Could Abstinence Education Be Destroying Marriages?

Ben Schettler - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

While the movement of abstinence education has wonderful intentions have you ever stopped to think that this message could be destroying marriages?  

Abstinence education gives instruction on an outward action of purity until a person is married but what about afterwards?  There are unfortunate examples of those who have "saved themselves" for marriage but made huge mistakes once they tied the knot.   Abstinence education is incomplete.  God designed sex.  It a beautiful thing in the right place.  

Consider how  the incomplete message of abstinence can be damaging to a marriage:  

1.  Abstinence education can cause sex to be viewed as a negative thing.  A physical relationship inside of marriage is a beautiful invention of God that creates an intimate bond between a couple.  Unfortunately there has been an improper emphasis on this physical act being done at the wrong time or with the wrong person that the entire thing is perceived as something dirty or bad.  This perception can create an unhealthy sexual relationship between a husband and wife once they are married.  

2.   By limiting the message to "waiting," young adults can perceive marriage as the escape to sexual temptation.  Sometimes students or unmarried Christians begin to the think that marriage, rather than self-control is the answer to impurity.  While marriage provides a holy context for sexual behavior, it doesn't remove the temptation of impurity.  Teens or young adults need to be taught that discipline in purity is something that needs to be developed now.  The discipline of saying "no" needs to follow them into marriage, not end when they say, "I do." 

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that we should encourage kids to engage in intercourse before marriage.  On the contrary.  I believe that the message of abstinence should be accompanied with the deeper truth of purity.  God wants our hearts, souls, mind and body to be pure before him.  This is the path to a healthy relationship with Him.  And a successful marriage with a future spouse. 

Have you ever seen abstinence education taught in an incomplete way?  Do you think it's time to teach a deeper message?  

I would love for you to leave your thoughts below!  If you agree that it's time to expand the message of abstinence education please share this with your friends.   For addition article please subscribe!  

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Brian commented on 27-Jan-2015 09:04 AM
Hey Ben,
I appreciate the article and the thoughts that you share. I think you are on to something here and I would like to submit that what you might be on to is the absolute bankruptcy of "law-based" teaching to truly change the behaviors of the heart. You mention something in your second point that I would like to ask a question on. You say, " Sometimes students or unmarried Christians begin to the think that marriage, rather than self-control is the answer to impurity." I would ask, Is the answer to impurity "stronger" self-control? Is that really the message of the gospel? "Do better, try harder?" If this is the right approach, then why did Paul struggle so much and still fail in this kind of approach? (Romans 7) Some might say, well Paul was unsaved in Romans 7. However, how could this be with the statement he makes in verse 9? My view on this passage is that this struggle occurred shortly after Paul's conversion and, being the good pharisee that we was, he began to bring the "law" back into the picture (i.e. do better, try harder, just say "NO!") and he failed big-time. I would say that you are tapping into I believe the bigger problem and that is the danger of "abstinence education" absent of the hope found in the Gospel. What do I mean? The only hope for me to find victory over impurity is not to focus on finding victory over impurity, but to square my focus complete on the incomparable purity of King Jesus and His indescribable grace. Paul concluded at the end of Romans 7 that victory is not found in a "stronger method" but is found in the almighty Savior! (Romans 7:24-25). Just my two pennies worth of thought on the subject. God bless my brother.
Anonymous commented on 27-Jan-2015 09:22 AM
Some very astute thoughts, Ben. I have been thinking about this subject recently and think it bears further discussion.

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