Is Abstinence Before Marriage a Realistic Message?
Answer: Many in the modern culture have declared that sexual morality is dead, that abstinence isn’t realistic, but it is instead old-fashioned and outdated. Is abstinence before marriage even reasonable in today’s “hook-up culture”?
God designed sex to be enjoyed within a committed marital relationship. When God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage, He established the “one flesh” relationship. Genesis 2:24 tells us that a man will leave his family, join to his wife, and become “one flesh” with her. There are numerous verses that declare sex before marriage to be sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible commands complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).
God’s truth is eternal—not old-fashioned or unrealistic. However, God’s truth isn’t always easy! Sexual abstinence before marriage is often difficult and requires commitment, self-control, and some strategy. In a sense, it requires a person to be a rebel in a “sexually enlightened” culture.
In reality, the sexual enlightenment philosophy has brought our culture a lot of negative things—porn addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, emotional damage, and abortion on demand. Many in today’s culture say that a “hook-up” is the goal of the night. Singles bounce from club to club looking to hook up with a stranger for casual sex. But that’s not how God designed sex to work.
Blogger Matt Walsh describes this well: “Describing sex as ‘casual’ is like describing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as a ‘nice little doodle.’ . . . The people who diminish and cheapen sex are the ones who get to pass themselves off as ‘sexually enlightened.’”
Perhaps you are in a committed relationship, maybe even engaged to be married. For you, sex would not be “casual”; even so, God wants you to wait for the marriage relationship before you have sex. Saving this special, God-given intimacy until marriage will deepen your relationship and prevent future regrets.
Many see abstinence as unrealistic because no one has shown them how to live it out. If someone just shakes a finger and says, “Don’t have sex before marriage,” but doesn’t give the tools to live that message, abstinence becomes a lot more difficult. Here are some tips from those who have faced the temptations and walked the path of abstinence:
- Understand that you can be a rebel in the culture. No one should force you to have sex before marriage. If you want to honor God by saving sex for a marriage relationship, then you can do it!
- Keep your eye on the prize. That prize isn’t your future spouse. It isn’t your wedding night. Your end goal is becoming more like Christ. That’s God’s plan for you.
- Don’t put yourself in situations where you'll be tempted to compromise your values—or your sexual purity. This may mean not being alone together. You know what those situations are, so avoid them.
- Date people who are like-minded. When both of you are on board with abstinence, you can help each other keep the commitment of abstinence.
- Set boundaries. Ask a good friend or mentor to keep you accountable.
Abstinence is more than not having sex before marriage. Strive for sexual purity in all areas of your life—in thoughts, in words, in actions. If you think about or talk about sex a lot, you’re going to have a lot harder time not doing it.
Whether the culture says abstinence is realistic or not doesn’t change God’s truth. He has established sex to be limited to marriage, and He will equip you to honor Him through abstinence. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Is abstinence realistic? Yes. Is abstinence always easy? No, but, with God, it is possible.
Note: Perhaps you’ve already lost your virginity. Please know that God is in the business of second chances. He wants you to come to Him in repentance, and He will forgive your sins and heal your heart. It’s not too late to make the choice to live righteously and in ways that are pleasing to Him.