Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Avoid Premarital Sex?
“At age 19, I had sex with a boy from school. I can’t tell you how bad it made me feel. I was left feeling worthless.”—Laci.*
“FLEE from fornication,” commands the Bible. (1 Corinthians 6:18) Few young ones today, however, seem willing to obey the Bible’s words and refrain from sex until they are married. Some, like Laci, have given in to their desires and have suffered pain and a troubled conscience.
Admittedly, it is not easy to control one’s sexual urges. As the textbook Adolescent Development observes, the hormonal changes of puberty inevitably result in “accompanying increases in sexual impulses.” Admits Paul, “At times, thoughts about sex enter my mind without any apparent cause or reason.”
Yet, professor of pediatrics Howard Kulin notes: “It is a great oversimplification to blame [adolescent] behavior solely on hormones.” He explains that social factors also play a role. Indeed, social factors—particularly the influence of peers—can be very persuasive.
In her book A Tribe Apart, writer Patricia Hersch says that “young people have built their own community. . . . More than a group of peers, it becomes in isolation [from adults] a society with its own values, ethics, rules.” However, the “ethics” and “rules” of many young ones today often promote indulging sexual impulses, not controlling them. Many may thus feel pressured to try premarital sex.
Even so, Christian youths are wisely determined to avoid all forms of fornication, knowing that God condemns it as one of “the works of the flesh.”* (Galatians 5:19) How, though, can you remain chaste in the face of great pressures?
Seek Wise Companions
Interestingly, while social pressures can influence you negatively, the right kind of friends can influence you in a positive way. It is as the Bible says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise.” (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33) A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) observed that “adolescents who have meaningful relationships with parents, other caring adults, and peers” and “who are provided with structure and boundaries . . . are less likely to initiate sexual activity.”
Having meaningful relationships with your parents can be particularly rewarding. Recalls Joseph, “My parents definitely helped me to resist the pressures to experiment with sex.” Indeed, godly parents can provide structure and boundaries for you that are based on God’s Word. (Ephesians 6:2, 3) They can support you in your efforts to remain chaste.
Granted, speaking to them about sexual matters may be awkward at first. But you may be surprised at how well they understand what you are feeling. After all, they were young once themselves. Sonja, therefore, advises other young ones, “Go to your parents, and don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about sex.”
What if your parents don’t follow Bible standards? While still honoring them, you may need to seek some guidance from outside your family. Paul, quoted earlier, says, “I get great help in this area from mature Christian married couples.” Kenji, a young girl whose mother is an unbeliever, likewise says, “For advice, I stick to mature ones who are spiritually upbuilding.” But she cautions, “I avoid those who lack strong moral standards, even if they claim to share my religious beliefs.”
At times, it may be necessary to watch your association within the Christian congregation. The Bible reminds us that in any large group, there will often be some who do not conduct themselves honorably. (2 Timothy 2:20) What should you do if you discover that some of the youths in your congregation, in effect, “hide what they are”? (Psalm 26:4) Avoid close association with such ones, and seek out friends who will support your determination to stay morally clean.
Reject Harmful Propaganda
You should also take steps to protect yourself from the flood of sexual images and innuendos that are dispensed through books, magazines, music videos, video games, movies, and the Internet. The media portray premarital sex as glamorous, enjoyable, and risk free. The effect? Kenji, quoted above, admits: “I watched a show where sex was treated casually and even had homosexual overtones. As a result, I began to forget how seriously Jehovah views these matters.”
The truth is, popular entertainment often cleverly masks the unpleasant realities of premarital sex—unwanted pregnancies, premature marriages, and sexually transmitted diseases. So do not be taken in by those “who are saying that good is bad and bad is good.”—Isaiah 5:20.
Remember the words of Proverbs 14:15: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” If you come upon sexually suggestive or arousing images while reading, surfing the Net, or watching TV, take immediate action! Close that book, shut down your computer, or switch channels! Then focus your thoughts on something else—something wholesome. (Philippians 4:8) By doing so, you can halt wrong desires before they have time to grow.—James 1:14, 15.
Beware of Compromising Situations
Are you dating someone? Then there is a need for you to be on guard. The Bible warns us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) It is easy to allow displays of affection to turn into sexual misconduct. Take reasonable precautions, such as having a suitable chaperon or dating in wholesome groups. Avoid being alone in tempting situations.
Perhaps, though, you are engaged to marry and feel that some physical displays of affection would be appropriate. Even so, a WHO report warns: “When marriage is imminent, premarital sex seems to occur among the majority of women, even in conservative settings.”* Therefore, set limits on displays of affection and thus protect yourself from needless heartbreak.
Shocking though it may seem, many youths—especially young girls—are forced or coerced into having sex. According to one study, “60 percent of U.S. adolescent girls who had sex before age 15 did so involuntarily.” Perpetrators often use power to overwhelm their victims. (Ecclesiastes 4:1) For example, the Bible tells us that King David’s son Amnon “fell in love” with his half sister Tamar and through trickery forced her to have sex.—2 Samuel 13:1, 10-16.
This does not mean that it is impossible to prevent rape or coerced sex. By being alert to danger, avoiding compromising circumstances, and taking quick action when there is a threat, you can do much to protect yourself.*
“Unify” Your Heart
We hope that the suggestions we have discussed here will help you in your fight to remain chaste. But in the long run, what is in your heart will determine your behavior. Jesus said that “out of the heart come . . . fornications.” (Matthew 15:19) You must therefore resist the tendency to become either “halfhearted” (lukewarm) or ‘doublehearted’ (hypocritical) on this very important issue.—Psalm 12:2; 119:113.
If you ever feel your resolve weakening or feel a conflict within your heart, pray as did David when he pleaded: “Unify my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11) After that, work in harmony with your prayer by studying the Bible and Bible-based publications and applying what you learn. (James 1:22) Lydia says, “I am motivated to resist sexual temptations by always remembering that ‘no fornicator or unclean person has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.’”—Ephesians 5:5.
Avoiding premarital sex may not be easy. But with Jehovah’s help, you can keep yourself chaste and spare yourself and others a lot of pain and suffering.—Proverbs 5:8-12.
Names have been changed.
See the article “Young People Ask . . . What’s Wrong With Premarital Sex?” in our issue of July 22, 2004.
See chapter 29 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Suggestions along these lines were given in the “Young People Ask . . .” articles “Sexual Harassment—How Can I Protect Myself?” and “How Can I Stop My Boyfriend From Mistreating Me?” in our issues of August 22, 1995, and June 22, 2004.
[Picture on page 17]
Discussing your feelings with your parents can help you to stay chaste
[Picture on page 18]
Dating in a wholesome group setting can be a protection