Is Sexual Abstinence Realistic?

March 14, 2023

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Today's question says "in this post-Christian nation, is it realistic to tell our children to be sexually abstinent? I know that is the biblical position, but the statistics are what they are regarding premarital sex. Would a good fallback position be abstinence unless you are with someone you deeply love and are looking to marry? I know it might sound a defeatist, but I'm worried about Christians making decisions and not being safe and all the potentially terrible consequences that might follow."


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question is a bit of a longer one, and it's a bit outside of the box from typical questions that we get, but when this one came in, I thought it would be an important one to cover. So here we go.

Today's question says "in this post-Christian nation, is it realistic to tell our children to be sexually abstinent? I know that is the biblical position, but the statistics are what they are regarding premarital sex. Would a good fallback position be abstinence unless you are with someone you deeply love and are looking to marry? I know it might sound a defeatist, but I'm worried about Christians making decisions and not being safe and all the potentially terrible consequences that might follow, for example, STDs and God forbid, abortion."

So it's a very serious question and it's important one, and I'm grateful that the person who wrote this question sent it in because I think it's an important one for us to cover and to think through because there's probably many people in our churches and in our spheres of influence who are thinking something somewhat similar. Now, when I share this at the beginning, I mean absolutely no disrespect or embarrassment to the person who submitted this question because I think it is an important question. But in all honesty, when I read this question, I cried, and I mean that's a subjective response. I'm not making an objective claim quite yet. That's just my subjective response that I cried.

But the reason that I cried is I just thought, oh my goodness, are we as a church so far from the heart of God and understanding how despicable a sin is in his sight, that we would contemplate both engaging in sin and encouraging others to engage in sin. Now, as this questioner wrote in clearly any form of sexual activity outside of the marriage covenant is sin. This is clear throughout the entirety of scripture. And we see the full picture in the New Testament. Throughout the Old Testament sexual sin is compared to idolatry, and idolatry is compared to sexual sin. And this is made clear in Ephesians five that because the union of a husband and a wife is a picture of Christ in the church, that a union with anyone outside of the marriage covenant is a picture of idolatry, even if it's just premarital sex between a couple who intends to make a marriage covenant, that that's a picture of idolatry. It's a picture of unfaithful to Jesus.

And then in other portions of the New Testament, in both First Corinthians chapter 6, and in Romans chapter 1, it's made clear that sexual sin is a dishonoring of our bodies, that our bodies and our souls are intimately intertwined. And when we unite our bodies and our souls with someone who is not our spouse, we are sinning against God. We're sinning against that person, we're sinning against our spouse and we are sinning against our very selves. Scripture says all other sins a man commits outside of his body except for the sin of sexuality, of sinning with our sexuality. Now, with the logic of this question, the way that this question is worded, the logic is should we maybe put a stamp of approval on certain "lesser" forms of sexual sin? For those of you listening, you couldn't see, I just put air quotes up for lesser, lesser sexual sins to then lessen the potential consequences of really "large" sexual sins.

And this is an attitude that's that we encounter sadly within the church a lot, maybe should we sin in this small way to prevent this larger sin. I saw this in my own life when I was in my mid twenties at the time, I was in a committed relationship with a man who was on the pastoral staff at the church where I was attending, and we'd been dating for a while. We were planning on getting married and God and his grace and kindness before we got engaged revealed that this young man had been involved in certain forms of sexual sin with different women who were at the church, both before we had been dating and while we were dating. And God was very kind in revealing that to me before we actually were engaged or were married. But the interesting thing was when I started going to the Christian counselor at the church, just as I was struggling through the loss of this relationship and then also it being something that was just so very public, and when I went to the Christian counselor at that church, what she basically told me was in not so many words was that this was my fault.

Because if I hadn't set such high boundaries on our physical relationship that this guy wouldn't have gone elsewhere to seek this out. And by God's grace, I knew that that wasn't the truth, that I was not to sin against the holy God in order to keep this guy I was dating from sinning in a different way. But the logic of this Christian counselor at the church was that this sin had been a very big in public sin and it had huge repercussions where if this young man and I had sinned on our own, it's kind of more normal for a couple to sexually sin so there would've been less repercussions from that. And I knew at the time that that was terrible logic that there was no way I was going to choose to be disobedient to the commands of my savior just to stop someone from sinning in a different way.

But sometimes we get into this picture that we think like, oh, if we could just replace this bigger sin with a lesser sin, like if we think of a son or a daughter coming out of the closet as gay, we might view that as a more heinous sin than if we have a son or a daughter who's living with their opposite sex partner where it's like, no, both of those things are sin and sin against holy God. And now if we think about how do we present this to our children and should we actually present to our children some alternatives to the biblical commands for how we are to guard sex and sexuality, my question is, do we take Jesus' words seriously? Do we take Jesus seriously at his word?

In Matthew chapter 18, it says, "at that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said, truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Weo to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble. Such things must come but woe to the person through whom they come."

Did you hear that? This is very serious. If we are causing one of these little ones who believe in Jesus to stumble, it says, it would be better for us to have a millstone hung around our neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. This is very serious, and this is a passage that we at Foundation Worldview take very seriously anytime we're writing materials for children. That the way we guide children, the way we guide the next generation is so important that if we give them some sort of "out" saying, "oh, well, you know what? We know your sexual urges are really hard to curb. And so if you could just reserve sex for a committed relationship rather than marriage, that would be better" we are causing one of these little ones to stumble. That is a serious, serious offense against God.

And then my next question is, do we really believe what God teaches about unrepentant sin? Do we really believe what God teaches? In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, starting in verse 9, Paul writes, "or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunker, nor revilers, nor swindler, were inherit the kingdom of God and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And by the Spirit of our God." Do we really take God seriously at his word that these sins are sins that separate us from God?

And now don't mishear me. God offers grace and forgiveness through Jesus. I mean even in that passage it says, in such were some of you that these sins are sins that can be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, that God offers forgiveness and restoration. But scripture is clear that continual unrepentant sin should make us ponder whether we have truly ever repented and turned to Jesus. Because if we know Jesus, if we know Jesus and love him, we are going to want to do everything that we can to follow him. And are we going to still sin? Yes, because we wrestle against our flesh, but we are not going to delight in that sin and we are not going to wallow in that sin and we are not going to hide that sin, that we're going to bring it out into light, that we're going to confess and repent. We're going to turn from that sin and follow Jesus.

And now the issue when we think about the statistics about how many people who claim the name of Christ engage in premarital sex, the issue here with our children following the ways of the culture, it's not that our children lack self-control. Is there a part of it that's lacking self-control? Yes, but that's not the root issue. The root issue is not a lack of self-control, but them not seeing Jesus as worth the cost.

Do we view Jesus, our precious savior, the son of God who gave his very life for us, do we view him as more precious than life itself? Do we view him as worth every and any sacrifice? In the gospel of Luke, in chapter 9, starting in verse 18, it says, "once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, 'who do the crowds say I am?' They replied. 'Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. And still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.' 'But what about you?' He asked, 'who do you say I am?' Peter answered 'God's messiah.' Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Then he said to them, all, 'whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for me will save it. For what good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me in my words, the son of man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.'"

And we see in this passage as Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, he tells us that we are to die to ourselves every day. We're not going to do this perfectly. We're going to continually need his grace and forgiveness as we seek to walk in the spirit. But if our children do not understand that Jesus is worth it, then they are going to be so much more likely to just fall into the cultural tide of sexual promiscuity.

And so what we need to do when we see the numbers, we don't need to be disheartened. What we need to do is we need to make sure that we are submitting ourselves before God daily, that we are doing everything that's within our power to faithfully disciple these children that God has placed in our care, that they can see the truth and the goodness and the beauty of Jesus. And you know what? They're not going to taste and see that the Lord is good if we are not modeling that in our own lives.

I remember when I first started teaching, we would have chapel once a month and in my first years of teaching, chapel kind of stressed me out cause my students were constantly misbehaving and I just felt like I had to discipline them all the time. And I felt like I couldn't even really worship the Lord in chapel because it was so focused on their behavior. And then around my third year teaching, I was really convicted. Yes, I do have a responsibility as a teacher to make sure my students aren't misbehaving or harming one another, but what they need more than a police officer in that chapel service is they needed a model of someone who is worshiping Jesus wholeheartedly.

And I remember several years after that in a video that was played for our entire school, students were asked what impact teachers had made on their lives. And one of my former students who was then in junior high said, "I just love every chapel looking over at Miss U and just seeing her worship Jesus with her whole heart. And that's what she shows us in the classroom every day too." If we don't have this love for God, this willingness to sacrifice of ourselves daily, the children God has placed in our care are much less likely to develop that same love and passion for God, that they need to understand that they are to daily pick up their crosses, deny themselves, and follow Jesus.

As I say many times, we first need to make sure that our kids understand the orthodoxy, the sound theology behind this, before we can get into the orthopraxy. And to do that, really highly recommend you check out the book, Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality does a great job of laying out what is the orthodoxy here that we need to help our kids understand? And then practically, what is the practical orthopraxy. If you're working with children who are older? Another thing I highly recommend is that you check out the upcoming Holy Sexuality Curriculum for Teens put out by Christopher Yuan does a great job in that curriculum just laying this foundation that the Christians call in sexuality in every other area of life is to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Jesus because he is worth it.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode today. As always, if you found this content beneficial, would just ask that you would consider liking, subscribing and writing a review, and also that you would share this episode with those in your sphere of influence. Our goal at Foundation Worldview is to equip as many adults as possible to get the kids in our care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview. My prayer for you as we leave this time together is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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