As we mentor teens, we need to realize how counter-cultural abstinence-until-marriage is — as well as how positive it is. (In this video, Dannah Gresh of Pure Freedom explains our society’s false assumptions about the benefits of virginity and the most fulfilling sex.) At the same time, we need to help teenagers use unfulfilled longings to remind us of what God designed to truly fulfill our heart’s desires.
Sex Was God’s Idea
Traditionally, churches have made the word “sex” and the idea of sexuality taboo. Many Christian parents simply ignore the topic. Such failure to discuss the issue can send a far-from-biblical message — that sex is (always) bad, that it doesn’t really matter, or that the default beliefs in our culture are acceptable.
Since none of those messages are true, we need to make sure teens know what God has to say on the topic and realize that the goal is not to see sex as evil but to enjoy it in its proper place: marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Since our culture also has a twisted view of marriage, we need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word and be able to show teens how beautiful God designed marriage to be (Ephesians 5).
Sex Has Physical Results
We’re not just talking about babies and STDs, here. We’re talking about even the most protected sex. Even Bill-Clinton-style sexual interactions. There’s something physical that takes place when people experience physical intimacy. First, oxytocin is a bonding agent released during sexual interactions. It’s a kind of “physiological glue” that God created and intended to aid in the long-term monogamous relationship called marriage.
Another chemical, dopamine, is released during any skin-to-skin contact, providing a natural high and leading to addiction. Being addicted to a person can be a good thing, when it’s in the context of a lifelong monogamous relationship. But in a typical dating relationship, it can make a necessary breakup much more difficult to pursue — and to get past, once it has taken place. This chemical experience explains the way many “friends with benefits” who lack romantic interest in each another continue to return to the same friend for casual sex.
Sex Isn’t “It”
You know that feeling of wanting more, of craving what you can’t have? While some debate over whether married sex is really better, no physical sensation or emotional sense of security can quench our soul’s deepest longing — oxytocin and dopamine notwithstanding. God created us to be fulfilled and satisfied in a relationship with Him.
In the end, it’s not whether we have sex or when or with whom that will make us happy. C.S. Lewis says it this way: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (from The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)