"Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." -1 Corinthians 6:18-20
In our society today, it is expected that people have sex before marriage. A study done back in 2002 found that 95% of people have had premarital sex, and 93% of them had by age 30. (In comparison, of women born in 1940, 90% had had premarital sex.)(1)
However, I don't think these facts about premarital sex should be surprising, when we have so much predisposition to early sexualization through the media and through early sexual abuse, in addition to easy access to pornography. Among the top 20 TV shows watched by teens, 70% contain sexual content of some kind, while only 10% of these shows referenced the responsibilities or risks.(2) As many as 1 of 4 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and this number is likely much higher due to unreported cases.(3) A study found that 94% of teenagers had been exposed to porn before the age of 14, (4) and 10% of twelve year olds are already addicted to it. (5)
Aside from spiritual concerns, pre-marital sex has other effects on our emotions and physical health. Twenty-five percent of teen girls who said they were sexually active also said they had been depressed 'a lot of the time' or 'most of the time,'" while most who refrained from sexual activity were "never" or "rarely" depressed. (6) About 22% of people have an STD, with many cases unreported.(6) According to the CDC, "Young people represent 25 percent of the sexually experienced population in the United States, but account for nearly half of new STDs."(7) This is not to disparage anyone who has an STD; just a warning that this risk is very real in our world today.
I love the Message version of the verse above: "Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever - the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for becoming one with another." -1 Corinthians 6:16-18
The point behind this verse is not what we can't do, but rather experiencing the blessing of this wonderful gift in its best context - within the protection and commitment of a loving, God-centered marriage. If we have fallen short in this area, there is still grace and forgiveness, and the opportunity to begin again.
Do you honor God with your body?
Related resource: Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity