Those who defend traditional morality today, however, are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of persuading teens who are living in today’s popular culture and not the logical, factually-based side of things. For teens willing to consider the evidence carefully and clearly, it is blindingly obvious that casual sexual experimentation (often fueled by drinking and drugs) is a terribly inferior proposition compared to the fantastic joys of experiencing sexual intimacy as the seal of a marriage commitment to the love of your life. However, this requires long-term thinking. It requires valuing an experience that you can only dimly imagine.
The persuasiveness of logic by itself is often insufficient in the face of the emotional counter forces with which young people have to deal. On the one hand, there is the strong temptation of the excitement associated with sexual experimentation, and on the other is the fear of group ridicule for sexual abstinence.
It would be bad enough if only peer group pressures drove teens in the wrong direction. However, far too many of today’s leaders promote the idea that “sex is no big deal.” These veterans of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, now aging Baby Boomers, have spent a long time telling themselves that their momentary sexual thrills were worth the bad stuff they’ve lived with ever since: the “complications” in their relationships with their spouses and children. The emotional wreckage littering the landscape for the last 30 to 40 years is like the elephant in the corner that everyone pretends not to see. Yet it doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize that avoidance is ineffective in dealing with the relationship messes and destroyed dreams. The trends show that many teenagers are seeing that “elephant” and thus are valuing virginity.
In an earlier era, one counterbalance to the forces pushing for sexual experimentation by teens and young adults was the moral authority of traditional Judeo-Christian teaching regarding the sanctity of sexual activity and the imperative for limiting sexual intercourse to the marriage bed. Sadly, rather than face the ridicule from those in the educated elites, many religious leaders have abandoned the teachings regarding moral purity before marriage and fidelity within marriage.
We must do a better job of instilling in young people a healthy fear — born from an awe of God’s Word as our human instruction book — of violating our God-given human dignity by ignoring the full realities involved in sexual intimacy, by truncating the multi-dimensional nature of sex, by robbing it of its significance and reducing it to merely a means of momentary physical pleasure rather than reserving intercourse to be the fantastic means of bonding a husband and wife into one flesh — making them both rapturous and whole — and providing a secure setting should the miracle of new life bless their union.
When we accept that human dignity is God-given, we have the logically persuasive reason to follow the moral law of the transcendent God, revealed by Him to us in Scripture, as it is the surest — and the only — safe path to happiness.
We also have the emotionally persuasive reason to be afraid of acting in violation of the boundaries laid down by the Creator of the Universe; in His universe we see the laws of cause and effect at work everywhere. Ignorance of, or indifference to, these boundaries brings consequences as surely, if not as swiftly, as jumping out the window of a 50-story building brings destruction. God’s moral laws are built into our humanity and the world we live in.
Best of all, we are made in His image, and when His law is instilled within us, we have the capacity to love.