Abstinence is defined as “the practice of abstaining from something” and “the practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable”(Merriam Webster, n.d.). This includes sex. Abstinence is considered to be a vow to one’s self. People should abstain from sexual intercourse and activity until marriage because it can prevent the contraction of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It is the healthiest way to avoid a teen pregnancy” (American Pregnancy Association, 2017).
Abstaining from sex until marriage is uncommon nowadays.
A lot of people are more into “testing the waters” before deciding to take things to the next level. Abstinence prevents pregnancy 100% of the time when practiced consistently. It is the most effective form of birth control. There are no side effects or health risks related to abstinence (American Pregnancy Association, 2017). According to a new study of more than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike have had premarital sex. Premarital sex is normal behavior for most Americans and has been for decades.
Many times sexual abstinence can have ties to religion. Although, as Christians, abstaining from sex is not an easy thing to do but most Christians try their best to wait until marriage (Crary, n.d.). In reference to abstinence, the Bible says to not have sex before marriage and to be patient until God sends you a spouse. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, the Bible says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (NIV).
In Psalms 37:4, the Bible says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (ESV).
There are three levels of sexual abstinence. The first level is no dating until marriage. “God has somebody perfect in mind for you, and you will recognize that person when you meet them. Until God brings you that person, you’re not going to date at all. You’re just going to live for yourself and for God until you meet the person you recognize as your soulmate. Dating before meeting your soulmate will only tempt, distract, and dilute you. You can be friends with members of the opposite sex, but nothing more than that until you’re ready to marry somebody” (Mike, 2009). The advantages include fulfilling their personal vows and religious morals, the focus on self-discovery allowing one to appreciate people of the opposite gender as friends, allowing one to focus on their goal without the distraction of relationship goals, and allowing one to strengthen their relationship with God. The disadvantages include loneliness, feeling unseen, bottled up emotions, no physical intimacy or expression of romantic affection, the instant your faith slips, all the doubts come pouring in and no relationship-inspired growth (Mike, 2009).
The second level of sexual abstinence is holding hands and kissing only. “This approach allows you to date, have steady boyfriends/girlfriends, and express your affection for them in sweet but safe (and Christian) ways. Anything beyond holding hands/kissing is going to be too tempting and violate your pact to be abstinent” (Mike, 2009). The advantages include romantic expression and experimentation (learning your preferences), feeling appreciated by the opposite sex, some minor physical intimacy, focus on the “friendship side” of being in a relationship and it limits you to relationships with others who share your sexual virtues (typically, other Christians)” (Mike, 2009). The disadvantages include temptation, romantic ties with no physical intimacy, frustration and [the fact that it] limits you to relationships with others who share your sexual virtues (typically, other Christians) (Mike, 2009).
The third and final level of sexual abstinence is the “everything but” method. “Everything but intercourse is allowed (oral sex, etc.). Creativity is encouraged to keep things fun and interesting over a long-term relationship without crossing the line (having sex). You can be waiting until marriage and still be sexual”(Mike, 2009). However, oral sex can put someone at risk for STIs. “Many STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, can be spread through oral sex” (American Sexual Health Association, n.d.). The advantages are physical intimacy & sexual expression, still keeps a focus on looking for marriage, allows you to experiment fully with dating without going all the way, opens you up to dating relationships with a wider variety of people and relationships get an even greater chance to play out to their fullest (Mike, 2009). A few disadvantages include the pressure of waiting till marriage, without the self-focus that will help get you to marriage extremely error-prone (e.g., you accidentally “slip” and have sex), a distraction from personal goal, and can increase the chance of contracting an STI from oral sex (Mike, 2009).
Abstaining from premarital sex is practiced culturally as well. Parts of Africa practice abstinence. A resurgence in calls for sexual abstinence prior to marriage has taken place in Africa, where the threat of AIDS threatens to decimate whole populations. In 2002, King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu tribe in South Africa used a major tribal gathering to appeal to young people, male and female, to abstain from sex until they get married or until they decide to raise their families.This plea from Africa integrates traditional religious beliefs, a philosophy of marriage and family relationships, cultural practices, and pragmatic concern for the physical well-being of the population into a stance in support of abstinence. It is not the only view or even a prevailing one, but it illustrates an attempt to acknowledge abstinence as a historic and contemporary foundation for sexual relationships (Encyclopedia, n.d.).
Although abstaining from sex will not succeed if there is no goal in place. A lot of people commit to themselves and their goals. If there is a plan in place and there is a boundary, it should be respected. There are a lot of people who are already practicing celibacy and all they can do is pray their partner respect that and make it to the altar. It is very sad that some people think that without sex, there is no decent relationship. That is a lie. Sex is like the icing on the cake. There are a lot of things couple can do together without having sex. However, currently, sex has become the priority in a lot of relationships. From a Christian point of view, this is not the way to go (Wright, 2015).
Premarital sex is frowned upon in many religions and cultures. However, others see it as normal human behavior. Premarital and casual sex can lead to unintended pregnancies and can expose men and women to sexually transmitted diseases, also known as STDs. Sexual abstinence should be practiced because it can lower the risk of contracting STDs and HIV/AIDS and can prevent teen pregnancies. Waiting until marriage can create a deeper connection and bond between partners because the first time will be special for the both of them. Abstaining from sex until marriage can fulfill personal vows and religious morals.