Young People Ask . . .
Toying With Immorality—What’s the Harm?
“One day my boyfriend came over when my mother wasn’t home, supposedly just to watch TV,” recalls Laura.* “At first he just held my hand. Then all of a sudden, his hands started to wander. I was afraid to tell him to stop; I thought he would get upset and want to leave.”
LAURA and her boyfriend thus started down a path that led deeper and deeper into misconduct. Passionate kissing gave way to yet graver improprieties. Few in today’s world, though, would frown on such conduct. Why, surveys show that the vast majority of youths in the United States have had sex relations by the time they are 19! Heavy kissing and even the fondling of intimate areas of the body are viewed as little more than a harmless pastime. Some youths boast about how far they have gone in their sexual explorations.
Sad to say, some Christian youths have got involved in such misbehavior. They evidently suppose that as long as they do not go “all the way,” no harm is being done.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible condemns those who take liberties with the opposite sex. What some might brush off as “harmless” petting may amount to what the Bible calls uncleanness, loose conduct, or even fornication. These are serious wrongs that could lead to expulsion from the Christian congregation.—Galatians 5:19, 21.
Toying with sexual immorality is therefore not something to be taken lightly. It is a “defilement of flesh and spirit”—something that could seriously damage your relationship with God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) Ultimately, it can even cause your mind to be “corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) A youth that is led into unclean conduct, or who leads someone else into it, simply cannot show Christian “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.”—1 Timothy 1:5, 19.
One who goes too far in displays of affection can suffer emotional harm. This is because, as an article in Seventeen magazine reminds us, “the different ways people can touch each other . . . can be just as intimate and intense as intercourse is.” So whereas kissing and petting may be physically exciting, girls in particular may find that the experience leaves them feeling empty and hollow emotionally. The Journal of Marriage and the Family notes: “Women report feelings of fear, guilt, anxiety, embarrassment, and even disgust.”
Is It Love?
Consider the Bible’s account in Proverbs chapter 7, which tells of the seduction of a young man by a prostitute. That immoral woman told the young man: “Do come, let us drink our fill of love until the morning; do let us enjoy each other with love expressions.” The idea of being loved no doubt sounded attractive to this youth. But in reality the prostitute “misled him by the abundance of her persuasiveness. By the smoothness of her lips she [seduced] him.” No, she had no real love for the young man; he was merely a customer. She exploited him to the limit.—Proverbs 7:18-21.
In a similar way, many youths today—especially girls—are exploited. Girls in particular usually have to be persuaded into crossing the bounds of propriety. According to the book The Compleat Courtship by Nancy Van Pelt, “one study revealed that the most prevalent line used [by boys] is: ‘If you love me, you’ll let me.’” The author notes that males have used this line “since the beginning of time.”
But is someone who would draw you into behavior that is unclean and condemned by Almighty God really showing you love? Not according to God’s Word. That book reminds us that true “love . . . does not behave indecently.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5) Writer Nancy Van Pelt asks: “If he does get what he wants, what proof will you have that he loves you when it is all over? More likely he used you.”—Compare 2 Samuel 13:15.
When a boy pressures a girl into violating her Christian training and conscience, he makes a mockery of any claim that he genuinely loves her. And if the boy professes to be a Christian, he makes a mockery of his professed Christianity. A girl that gives in to this intimidation is exploited, used, cheapened. Worse, she has committed an unclean act, perhaps even fornication, which is a gross violation of God’s law.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
True, some girls are willing participants. But mutual agreement to do something wrong hardly makes it right. “There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward,” says Proverbs 14:12.
Some may feel that physical expressions of affection enhance a relationship. However, taking improper sexual liberties does not deepen a relationship. It cheapens it. At the very least, it tears down mutual respect and trust. “I had bad feelings toward the guy afterward,” admits one girl who engaged in unclean conduct.
Lack of restraint in courtship can continue to have a negative effect even after a couple get married. Self-control, patience, and unselfishness are the foundation of a satisfying sexual relationship in marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:3, 4) But during courtship, some couples establish a pattern of giving in to selfish desire, throwing restraint to the wind, and ignoring each other’s feelings. This can get marriage off to an ominously bad start.
When passionate kissing and touching begin, meaningful communication usually halts. Needed confidential talk—about goals, aspirations, and feelings—is replaced by mindless, passion-arousing behavior. Warns Proverbs 15:22: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” Having failed to lay a solid foundation for marriage in courtship, many couples suffer great frustration and guilt when they finally do wed.
Deaden Wrong Desire
Another point to consider is the Bible principle at Colossians 3:5: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Rather than alleviating “hurtful desire,” kissing and petting only serve to whip it up. A young man named Jack confesses what took place with his fiancée: “At first it was merely kissing. But next it became passionate kissing and heavy petting, once even to the point of our almost committing fornication. I knew that what we were doing wasn’t right according to Jehovah’s standards.”
A youth named Vera, who likewise got involved in such misbehavior, admits that kissing and petting made her want to “have sex relations.” Sometimes that is exactly what happens. The Bible shows that sin has a hardening effect on one’s conscience. (Hebrews 3:13) As one becomes accustomed to taking improper liberties, badness can escalate. One sexual advance leads to yet another. “Before you know it,” confesses Laura (mentioned at the outset), “you’re involved in heavy petting. And it’s only moments later that you’re involved in fornication. That’s what happened to me.”
Sad to say, the same has happened to countless other youths. An ancient proverb warns: “Can a man rake together fire into his bosom and yet his very garments not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27) The answer is obvious. And for Christian youths, they should take seriously God’s warning: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
Furthermore, God’s Word declares: “No fornicator or unclean person or greedy person—which means being an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5) Thus, toying with immorality has serious consequences and can even cost a Christian his or her hope for eternal life in God’s new world.—Revelation 22:15.
Some of the names have been changed.
[Blurb on page 18]
Taking improper sexual liberties cheapens a relationship
[Picture on page 17]
Wholesome group activities help you to avoid compromising situations