Does Sexual Morality Make Sense?
Helpful facts that young people want to know
MANY persons today feel that having sex relations outside of marriage makes sense. Young persons are increasingly prominent among these.
Those who hold firm against this because of sticking to moral standards are often viewed with a measure of pity or even scorn as old-fashioned, weak, naïve or unsophisticated. Are they? What do the facts show?
IS THE “NEW MORALITY” REALLY NEW?
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. 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 deterioration.
So why should we think the so-called “New Morality” of today has anything really new about it? It is the same old thing, the only unusual aspects being that it is now so widespread rather than being localized, and that it has become so prominent in lands pretending to be Christian.
You may have read articles on the subject saying that the present wave of sexual “freedom” results from the modern development of contraceptives, supposedly freeing persons of the fear of pregnancies outside of marriage. Or that medical progress in thwarting venereal diseases has aided toward sexual “freedom.” Are we naïve if we do not go along with these explanations? Again, what are the facts?
The facts are that unwanted pregnancies are more abundant now than ever. The number of illegitimate children steadily rises, and this is true in the so-called “progressive” countries where contraceptives are widely used. In the United States, for example, about one out of every twelve births is illegitimate; in Sweden it is about one out of every seven.
Add to this the tremendous number of abortions performed, about a million every year in the United States alone. So it is easy to see that contraceptives do not give “guaranteed” freedom from pregnancy. It is naïve to think otherwise.
Moreover, medical authorities in many lands are concerned at seeing venereal diseases spread at epidemic rate, with an outstanding number of victims among young persons in their teens. In the United States syphilis now ranks second only to tuberculosis among the communicable diseases causing most deaths. Medical authorities say that modern drugs are proving ineffective in stopping the growth of both gonorrhea and syphilis. And all too often those affected realize it too late to avoid serious and irreversible damage to their bodies. Why risk the chance of suffering permanent damage, perhaps even blindness or sterility as a result of immorality?
MORALITY A SIGN OF WEAKNESS?
Is it a sign of weakness for one 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?
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; it means bucking the current, fighting against the stream.
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 section 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.” (Prov. 7:6-23) He did not have the moral strength to resist.
By contrast, the Song of Solomon gives us a picture of an attractive young maiden of Shunem who resisted all the enticements that a wealthy king 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 Sol. 8:8-10.
WHY SEXUAL MORALITY MAKES SENSE
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, the One who, in fact, made sexual relations possible: Jehovah God. As our Life-giver he has the right to tell us what to do, to set forth rules of conduct as to the use of our procreative organs with their life-transmitting powers.
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.” (Heb. 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 married.
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. (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5) 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 hate the course of sexual immorality? Why should you?
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 is not that course worth hating?
What of children born from such an immoral course? Suppose you had 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?
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, as in Denmark and Sweden, the divorce rates are among the highest in the world? Does divorce spell success or failure? Is it a sign of true happiness or of unhappiness and dissatisfaction?
Sexual morality also makes 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.—Compare 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:26, 27.
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 WITH ENDURING RESULTS
Love based on passion is not an enduring love. It is a selfish, greedy love. That kind of love is well illustrated in 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 Sam. 13:1-19) Now, if you are a young girl, should you naïvely think that because some boy expresses passionate love for you and wants you to have relations with him that this means he sincerely loves you? He may very well turn out to be just as Amnon was.
The wife of Egyptian officer Potiphar expressed the same kind of interest in young Joseph. 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.—Gen. 39:7-20.
Yes, so-called sexual “freedom” changes what should be beautiful and clean into something cheap and detestable.
So, which do you want—an occasional brief moment of illicit sexual pleasure 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?
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, reading material or pictures that have only one aim—to excite sexual passion. In their place keep your mind, your eyes and your tongue occupied with positive things, working toward worthwhile goals that bring enduring benefits and that leave no shame or heartache.
Above all, strengthen your knowledge and appreciation of your Creator and of the rightness and wisdom of his ways and purposes. 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.