How Far Is Too Far?
Ever wonder what other Christians think about sex? Or how far they think is too far? Or how they would define sexual purity? Well, we wanted to know what Christian students are saying about abstinence and sexual purity. What we found were some misconceptions and unclear boundaries.
Take Tim*, 16, for example. Tim's a Christian who believes wholeheartedly in abstinence. He says, "If you remain abstinent until marriage, you're sexually pure." But then he says, "I think petting's all right. If you have genuine feelings for a person, if you love them, and if you are truly close to them, then what you're doing is OK."
Like Tim, many high school students —including a lot of Christians—are committed to sexual abstinence. In fact, recent research shows that fewer high school students are having sex today than were having sex a decade ago. Even so, many of these same students miss the point about other types of sexual activity.
"Actually, I think foreplay makes you stronger," says Jenny, 17. "If you can last through foreplay, and not go all the way with it, you have a lot of self-control, and that's a good thing. Foreplay is OK for a Christian."
A Tough Lesson
There are many other Christian students, however, who believe sexual purity is about a whole lot more than just staying a virgin. And some of them have, unfortunately, discovered this truth through painful experiences.
Sarah, 18, is seven months pregnant. A couple of years ago, before she met Kevin, she was committed to sexual abstinence. But when Kevin and Sarah started dating, her values began to crumble. Before long, Sarah and Kevin were going pretty far sexually. Sarah wanted to believe this was true love. If it was true love, she reasoned, they really weren't doing anything wrong. Eventually Sarah and Kevin were having sexual intercourse.
"I'd talk to this Christian friend of mine and she'd say, 'Sarah, you're rationalizing everything just to keep him. You're making everything that's wrong sound right.' My friend was so right, but I'd pretty much pushed God and my values out of the picture."
A few months into the relationship, Sarah left home to live with her boyfriend. Then she became pregnant. It was around this time that Kevin became physically abusive.
"Kevin's abuse was a wake-up call for me," says Sarah. "I moved out and went back home."
As she's recovered from her relationship with Kevin, Sarah has renewed her commitment to God. She's also changed her attitude about sex.
"Sexual purity isn't just about sexual abstinence," says Sarah. "People who think that it's just about virginity are headed for trouble. They are so wrong. I was so wrong.
"Sexual purity includes the things you think, as well as the things you do. Your thoughts lead to actions. And if you're thinking a lot about sex, and if you're fooling around with petting, you're playing with gasoline and matches. You are going to get burned. I know from experience."
Committed to Purity
"A lot of teens believe that if they haven't had sexual intercourse, they haven't had sex," says Cynthia, 17. "I don't buy into that thinking for a minute."