During the twentieth century, premarital sex has become an important issue. Sexual abstinence was the normal society lifestyle until the late 1950s. Most men and women would not have ever slept with another person out of wedlock. While this sexual abstinence lifestyle was in effect, a mentality of independence struck the adolescence of the United States. They felt as though they must engage in sexual activity, just to defy societys view of what was morally right. The reason sexual abstinence is an issue today is because many people claim premarital sex is wrong. People base their opinions on what the Bible has said. When the Bible is used to justify any means of behavior, it usually becomes a moral issue. The main issue at hand is whether premarital sex is classified as morally right or wrong. The Catholic Church claims that premarital sex is wrong and immoral. Not only does the Catholic Church believe this, so does nearly every other Christian faith. In many other countries, premarital sex is not as huge of an issue as it is here in the US. The basis for this is unsure, but religion and culture seem to play into it largely.
In the 1990s, the teaching of abstinence is beginning to be implemented into the public school systems. The enthusiasm for the just-say-no approach began with the G.O.P. Welfare Reform Act, known as Title V. It appropriates fifty million dollars a year for five years to programs that instruct teens to stay abstinent until marriage. Since the measure took effect two years ago, forty-eight states have decided to participate. Of these forty-eight states, five states have gone one step further, requiring that abstinence be the only programs taught. California and New Hampshire are the only two states that have returned their federal grants, because they refused to participate in this program. Some schools in Minnesota have a dual-track sex education program. It is up to the parents to decide what they would like their children to study.
There is a lot of controversy about these programs because the issue of sexual abstinence is so controversial. Debra Hauser, Vice President of Advocates for Youth in Washington says, in the last couple years weve seen a huge increase in the number of public schools that are restricting the amount and type of information teachers can provide in the classroom. (Gardner, Christian Science Monitor, p. B1) School nurse Esther Splaine argues, Every year, twelve million American teens are sexually active. Nearly one million teens become pregnant, and three million contract a sexually transmitted disease. On through abstinence will teenagers avoid these and other problems related to too-early sex. (Gardener, Christian Science Monitor, p. B1) The largest obstacle of this issue is that there is no consensus on the nature of the crisis. On top of that, there is not an effective solution for easing the plight.
While there are many programs, other than schools, that support this idea of abstinence only teaching, there are just as many that are opposed. Most public health experts have concern that these abstinence only programs could undo years worth of progress in education concerning safe sex. Of the five states that hold the abstinence only policy, studies have shown that there was not a delay in the onset of sexual intercourse. In another eleven studies, results show that programs that combined abstinence and contraceptive programs either delayed teen sexual activity, or reduced its frequency. In another survey conducted by Eric Tooley, of the 200 participants in their second year of abstinence-only classes, sixty percent have already lost their virginity, and ten of the girls are pregnant. (Morse; Hylton, Time, p. 79) This shows that the programs need to be refined in order to be effective. With new programs such as these, it is extremely difficult to instate them in a way that it benefits everyone.
The Catholic Church feels as though it is best to save sex until marriage. Many catholic leaders foresaw the danger of casual sex, especially with college students. Pope John Paul II often speaks out on the wounds that result from pre-marital sex. As stated in Crisis magazine the Pope claims, one of the consequences of removing human sexuality from the context of married love is a depersonalization of the human body. The body becomes nothing more than an object for use, while the broader and deeper requirements of human dignity and happiness are ignored. (Desmond, Crisis, p. 12) As the Pope continues to preach these words of wisdom a majority of the warnings go unnoticed, in universities and high schools alike. The Catholic Church looks at research done, and uses it to explain what has gone wrong. Many experts say that teen sex is at a high due to what the media and business world put out. In many teen magazines, there are answers to almost any teens sexual question. They use these magazines to help figure out the technical requirements of sexual appeal and performance. The church also believes that family breakdown, the pill, and a neo-Enlightenment belief in the natural goodness of children weakened parental resolve to transmit moral values.
These are not the only reasons the church does not condone sex before marriage. Many pastors and clergymen look to the Bible for the answers as to why one should abstain from premarital sex. The Bible says in Acts 15:29 to the Gentiles, You are to abstain from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you avoid these things. In Hebrews 13:4 it states, Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.Not only does the bible speak of staying pure in the New Testament, it is also spoken of in the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible. In Genesis 2:24 it is stated, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. The idea of one flesh is the bond between a man and his wife and the spiritual and sexual bond that is formed.
From these one can assess that one should remain pure. The true sense of the word pure as defined by Zondervan Study Bible is, to be free from all taint of that which is lewd. Contemporary teachings say that it is all right for committed individuals to participate in sexual intimacy, even if they are not married. This idea is contrary to Gods teachings in the Bible. The Bible claims many times over that God prohibits sexual relations with anyone who is not a lawful spouse. The Protestant Church focuses on these matters as the reasons not to engage in sexual activity before marriage. There are many other nations that use other sources to define their terms of sexual morality, or lack there of.
In a study done by the Journal of Sex Research a total of 33,590 responses were used to calculate the attitude toward non-marital and teen sex issues. The study found that premarital sex is the most accepted of the four types of non-marital sex. Nearly sixty-one percent of the twenty-four countries surveyed claim that premarital sex is not wrong. Forty-four percent of the Japanese claim that premarital sex is wrong only sometimes, compared to the mean of fifteen percent across all the countries.
In most of the countries studied, the acceptance of premarital sex is more accepted with adults rather than teens. Fifty-eight percent condemn young teens having sex as always wrong. Bulgaria, New Zealand, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Poland, and the US present the lowest tolerance for premarital teen sex. Of these Nations, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland and the US, show a strong disapproval for all types of non-marital sex. These countries are all predominately Christian. Sweden is the country that seems to be the most accepting to premarital sex. As one looks at the result of the poll, it is possible to see the acceptance of this issue.
Many times premarital sex is also used as a way to profess ones love for another. Love on an extremely intimate level. Usually when a person gets sexually involved, sex begins to be the main focus of the relationship. When there is not the bond of lifetime commitment that marriage brings, it is easy to leave the relationship and look for sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
love is not interpreted as a mere epiphenomenon of sexual drives and instincts in the sense of a so-called sublimation. Love is as primary a phenomenon as sex. Normally , sex is a mode of expression for love. Sex is justified, even sanctified, as soon as, but only as long as, it is a vehicle of love. Thus love is not understood as a mere side-effect of sex; rather sex is a way of expressing the experience of that ultimate togetherness which is called love (Frankl, 1959, p. 134)
This quote comes from Victor Frankls book Mans Search for Meaning. It explains the reason people should wait until marriage, without mentioning premarital sex. The idea of ultimate togetherness should be one that is bound with ultimate love. If one loves another to such a great extent then there would be no pressure to engage in sexual activity.
Love so often seems to be the reason to participate in sexual acts yet, love should be doing the higher good for another. Partaking in sexual intercourse before marriage is in fact not doing the higher good for another. There is too much of an emotional and physical attachment for it to be the higher good. Love is also 100 percent giving; it should never be the means to an end. When the Greeks defined love, they classified it into three levels: Eros, Filia, and Agape. Eros is sexual love and also the lowest level of love. Even to the Greeks Eros was not meant as love with multiple partners. It was meant as an exclusive love. As it should be, love should always be an exclusive commitment.
When sexuality is shared, there are also consequences. The main consequences are that the individual will be placed higher than the higher good, a communication of exclusivity in a relationship much earlier than adolescents are prepared to understand, and a decline of love. With the decline of love, there is no search for deeper self, and no search for loving another person. The greater the commitment to another, the greater the love will be.
So many times adolescent participate in sexual acts because they think that it comes with no strings attached. Many teens are oblivious to the myths about sexual activity and love. The idea of falling in love is not an act of will, and it is not a product of freedom. Loving is something that is quite conscious and takes a lot of energy and effort to perfect. As one learns to love, they are able to escape aloneness, which many teens today feel.
The other misconception of love is dependency. Love that is done out of dependency is a parasitism. It shows how weak one really is, and many times people feel as though they need to please another sexually to maintain in a relationship. When two people are really in love they can live without each other, yet they choose to be with each other. So often in the US we, as a body of people, try so hard to be loved that we forget how to love. More importantly, we forget that love is a form of work, work takes attention, attention takes care, and care takes will. When all of these things are taken into consideration the concept of love seems so extraordinary. It is such a gift to be able to give your life to someone else on a wedding night, rather than have slept with many people. When sex is saved for the wedding night it is no longer a means to an end, it is the means to a new beginning. That is what this issue of premarital sex is about, maintaining a pure life so no one is ever used as a means to an end.
Desmond, Joan Frawley
A Girls Lament: Sex, Love, and Americas Teens
Crisis, Sep98, Vol. 16 Issue 8, p. 12
Mans Search for Meaning
1959, Washington Square Press, p. 134
Christian Science Monitor, 8/11/98, Vol. 90 Issue 180, p. B1
How far is too far?
Campus Life, Mar/Apr 99, Vol. 57 Issue 8, p. 32
Morse, Jodie; Hylton, Hillary
Preaching Chastity in the Classroom
Time, 10/18/99, Vol. 154 Issue 16, p.79