The urgent calling of the Christian young man and young woman is to live chastely before the Lord. We are exhorted by the Word of God to flee fornication and uncleanness in all of its forms. Knowing that the Lord hates the sins of immorality, as we saw in our last article, we must keep ourselves pure and holy and undefiled. We must maintain absolutely that God has ordained the use of our sexual nature only for marriage. Our calling as young people is to exercise self-control and self-restraint so that we might keep ourselves holy and undefiled for the marriage partner that the Lord will give to us. In living this way we shall surely be radically different from the world. But the whole Bible calls us to be different in all areas of our lives. As the world grows more and more immoral and all restraints on the sins of fornication and adultery are removed, it becomes increasingly urgent that we live opposite to the world. Also it becomes increasingly urgent that we do not allow our moral sensitivity for the holy commandments of God to be in any way dulled. We must steadfastly guard against the great danger of conforming our attitudes to the world, because almost everyone around us is living in, immorality. The apostle Paul by the inspiration .of the Spirit of God urges us: “But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you in vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:3-6). This is plain language. You young people can easily understand it. It speaks very loudly and forcefully. We could well underline each phrase of these verses separately. When we adhere very strongly to moral principles we will be counted square in the world but we will stand firmly upon the clear teaching of the Word of God. Many are the vain talkers in the world who are saying that fornication among young people before marriage is perfectly innocent. Many teachers of our day are encouraging young people to experiment with sex before marriage. Many are saying that it is wrong to deprive young people of the pleasures and excitement of sex. Be not deceived by all this wicked worldly philosophy. There is a fearful and dreadful judgment from the holy God of heaven and earth coming upon all those who live in immorality and uncleanness.
The motive out of which we are to keep ourselves holy and pure must be first of all the love of God. We as Reformed Christians know that all our doctrine must be God-centered and God-glorifying. But let us also remember that our lives must be God-centered and God-glorifying. We must love holiness and purity because our God is the holy God and this is pleasing in His sight. We must be constrained in this area of our lives by the great motive of the love of God. The wicked world in which we live is entirely man-centered. Therefore the motive of the man of the world is strictly that which is pleasurable and beneficial to himself, that which satisfies his own passions and lusts. It is said that as long as something is pleasurable and does not hurt anyone else then it cannot be wrong. Now it is simply not true that when one engages in fornication with another person he does not hurt that person. That is simply impossible. When you sin against someone, you always hurt him. When you sin with another person you bring down upon yourself and that person the awful wrath and judgment of God. Nevertheless the absolutely most important question for the Christian in all of his life must be what is pleasing unto the Lord and what is an abomination in His sight and an offense against His holy majesty. May we as young people always live out of this motive, then we will be strong and we will keep ourselves holy.
We have a great example in the godly young Joseph. You will remember when he was severely tempted by the wicked wife of Potiphar. Surely humanly speaking this was a great temptation for Joseph. Joseph was a young man with like passions with all of us. Surely he could have been flattered by the proposition of this woman of high standing and honor. Humanly speaking he could have been overwhelmed by his mannish passions. Furthermore the advances of this woman were so persistent. There was opportunity to commit the sin of fornication in complete secrecy from human knowledge. But Joseph said to the wife of Potiphar: “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” What a powerful answer that was. May we as young people have the grace of God in our hearts to answer every temptation to fornication with such words.
Another passage that brings out very wonderfully the motive out of which we are to live chastely before the Lord is found in I Corinthians 6:18-20: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Wonderful things are told us in these verses about who and what we are as Christians. Imagine, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit! What a tremendous thing this is! God, the Holy God Himself, dwells in our bodies. What great reason that is for keeping our bodies pure and holy! Ought we not to be filled with holy zeal to keep the temple of the Lord pure? We have been purchased with the precious blood of the Son of God. What a tremendous cost our Lord paid for our redemption. He redeemed us from all of the corruption of sin. Ought we then not keep our bodies from the awful defilement of immorality? We belong to God. We are His possession. He owns us. He is the Lord of our life. Considering this surely ought to constrain us to keep from giving our bodies over to lust and sin, and to use them rather for the service and glory of God. Let us present our bodies, also the sexual aspect of our bodies, as a holy sacrifice unto the Lord which is our solemn obligation and calling.
In I Thessalonians 4:3 and 4 we read: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication; That everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” It should be our greatest desire in our life to do the will of God. To use our sexual nature in holiness and sanctification is the will of God for us; this is pleasing in His sight, in this He takes great delight. Surely there is no greater good imaginable, young people, than to have the favor and blessing of the Lord upon your life.
The great beauty of the godly woman according to I Peter 3 is not to be found in outward adornment of any kind. Her great beauty is to be found in that she has a chaste conversation coupled with fear. As a young woman you want to be beautiful. Strive to possess true spiritual and lasting beauty. Strive to be beautiful first of all in the sight of God and then you shall also be truly beautiful before men.
Though the love of God must surely be the highest motive for living chastely, it is also true that when we live chastely with our brothers and sisters in the Lord we love them in the highest sense of the word. It is not love in any sense of the word to commit fornication together. It cannot be love. To do this is to defraud and dishonor one another in one of the profoundest ways imaginable. It is love always to exercise restraint and self-control in dealing with one another. It is a hateful disregard of one another’s honor to give way to temptation and lust and to go on to use and abuse one another. It is love in the true and holy sense of the word to keep yourself undefiled for your God-given marriage partner. It is pure and holy and wonderful love so to keep your bodies that you can give yourself for the first time and only to your beloved on the marriage bed. This kind of love is entirely unmatched by all of the lust and fornication that the world calls love. Let no man deceive you with vain words.
There is no need for sexual experimentations before marriage. Fornication will not train you to live in holy and faithful love with one another after marriage. The best training for marriage is the training of lovingly honoring one another and exercising self-control and restraint. You need not know all the techniques of sex before marriage. The best place to learn these techniques is upon the undefiled marriage bed in which you give yourself in faithful love to each other.
Many practical questions have been asked relating to the proper use of our sexual nature before marriage. What is proper activity for Christian young people when they are dating? Certainly dating is a very wonderful and exciting activity for young people. It can by the grace of God be a holy activity if it is not spoiled by the great evil of fornication. It is the time when a young man and young woman come really to know what the opposite sex is like. It is a time for you to experience the great thrill, excitement, and mystery of boy/girl relationships. Times of courting can be some of the happiest and most exciting times of your life. How sad when all that is spoiled by sin. It is urgent that you prevent this from happening. It is urgent that you always seek the blessing and favor of the Lord upon all your activities together. Be aware of the power of your sinful nature. Be steadfast and strong against the temptation to sin. Do not place yourself in tempting circumstances. Today most of the world is saying that heavy petting is perfectly innocent activity for Christian young people to be engaged in. Some who want to seem to be a little less liberal suggest that such petting is permissible as long as there are agreed upon restraints. The vain talkers of the world say today, let young people enjoy some of the great excitement and pleasure of sex. Do not restrain them from heavy petting, passionate embracing and kissing, playing with each other’s bodies. Be not deceived, this is great sin in the sight of God. Young people must know that they have committed the great sin of fornication long before they lay with each other in bed. Furthermore, our sexual nature is such that petting and fondling is the prelude to sexual intercourse. It is unnatural when it is not and it will cause all kinds of strains and frustrations. It is simply the case that when young people engage in petting they will go deeper and deeper into sin. They will more and more and more give themselves over to use and abuse one another. This is a great evil. When a young man touches the private parts of a young woman to whom he is not married he has already grievously violated her honor and defrauded her. We as young people must keep ourselves far distant from this great evil.
Another prevalent sin, especially among young men, is the sin of masturbation. We find that there are many vain talkers in the world and also in what calls itself the church concerning this sin. Many today are suggesting that this is a purely harmless activity. The more liberal are saying that young men should be encouraged to find sexual release in this manner rather than to engage in “antisocial behavior.” Many suggest that to restrain such activity and to denounce it as sin will only cause great psychological frustration and maybe even do permanent damage. The Bible condemns this activity as sin. In the first place it involves the perversion of our sexual nature for a use which is contrary to nature and to the ordinance of God. God ordained that we must use our sexual nature only in the holy loving relationship of marriage and not for the gratification of our own sinful passions and lusts. Secondly, this practice always involves the sin of adultery in the heart which our Lord condemns. It is simply impossible that the Christian man engaged in such activity could be using his body in the service and glory of God.
According to the Word of God we must keep ourselves pure, not only in our outward actions, but also in our hearts and in our thoughts. Our Lord Jesus states in the Sermon on the Mount that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” This word of the Lord has also been much gainsaid in the wicked world today and also by the apostate church. The world in which we live is filled with things that are intended to fill the heart and mind of man with all kinds of immorality. Much of the world’s pleasure and entertainment is found in watching immoral films that openly display nudity and the sex act and all kinds of adultery and fornication among men and women. Many in the church today suggest that this is good art and acceptable entertainment for the “Christian.” If the Christian finds pleasure in watching these things there is something very seriously spiritually wrong with him. In almost all places of the world today one can obtain books and magazines that portray nakedness in the grossest imaginable way. It is a great evil for Christians to read and look at these. It will surely fill his heart and mind with great sin.
We as Christians know that God judges not only our outward actions but also our heart and our mind, our thoughts and our desires. It is quite possible for man to put on an outward show of being righteous and holy while in his mind and heart he is wicked. We know that our hearts are by nature desperately wicked. The Christian has the calling to keep his mind and heart pure. It is necessary for us to fight against every evil thought and desire that comes into our mind and heart. We do great evil in the sight of God when we allow evil thoughts and desires to reign freely in us. We must flee every temptation to evil thoughts and desires. We must turn our eyes away from the sexy girls of the world. We must exercise utmost spiritual care and watchfulness over our thoughts and heart to keep out the great immorality of the world. We must fill our minds with “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, we must think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). What a tremendous calling this is and what a far cry it is from the world and what is advocated in the apostate church.
We must still say something about dress, especially to young woman. The women of the world love to dress in such a way that they excite the men of the world to sinful thoughts and desires. They find great excitement in wearing clothes that will turn the eyes of all men towards them. The Christian young woman must have no part of this at all. For her it is a grievous thing that the men of the world should be looking at her with evil thoughts and desires. The Christian young woman knows the wickedness of man’s heart and she knows the great power of the woman’s body to entice and suggest evil. Therefore she must be deeply conscious of the manner in which she dresses. There is no need of long lists of what a young Christian woman may wear and what she may not wear. She well knows that she must not wear clothes that are unusually revealing and suggestive. She must not wear clothes such as small two-piece bathing suits and skimpy shorts. To wear such is a great evil. It does not matter if all the rest of the world is wearing them and even professedly Christian young girls. The young woman truly motivated by the love of God and also love for her brothers in the Lord will wear nothing that would possibly lead another to sin in his heart.
For young people to live chastely is a very difficult calling. It is becoming increasingly difficult in the world in which we live, a world filled with adultery and fornication. You are faced with tremendous pressures and temptations to sin. Perhaps your life is more difficult than that of any generation before you. Many young people in your day have given themselves over to great evil. Your sinful nature is such that you too can easily come under the dominion of this powerful evil. The answer is to stand fast and to stand strong in the grace and Spirit of God. The answer is not to relax the standards; the answer is not to remove restraints and to allow the “freedom” of lust and fornication and adultery. The answer is to be strong in the power of His might, knowing that by this power you can and will be preserved also from this great evil of the world. The answer is to have the courage to be different and to be ready to stand against the whole world. By keeping yourself holy and pure you will bring great glory to the name of God. By keeping yourself holy you do much to pre pare yourself for a happy and blessed marriage and also for proper fulfillment and sanctified use of your sexual nature.