everyone on the planet (or just one community) followed them explicitly, an untold amount of distress and disease would be avoided. The Bible’s insights can be summarized as follows:

1. Sexual activity is intended to be experienced between a man and a woman within the bounds of a mutually exclusive marital relationship – and when we say this we do not mean to offend any of our readers with our beliefs, but we believe that the Word of God always has our best interest in mind, since it is the inspired Word of the living God Himself. The ideal and healthiest situation involves a man and a woman who have reserved sexual activity for their wedding night and the years that follow, and who maintain emotional and physical fidelity to one another. For those who have had sexual experiences outside of the marital relationship, a decision to preserve all future sexual activity within the bounds of marriage is the wisest and healthiest course of action, not to mention the one that God has established as His standard for our benefit.

2. Within the security of marital commitment, sex is to be enjoyed, explored, and cherished in ways that manifest mutual respect. It can involve playfulness, passion, and extraordinary pleasure. It can supply emotional super-glue, a powerful bond that helps maintain a marriage through decades of the inevitable ups and downs of life. And it can begin the remarkable experience of bringing a new human being into the world.

Hundreds of books have been written on the topic of sexuality from every conceivable perspective, and we will not attempt to do so again here. Rather, our goal is to briefly elaborate on the conclusions just stated above, by addressing the following questions:

1. What are the physical, emotional, and spiritual reasons for preserving sexual activity for marriage? If you think this is an unrealistic, uptight, overly restrictive view of sexuality, be sure to read on.

2. How can sexual satisfaction be maximized and sustained over the long haul of a marriage? The fact that two people are married and free to enjoy sexual intimacy certainly doesn’t mean that they won’t have issues in this area. While we’re not intending to create even close to a manual for sex therapy, we will provide a map of the terrain and potential trouble spots.

While the topic of abstaining from sex until married is appropriate for all age groups, it is especially important for parents, educators, and health-care professionals to communicate it to children and adolescents. Sex is a wonderful, extraordinary, and powerful gift that deserves to be treated with respect. In the context of a permanent and public commitment, it can be savored, explored, and nurtured without guilt or fear of serious consequences. But at the wrong time with the wrong person, sex can bring disappointment, disease, and drastic changes in life – especially in a young person’s life. We understand that maintaining a Biblical standpoint on premarital sex is not easy, but we need clear answers in order to make clear, clean decisions for our bodies.

Why do you think it’s so challenging for young people to preserve the gift of sex for marriage? One of the biggest reasons is because of our inner drives, that we were created with. It’s totally, totally normal to have sexual feelings toward the opposite sex quite early on in life, and learning to manage our sexual thoughts, desires, and actions in a healthy way is an extremely important and challenging task. Another reason why staying away from sex before marriage is so hard is because of the provocative images of scantily clad women and men that seem to be EVERYWHERE – and unfortunately, our standards for morality are declining in this country, so we can expect to see more of it. For men especially, since they are more visually driven, this makes it extremely hard to keep your eyes for your future wife, and to not lust after these women who are claimed to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘hot’. The changing standards of our societies are another big reason for not staying pure before marriage. Unless you live in a strictly controlled or isolated environment, it is difficult to escape exposure to a pervasive philosophy regarding sexuality that might be summarized as follows:

-sex is okay in any way and with anyone, as long as there is mutual consent, no one gets pregnant [unless she wants to], and no one gets hurt

-sex is usual and customary if you are attracted to someone. Everyone is doing it

-sex unrelated to marriage is normal, natural, expected, and inevitable, so always carry a condom

-if you are postponing sex until marriage, you must be incredibly unattractive, a social disaster, or a religious fanatic

This “anything goes” and “everyone’s doing it” message can be particularly difficult for teenagers to sort out. But under the assault of these messages, single adolescents and adults alike-even those who are committed to preserving sex for marriage-may begin to feel as if they are completely out of step and missing out on some normal pleasures. The fourth reason we believe to contribute to premarital sex is the lack of accountability or [for teenagers] supervision. It’s much easier to refrain from sexual misadventures if you know someone else who is trying to follow your same standards, and also when we know someone else whom we respect cares about what we do and has permission to ask us about our behavior. We know that talking to someone else on the subject is difficult when you’re struggling with it, but it will prevent a lot of hurt when you do get married. And for teenagers, appropriate adult oversight can provide a powerful restraint to youthful passions. Unfortunately, because of fragmented families, complex parental schedules, easier access to transportation, and even carelessness among adults who should definitely know better, adolescents today are more likely to find opportunities to be alone together for longer stretches of time. We know from personal experience how much harder it is to battle these sexual feelings when you’re alone compared to when your parents are around. 🙂 An overbearing, rigid upbringing also contributes to the difficulty of sticking to your purity commitment. If you feel smothered in a controlled, micromanaged, suspicious environment, it’s proven that you are much more likely to be a candidate for sexual rebellion. Another biggy in this battle for sexual purity too is peer pressure. We’re all very familiar with this, whether it’s keeping your purity, doing drugs or drinking alcohol, or some other potential problem. There are three main types of peer pressure, and those are: a general sense that “everyone is doing it except me”, personal comments from friends and acquaintances, and direct pressure from another person who wants a sexual experience or an invitation from a willing potential partner. I, Courtney, personally struggled with this last type when I worked at a local sports arena several years back. I began to feel “left out” in a sense because everyone else was doing sexual things and I wasn’t, so instead of stating my stance on sexual purity, it led me to make up lies about other things that I supposedly did to make up for my “lack of coolness” in the sexual area of my life, such as saying that I drank and partied ← very stupid thing to do, because then you’re expected to follow through, and hang out with those people and “show them what you’ve got”. As I said, a very stupid idea. And the final answer found for this question is that people have a lack of reasons (and desire) to wait, or to maintain sex within marriage. It’s as simple as adolescents not being well-enough educated on the benefits and importance of waiting until marriage, so they go with the flow of what everyone else is doing, not really caring of what could happen to them or their sexual partner.

We have to decide before the conversation, before the date, before the relationship gets more serious that physical intimacy is reserved for the wedding night.

Okay, so we have all of those things figured out, that’s awesome. So let’s be informed again, why should sex be reserved for marriage?

-To take the moral high ground

-To prevent unplanned pregnancies

-To avoid sexually transmitted diseases (Three faulty propositions with this reason are that: If you limit the number of partners with whom you have sex, you’ll be safe. If you know something about a potential partner’s sexual history and you avoid having sex with someone who has had many partners, you’ll be safe. If you use a condom every time, you’ll be safe.)

-To prevent the devaluation of sex (What truly devalues sex is the idea that intercourse is no more meaningful than a good meal or a drive in a sleek automobile, what stifles sexual satisfaction is casual copulation with little or no emotional involvement, and what people miss in nonmarital sex is the opportunity for enjoyment far greater than the immediate sensual experience)

-To prevent distorted relationships

-To avoid devaluing one’s sexuality and identity

Now that we have covered some ground for our first question, ‘What are the physical, emotional, and spiritual reasons for preserving sexual activity for marriage?‘, let’s move on to touching the surface of our second question, ‘How can sexual satisfaction be maximized and sustained over the long haul of a marriage?‘ We first have to understand with this question that God created sex as a gift to enhance our lives. For any of us who have been married for over a month and have had somewhat regular sex, we know that there are definitely many benefits to it, and most of us would admit that it’s enhanced our lives in some way or another. The author Mr. Robert Foster once wrote:

Our human sexuality, our maleness and femaleness, is not just an accidental arrangement of the human species, not just a convenient way to keep the human race going. No, it is at the center of our true humanity. We exist as male and female in relationship. Our sexualness, our capacity to love and be loved, is intimately related to our creation in the image of God. What a high view of human sexuality!

He also wrote:

Sexual intercourse involves something far more than just the physical, more than even the emotions and psyche. It touches deep into the spirit of each person and produces a profound union that the biblical writers call “one flesh.” Remember, we do not have a body, we are a body; we do not have a spirit, we are a spirit. What touches the body deeply touches the spirit as well.

Sexual intercourse is a “life-uniting act,” as Lewis Smedes calls it. And Derrick Baily has added, “Sexual intercourse is an act of the whole self which affects the whole self; it is a personal encounter between man and woman in which each does something to the other, for good or for ill, which can never be obliterated.”

Thus the reasoning behind the biblical prohibition of sexual intercourse for the unmarried goes beyond the common practical concerns of pregnancy or venereal disease or whatever. Genital sex outside of marriage is wrong [says Smedes] “because it violates the inner reality of the act; it is wrong because unmarried people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent.”

When viewed from this perspective, the idea that God disapproves of sex or somehow thinks of it as dirty or shameful is revealed to be patently absurd. And if we offended any of our readers with inserting those quotes, we apologize since that is not our intent. Our intent is to help one another realize what God wants for us, which is always the best, and to go towards that with our whole effort, giving Him the glory for everything good He’s given us.

The second step in maximizing and sustaining the gift of sex for a lifetime is by taking practical steps to maintain sexual experiences within the boundary of marriage. (As a side note, though they are touchy and controversial subjects and we won’t go into them in this post, different types of sex are extremely immoral and should not be played around with besides just premarital sex, and those are homosexuality, sex with another married person if you yourself are married, as well as sex between humans and animals.) Though there are temptations all around us and we could easily blame someone or something else for our lack of desire, our lack of passion, our distractions, it is only our faults. We need to guard the most important part of our sexuality, which is our mind. And, we must not tempt fate. We need to set up guidelines, such as:

-we have to establish clear and unequivocal respect for our bodies, lives, and futures,

-respecting yourself (and the person you’re with) means setting your own limits for physical contact,

-physical contact-even something as simple as holding hands-may be interpreted in ways you don’t intend,

-remember that the events that lead to sex are progressive,

-you are much better off setting very conservative limits for expressing affection (holding hands and perhaps a brief embrace or kiss) and progressing slowly, both emotionally and physically, in a relationship,

-if you’re not sure whether what you’re doing physically is appropriate, ask yourself if you would be comfortable doing it in front of your family members or your pastor,

-stay sober,

-and if resisting physical intimacy is becoming more difficult, don’t tempt fate.

We have to beware of unhealthy relationships that carry an increased risk for sexual involvement. Some examples of these relationships are those that ride a roller coaster of emotions, relationships in which one person intensely needs or clings to the other person, and those relationships in which one person has a position of authority or leverage over some part of the other person’s life, such as being their employer, supervisor, teacher, family friend, etc.

Since this post is already long I won’t go into more detail on many things that I mention, but pay attention and remember them. They are important. 🙂

This is for the women to take precautions of:

-Take prudent measures to protect yourself from date rape

-Don’t go out of your way to arouse every male who sees you. Modesty is becoming rare these days, and I think that you’ll be surprised by how many guys respect you for practicing that

And for the men:

-Treat members of the opposite sex respectfully and responsibly. Never become a sexual predator, never push a woman’s physical boundaries, respect and maintain a woman’s body, integrity, and future, even if she is inviting intimacy, and approach any activity or relationship with a person of the opposite sex with the intention of enhancing that person’s life and not leaving a wake of regrets.

In order to save more time, I will only list and not go into detail on important steps to practice in order to have a fulfilling sex life with your spouse:

-Within marriage, take deliberate steps that will allow sex to bloom and flourish

-Learn how things work

-Open and maintain lines of communication regarding sex with your spouse

-Seek to understand the differences between men and women in sexual needs and responses

-Men are strongly visually oriented

-A man’s desire for sex not only remains active and constant throughout his adult life, but is also typically ready for action at a moment’s notice (Ladies, this is a great thing to take advantage of ;])

-Believe it or not, men don’t “just want sex”, but they also desire to be loved and connected as much as women

-There are normal variations in a woman’s libido

-Unlike a man’s typical willingness to have sex at a moment’s notice, a woman’s interest in sex directly correlates with how well loved and respected she feels in the relationship overall

-Women don’t have to achieve an orgasm in order to feel intimate and connected during sex

-Don’t ignore trouble spots in your sexual relationship

-Be willing to seek counseling for sexual issues

-Take deliberate measures to affair-proof your marriage

-Be willing to seek medical or counseling help regarding specific sexual dysfunctions

-Don’t let your sex life become stale

Whew, you made it through all of that! If you are or are not married, give your sexual frustrations over to God. He cares about these things, because He created you for them. If you are single, stay pure with God’s help and guidance. If you are married, study your Bible and see what it says on the topic and look into Biblical resources for help – it’s worth your frustrations you’re feeling now. And if you are married and loving your sex life, take the next step in your exploration while keeping your thoughts and bodies pure with natural activity.

Also, if you have any questions or comments about the things we talked about, please, please, please feel free to contact either of us, Justin or myself, and we’d love to assist in whichever way we can. If you want to hear more on a specific sexual topic, please contact us as well.

The BOTTOM LINE: God cares very much about our purity and sex lives, so make it a priority to please Him with the gift that He’s given us.

[Some portions of this post were taken from Family Health, Nutrition and Fitness by primary author Paul C. Reisser, M.D., the official book of the Focus on the Family Physicians Resource Council, USA.]

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