"IF IT feels good, if it doesn't hurt anyone, what's wrong with it?" responded the sexually active teenager. "If you like one another, even one-night stands or affairs are all right." "It's best to live with someone first to make sure you're compatible," commented the mature young businessman. But just because others think it's all right, doesn't make it right. There are heartaches and pitfalls associated with unmarried sex that teenagers are only beginning to discover.
For teens, a premarital pregnancy is by far the most untimely and inappropriate kind. A concerned obstetrical nurse educator of a large metropolitan teaching hospital puts her experience with pregnant teens in these words: "I have sat with numerous young teenagers (12, 13, 14-year-olds) throughout their long and exhausting labors. Many ultimately experience cesarean sections because they are still too physically underdeveloped to deliver normally. "The fears, myths and misconceptions these youngsters harbor are alarming. Some of them don't even begin to know how they became pregnant. Others simply thought it just wouldn't happen to them. I have seen a 12-year-old sit up in bed in the recovery room and color in a coloring book following her delivery" (McCall's, "How to Talk to Your Children About Sex," p. 94, June 1979). An unmarried pregnancy
Birth Problem of Young Pregnant Teens Incomplete pelvic development in young teenage girls often creates a major problem at time of birth, leading to cesarean section. Marriage and parenthood are for mature couples, for whom natural delivery is normally possible because of full pelvic development. Artwork shows disproportion of infant's head compared with outlet of pelvis in young pregnant teenager in contrast to normal pelvic development, in mature mother-to-be.
causes snowballing effects, which demand stressful answers of the young mothers-to-be: Should I have the child? Should I get an abortion and snuff out its existence? Who'll pay the hospital bills? Should I be a one-parent family, raising the child myself without the physical, financial, and emotional benefit of the natural father? For the male: Should I marry her? Do I love her? What will we live on? Am I ready for the responsibility of raising a family? For the parents: How could it happen to our daughter? Our son? Would it be best if we told them to marry'? Should we have her get an abortion? What do we tell everybody? And for the child'? Well, children's questions come later. Teenage premarital pregnancies further compound life's problems. The deck is stacked against marital success. The future of such a marriage lasting is slim or nonexistent. Up to 90 percent of these kinds of marriages end in divorce! Besides the stress of the pregnancy itself, is the shock to family and friends. And though there is an increasingly permissive view being adopted by parents about sex, outward public pressure still disfavors premarital pregnancies — because of the consequences to the children who didn't ask to be born to unthinking teenagers.
Many young people today, older couples too, maintain living arrangements as if married, in a living-together environment. But, again, unexpected potential problems and hurts are associated with this kind of unmarried sexual style. Society now tacitly approves living together, or "living in" as the young like to call it. It is a developing social trend. Living together got its start in the last two decades. It began with the hippie generation, the flower children and the advent of coed dorms. The trend gradually spread from the subculture to mainstream society. Today, personals in daily newspapers are loaded with ads seeking an opposite-sex housemate, apartment mate or roommate. While some advertise for it, others progress into it from a going-steady relationship. But living together is not a happy solution. The evidence came to light in a study by noted sociologist, Dr. Nancy Moore Clatworthy, reported in the November, 1977, Seventeen magazine. Ironically, Dr. Clatworthy actually favored a living-together arrangement before she began her 10-year study of the phenomenon. In her study, she discovered that married couples who had lived together before marriage lost a measure of respect for one another, and had a lower degree of happiness and feeling of adjustment, compared to married couples that had not lived together first. Interestingly too, Dr. Clatworthy's findings disproved the argument of some that a couple should live together first to see if they are sexually compatible. "But the finding that surprised me most," she confided, "concerned sex. Couples who had lived together before marriage disagreed about it more often. You'd assume that this would be an area that could be satisfactorily resolved in a living-together period. Apparently it isn't." A second major problem associated with living together is a lack of commitment. This shoots down the common argument used for living together outside of marriage: "We're committed to each other, and don't need a piece of paper to prove it." Says Dr. Clatworthy: "The other side of that argument is obvious. If there's no difference in your relationship, what's wrong with adding one more symbol to your total commitment? What they are really saying is that they are not totally committed to each other." The fact is, because of this lack of ultimate commitment the rate of living-together breakups is high, much higher than the divorce rate of married couples. The emotional impact of those breakups is just as mentally stressing. Living together couples have the very same problems married couples have, but with the added disadvantage of lack of full commitment, financially, sexually, and every other way. Married couples are more likely to want to solve their problems. Living-together couples are less likely to be able to. Dr. Nancy Clatworthy's conclusion is that a couple is "better off marrying." Concerning living together, she says: "Knowing that something is temporary affects the degree of commitment to it. If you are going to make the identical investments in living together that you would make in marriage investments of time, money, emotion, and social relationships — knowing the situation is temporary but hoping that it is not, you are bound to be disappointed."
What God Says
The penalties of sex outside of marriage are far reaching, often permanently scarring, physically and mentally. More than that, sex outside the boundaries of marriage is absolutely contrary to the higher laws of Almighty God. God loves human beings. God did not create humans to act like animals, mating here and there, with any and everybody. God ordained sexual relationships to be marriage relationships, family relationships. Sex is for marriage only! In the beginning God brought the first man and woman together and unequivocally gave this command: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). One of the Ten Commandments protects sex in marriage (Exodus 20:14). Sin includes the transgression of that point of God's law. Sin brings heartaches and sorrows. But keeping God's law brings happiness. Jesus even magnified that law: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28). Thankfully, you as an individual can be forgiven any mistakes or sins you've made, if your attitude is right and sincere: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). And again, verse 9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But read for yourself the stern warning to those who continue to indulge in unmarried sex: "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers... shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Most people do not heed God's warnings. Thunders God: "How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me... when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbor's wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (Jeremiah 5:7-9).
God created sex to be a private, loving, binding, relationship between a husband and a wife, its purpose many fold. When each partner's main motivation and concern is an attitude of giving to the other, sex is one of the most enjoyable physical, mental and spiritual fulfillments one can have. It becomes a unifying force, cementing and coupling marital partners together — mutually shared, mutually enjoyed, something totally unique only between them. Sex also gives us the opportunity to have children and rear other human beings, giving them human existence, and the ultimate opportunity to share existence with God. Remember, this world's heartaches are real. Determine that you'll not make the same mistakes others have made. If you already have, ask God's forgiveness, and start over, determined not to make any more. Young men and women, stand up for what is right. Don't be ashamed of virginity. It's something to be honored. Sex is worth saving for your future mate. Maintain your integrity. Don't compromise your standards. Don't give in. You'll live to appreciate it and you'll never regret it. Avoid going steady until you are ready for marriage. Going steady leads to having sex before you should. Little by little those who go steady give in until they've given in all the way. Young men — be leaders. Don't take advantage of girls. Have respect for them. Take the lead in proper conduct, in not compromising. Women shouldn't necessarily be the ones to say no. Young women — don't give in. Don't allow yourselves to become romantically entangled at too early an age. There's time for romance at the proper time. Don't compromise. Parents — teach your children early what they need to know about sex so that they won't have to learn about it in the streets and by experimentation. Answer their questions openly and without embarrassment. Admonish them to remain virgin until marriage. Be warm and loving to your own mate, an example for your children to see. Take these admonitions seriously to heart. You'll be thankful later.