Why is premarital sex bad? My friend just started high school, and she's trying to tell me that it's good and she's going to do it.
It might help to know that your friend is not on a quest for sex. Perhaps your friend has some hurt or loneliness in her life, and she figures that if she has sex, this will feel like love, and security, and she'll be happy. But if you look into her heart, you'll see that she isn't longing for a series of physical relationships with random guys. She's looking for enduring love and for intimacy, to be accepted by a man and cared for by him. She deserves these things, but she needs to be careful and courageous so that she doesn't fall for a counterfeit. There are plenty of boys out there who will tell her how beautiful her eyes are and how much they love her and will "always" be there. They'll give her "love" for the sake of getting sex, and she may want to give them sex for the sake of feeling loved. Her heart is made for something better than this, and she needs to realize that she is worth the wait. She cannot find happiness otherwise. As the Bible says, "she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives" (1 Tim. 5:6).
The following are some of the bad effects of premarital sex; don't dwell on them any longer than is necessary to give her a reality check. What she needs more than the bad news about premarital sex is the good news about what she is worth, and what plans God has in store for her. She needs to be encouraged to wait not because sex is bad, but because real love is so good. Let's look at the negative consequences of premarital sex from the relational, physical, emotional, and spiritual points of view.
Consider how premarital sex can affect relationships. One study showed that the average high school relationship will last only twenty-one days once the couple has sex. Furthermore, couples who sleep together before they are married have a divorce rate three times as high as couples who saved that gift for the wedding night.i Couples who want what's best for their relationship or future marriage will wait. Beyond their own relationship, premarital sex frequently causes tension within families because of the dishonesty that usually accompanies the hidden intimacies. Relationships with friends are often strained, and when things turn sour, the gossip and social problems often become unbearable.
One high school girl wrote, "I am sixteen and have already lost my virginity. I truly regret that my first time was with a guy that I didn't care that much about. Since that first night, he expects sex on every date. When I don't feel like it, we end up in an argument. I don't think this guy is in love with me, and I know deep down that I am not in love with him either. This makes me feel cheap. I realize now that this is a very big step in a girl's life. After you've done it, things are never the same. It changes everything."ii Another young person said, "I slept with many, many people trying to find love, to find self-worth. And the more people I slept with the less self-worth I had."iii
Everyone talks about how hard it is to say no, but no one tells you how hard it is when you say yes.
In regard to the physiological side of things, it's very dangerous for a young single woman to be sexually active. Because a teenage girl's reproductive system is still immature, she is much more susceptible to STDs. In fact, early sexual activity is the number one risk factor for cervical cancer, and the second is multiple sex partners.iv A girl's heart, like her body, is not designed to handle multiple sexual partners. Besides making herself vulnerable to STDs, your friend also needs to consider if she is ready to be a mom. Lastly, consider the fact that the rate of suicide attempts for sexually active girls aged twelve to sixteen is six times higher than the rate for virgins.v Tragically, these girls don't realize the purity and forgiveness that they can find in Christ.
New scientific studies also suggest that if a woman has multiple sexual partners, this will lower her levels of oxytocin which in turn will damage her ability to bond. Oxytocin is a neuro-peptide most commonly associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding. It seems to act as a human "superglue," helping a mother bond with her infant. It is also released during sexual arousal and there, too, seems to work as a "superglue." Since estrogen enhances the oxytocin response, females are capable of more intense bonding than males, and are more susceptible to the suffering that accompanies broken bonds.vi According to an article by Drs. John Diggs and Eric Keroack, "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual."vii
In more basic terms, sharing the gift of sex is like putting a piece of tape on another person's arm. The first bond is strong, and it hurts to remove it. Shift the tape to another person's arm and the bond will still work, but it will be easier to remove. Each time this is done, part of each person remains with the tape. Soon it is easy to remove because the residue from the various arms interferes with the tape's ability to stick. The same is true in relationships, where previous sexual experiences interfere with the ability to bond.
But a sexual relationship that is properly bonded from the start, such as that between two virgins on their wedding night, has one advantage among many: Oxytocin helps to maintain the "high" of sex in a long term relationship. This does not mean that if a person is not a virgin on the wedding night, he or she will be unable to bond with a spouse. It simply means that when we follow God's plan, we have the most abundant life possible.
The emotional side effects of premarital sex are also damaging to a young woman. It's not uncommon for a girl to have sex in order to make a guy like her more, or to encourage him to stay with her. She may compromise her standards because she's afraid of never being loved. Once he leaves her, though, an emotional divorce takes place. A person's heart is not made to be that close to a person, and then separated. Since teenage sexual relationships rarely last, the girl's sense of self-worth is often damaged. Also, she sometimes concludes that if she looked better, he would have stayed longer. This mentality can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia.
In her heart, a girl who has been used knows it. However, she may immediately jump into another sexual relationship to escape the hurt. If she tries to boost her self-esteem by giving guys what they want, then her self-worth often ends up depending upon those kinds of relationships. Her development as a woman is stunted, because without chastity she doesn't know how to express affection, appreciation, or attraction for a guy without implying something sexual. She may even conclude that a guy doesn't love her unless he makes sexual advances towards her. She knows that sex exists without intimacy, but she may forget that intimacy can exist without sex. A girl on this track usually feels accepted initially but that acceptance lasts only as long as the physical pleasure.
Spiritually, sin cuts us off from God, and this is the most serious consequence of premarital sex. After going too far, many of us know all too well that cloud of guilt that weighs on our hearts. The solution is not to kill our conscience, but to follow it to freedom. It is calling us, not condemning us. Provided we repent, God will be there to welcome us home, and let us start over (See John 8 and Luke 15).
What this all means is that our bodies, our hearts, our relationships, and our souls are not made for premarital sex. We're made for enduring love.
i J.D. Teachman, J. Thomas, and K. Paasch, "Legal Status and the Stability of Coresidential Unions," Demography, November 1991, 571-83. As quoted in Good News About Sex and Marriage, p. 71. ii As quoted by Thomas Lickona, Ph.D., in his address, "Sex, Love, and Charahcter: It's Our Decision" given to Seton Catholic High School students, Binghamton, NY, January 8, 1999. iiihttp://members.aol.com/cohabiting/myths.htm. iv RA Hatcher et al., Contraceptive Technology, 1994, p. 515. As reported at www.w-cpc.org/sexuality/teens.html . v As reported by Orr DP, Beiter M, Ingersoll G. Premature sexual activity as an indicator of psychological risk. Pediatrics, February, 1991, 87:141-147. As quoted in the Medical Institute's special supplement, "Sexual Health Update" Building Healthy Futures. vi Neural Oxytocinergic systems as Genomic Targets for Hormones and as Modulators of Hormone-Dependant Behaviors, Rockefeller University NY, 1999. vii Eric J. Keroack, M.D., FACOG and Dr. John R. Diggs Jr., M.D., "Bonding Imperative," A Special Report from the Abstinence Medical Council. This question and answer taken from Jason Evert's bookIf You Really Loved Me. For more great chastity Q & As, order your copy of his book today.