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Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating and Sex




Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Teen Issues: Friendship, Dating & Sex

Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Lesson 10: What's Wrong with Premarital Sex?

What's Wrong with Premarital Sex?


Why am I Judged for Having Sex?

Question: I'm a 16-year-old Christian who recently gave up my virginity. I waited until I really loved my boyfriend, and I knew he loved me. I don't think sex has anything to do with the fact that you're married or single. I think it's a choice each person has to make by asking themselves if they're prepared for the outcome if something goes wrong. I talked to my partner about the possible outcomes. We used protection and nothing bad happened.

My boyfriend broke up with me recently. I know it wasn't because of sex, it was just because we had grown apart in our relationship. We're still best friends and we talk all of the time. I still don't regret anything I've done because I know I loved my boyfriend, and I always will. So why do people judge me when they find out that I'm not a virgin?

Answer: You feel criticized by people who learn you aren't a virgin, but you might be surprised to know that some people feel criticized for just the opposite reason—because they've never had sex! It depends on who is doing the criticism, and what their philosophy is. In America today there are at least two very different philosophies of sex.

You've done a good job articulating the way sex is seen by many, especially on TV sitcoms, in most movies, and in supermarket magazines. The key to this philosophy is the individual—his or her likes and dislikes, his or her choices and responsibility. In this view, sex is a way for individuals to enjoy each other. Each person must decide individually whether to make love or not, with whom, and for how long. The only constraint should be whether they're prepared to handle the consequences. You can't avoid some risks, so you ought to face them honestly, minimize them if you can, and take responsibility for the results, whatever they are. If you should happen to get a sexually transmitted disease, or become pregnant, or decide you're not meant for each other, those are just the breaks of the game. Most likely you'll move through a number of sexual relationships before you find one that gives you lasting satisfaction. (And some people never find that, but keep moving from one partner to the next.)

If you follow this philosophy, there's no reason to blame you for losing your virginity. If someone had a baby and didn't take care of it, or contracted AIDS and whined about it, that would be wrong. But there's nothing wrong with what you've done—if you believe this philosophy.

I follow a different philosophy based on Christian truth and wisdom. The key to this philosophy is relationship. Sex, according to this view, is the way for individuals to bind themselves in a total relationship, in which two people become a single loving unit for the rest of their lives. In other words, sex is all about marriage and family. Your individual choice remains important, but it doesn't remain supreme forever. You become "one flesh" with a member of the opposite sex, by choosing to marry. Sex goes with a commitment. You lose a certain amount of freedom, a certain amount of individuality. But you gain a lifelong partner and soulmate.

That's why some people are letting you know they disapprove of what you've done. According to Christian thinking, you've missed the mark. You may have had good intentions, but you didn't understand what sex is for. You thought it was for enjoyment, long-term or short. According to a Christian view, sex is for enjoyment in marriage—and you've put that at risk. You've behaved in a way that makes it harder for you, your partner, and all your future partners to experience the real joy of sex. When you're used to going freely from one sexual relationship to the next, it's hard to stay with just one person. Sexual habits are very powerful.

You can argue about which works best. But I believe the Christian way gives the most benefits and offers the greatest chance of a satisfied life. You can see the consequences of an individualistic philosophy all around—so many children without a father, so many sexually transmitted diseases, so many divorces, so many lonely people. This may be the most sexually unsatisfied generation in history.

That's because the individualistic view of sex is unrealistic. You meet someone, decide to have sex, then go your separate ways. As long as you used protection, "nothing bad happened."

But I'd say that something bad did happen to you and your boyfriend. A bond that was meant to be permanent was treated like a throwaway.

People who love each other enough to expose their bodies and their love to each other in total vulnerability aren't meant to ever be torn apart. Even though you don't regret anything, I'd be surprised if the memories of that first, failed relationship don't haunt you. Sex is not just a physical thing. It's spiritual. When you tear apart after sex, there are consequences. At the very least, this first relationship will make your next relationship more likely to fail, because you've laid down some tracks you'll tend to follow again.

I'd urge you to think hard about which philosophy you want to follow. Do you want to stay in tune with the modern media or invest in historic wisdom? The way you answer will have lifelong implications, so think hard.


Have I Ruined My Future?

Question: About six months ago, I really thought I had found my true love. I had fallen from God quite a bit, though, and I had sex with the guy. After that our relationship fell apart, and I regretted having done it. Now I'm afraid my experience with premarital sex is just as bad as committing adultery. Since I've already had sex, does that mean I've been unfaithful to the man God has chosen for me?

Answer: Is the sin you've committed as bad as adultery? I don't know. It's hard to compare sins. They're all bad. But unfortunately, I do believe you've been unfaithful to your future spouse. You can test this by asking yourself, "What will that man feel when I tell him, someday, what I did?" I think he'll feel great pain, especially if he has, himself, been faithful while waiting for you. I believe he will wish fervently that you had waited for him.

Having given you the bad news, let me continue with the good. According to 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

Think of Jesus as he was being executed. He looked at those who were murdering him and prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). What, then, do you think he says as he looks at you?

The crucial question is not, did you sin terribly against your future husband (and your God), but do you confess and place your sin before the almighty Father? If you do that, he will make it right. As it says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

When it comes to what we think, say and do, every one of us is bad enough to ruin our chances for a happy marriage. Only God can absorb all our mistakes and sins and make us clean. And he will, gladly.


Will God Forgive Me?

Question: I am a 15-year-old girl and I recently asked my mother for birth control. In other words, I am having sex. But sometimes I feel like a bad person, like God won't forgive me for the things I have done. Does he still love me even though I am having sex? It's not like I am having sex with someone I don't love. I love my boyfriend with all of my heart, I am sure of it! But does having sex make me a bad person?

Answer: No, having sex does not make you a bad person. God made sex, and he wants us to enjoy it. God is pleased when married people share the intimacy of sex.

It's true that you are sinning by having sex with your boyfriend, and knowing that is probably what's making you feel guilty.

You probably don't see anything hurtful about your actions. But you are not looking at the big picture the way God does. The fact is, relationships between 15-year-olds can be intense, but they rarely last. Unless you seek God's help and change your life, you'll probably experience a series of love affairs, each one beginning with hope and love, each one ending in heartache.

By the time you're 20, it probably won't matter much that you loved somebody when you were 15. What will matter, though, is that if you continue in this pattern, you'll have a sexual history with a number of different partners—and that you'll be a lot less hopeful and love-filled than you used to be.

I don't like the thought of that. Neither does God. Neither should you!

God loves you very much, and your sin is not unforgivable. But he does want you to follow his directions. He had a good reason for saying that sex should wait for marriage. He wants you to experience sex the way he intended. If I were in your shoes, I'd ask your mom, your youth pastor or another friend to help you find ways to stop having sex. The joy of married sex is worth waiting for.


Did God Let This Happen?

Question: I'm really confused about something. I love my boyfriend, and we've promised to stay together, no matter what. I'd been wondering if God would mind if we had sex, because we are committed to each other. I prayed that if he thought the time was right, he would let it happen. We came close to having sex a few times after that, but something always stopped us. Then, a few days ago, we did have sex. I'm wondering: Since God allowed that to happen, is he OK with it?

Answer: Sometimes it is hard to figure out what God's plan is. But this is not one of those times.

Although the world around us is confused about sex, God has made his plan for sex very clear through his Word. It's a plan that applies to everyone, no matter what their situation.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrew 13:4, NIV).

The standard is consistent throughout the Bible: If you're married, you have sex. If you're not, you don't. It doesn't say anything about people who are "committed to each other."

God created sexual pleasure, excitement and intimacy. He made it as the sign and seal of absolute, lifelong love. He intended sexual partners to be bonded together, never to be broken apart. That's marriage, as God intended it. "Committed" just doesn't cut it.

If you think about it, you'll understand why. The type of commitment you have often fails. It's not likely that a romance you're involved in during high school will lead to marriage. Sex is too special and bonds you in a way that is too powerful for relationships other than marriage.

If it sounds like I'm being tough on you, I am. I'm doing this for two reasons: First, I think you may be asking a question that you already know the answer to. Deep inside, I think you know that looking for mysterious signs (like "something always stopped us," or "since God allowed it to happen") is a pretty unreliable way to figure out God's will.

Second, your way of thinking is dangerous. Think about it. Because we live in a fallen, broken world, things happen every day that are outside of God's perfect plan—things he's definitely not OK with, even though he allows them to happen. If you want to know God's will about sex, you don't have to look for signs. Just read the Bible.

My encouragement: Ask God to forgive you (he will), and then commit yourself to sexual purity until marriage. But don't go it alone. Find someone who can hold you accountable to God's standards for sexual purity. It would be best if this were a Christian woman who will show you understanding, and yet hold you to God's standards for sex. Please make changes, starting today. It's the best, right and healthy thing to do.


Questions from real-life teens with answers from well known columnist, Tim Stafford.

Content originally appeared in Campus Life magazine. Copyright © 2001-2005 by columnist, Tim Stafford. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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