Youth, Is Bible Morality the Best Way?
“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.”—Isa. 48:17.
1. Why is youth a good time in life, but what attitude do some have?
“THE days of our youth are the days of our glory,” wrote the poet. Many young persons agree, for it is a time of excitement and freedom from the heavy responsibilities of adulthood. But many young persons are eager to grab all the pleasures open to both youths and adults. Their attitude can be summed up as: ‘No waiting; yes, we want every pleasure right away.’
2. (a) What do recent statistics show about youth and morals? (b) Do you feel these trends are affecting youth within the Christian congregation?
2 During this “prime of life” the surge for every pleasure has resulted in more young persons engaging in premarital sex relations, called fornication, than at any other period of modern history.* This flood of sexual promiscuity has even affected some youths within the Christian congregation. As a Christian you may wonder, ‘What makes it so difficult for a young person to remain chaste, especially during these “last days”?’—Eccl. 11:10; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
THE PRESSURE IS ON!
3, 4. (a) Why is it not easy for a young person to remain chaste? (b) How do peer pressure and a need for understanding create problems?
3 During the teens, there is a ‘blooming’ of sexual desire. This period, called “the bloom of youth” in the Bible, usually brings a strong attraction for the opposite sex. So it is not unusual if you, as a young person, are troubled by sexual desires. However, this normal desire is whipped up by today’s entertainment and advertising media, which glorify sex.—1 Cor. 7:36.
4 The pressure from other youngsters can also be intense, as one young Christian schoolgirl explains, saying: “It’s really hard to be different nowadays. Some of the girls in school asked if I have had sex yet. When I told them no, they all began to laugh. I really felt like crying and saying that I had.” Additionally, young people have a need for love and understanding, and this may not be satisfied at home. They cherish a boyfriend or a girl friend who treats them “special” and who has a sympathetic ear. Such emotional closeness can lead to sexual intimacies. Some youngsters are bewildered by the swarm of all these new emotions. They may wonder, ‘Could something so pleasurable be wrong? Is the Bible’s morality really the best way?’
THE BEST WAY
5 Our heavenly Father reminded his chosen people: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.” (Isa. 48:17) What is the ‘way in which we should walk’ morally? “This is what God wills [or, requires] . . . that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel [body] in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite . . . For God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness.”—1 Thess. 4:3-8.
6. (a) What did the apostle Paul command anointed Christians with regard to fornication, and why? (b) Why should this cause young persons to consider their course?
6 God’s will regarding morals is clear—‘get control of your bodies’; abstain from fornication and uncleanness. You young ones who have dedicated your lives to God have formed a close union with him and have become part of a clean organization. How delighted God is by such a course! But for you to engage in premarital sex relations would be the same as if one of the anointed “members of the Christ” who is “joined to the Lord” became “joined [sexually] to a harlot.” “Never may that happen!” exclaimed the apostle Paul. It would be the highest insult to such a precious relationship. No other sin is quite the same, for “he that practices fornication is sinning against his own body.” Certainly, such sin can destroy the spiritual relationship we have with God. No wonder Paul urged “flee from fornication.” Yes, “flee”! Do not wait around to reason or debate on it. Get as far away as you can—and fast! But what if a person does not “flee” from such conduct?—1 Cor. 6:15-18.
7-9. (a) What does 2 Peter 2:9-13 say concerning those who engage in immorality? (b) How have some who engaged in uncleanness ‘wronged themselves’?
7 The apostle Peter says that those within the congregation who spoke abusively of “glorious ones” and got involved in immorality ended up “wronging themselves as a reward for wrongdoing.” (2 Pet. 2:9-13) These ‘rewards’ for sexual wrongdoing go much deeper than just venereal disease or an illegitimate pregnancy. They destroy love, respect and peace of mind. For instance, some young people who “went too far,” committing fornication, sorrowfully admitted:
“It was a big letdown. There was no feeling of good or warmth of love as it was supposed to be. Rather, the full realization of how bad the act was hit me.”
“I cried all night.”
“I felt as low as a dog. It was an empty sickening feeling. I lost respect for myself and the girl. In fact, I found myself blaming the girl for allowing it to happen.”
8 Our heavenly Father tells us to avoid not just fornication but also “uncleanness.” (1 Thess. 4:7) While this term covers a wide range, it refers to conduct that is morally repugnant. For instance, masturbation (sexual self-abuse) is an ‘unclean’ habit that many young persons have engaged in. It certainly whips up the “sexual appetite” and can cause extreme guilt. In some cases where the person did not seriously strive to overcome it, this pattern of thinking created problems after marriage. One young man was shocked to find that after marriage his long pattern of sexual self-gratification made him unable to provide the marriage “due.” Months of misery followed!—1 Cor. 7:3.
9 Some couples have engaged in passionate, sexually stimulating touching of intimate body parts. This is also “uncleanness” and could easily—and often does—lead to immoral sexual intercourse. This practice can inflame a person with “sexual appetite” to the point of virtual frenzy. One young man admitted: “You see yourself as an animal with beastly desires, which is emotionally devastating.” Such conduct has resulted in broken engagements* and often in problems for those who later married. “We did almost everything up to fornication and almost committed it before we were married,” confessed one young couple. “Though we got help from the elders, things were never the same again. It has been hard gaining back the respect for each other we once had.”
10. Why is “uncleanness” harmful to unmarried couples?
10 When an unmarried person begins engaging in some of the ‘intoxicating’ sexual practices reserved for the marriage bed, he or she can be fooled into marrying someone who does not have the qualities needed for a good husband or a good wife. Sex tends to cover over serious differences that reappear after marriage and cause problems. It is not surprising that a study revealed that out of 265 weddings where the bride was pregnant, after five years only 15 couples were still together! Other research studies show that if a person engages in premarital sex, he or she is twice as likely as others to commit adultery. So you young brothers and sisters, do not be fooled by the “empty words” of persons who say that having sexual relations before marriage results in a happier marriage. (Eph. 5:6) Some even claim that you will get sick if you do not have sex after reaching puberty. This is false. No sickness has ever been linked by doctors to chastity! Sadly, some persons who have settled for lust rather than love, have regretted this the rest of their life!
11, 12. (a) How does Jehovah exact punishment for sexual immorality? (b) What does Job say about those who show stubbornness against God? (c) What question will we now consider?
11 Never forget that “Jehovah is one who exacts punishment for all these things [fornication and uncleanness].” (1 Thess. 4:6) This punishment may be a painful conscience, discipline from congregational elders, or reaping the consequences of what you sow. Of course, if we are repentant, Jehovah freely forgives and completely covers our sins. But some are stubborn and refuse to heed God’s laws. “Who can show stubbornness to [God] and come off uninjured?” asked Job. (Job 9:4) No one! It pains Jehovah to see such “stubbornness.” It hurts concerned elders who have seen many of our young persons suffer the previously mentioned traumas. These overseers realize that no one can violate God’s laws and principles and walk away “uninjured.” As one Christian youth who repented of immorality told her congregational elders: “I wish I could tell every young person in the Truth, ‘Don’t do it!’ Jehovah may forgive your errors but you may never. The bad memories will eat you up. It’s not worth it.” The elders join with Jehovah in pleading: “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments!”—Isa. 48:18.
12 But how can a Christian youth follow Jehovah’s commandments and avoid the many traps and subtle pitfalls of sexual immorality?
GIVE HEART TO PARENTS
13. How can young persons with godly parents apply Proverbs 23:26, and with what results?
13 “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” (Prov. 23:26) This appeal calls for more than just mechanical obedience. A young person must open up and confide. However, as a youth, you may feel your Christian Dad or Mom simply does not understand your feelings. One Christian girl who had a problem with masturbation and needed help felt this way. She worried about talking to her mother. How would she react? Would she understand? “Well, when I talked to her about it, she listened and didn’t reproach me,” said the teenager. “She put her arm around me, told me she loved me and would help me overcome the problem. We talked about it frankly and when we were through she held me in her arms and we prayed together. Ever since then I can talk to her about anything.”
14. How should Christian youths view the laws of their godly parents?
14 Yes, youngsters have found ready help by confiding in their Christian parents. They come to “take pleasure” in the ways of their godly parents and view their rules and discipline as a precious “necklace” rather than a harsh ‘chain’ holding them back from ‘a good time.’ (Prov. 1:8, 9) Are you really honest with your parents? Or are you like one youngster who admitted: “When I’m around my parents I am what they want me to be, but when I’m not, then I’m what I want to be”? By drawing close to God-fearing parents, you can be helped to avoid much needless anguish. Those who may not have Christian parents can approach mature Christians—both men and women—as well as elders in the congregation. Seek out their willing help.—Titus 2:3, 4; Jas. 5:14, 15.
LEAD BODY AS SLAVE
15. How does the apostle Paul describe his course at 1 Corinthians 9:27, and how can a youth act in a similar way?
15 The apostle Paul said: “I pummel [‘beat black and blue’*] my body and lead it as a slave [not, ‘it leads me as a slave’], that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) Paul ‘got tough’ with himself. So, too, rather than let your bodily desires dominate, anticipate situations that will excite sexual feelings and deliberately avoid them. For instance, you know what will happen to your bodily desires if you read books and watch TV programs and movies that glorify sex. Hence, avoid these like the plague! Dating (where socially acceptable) when you are not ready for marriage, certain types of dancing, parties with no chaste direction and where couples can pair off, all work up the “sexual appetite.” So avoid them and “deaden, therefore, your body members . . . as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite.”—Col. 3:5.
16. What precautions should a Christian couple take while dating and preparing for marriage?
16 Especially when a couple is dating and preparing for marriage do they need to watch their circumstances. Being alone in an automobile, apartment (a person perhaps living away from home by himself), or in a secluded spot outdoors may induce couples to become overly intimate. One 17-year-old said frankly: “Anyone can say, ‘we know when to stop.’ True, a person may know when, but how many can do it? It is better to avoid the situation. Have others there.” Yes, a chaperone can give you the extra strength to dominate completely over the sexual desires in your bodies when you are together. Also, “set limits” as to how far your expressions of endearment will go. Stick to these.
17. Is it important to watch our associations? Why?
17 When the body craves being around those with loose morals, “lead” it away from such association. “Keep your way far off from alongside her [an immoral woman], and do not get near to the entrance of her house,” recommends the Bible. (Prov. 5:8) Of course, while in school, young persons are plunged into association with many immoral persons. But do you socialize with them? One 18-year-old girl echoed the sentiments of many when she said: “Your association has a big influence on your morals. After listening to their conversations about sex, you become curious. You wonder what sex is really like. Is it as good as they say? I know that this is true because I am rearing a child by myself due to these very facts.”—Prov. 13:20.
18. When mocked because of being chaste, what questions should a young Christian consider?
18 The Scriptures indicate that some immoral persons would slip into the Christian congregation. Therefore, be on guard. If you believe any may be of this sort, refer them to the elders for spiritual assistance. Thus you will be showing them genuine love as well as perhaps protecting others in the congregation. True, some worldly immoral individuals may mock you for your chaste stand. But, just think! Should you let persons who are “slaves of corruption”—yes, slaves to their own passions—make you feel embarrassed? (2 Pet. 2:19) Who has the greater strength—the loose, immoral woman (or man) who ‘chases after her passionate lovers,’ or the chaste virgin who can say of her moral strength, “I am a wall”? (Song of Sol. 8:10; compare Hosea 2:7.) Which one of you is more likely to lose your self-respect and “give to others your dignity”?—Prov. 5:9; Jude 4, 8-13.
19. (a) Who ‘led the body as a slave’—the couple described in the Song of Solomon, or Amnon? (b) What were the results?
19 By controlling your body, dominating it, you will be able to look back with no regrets. Think of the joy of the young Shulammite girl and her shepherd lover when they eventually were united in wedlock. With the help of others, and by their own efforts, they conquered their bodily desire and remained chaste. Although they had spoken words of endearment, they had not been immoral before entering wedlock, thereby diminishing the pleasure they would enjoy after adjusting to each other in marriage. How different from passionate Amnon who could not wait and whose ‘body led him as a slave’ into immorality!—Song of Sol. 2:16; 4:16; 5:1; 2 Sam. 13:1, 2, 10-16.
BUILD YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
20. (a) What can happen when one does not have a personal relationship with God? (b) What was lacking in the immoral persons described by Paul in Romans chapter one?
20 “I never built a personal relationship with Jehovah,” confessed a 22-year-old female raised from infancy in a Christian home. “God was not a real person to me. I guess that’s why it didn’t really bother me when I committed immorality.” Her situation was similar to the immoral persons described by Paul. These “knew God”; they ‘knew full well his righteous decree,’ but lacked “accurate knowledge.”* (Rom. 1:21, 28, 32) This “deeper and more intimate knowledge and acquaintance,”* a personal knowledge, that should have been developed, was lacking. Do you, as a young person, have this personal “accurate knowledge”? You need to study God’s Word personally and regularly in order to appreciate the qualities of God. Recall how such “accurate knowledge” strengthened the early Christians. (See page 5.) But more than book learning is necessary.
21, 22. What will build a strong, personal relationship with God?
21 Heartfelt prayers build a closeness to God. One young Christian girl, who became ensnared by immorality but later recovered, said:
“The only way to keep that personal relationship is by prayer, not routine ones but those that flow right from the heart. When I just tell Jehovah what I feel inside and have this constant communication, I realize that he is a real Person and is interested in my life. My relationship with him is the most important thing in the world.”
22 Are your prayers that intense? Do you work in harmony with them? Also, by becoming a ‘fellow worker with God,’ engaging in the preaching work, your interests and objectives will become the same as God’s. This will naturally build a closeness to Jehovah. Remember, only you can build this personal relationship with God.—1 Cor. 3:9.
23. (a) Will the struggle against immorality continue forever? (b) Why should you be willing to put forth any effort to please Jehovah?
23 True, the pressure is on young ones today. To be faithful is a daily battle. However, once beyond the “bloom of youth,” the fight can become easier. Still, the battle will not continue forever. Soon Satan, the chief instigator behind this wave of immorality, will be destroyed. In God’s new order so near at hand, there will be a righteous environment that will make our course so much easier. Reflect on the blessings of that new order. Surely you agree with the sentiments of one young woman, who said: “I think of everything that Jehovah has done for me and promised me. He hasn’t given up on me. He has blessed me in so many ways. I know he wants only the best for me, and I want to please him. Eternal life is worth any effort in Jehovah’s behalf.”—Rom. 16:20; 2 Pet. 3:13.
See the article on page 3 for the startling statistics.
Habitual passionate touching of intimate body parts has been given, by some authorities, as one of the chief causes for the breaking of engagements. Surveys indicate that at least one out of every three engagements does not eventuate in marriage.
The Expositor’s Greek Testament.
Greek scholar Dr. Richard C. Trench in Synonyms of the New Testament.
In review, are you able to answer these questions?
◼ What is God’s will for Christians as regards sexual morals?
◼ Why is sexual “uncleanness” harmful to unmarried couples?
◼ How should Christian youths view Bible-based help offered by their godly parents?
◼ A Christian couple should take what precautions while preparing for marriage?
◼ How can a strong personal relationship with Jehovah God be developed?
[Picture on page 10]
Immorality hurts because of a ruined conscience and loss of respect
[Picture on page 12]
A personal relationship with God, developed through prayer, serves as a protection