Does Sexual Morality Make Sense?
1-3. How do many people in the world feel about premarital sex?
THE pressure to engage in premarital sex today is powerful in many places. The world, in fact, is caught up in a “sexual revolution.” The New York Daily News explains: “Sexual relationships without marriage are now broadly recognized by parents, colleges and the public generally. There is a sort of quiet tolerance of immorality, as if it would be futile to stem a new irresistible tide.”
2 Many people demand freedom to have sexual relations with whomever they wish and in any way that they choose. Such attitudes cause uncertainty for many individuals. A college girl tells of a typical problem she encountered on a date: “He would say, Why not? I would spend half the date trying to explain to him what was so special about morality. Then afterward I would ask myself, Why not?” Might you, too, have wondered, “Why not?” Does sexual morality really make sense?
3 Youths commonly believe that, since they are physically capable of having sexual intercourse, and since it reportedly is ‘a lot of fun,’ this is something for them to do. But is it really? Is sex prior to marriage proper? Does it help to make life worth living?
GOOD EFFECTS OR BAD?
4-7. (a) What are some of the common results from engaging in premarital sex? (b) What shows that loose sex practices are not really a “new” morality? (Judges 19:22-25; Jude 7) (c) Why is the counsel at 1 Corinthians 6:18 such a serious matter? (Acts 15:28, 29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7, 8)
4 What about the claim of some that sexual freedom brings greater personal happiness, that it’s ‘a lot of fun’? The Journal of the American Medical Association reported this conclusion of a youth who had premarital sex relations with many girls: “I have learned that this did not bring me happiness.” Girls are even less likely to realize happiness from premarital relations. A tearful young college student said of such an experience: “It sure wasn’t worth it—it was no fun at the time, and I’ve been worried ever since.”
5 Such worry often is justified for a number of reasons. Pointing to one reason, a health official said that gonorrhea threatened to infect 50 percent of United States teen-agers in just five years! And medical authorities say that modern drugs are proving ineffective in stopping the growth of both gonorrhea and syphilis, the major venereal diseases. All too often those affected realize it too late to avoid serious and irreversible damage to their bodies. Does it make sense to risk the chance of suffering permanent damage, perhaps even blindness or sterility, as a result of immorality?
6 Also, there exists the strong possibility of becoming pregnant. Millions of unmarried girls do. Many of these go through the dangers and emotional strains of abortions. Others are forced into unhappy marriages. Still others face a long, unhappy struggle to rear an illegitimate child. So it is easy to see that, although contraceptives are becoming more easily available to teen-agers, they don’t give “guaranteed” freedom from pregnancy.
7 Really, there is nothing new or “modern” about sexual looseness. It has been around for a long, long time. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah practiced it nearly two thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ. If you read the history of the old Roman Empire you will see that it was notable for sexual looseness of all the kinds carried on today. In fact, its fall came largely because of moral decay. Surely, it is a wise thing to heed the Bible’s command to “flee from fornication.”—1 Corinthians 6:18.
MORALITY A SIGN OF WEAKNESS?
8-11. (a) Why does refraining from premarital sex call for moral strength? (b) As related at Proverbs chapter 7, what shows that the young man who got immorally involved lacked good motive? (c) How is the firmness for right principles on the part of a young woman of Shunem illustrated?
8 However, you may be challenged to commit fornication and, if you refuse, others may accuse you of being weak. In some places fornication has become an accepted practice. Two doctors writing in Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality observe: “Young people have come to feel guilty for refusing to have ready sex, and there are instances where young women have expressed shame at still being virgins at the age of 25.” Is it a sign of weakness to refuse to enter sexual relations before marriage? Well, which would you say takes more strength—to give in to passion or to contain it?
9 Actually, any weakling can give in to the sex urge. But it takes a real “man” (or a real “woman”) to control that urge until taking a mate in marriage. It takes even more strength now when the global trend is going the other way, because it means bucking the current.
10 The Bible book of Proverbs presents an account illustrating this point. It relates the way a young man from among the “inexperienced ones,” lacking in good heart motive, wanders down into a street where he is approached by a prostitute. Under the pressure of her shrewd persuasiveness, he caves in and “all of a sudden he is going after her, like a bull that comes even to the slaughter, and just as if fettered [or shackled] for the discipline of a foolish man.” (Proverbs 7:6-23) He did not have the moral strength to resist.
11 But earlier in this publication we read about the attractive young maiden of Shunem who resisted all the enticements that wealthy King Solomon could offer, preferring to remain true to the young shepherd she hoped to marry. Yes, instead of being like a “door” that could easily be swung open, she proved to her older brothers that she was as firm as a “wall” in her determination to keep her virginity for the man she was waiting for.—Song of Solomon 8:8-10.
WHY SEXUAL MORALITY MAKES SENSE
12-14. (a) Why does it make good sense to conform to God’s rules regarding sex? (b) What do Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 say that the future holds for fornicators? What is meant by fornication?
12 The main reason sexual morality makes sense is that it is the way set out by the One who knows the most about human happiness: Jehovah God. Think about it. Jehovah God has lovingly made provision for the transmission of human life by means of sex relations, and this is a very wonderful and sacred thing. We have all received of its benefits, because we are living. If we accept its benefits, doesn’t this place an obligation on us to accept God’s regulation of the entire process? Surely, as our Life-Giver, Jehovah God has the right to set forth rules of conduct as to the use of our procreative organs with the life-transmitting powers.
13 Through the apostle Paul, God tells us: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) Fornication includes not only promiscuous sex relations with just anyone—it also includes premarital sex, as between persons who are engaged but not yet married.
14 God’s Word is very definite in condemning fornication and other loose conduct. It says that persons practicing such things will have no part in God’s kingdom. The Bible says: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
15-19. (a) Why should we actually hate sexual immorality? (Psalm 97:10) (b) What can help us to cultivate such proper hatred?
15 This positiveness of God’s law is really for our good. The sexual urges can be very strong, and occasions come in the life of most persons when it would be easy to give in under the pressure of temptation. If God’s law on the matter were vague or weak, it certainly would not help us much in those times. But because it is so clear and forceful it helps us to keep our senses, bolsters our moral courage and, most important, it helps us to learn to hate the wrong course. Do you actually hate the course of sexual immorality? Why should you?
16 If that course at times seems appealing, ask yourself: ‘Would I want those of my own family to engage in it, my parents or my brothers and sisters? Would I want them to have illegitimate children? Would this increase my love and respect for them?’ If not, then isn’t that course worth hating? Surely you would not want to make yourself like a public towel on which any man or woman can wipe his or her hands by means of immorality.
17 What of children born from such an immoral course? Suppose you, if a girl, gave birth to such a child—who would care for it? Your mother and father? You yourself? How would you do it? And how would the child feel when it grows up and finds out how it was conceived? Or if you refused to shoulder the responsibility and you put the child up for adoption, how would other people feel about you? How would you feel about yourself? You might try to cover up the birth, then put the child out of sight by giving it up for adoption and thus try to run away from shame and responsibility. But you can never run away from yourself, can you?
18 If you, as a male, fathered an illegitimate child, would your conscience be at rest? Think of all the trouble and shame brought on the mother as well as your child. Certainly that is something to avoid.
19 Really, what good has ever come from the course of sexual immorality? Why is it that so many undesirable things are associated with it, including crippling venereal diseases, abortions, jealous fights and even murders? Why is it that in lands where great sexual “freedom” is allowed, the divorce rates are often among the highest in the world? Does divorce spell success or is it evidence of failure? Is it a sign of true happiness or of unhappiness and dissatisfaction?
20, 21. How can avoiding sexual immorality improve your prospects for a successful marriage?
20 On the other hand, sexual morality does make sense because those who hold to it have a far better likelihood of a successful marriage. This is because they have kept marriage in high regard, respecting God’s arrangement and respecting their future mates and their mutual right to receive a clean partner in marriage.
21 In fact, the more careful you are to avoid loose conduct or the taking of liberties during courtship and engagement periods, the more likely will be your success in marriage. Then neither you nor your mate will have nagging doubts of the genuineness of the other’s love due to suspicion that sex was the sole motive for marrying. For marriage, after all, is not just a union of two bodies—it is a union of two persons. And there must be mutual high regard and love for the person if the marriage is to bring lasting happiness.
MAKING A WISE CHOICE
22-24. (a) What helpful lesson can a young woman learn from the Bible account about Amnon and Tamar? (b) What shows that the passion displayed by Potiphar’s wife was not enduring love?
22 Love based solely on passion is not an enduring love. It is a selfish, greedy love. That kind of love is well illustrated in the Bible by the case of one of David’s sons, named Amnon. He “fell in love” with his beautiful half sister Tamar. Then, through trickery, he forced her into having relations with him. After that, what? The record tells us: “And Amnon began hating her with a very great hatred, because the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.” He sent her out into the street. (2 Samuel 13:1-19) Now, if you are a young woman, should you naïvely think that, because some boy expresses passionate love for you and wants you to have relations with him, this means he sincerely loves you? He may very well turn out to be just as Amnon was.
23 The Bible tells us that the wife of Egyptian officer Potiphar expressed the same kind of interest in young Joseph, who served in their house. When he resisted all her attempts to seduce him, she then showed her true colors. She viciously lied to her husband about Joseph, causing him to be unjustly imprisoned.—Genesis 39:7-20.
24 Yes, so-called sexual “freedom” changes what should be pleasurable and clean into something cheap and detestable. So, which do you want—an occasional brief moment of illicit sexual excitement with all the risks and problems it involves, or the satisfaction of having a clean conscience before God and all persons, with self-respect, day in and day out?
25, 26. What things will help us to avoid getting involved in sexual immorality? (Ephesians 5:3, 4; Philippians 4:8)
25 If you want to stay free from immorality, then stay free from the things that lead to it: conversation that always dwells on the opposite sex, also reading material or pictures that have only one aim—to excite sexual passion. Keep your mind, your eyes and your tongue occupied with clean, positive things, working toward worthwhile goals that bring enduring benefits and that leave no shame or heartache.
26 Above all, strengthen your knowledge and appreciation of your Creator and of the rightness and wisdom of his ways. Look to him in prayer and fix your heart on the things he promises to those who serve him. You can hold firmly to the course of sexual morality if you really want to, for Jehovah God and his Son will give you the strength you need to do it.