First, let me be clear: I am in no way advocating any kind of sex education other than one that encourages abstinence-until-marriage as the only option; however, many such programs fall short of giving a complete, biblical message on the topic. Such is the message of Dannah Gresh, whose 2-part interview proved to be among the most popular “Focus on the Family” programs of 2012. As she discusses our culture’s myths regarding sex, she points out that a huge misconception is that as long as you don’t go “all the way,” you’re safe. Popularized in part by Bill Clinton’s Oval Office antics, this kind of thinking can often be perpetuated by abstinence-only sex education. What’s the big deal? Well, let’s look at a few.
Understanding the True Nature of Sin
At the heart of Dannah’s message is the definition of sin: missing the mark. As you picture a target with the bulls-eye in the center, think of sex outside marriage as missing the target completely. At the same time, you can avoid intercourse and still miss the mark. Immodesty, lust, and various degrees of lust-driven physical interaction can all cause you to miss the mark, while still attaining the goal of abstinence. That’s a huge reason abstinence should not be the emphasis; instead, it should be purity.
Pursuing a Life of Remarkable Purity
God desires a pure bride. The temporal goal of reserving all forms of sexual interaction for a “one man one woman till death do us part” relationship is only part of the story. Christian men and women are part of the Bride of Christ, whom God desires to present to His Son as a spotless and pure gift (Eph. 5:27). Purity doesn’t mean avoiding a single negative action, or even a list of activities, but pursuing a life of dedication to God.
Leading the Way for Fruitful Obedience
The truth about our bodies is that physical involvement evokes feelings of connectedness bonding that God designed to help us bond to a lifelong partner (i.e. a spouse). Otherwise associated with childbirth and breastfeeding, the chemical oxytocin is sometimes called “the hormone of love.” It is released during a “lovemaking.” As far as oxytocin is concerned, such activities can include seemingly innocuous behaviors such as massaging one another or kissing. Once two people become physically involved, they’re more emotionally connected, making clear thinking about the relationship hard and the choice to break off a relationship that isn’t edifying all the more difficult. In addition, post-breakup blues can be distracting at best and cause depression, at worst, limiting a person’s fruitfulness to Christ. Even if the couple does stay together and eventually get married, guilt over pre-marital involvement can lessen the thrill and appreciation of the marriage bed (Heb. 13:4).
Remember, the purity that God desires is much more than abstaining from sexual intercourse outside of marriage: It’s pursuing Him in sacrificial ways.