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The sexual revolution of the '60s resulted in a drastic relaxation of sexual mores, with the idea of sex without consequences becoming widely accepted. But sex outside of marriage is laden with negative repercussions, and the Bible tells us such behaviour is sinful.
The first command recorded in the Bible was when God told Adam and Eve to have sexual relations (Genesis 1:28), and he essentially repeated the command in Genesis 2:24-25: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." One thing that should leap out at us from verse 24 is that God created sex for marriage, with the sexual act taking place between a husband and wife.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s resulted in sex apart from marriage becoming commonplace with devastating results. By the beginning of the 21st century one report estimated the "median age of first intercourse for American boys [was] 15.5" and "for American girls [it was] 16" (S.I. McMillen, M.D., and David Stern, M.D., None of These Diseases, 2000, p. 141). Similar situations were also reported in other countries. In Britain "the average age for both sexes to lose their virginity [was] 16" (The Observer, Dec. 2, 2001), and among Britain's 16- to 24-year-olds, "19.7 percent of men and 14.6 percent of women [had] already had 10 or more partners" (The Guardian, Nov. 30, 2001).
The pressure on young women to engage in illicit sexual relations is intense. Premarital sexual involvement is perhaps most likely to occur when a couple begins steadily dating,and various rationales to justify sex may be used, such as "It's okay if you're in love," "Everybody's doing it" or "We need to sleep together before we get married so we can know if we are sexually compatible."
It's important for young women to realize their motives for having sex are often quite different from those of a man. Women often consider intercourse will solidify a relationship, but to a young man it often represents coming of age or simply another conquest. Males are different emotionally and psychologically and often pursue sex purely for pleasure, with no thought of a relationship. In fact, much of the attraction of sex outside of marriage can be based on its illicit nature. The attitude that "stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (Proverbs 9:17) has been around for a long time.
When two people become "one flesh" in a sexual relationship (Corinthians 6:16), a bonding occurs between them. Sex counselors and schools push contraceptive devices as a means of assuring "safe sex," but no device can protect a person's heart. When the heart is assaulted, defensive patterns can develop that will affect future relationships.
The hazards and negative consequences of adultery or extramarital affairs are numerous. When discovered—as affairs often are—the result is often permanent injury or destruction of the marriage, with severe damage to relationships between other family members and friends. The quality of the marriage suffers because trust has been violated and, even if the wound heals, the scars remain. If children are involved, the two parties' lives generally remain interlocked, and when children sense the tensions and animosities, they are often emotionally scarred as a result.
The Bible states that premarital and extramarital sex are sin and are to be avoided at all costs. Notice Paul's warning to Christians in the sex-saturated city of Corinth: "Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Our sexuality is a gift God gave us, and is so special it should be protected and saved for marriage as God intended. Sexual relations within the context of a loving, committed marriage enable two people to know each other in the most intimate and personal way. Loving sex in this context is deeply satisfying and creates a unifying of two lives when the couple become one flesh as God intended (Genesis 2:24).
The Good News Magazine (Jul-Aug, 2002)