Estimated reading time: 7 minutes:)
If you’ve been following along, you know in my last blog I talked about the questions I had surrounding abstinence.
Being in a relationship with Nathan made me question Christian abstinence more than ever before. I started doubting – which made me do a ton of research on the subject. I didn’t want to give in to premarital sex without being confident it was “okay” for me to do first.
I talked with my parents and mentors about it. I read every Bible passage that talks about “sexual immorality.” I sought council from church leaders and read countless articles online. Every day during my time with God, sex was our topic of conversation. I desperately wanted to do what He knew was best for me, but I didn’t know what that was.
I’ve never been so morally confused in my entire life.
**If you want more details on why abstinence was so difficult for Nathan and I, check out my last blog (Abstinence Part 1: The Questions I had).
Ultimately, our searching (for several months) led to nothing but more confusion. Everyone we talked to gave us the same answers – and each answer either 1) didn’t make sense, 2) didn’t apply to our situation, or 3) wasn’t motivating enough in heated moments.
Desperate, Nathan and I decided to fast. We knew we weren’t entitled to get an answer from God, but we felt led to fast in pursuit of God’s righteousness over our own desires. That month was rough – but we continued to pray and abstain because we didn’t have a clear answer yet.
Finally, after several months of brutal temptation God finally opened our eyes to an answer. He finally showed us why abstinence is the best route for dating and engaged couples, and this answer was motivating, rock-solid, biblically sound, and peace-giving.
I’m going to share that answer next week. But I wanted to share all the other answers we received beforehand – the ones that totally fell flat and frustrated us when we were in the thick of it.
If you’re in a relationship, I hope you don’t feel as discouraged as I did if these Christian reasons for abstinence don’t make sense to you.
God invites your curiosity and your doubts – He has nothing to hide. And to be honest, when you’re in a tempting moment, you really do need a rock-solid reason to fight off that temptation – not these flimsy arguments.
So here they are, all the Christians arguments for abstinence that fell flat for Nathan and I:
1. “You might not marry him.”
You’ve probably heard this reason before, and it’s true – you can never be 100% certain you’re going to marry your significant other until you literally say “I do.”
But this argument fell flat for Nathan and I because we had zero doubts about one another. We used to say, “sure one of us might die and we can’t get married, but if I have anything to say about it, I want to marry you” 😂
When you are so totally confident in a person (especially if you’re engaged), this reason for abstinence just isn’t motivating.
2. “You could get pregnant.”
This argument is similar to the one above because it falls flat when you intend of marrying the person you’re with.
Sure, it’s definitely unsafe to sleep around and risk pregnancy with random people. But when you have your eyes set on one person and one alone, you won’t be as afraid of the possibility of pregnancy. In fact, in those heated moments, getting pregnant probably won’t cross your mind until after the fact.
And let’s be real, condoms exist. The risk of pregnancy is low when you use one – low enough for this reason to be pretty unmotivating in a tempting moment.
3. “But it says premarital sex is wrong in the Bible.”
This is one I wrestled with. So many people told me premarital sex was prohibited in the Bible, but every time I searched for those verses, all I found was scripture on “sexual immorality.”
Take a moment and read through these “verses about abstinence” here.
It’s confusing because in church, “abstinence” and “refraining from premarital sex” are synonymous. But in the Bible, there seems to be a larger umbrella of “sexual immorality” discussed, but it isn’t super clearly defined.
It’s clear in the Bible that God intended each person to have sex with one person their entire life, either their husband or wife. It’s obvious sleeping around is included in “sexual immorality,” as well as lusting after others and having multiple partners. Anything outside of the 1 man and 1 woman design falls within “sexual immorality.”
But if you are in a committed relationship with the person you intend on marrying, and you don’t sleep with anyone else, it’s difficult to find a verse that condemns that.
**Disclaimer: I’m not saying the bible condones sleeping with your fiance or committed boyfriend/girlfriend, I’m just explaining my thought process at the time.
During that tempting season, these bible verses, which supposedly talked about abstinence and premarital sex but really talked about sexual immorality, were confusing and frustrating to me. I started wondering, “does anyone else see why I’m confused? Am I missing something?”
That’s why these specific verses often cited to defend Christian abstinence just didn’t make sense to Nathan and I.
4. “Sex can only be enjoyed in the context of a lifelong commitment.”
This statement is 100% true, and very clear in the Bible. Like I said, God designed people to be in a lifelong relationship with only one other person – there’s no doubt about that.
But again, Nathan and I were intending on a lifelong commitment anyway. I felt committed to him 100% already – so why wait for sex?
5. “Your family/friends will be disappointed in you.”
This simply shouldn’t be reason for abstinence.
Personally, I don’t tend to care too much what people think about me, so this simply wasn’t motivating to me during those tempting moments.
But even if it is a motivating reason for you, it shouldn’t be your sole reason for abstinence. You must be convicted about the issue on your own – you can’t rely on the convictions of others to dictate why you do what you do.
And trust me, even if you’re terrified of what your parents will say when they find out, you will not care in that heated moment. This reason is about as flimsy as they get.
6. “You could get an STD.”
Again, this reason is valid if you’re sleeping around with dozens of people.
But if you’re in a committed relationship, you know you both don’t (or literally can’t) have an STD, and you’re tempted – you’ll give in every time.
7. “God might punish you.”
This is another reason I don’t believe comes from a good heart posture.
If the only reason you’re abstaining is because you’re afraid God might smight you, take away your person, or ruin your life – you’re being motivated from a place of fear and misunderstanding of God’s character.
Now just to clarify, I’m not talking about a healthy fear of the Lord. I’m talking about fear in the ugly sinful way we all struggle with, not a healthy respect and awe of the God of the universe. When we sin, we should fear the Lord (in the right way) because we messed up and hurt Goodness itself.
But God is not a karma machine that dispenses good for good and bad for bad. He will allow bad consequences to happen, He will reward righteousness. But He also forgives, offers grace, and brings redemption.
Abstinence should be chosen out of obedience and love for the Lord, not out of fear of what He might do to you.
8. “The stats point to better marriages between those who abstain.”
This is true. As this article puts it, “Researchers found that those who wait to have sex until marriage, compared to those who don’t, report significantly higher relationship satisfaction (20%), better communication patterns (12%), less consideration of divorce (22%), and BETTER sexual quality (15%).”
You don’t have to look far to find evidence that shows abstinence leads to stronger, longer-lasting marriages. It’s pretty undebated.
But the truth is, when you’re in a heated moment, these stats will not matter to you as much. You can agree with them all day, but when your judgement is impaired by temptation, you’ll start to think you’re above the stats (speaking from experience here, oof).
The stats are of course helpful and compelling. But they can’t be your only reason for abstaining.
9. “Your judgement will be clouded after you become intimate.”
This also is true – people tend to look past their SO’s flaws when they’re head over heels about them, especially if they’ve been intimate. And when you’re dating, you need a sound mind to truly decide whether this person is for you or not.
But the argument falls apart when you’ve been together long enough to decide you want to get married. Once you’ve made up your mind about someone and seen every side of them (the good, the bad, and the ugly), you won’t care if your judgement is clouded.
A lot of reasons fall flat – but God doesn’t leave us totally in the dark about abstinence
I didn’t list these arguments to shame the church for using them to defend abstinence. Most of them are very valid and useful to bring up!
All I’m saying is in our situation, when we were so confident about getting married, these arguments didn’t resonate with us.
If you’ve been given these answers before and they also didn’t make sense to you, don’t beat yourself up. Here are a few things that comforted me when I didn’t have any reason for abstinence that made sense:
1) Temptation ≠ Sin
You’re not a “bad Christian” for being so tempted and confused. The sin is not feeling tempted, it’s when we give into that temptation. When you are feeling tempted, you still have a choice to give in or to resist.
2) God is Not the Author of Confusion
1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
I felt confused about abstinence for several long months, but it was comforting to know God did not “make me confused.” The confusion I felt was an attack from the devil, which motivated me to keep abstaining even when I didn’t have a rock-solid reason to keep going. I didn’t want to give in to the devil’s attack of confusion.
3) God Provides a Way of Escape
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
If sex outside of marriage truly is sinful (no matter how committed or good your relationship is), God will provide a way of escape every time you’re tempted. And speaking from my own experience, God always did. He always gave us the opportunity to back out, say no, pull away. He is faithful – He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.
4) God Honors a Pursuit of Righteousness
For the longest time I felt like all my confusion, frustration, and patience was for nothing. I didn’t have any conviction about abstinence and it didn’t seem like I’d ever feel truly convicted.
On the days I felt most impatient and frustrated, I was reminded that God rewards his children when they pursue his righteousness.
Even though I didn’t have a good reason for why we were abstaining for the longest time, my strongest desire was to pursue God’s righteousness. Knowing that exhausting and frustrating pursuit would be honored one day was super comforting.
5) There is an Answer
God designed his children for abstinence until marriage, and he didn’t have to give us reasons why – but he did.
Next week, I’m going to share the answer that truly resonated with Nathan and I. God opened our eyes to the real reason why we should be convicted about abstinence, and we’re more convicted about it now than ever before.
Hope to see you next week! God loves you and sees you, friend. Happy weekend:)