Sex Before Marriage/Commitment: Time To Shift Our Focus

In last week’s article, titled ‘Sex Before Commitment – Yay or Nay?’, we discussed sex from a purely logical point of view, with my general point being it’s far better to ensure there is some kind of commitment before having sex with someone you like.

This week we’re addressing the question from a spiritual angle.

Let us first consider some stark facts.

According to data gathered by National Association of Evangelicals in 2010/2011, 80% of unmarried evangelical Christians in Africa, aged between eighteen to twenty-nine admitted to having had pre-marital sex.

The Christian Post (US), in an article published 2011, stated that as many as 80% of unmarried evangelical young adults have had sex.

‘Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who identify themselves as evangelicals are almost as sexually active as their non-Christian peers. Everyone’s doing it.’

The Christian Post

I’m fairly sure today’s figures are even higher!

So, the question on my mind is, ‘why aren’t all the ‘abstain’ messages working?’’

And if they so obviously aren’t making a jot of difference to the majority of Christians’ life-style choices, then isn’t it time to consider an alternative strategy?

But before going any further I must make a very important point – Your identity and worth is not based on what you do or don’t do, but on who you are in Christ; and that is righteous, loved, and irreversibly blessed. This is the truth you must bear in mind at all times -no matter what you’ve done, and irrespective of how you feel.

You received your righteousness as a result of a transfer-swap that happened on the cross – all your sins were placed on Jesus and His righteousness was placed on you; never to be removed. It is an impossibility for your righteousness to be taken back. This is why the Gospel is ‘Good News!’. It wouldn’t be such Good News if it depended on our ability to maintain it!

Focus not on what you must do, but on what Christ has already done.

In other words, your righteousness and God’s unfailing and unconditional love for you doesn’t depend on your success-rate of obeying laws and regulations – be they sex before marriage / commitment or anything else.

Now we’ve got the most important foundation of your life out of the way, we can proceed with the semantics.

Why does God place so much onus on not having sex before marriage?

God isn’t some kind of party-pooper who loves nothing better than to make our lives as miserable as possible by insisting we deny ourselves one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Similar to his dislike of the process and ramifications of divorce, he doesn’t love you any more or less because you have sex or not. What he dislikes are the complications and heartache that pre-marital or pre-commitment sex can lead to. Again, just as I pointed out in the article, although I believe in marriage, I’m also of the view that it is what lies in our hearts that really matters, as against whether or not you’ve documented your relationship. In other words, if two people genuinely love one another and are committed to a long-term relationship, then who are we to judge them on the basis of whether or not they’re ‘married’??

Sex before commitment can lead to a lot of complications, stress, and heartache. And usually the emotions of one of the parties are severely damaged as a result. This is what God dislikes – the broken hearts; and it is for this reason he wants us to abstain from sex before commitment. It is for our protection.

The apostle Paul’s comments in 1st Corinthians 6 vs 12 succinctly supports this.

‘Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.’

Berean Study Bible

The truth is since you’re no longer under the law, but under grace, you can actually do whatever you want. Why? Because under grace there is no sin – you are completely disconnected from it, and absolutely nothing can take your righteousness away.

‘For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous.’

Romans 5 vs 19

Righteousness is a gift that can never be taken away.

So, yes, you can have sex before commitment /marriage, but does it really benefit you? That is the question we should be asking ourselves; and it is one that can only be answered by each individual. We are all different.

The surest way of ensuring you do what you shouldn’t do is to continuously focus on not doing it.

The law possesses zero positive power for you. In-fact, by focusing so much on the law we simply give the devil greater opportunity to ensure we err over and over and over again.

I recall coming out of a church service after hearing a somewhat legalistic sermon about abstaining from sex before marriage, several years back. As a result of the fear planted in my mind by that sermon, I spent the next few weeks fully focused on not having sex. But the more I tried, the more sexual thoughts popped into my head. And the more sexual thoughts popped-in, the greater the guilt and shame within. Before long I spiraled into a mode of ever-present guilt and condemnation. After several weeks of mental torture, I eventually caved-in to my sexual desires. My thinking was, ‘I can’t go on like this. Let me just fail now and be done with it.’

That, dear friends, is how the devil uses the law against us.

The more you keep telling yourself you mustn’t, the more likely it is you will. Will-power can only get one so far. Throw a tennis ball up into the air as hard as you can and it will eventually come down. It always will.

Isn’t it time we shifted our focus from what we shouldn’t do to who we are in Christ??

Focus on God’s love for you and amazing things happen – a supernatural ability to do the right thing.

I won’t go into details, but I have, on two occasions during the past five months, had the opportunity to have sex with two different ladies. Both are lovely individuals, but the problem was that I didn’t like them enough; and as such, because I knew I couldn’t commit to a long-term relationship I decided to cut things short. Why? Because I didn’t want to let them down; didn’t want them to get hurt.

Both are very attractive and as far as my flesh was concerned sex was a no-brainer. But the strangest thing happened – for once I thought not of my needs but of theirs. And I can honestly say such thoughts could not have been mine. I’m naturally selfish. In-fact at the time I was rather irritated with myself for being so ‘foolish’. But for some reason I kept thinking about how they would feel if I let them down, and as such decided it was best to end matters, for their sake.

That is the difference between focusing on what you must or mustn’t do and fixing your mind and heart on how unconditionally loved you are by God. Your attention super-naturally shifts from ‘self’ to ‘others’.

Stop worrying about whether-or-not you are or will have sex before commitment / marriage. Rather, dwell on and rejoice in how unfailingly and unconditionally loved you are by your father in heaven. He will do the rest.

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