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The folly of fornication

Did you know that God didn’t design sex to be between a man and woman? He designed it to be between husband and wife. It is this distinction that many have rather conveniently forgotten. Since research shows that the consequences of casual sex are long-lasting and extremely damaging, we owe it to our youth and their progeny to reinstitute the value of sex within the sacred bonds of marriage.

It’s not news to anybody these days — not if they watch any television or glance at the covers of the magazines lining the checkout counters at the supermarkets — that we live in a sex-saturated society. The Playboy Philosophy and its derivatives are trumpeted by a thousand voices that glamorise casual sex, while most of the ever-shrinking mainline churches present pitifully watered-down messages about morality that confuse rather than clarify.

Academic institutions, particularly the women’s studies programmes, promote the idea that marriage is optional and young people are advised to not prioritise it. The secular mantra, heard from high school upwards, is that sex will make you popular and happy; it’s great recreation that is both fun and free. There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of casual, risky sexual experimentation. One need look no further than the junk advice featured in magazines to see just how pernicious it is. Even the relationship advice columns in many daily newspapers spread the expectation of sexual activity, even for the youngest of our teens. This assault will not be neutralised until a brigade of those who know better find their voices to convince today’s “Sex in the City” generation of young women that only discipline and restraint will open the gateway to achieving their dreams and ambitions.

The time for some straight talk about casual sex is long overdue. Every young person needs to know the following three truths:

1. Casual sex impairs the ability to establish a lasting emotional bond.

When natural human emotional responses are repeatedly denied, the person is hardened and the capacity to bond is weakened. Dr Donald Joy published ground-breaking research in the early 1980s and has updated it periodically in the intervening years. He chronicles the ways that intimacy produces bonding. His research indicates that human beings respond to sexual intercourse by bonding, and they are driven to make that bond permanent and exclusive. He also reported on the work of a researcher at a hospital clinic in Detroit USA who worked with 1,000 couples for 10 years, studying their marital problems and recording their sexual histories. He concluded that sexual intercourse is constructive only within marriage.

His evidence is overwhelming! One of the partners in casual sex (usually the female) experiences immediate emotional pain: memories that can contaminate future relationships and create lingering problems later on, when the person eventually marries. When the married couples in his research had problems, he said, “The pain in the marriages was rooted in their promiscuity beforehand.”

2: Casual sex leaves young people alone and lonely.

Counsellors tell us that sexually active girls are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstinent peers. Among the boys, sexually active ones are depressed twice as often. Sexually active teens are more likely than their abstinent counterparts to attempt suicide (girls 1-15 percent and boys 1-6 percent). But the most telling fact is that the majority of teenagers – 72 percent of the girls and 55 percent of the boys – acknowledge regret over early sexual activity and wish that they had waited longer. So much for the cultural mantra that sex is no big deal.

On another front, replacing marriage with casual sex is especially harmful to young women’s long-term well-being. The marriage rate in the US has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1970. In 1940 less than 8 percent of all households consisted of people living alone; now more than a quarter do. The number of unmarried couples living together on a temporary basis is 10 times as large today as it was in 1970.

3: The so-called “Sexual Revolution” has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases. (STDs).

Sadly, 65 percent of STDs appear in young people under 25 in the US, and fully 20 percent of all AIDS cases are among college-aged young people. Over 15 million new cases of STDs appear annually, a number that is significantly higher than that of 6 years ago. Having three or more sexual partners in a lifetime increases a woman’s odds of cervical cancer by 15 times.

The National Centre for Health Statistics analysed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and found two startling facts. Among young women who used contraception at first intercourse, the probability of giving birth at each age is roughly half that of those who did not use contraception. Further, the probability of a sexually active female giving birth approximately doubles between 18-20 years of age whether she uses contraception at first intercourse or not.

A young person’s choices about sex reveal his or her attitudes about others. Is sexual activity merely fun and games? No. Treating sex as something casual can never actually make it a casual matter. The Scriptures raise the age-old question . . . Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (Proverbs 6:27). Sexual intercourse can be an intense and pleasurable experience; but sexual intimacy also triggers the strongest, deepest and most exhilarating passions in life. Its purpose is to bond a man and a woman into one flesh in the deepest intimacy that human beings can share. Jesus said . . . from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twin, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (Mark 10:6-9). Sex is designed to both create life and build a strong relationship to protect and provide for that life. Little wonder that our Creator fashioned the means of creating life in such a way that it is one of the most awesome forces in our lives and then linked it to marriage so as to signify to us: “Priceless. Handle with Great Care.”

May we submit to you that the greater the gift, the greater the enemy will work to corrupt it. Certainly, this has been the case with God’s gift of sex to His creation.

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