I was once at a seminar on relationships led by some local Christian counselors. Not surprisingly (at least not at the time) they discouraged sex outside of marriage...repeatedly.
There was a woman who wanted to argue the point. She said the Bible did not teach against sex outside of marriage, and that was only something the Puritans made up. The counselor then began to quote the Bible on this topic -- chapter and verse -- but she remained unconvinced.
In the years since then, the viewpoint of the woman behind me seems to have become much more prevalent. A few nights ago I listened -- uncharacteristically silently -- as a group of Christian friends discussed sex as though it is assumed in any dating relationship. A couple of days later I ran across a blog discussion on the topic, with a lot of Christians taking the same viewpoint.
There's a lot of blame to go around for this change in attitude about sexual sin. (I recognize that many will bristle at the suggestion there's still such a thing as sexual sin.) As a Southern Baptist, I come from a denomination that has a reputation for making up rules. No drinking, no dancing, and depending on where you grew up, maybe no card-playing or no smoking. All made-up rules. Now more and more Christians are convinced that abstaining from sex outside of marriage is just another made-up rule. They believe abstinence is just for kids, and that mature adults should be able to have mature sexual relationships.
But here's the problem. The call to sexual abstinence isn't a rule. It's a standard of behavior to which we are called to as followers of Christ. Sometimes we fail at it, but that's not an excuse to toss out the standard. It's a reason to lean on God a little more.
As much as I hate the 2-dimensional image of singles that I'm afraid some will get from this topic, I have a lot more to say about it, and I will in the days to come.
Sexual abstinence is not just for kids. And it's not for wimps either.