Sex is God’s idea, not Satan’s. Yet Satan has managed to fool many, even in the church, with the idea that God’s commands are too limiting, that God must not know how to have the most fun, that “holy” and “happy” should not be used in the same sentence. So we have Christians asking, “Why must we wait? We are engaged, as good as married. We don’t think it’s wrong, at least not that wrong. And forgiveness is available.” Others acknowledge that they wanted to abstain but regretfully crossed the line.
So why wait?
- Waiting builds trust. If you can break the law of God now, you can break it after you are married. Karen and I have no doubts with each other. We started building that trust when we dated. We spoke about boundaries, because we wanted to please God in our relationship.
- Sex includes the possibility of a child. Are you ready to have a child? Not if you are not married. The first command given was to “be fruitful and multiply…” Sex is the consummation of marriage, not the preparation. To join together sexually and yet not be prepared to accept all the responsibilities that accompany such action puts a strain on the relationship that God did not intend it to have.
- Jesus affirmed the order of creation. He said, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4,5). Physical union is the privilege of a man and a woman committed to live together for life. That is why Jesus added, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (v. 6). Until a couple has made that commitment and gone public, they are not ready to have physical relationships. Jesus said so.
- Intimacy is for marriage. Paul wrote that “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (I Cor. 7:9). The solution the Bible offers to one whose passions are getting the best of him is not to follow his passions but to get married. Solomon writes, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” And that time, according to his love song, is the marital relationship.
- You’re not married until you’re married. Many are engaged and break the engagement. They give themselves away, then wish they had not, because now they have a broken heart plus a strong bond with a person no longer with them. The soul ties created by illegitimate sexual relations can wreak havoc on marriages. Using sex to get a mate could mean getting the wrong mate. Sexual involvement blinds couples to the will of God as the physical relationship takes precedence over the spiritual and psychological. Being in God’s will trumps any station in life.
- Sex needs boundaries. Like a power plant, strong and dangerous, it needs protection, which marriage provides. Sex without boundaries is a fire out of control. When sex does not include the borders of marriage, it cannot be enjoyed in the same way. Shame, guilt, doubt, distrust, and resentment often come from going ahead against the will of God. Peace, joy, and fulfillment result from doing it God’s way. Sex on the sly does not bring the greatest fulfillment because it lacks the commitment that raises sexual experience to a higher level.
- Restraint is not repression. Jacob waited for Rachel because he loved her. Some men use the opposite reasoning: “Because I love you, I want you.” Love can wait; lust cannot. Are you planning on being married for life? Then can you wait six months to prove your love? At the center of the cross is self-denial. Followers of Jesus know the value of crucifying fleshly passions. Our greatest need is not for pleasure; it is for holiness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” and that satisfaction lasts!
- God knows how to enjoy sex. Satan does not. It is not that Satan is too passionate; it is that he is not passionate enough. He separates sex from commitment, from child-bearing, from loving our partner God’s way, reducing the intensity and the joy of sexual love to irresponsible intimacy. Sex is more than a physical act; it is spiritual—every time, and including God enriches it.
- Look at the casualties. If you have stepped over the line, would you say it was worth it? How many people have you talked to who have said, “I wish I hadn’t waited?” You reap what you sow, and when you sow patience, you reap character. Once virginity is given up, it is never recovered. God forgives when we come in repentance, but forgiveness does not restore the original condition. Some brides and grooms wish they could give their partner the gift of virginity. A wedding day is heightened by two people joined together who have walked in purity. It can be clouded over by a pregnant bride or by a couple who have given themselves to multiple partners. Wondering if you are pregnant (and desperately hoping you are not) is a lousy way to enjoy sex. And abortions are out of the question for committed Christians. But then—so is pre-marital sex.
- Character counts. There are better tests for the choice of a marriage partner than physical compatibility. So practice other ways of saying, “I love you.” Pre-marital sex is not inevitable. God provides a way to overcome the temptation (I Cor. 10:13). Accountability to Christian friends can help. Engaged couples that pray together and walk in the light with mature Christian friends will look back on their engagement period with delight, not with regret. Society clearly condones pre-marital sex. It has increased among Christian singles, but that does not make it right. According to the Bible, our bodies are not our own to do with them as we please. We give them to God to do as He pleases (Romans 12:1,2; I Corinthians 6:19,20).
- The Bible says to “flee sexual immorality.” That doesn’t mean seeing how close you can get to the fire without being burned. Don’t put yourself in an apartment alone if you want to live by biblical convictions. Why test yourself by making out until you lose good judgment? Don’t fool yourself—and don’t test God. Acknowledge your weakness—and your hormones. Foreplay is meant to get your body moving toward a culmination. Stay away from the triggers. If you are no longer in full control, you are in a dangerous place. If my children said, “Don’t you trust us, Dad,” I would answer, “Of course I don’t. And I don’t trust myself. That’s why I have constructed moral fences.” I am warning you because Jesus gave His listeners many warnings. So did the apostle Paul. Jesus Christ is Lord, and He is the Lord of every area of our lives, not the least of which is our relationships with the opposite sex. Learn to live under His Lordship with freedom and joy. Don’t assume that you can do what you want and simply play the forgiveness card. He does not forgive those hardened by sin and living for personal pleasure. He does forgive those broken by sin—and treats them as if they have never sinned. The grace that forgives is also the grace that empowers us to live in a way that brings more than God’s forgiveness; it brings His favor.
So what if you have already crossed the line? What if you have tried to come back and can’t? Sexuality takes in much more than the physical. A complex of issues could be involved, like abuse, poor parenting, mistaken identity, loneliness, or depression. We are not looking for people to blame, but we may need to look for the need behind the deed in order to be “more than conquerors” as the Bible promises. Without the grace of God to carry you, these eleven principles will only crush you. They are fulfilled not by grit but by learning to trust the indwelling Holy Spirit. This may require the help of a mentor or a counselor to bring you to freedom. Because the Christian life is described as a walk, a process rather than an event, you may not be able to count on one prayer ministry session or one talk with a friend to break the power of sin. Know that God has liberty for you, even if it takes time and a battle. Remember that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”