The newspapers and talk radio have been commenting about a lawsuit in Blair, Nebraska. It seems that a young man of 16 got a young woman of 15 pregnant. She did not realize it until she was 23 to 27 weeks into the pregnancy. Her family urged her to get an abortion. However, the boy and his family intervened by asking law enforcement officials to prevent the abortion. In Nebraska, abortions are illegal when an unborn child is deemed viable; that is, when there is a fair probability that a child born at that age can live outside the womb. Now that the child is born, the girl's parents are suing the boy, his family, and the local law enforcement officials for interfering with the girl's "right to an abortion."
Arguing that a woman has the right to kill her children before they are born is bad enough. However, I have been amazed at how few people mention the problem of a 16-year-old having sexual relations with a 15-year-old outside of marriage. We seem to have come to a time where such sinful acts are considered normal. A recent article stated 47% of Nebraska public school children above the age of nine are sexually active! It was not considered a major concern because Nebraska has the second-lowest rate in the nation. Nearly half the children in Nebraska become fornicators before entering college and no one is concerned. In The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior, published in 1993, it is reported that 19% of all men reported having sex before the age of 14. In addition, 74% of all men reported having sex before the age of 18. The region with the worse statistics is the South -- the Bible belt -- where 82% of all men report having sex before age 18.
Children having sexual relations outside of marriage is not a modern phenomenon. In Genesis 34, we read of an incident involving Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. While Dinah was visiting the girls living around Shechem, the son of the ruler saw her, convinced her to come away with him, and had sex with her. Some people, when reading this passage, state that Shechem raped her. However, examining the original Hebrew carefully, there is nothing to indicate that Dinah was not a willing party to this act. Dinah's brothers had an interesting comment about this affair; they declared Shechem "had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing which ought not to be done."
God is very clear that the act of sex is only to take place between a married couple. In Hebrews 13:4, God states that within marriage, the bed (i.e., the act of sex) is undefiled, but in all other cases, it will bring God's judgment.
I am sometimes amazed at the disappearance of sin from our society. I had acquaintances in college who were dumbfounded to hear that I thought sleeping with a willing partner was a sin. They could not understand how an act that expressed so much love could be considered wrong. In the fifteen years since then, it has become worse. I can't recall the last time I have heard the word fornication used outside of the church. Hearing someone call living together before marriage a sin is rare.
How can we instill proper morality within our sons and daughters? I can guarantee that the world will not teach it to our children for us. Some parents feel that if we do not talk about it, then the children's ignorance and innocence will protect them from Satan's snares. After all, how can they do what they do not understand? The naivety of such an attitude is chilling. Such a wide-open door for Satan and his followers to enter! It is similar to saying a child will not walk if we don't encourage him. A child will learn to walk all by himself. He may learn to walk sooner with encouragement, but every normal child has a built-in desire to walk. In addition, the child sees daily that people around him use two feet for locomotion and the desire to imitate is strong.
Children have a built-in desire for sexual relations. We usually don't think about it, because it doesn't appear early in their childhood. We don't expect an infant to begin walking after their first month in this world. We understand that their bodies must first develop the capabilities, but once they develop the potential, we carefully shield them from harm until they can comprehend the dangers and avoid them. When children reach their adolescent years, their bodies develop the capability and desires for a sexual relationship. Yet growth doesn't mean they are given an understanding of when their new capabilities should be used. Left on their own, children will experiment. They see others having sex: on TV, in music, in books, and among the people, they know, and the desire to imitate what other people are doing is strong.
This is why teenagers are so vulnerable to the temptations of sexual sins. James 1:14 tells us that Satan uses our own desires to lead us into temptations. The desires are not wrong or sinful, but Satan places us in situations where it seems the best way to satisfy those desires is to do something that violates God's will. Teenagers develop a new desire, which they are unfamiliar with handling. Parents, embarrassed to discuss such intimate things, do not adequately prepare their children. Pressured to give their children more independence, they frequently do not give them adequate protection from Satan's devices. Brethren, we are sending children into battle with loaded guns, with which they have received no training! It is because of young people's vulnerability that Paul warns to "flee youthful lusts." (II Timothy 2:22) The desires exist in older people, but the youth are vulnerable because of their inexperience.
Young people, God gave us the ability to have sex, but He did not give it to us to commit sin. Paul said, "the body is not for sexual immorality" (I Corinthians 6:13). Just as a toddler is not equipped to run a marathon, young people are not ready to have sexual relations soon after the ability appears. You need time to adjust to the capabilities and desires. You need time to learn how to control your abilities. The Bible calls this temperance or self-control. Imagine yourself as a container that can hold the Spirit of God within yourself. Don't soil the container by committing a sin, not only against God but against your own body (I Corinthians 6:17-20).