Sexual Abstinence and the Youth (Youth Counseling on Sex Series Part 1)
Sex is one of the most common issues the youth of this present culture is constantly bombarded with. The youth is even more aware of sex and are more vulnerable to the dangers of immoral sex than that of their predecessors (MacDowell and Hostetler 2001, 282). According to Walt Mueller in his award-winning book, Understanding Today’s Youth Culture, today’s youth are “facing a complex set of sexual messages and choices before their bodies are even equipped to reproduce themselves” (Mueller 1999, 242). A large majority of teenagers today have been indoctrinated by culture that sex apart from marriage is fine.
Sex and the Mass Media
One of the propagating factors that influence the youth’s view of sex today is the media and entertainment industry. The mass media, a collective term for mediums of information like Internet, television, radio, and newspapers, plays a significant role in shaping the perceptions of the public on different important issues (Wikipedia contributors). It is sad to note that most of the people who are in the media think more of their profit than the moral implications they are sending over the air. The youth’s perception of sex is one of those issues that are very much affected by the information propagated by the media. Obviously, almost every movies and television programs today are tainted with many sexual connotations and implications, most of them in favor of the “popular” view of amoral sexuality (Mueller 1999, 147). Thus, the Biblical and moral purposes of sex are being taken out of the picture by the youth of today’s culture.
Sex and the Society
Society has its contribution also to the degradation of sex among the youth. Even though the society made effort to lessen the effect of crises cause by premarital sex and other sexual problems among the youth, the fact books speak of their epic failure. One of the solutions the society thought would eliminate problems related to sexual views is the development of sex education program. Sex education was more a flop than a help. Educating the youth about sex was supposed to curb sexual related problems among the youth. However, the opposite of the said purpose prevailed. The problem lies in the message of the so-called education. Sex education, instead, promoted “safe-sex” rather that abstinence of sex. In other words, sex education called for sex instead of avoiding it. It not only tells youth to have sex but also taught them how to do it (Mueller 1999, 251).
Causes of Sexual Problems Among the Youth
Many counselors attribute the unmet relational needs of young people as one of the causes of premarital sex. Many young people nowadays are not sure of their parents love (MacDowell and Hostetler 2001, 283). This is because parents don’t spend more time with their children anymore. Most of the parents today are in pursuit of their own success that they unconsciously neglected their responsibilities as mentors to their children. In doing so, the children seek love somewhere else.
In most cases, neglected children sought refuge and love from their peers. They find their peers more understanding to them than their parents. Consequently, the search for intimacy turned into making love with each other. They found love and acceptance through sex.
Some unwillingly succumbed to sex. Peer pressure, alcohol, and drugs are other factors that influence the youth to yield into sexual temptations. Others experienced sexual trauma that caused them to search for more sex. Still others, because of fear or false courage, practices sex apart from marriage. So the growing case of premarital sex goes on unhampered.
Dr. Gary Collins, summarizing the causes of unhealthy sexual lifestyles in his book Christian Counseling, says:
Unhealthy comes because of the sex-saturated culture in which we live and because of internal pressures that include: curiosity, uncontrolled fantasy, search for identity and self-esteem, search for intimacy and closeness, escape from pressures of life, distorted thinking, and Satan’s activities and temptations (Collins 2007, 365).
Sexual Abstinence and Sex Education
Sexual abstinence is the most effective method to avoid premarital sex that is so prevalent among the youth today. Abstinence is defined as the “restraint from indulging a desire for something” (Encarta World English Dictionary, 1998-2005 ed., s.v. “abstinence”). Sexual abstinence, therefore, is “the practice of refraining from some or all aspects of sexual activity for medical, psychological, legal, social or religious reasons” (Wikipedia contributors). There are several reasons for practicing sexual abstinence. Some practices sexual abstinence due to some health or material problems. Psychological disorders or problems can also be the cause of voluntary abstinence from sex. There are also involuntary reasons like legal injunctions to avoid sex, geographical locations, incarceration and involuntary celibacy as such as that is practice in some religious circles.
Sexual abstinence should be taught or enforced to the youth with a proper perspective of what it is. Sex is more than “physical instinct or biological attraction. It involves intimacy and intense communication even in the absence of physical contact. It is an urge toward closeness and the expression of a deep personal relationship with someone else” (Collins 2007, 341-43).Doing sex apart from marriage has its own moral consequences and spiritual impact.
One way of teaching sexual abstinence is to give the youth the right information about what sex is. Sex is not necessarily evil. It is created by God from some purposeful reasons. As God’s creation, it is good. However, there are restrictions as to when and where to use sex.
It is clearly indicated in the Bible that sex is designed for marriage and sex outside the limitations of marriage is sinful (MacDowell and Hostetler 2001, 286-87). Sex apart from marriage is not limited to physical contact. It includes lustful thoughts and “obsessive sexual fantasies” (Collins 2007, 241). It also involves sinful sexual talks.
Consequences of not abstaining from premarital or unhealthy sex should also be taught with fairness. Aside from physical consequences, there are also relational and spiritual consequences. Physical consequences include loss of virginity, unwanted pregnancy, illegitimate child, forced marriage, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. Psychological, relational and spiritual consequences are experienced through guilt, emotional distress, broken relationships, self-hatred, sexual addiction, and spiritual bondage (MacDowell and Hostetler 2001, 284-86).
Aside from providing an accurate education about sex, it is also important to help young people with practical issues in dealing with sex and self-control (Collins 2007, 357). Giving practical steps and plans is helpful for the youth to stay away from premarital sex. Going with the youth and identifying with them helps one to be able to understand their inclinations and provide a way to divert that inclination for more purposeful activities. Helping them find realistic alternatives to harmful sex apart from marriage should be one of the main efforts every youth worker should do.
Collins, Gary R. 2007. Christian counseling: a comprehensive guide. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
MacDowell, Josh and Bob Hostetler. 2001. Handbook on counseling youth. Manila, Philippines: Back to the Bible
Microsoft Corporation, “abstinence,” Encarta World English Dictionary, 1998-2005 ed.
Mueller, Walt. 1999. Understanding today’s youth culture. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Wikipedia contributors, "Mass media," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mass_media&oldid=412141452 (accessed February 8, 2011).
Wikipedia contributors, "Sexual abstinence," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sexual_abstinence&oldid=412479172 (accessed February 7, 2011).