God’s Advice on Sexual Behavior/Part 1

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2002
Statistics show an alarming trend toward sexual impurity, even among Christian young people. The authors point out the dangers inherent in a sexually immoral lifestyle, and why abstinence isn’t just God’s desire for young people, it’s a good idea!

God’s Advice on Sexual Behavior—Part One

Sex today is one of the more paradoxical issues our nation faces. On the one hand, used properly, sexual pleasure is one of the most intimate and enjoyable of all earthly delights; on the other hand, used improperly, it is one of the most destructive of activities— whether we are speaking physically, emotionally or spiritually. Consider a few illustrations.

According to researchers Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler in their important book, Right from Wrong: What You Need to Know (Word, 1994, pp. 8-9), The Barna Research Group found disturbing results in a scientifically designed study that randomly selected youth groups from thousands of churches in the U.S. and Canada:

The [study] participants are youth who are intensely involved in church activity (Sunday school, worship, youth group, Bible study)…. Yet…the survey reveals that our youth are living on the moral edge, closer to disaster than we ever imagined…. Large proportions of our youth—a majority of whom say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ—are involved in inappropriate, immoral, even illegal behavior…. The data show that young people from good Christian homes are succumbing to the pressures of our society. By the time they reach the age of 18, over half (55 percent) have engaged in fondling breasts, genitals, and/or sexual intercourse.

These results illustrate that even Christian young people from committed Christian homes are adopting the world’s view of morality and sexuality. While the study did clearly prove that Christian faith and values make a significant difference in sexual behavior, it also revealed that perception of what is “morally acceptable” is what allows young people to engage in a given behavior—whether they are Christian or non-Christian. Further, it was found that the behavior of Christian youth is more influenced by their view of what is true than by whether or not they are born-again. Apparently then, there are large numbers of Christian young people who have experienced spiritual rebirth but who have never been intellectually trained in and convinced of the truth of Christian moral views. Thus, “Born-again youth [who do not accept absolute truth] are two times as likely to consider premarital sex a moral activity. In other words, your child’s morality will be positively affected by a born-again experience, but even more so by the development of strong convictions regard­ing morality…. This applies not only to the area of sexual involvement; it is true across the board, in every area of behavior and belief” (pp. 277-78).

Now in order to understand why even Christian youth are compromising sexual morality, consider how our culture as a whole has abandoned absolute views of morality in the area of sexual behavior. (We caution that statistics can be difficult to evaluate and easily ma­nipulated. However, if the figures cited below are even somewhat close to the truth, no one anywhere can afford the luxury of complacency.)

According to American Health magazine, by age 19, 75 percent of unmarried women have had or are having sexual intercourse.[1] The sexual proclivity of men would indicate at least a similar percentage for them.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that the Center for Family Life Education declares that 50 percent of the population contracts a sexually transmitted disease by the time they are 24 years of age.[2] Every day, 35,000 to 40,000 Americans acquire a sexually transmitted disease.[3]

A Department of Health and Human Services Task Force even offers us the sobering conclusion that “There is no clinical data to support the value of condoms” in preventing the spread of AIDS and a wide range of other STDs including herpes, syphilis and hepatitis B.[4] As of June 2001 the CDC reported that 793,026 Americans have AIDS. The number world­wide is 40 million. 2.7 million of those are children.[5]

Further, fully 40 percent of today’s 14-year-old girls will become pregnant by the time they are 19.[6] Yet tragically, many of their babies will be aborted. Thus, statistics show that more than 1.2 million teenage girls will become pregnant this year, and more than 400,000 teenage girls will have an abortion.[7]

It is estimated that American taxpayers will have to pay more than 100 billion dollars over the next 20 years for teenage child-bearing costs alone. And the overall financial costs of the sexual revolution could easily reach into the trillions of dollars.[8]

What lies behind these hard statistics are the tragic stories of individuals whose lives have been damaged or destroyed by a liberal sexual attitude and the myth of “safe sex,” individuals who are now faced with the consequences of abortion, AIDS, sexually transmit­ted diseases or simply the emotional aftermath of having had sex too soon or with the wrong person. Everybody agrees something needs to be done, but what?

This was never God’s plan. God loves us and desires His very best for us. That is what He tells us in His word: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB).

Society’s answer to these problems is: tell everyone to use a condom and practice “safe sex.” But as we will show, studies suggest condoms provide little or no safety. On the other hand, God’s instructions concerning sex provide 100 percent safety and protection against unwanted pregnancies, some 60 sexually transmitted diseases as well as the AIDS virus. Right now, if you’re weighing whether or not to have sex before you are married and you want to know the facts, we invite you to read on.

The Bible teaches that sex is to be reserved for a life-long monogamous commitment in marriage simply because this is the way God intended sexual activity for our benefit. In other words, no sex before marriage. Some people may grumble at this, but why should anyone be surprised that God knows what is best sexually for those He created as sexual beings?

Sex is so much more than mere physical pleasure that it is not incorrect to say that it is principally an emotional/spiritual act before it is a physical one.

Most people today seem to think that telling young people to wait for sex until marriage is unrealistic. But is it really? Is it really impossible to wait until one is married to engage in sexual activity? It may be difficult at times, but it is hardly impossible.

Hundreds of millions of teenagers already practice complete abstinence in cultures and countries which continue to highly prize virginity—like China, Japan, India and Muslim nations. There are also many Americans, especially Christians, who have waited five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years before being married and engaging in sexual relations with their spouse. There are others who have remained celibate their entire lives for various reasons, including devoting themselves to Christian service.

No one is saying that abstinence is always easy, but increasingly, even secularists are saying it truly may be necessary. And certainly, it is a lot easier than suffering some of the painful consequence of illicit sex, such as unwanted pregnancy, fear of intimacy, a bad marriage, crippling STDs—or death from AIDS. Again, sexual abstinence before marriage is what God commands because He knows what is best for us. Given today’s sexual cli­mate, who can logically argue that God is wrong?

Further, unless we deliberately and willfully sin in this area, or allow ourselves to be self-deceived, God will provide the strength needed to obey Him. If we ask Him and commit our lives to Him, He will bless our lives. And the welcome fact is that the vast majority of us are going to get married relatively young anyway and so most young people really do not need to be concerned over the issue of abstinence for too long. So is abstinence really too much for God to ask for those He loves? Because God does love us and desires our best inter­ests, Christians especially should commit themselves all the more to honoring the Lord with the life that they have while single.


  1. Patricia Hersh, “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are Ravaging Our Children: Teen Epi­demic,” American Health, May 1991; cf. U.S.A. Today, 8 November 1990, p. 44.
  2. Peggy Brick, et al., Teaching Safer Sex (Hackensack, NJ: Center for Family Life Educa­tion, Planned Parenthood of Bergen County, Inc., 1989), p. 27.
  3. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta from—Josh McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education, (San Bernardino, Calif: Here’s Life, 1990), p. 159; and Dinah Richard, Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers? A Research Report (Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family Publishing, 1990), p. 24; cf. US News and World Report, June 2, 1986; American Health, May 1991, p. 44; News Week, Summer/Fall, 1990, special issue, p. 57.
  4. Asta Kenney, Family Planning Perspectives, January/February 1986, pp. 6, 28 cited in McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education, p. 62.
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/stats.htm
  6. William J. Bennett, “Sex and the Education of Our Children,” U.S. Department of Educa­tion, 22 January 1987; transcript of talk at the National School Board Association in Washington, D.C.
  7. Ibid., cf. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Myth of Safe Sex, (Moody Press, 1993, p. 12-13 for original documentation.
  8. Ibid., Chapters 7, 13-14.

Read Part 2

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