Is abstinence Unrealistic?

By Richard Boone

In the ’70’s it was gonorrhea and syphilis. In the early 80’s (my high school years) it was a certain strain of Herpes. During the last 10 years, AIDS has dominated the scene. To be protected from sexually-transmitted diseases (STD’s) we are encouraged to practice “safe sex.” The message of “safe sex” is, “Go ahead and have sex, just use a condom to prevent STD’s.” In recent weeks, commercials during prime-time network TV programs have advocated condom use. They leave a clear message  while listing abstinence as a possible option, it is actually unrealistic for twentieth-century Americans to abstain from sexual activity, therefore use a condom when you are sexually active. Is abstinence unrealistic? This is my concern in this article.

Societal Attitudes Towards

Sexual Relationships

Through humanism’s influence, our society has accepted the “live and let live” view. Humanist philosophy is stated in their words: “In the area of sexuality, we believe that in-tolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults…. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire” (“The Individual,” Humanist Manifestos I and II, p. 18; italics mine – rb). This thinking has infected society  fornication and adultery are glamorized on TV and in music, homosexuality is defended and promoted, NAMBLA (North American Man/ Boy Love Association) and like organizations exist, etc.

God’s Teaching About “Safe Sex”

One visits a doctor to find the cause of an illness, not just to treat the symptoms of it. Where is the root of our moral problems? The answer is in Romans 1  like the Gentile world of Paul’s day, our society has departed from God and is drowning in the muck of depravity. Our only remedy is to turn back to God and his teaching. To assist in that, consider several principles in his word.

God’s creation of man and woman and bringing them together as husband and wife were “very good.” God made man and woman to complement each other. He put sexual desires in both. These desires are natural, whole-some and good (Gen. 1:31; 2:24-25; 4:1; etc.). They become filthy and disgusting when the boundaries governing those de-sires are transgressed.

God ordained “marriage” to satisfy sexual desires (1 Cor. 7:1-5). Fornication (with its attendant physical and spiritual consequences) can be avoided by satisfying natural desires in the God-given relationship for them  marriage.

One is to remain pure until marriage (Heb. 13:4). The marriage bed is to be “undefiled.”

Fornication and adultery violate that purity and those guilty of such will be judged by God (Heb. 13:4). To stand before God unforgiven of these sins results in one being kept out of heaven (Gal. 5:19-21).

Thoughts precede actions (Prov. 4:23; 23:7). For our actions to be pure our thoughts must be pure. We are to bring all thoughts into subjection of the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

We can control our thoughts and actions. Joseph did  he would not lie with his master’s wife and sin “against God” (Gen. 39:7-12). He literally ran from the situation!

The New Testament explicitly teaches abstinence from fornication. “Flee sexual immorality…” (1 Cor. 6:18). “But fornication . . . let it not even be named among you” (Eph. 5:3). “. . . put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire” (Col. 3:5). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age” (Tit. 2:11).

What Can We Do?

Learn God’s will on these matters and submit to it: Most people are ignorant of God’s teaching on this matter, therefore they are gullible (2 Tim. 3:5-6). Sadly, this includes Christians. We can learn and apply God’s teaching (Eph. 3:3-5). His will is given to make us complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Stand firm on God’s teaching regardless of the consequences: Persecutions will come (2 Tim. 3:12). God loved us enough to send his only Son to die when we were sinners; his love and guidance will not fail us when we, as his children, face trials (Rom. 5:7-11).

Draw strength from the faithful stand of others: Timothy drew such strength from Paul (2 Tim. 3:10-11,14). Joseph, Daniel, Ruth, the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, and other heroes of faith provide such examples.

Teach our children plainly what God teaches: Timothy was told to continue in what he had learned from childhood (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Parents, we have the responsibility to rear our children in the nurture and admonition of God (Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 1:5). Let us not fail. They will learn from us or from a source of which we would not approve! Equally important, if we fail to teach them about these and other spiritual matters, their blood will be upon us at the judgment (Ezek. 33:6-8; Acts 20:26-27).

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:11-12).

Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 18, p. 20-21
September 15, 1994