8 answers to tough questions about sex
Sean McDowell considers some of the big questions teens are asking every day.
As a high school teacher and speaker, I regularly receive questions about sex, love and dating from young people. Below are researched answers to some of the most common questions teens are asking about sex. (1)
1. "Why should I save sex until marriage?"
Here's a few good reasons for Christians to wait until they're married before having sex:
- Two-thirds of teens who have had sex wish they had waited.
- Those who save sex for marriage are far more likely to experience lasting sexual satisfaction with their spouses.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at epidemic levels in this country. Most STDs occur in teens and young adults.
- Sexually active teens are more likely to be depressed.
- Sex typically speeds up the breakup of a relationship.
- Having sex can impact your reputation.
- You are special and worth waiting for!
- God designed sex in marriage to be between two people committed to each other for life (Genesis 2:24).
2. Is everybody really having sex?
Despite appearances to the contrary most teens are not having sex. Recent studies in the US show that over 50 percent of all high schoolers are virgins. Repeated surveys show that teens think more of their peers are sexually active than they actually are. Sexual activity, especially with guys, tends to be exaggerated. Studies also show that the majority of teens who have had sex wish they had waited longer.
3. What's wrong with viewing pornography?
Pornography devalues women, treating them as objects of desire rather than people, made in God's image, to be loved and cherished. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner admitted himself in a recent interview that he believes "women are sex objects" (2). Pornography also devalues sex and can be very seductive and habit-forming, with increasing needs for more sensational material. Exposure to pornography also leads to unrealistic expectations later in life. Viewing pornography detaches you from the “real world” and real relationships with people. Young men who routinely view pornography have to eventually get more and more increasingly hard-core pornography to get sexually stimulated.
4. What is a virgin?
According to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, “A virgin is anyone who has never had sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, or anal)”. Many teens falsely assume that they are still virgins if they only have oral sex, but this is simply not true. Oral sex is sex, vaginal sex is sex, and anal sex is sex. Any time your sexual organs are sexually stimulated by the touch of another person, you’re involved in a form of sexual activity.
5. Is oral sex a safe alternative?
While you cannot get pregnant through oral sex, it is still clearly a sexual act, and most teens who engage in oral sex will proceed to vaginal sex. One problem with oral sex is that the intimacy of sex is removed. Many girls often feel used after performing the act. Furthermore, virtually all STDs can be transmitted through oral sex. And some STDs, including genital Herpes, Syphilis, and Chlamydia are easily spread through oral sex as well.
6. How far is too far?
As you probably know, the Bible does not give a clear limit as to how far a physical relationship may progress before marriage. Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing! Rather than micro-managing our lives, God gives us principles that we are to apply to our various relationships. Consider Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
I often ask my students to consider at what stage of physical progression it becomes impossible to dwell on things that are “pure, right, and honorable” as this passage teaches. Most teens I know agree that holding hands and a good-night peck pass the test. But, in their moments of honesty, most admit that deep prolonged kissing (and everything that comes after that) is difficult to do without thinking about things that are not pure, right, and honorable. I agree.
7. What steps can I take to save sex for marriage?
The first step in saving sex for marriage is making a personal commitment to yourself, your parents, and to God to wait until marriage. Choose friends who share your values. You can resist peer pressure more easily when you have friends to stand with you. Also, avoid being caught in a compromising situation (such as home alone without adult supervision, in a parked car, etc…). Remember that sex is progressive. Kissing can lead to touching, touching can lead to fondling, and fondling can lead to sex. Consider group dating. Not only can group dates often be more fun, but the temptations that happen on individual dates are typically removed. If you date individually, plan your dates and don’t push past your curfew. And never forget, saving sex for marriage is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your future spouse.
8. What if I've already had sex?
If you’ve already had sex and regret that decision, the first step is to stop having sex and begin with a renewed commitment to purity. Your past does not have to determine your future. Purity can begin today. Second, ask yourself some tough questions: Why did I start having sex? Was I pressured into it? Was I looking for love and thought sex would fill that void? Was I merely curious?
Third, experience God’s total forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God does not offer partial forgiveness, or conditional forgiveness, but total forgiveness. God loves you and desires that you experience the most fulfilling sex, love, and marriage relationship possible. To experience God’s best you must move forward today - regardless of your past - by making a commitment to save sex until marriage. I promise you, it is well worth the wait!
(1) For further research and documentation see Melissa Cox, Questions Kids Ask About Sex (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Publishing Group, 2005)