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How do you set your sexual standards?

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Q: "What does God say about various kinds of sexual involvement? What are God's moral values on sex?"

our A: Most people today determine their sexual involvement based on personal standards of moral values. Of course this is fair, because on one hand, sex is a personal responsibility and must be determined personally. On the other hand, sex usually involves two people, so it's not just a matter of personal standards.

Some say sex is okay if you love the person. Others add that it's okay if it's within a committed relationship. But many would argue that neither a commitment nor love is necessary. Mere fun and excitement provide reason enough for sexual involvement.

Increasingly, there are those who feel no one has the right to state any standard for sex and it should just be left at: sex with anybody is okay.

What do you think? Is sexual involvement okay when it's:

  • with someone on a first date?   Yes No
  • with someone you've been dating for four months?   Yes No
  • with the opposite sex?   Yes No
  • with same sex?   Yes No
  • with a group?   Yes No
  • with a parent?   Yes No
  • with someone who is drunk or stoned?   Yes No
  • with someone who unknowingly was given Ecstasy?   Yes No
  • with someone who has an STD but doesn't tell you?   Yes No
  • with someone who has AIDS but doesn't tell you?   Yes No
  • with a sister or brother?   Yes No
  • with someone who's 15 years old?   Yes No
  • with someone who's currently married to someone else?   Yes No
  • with someone who's currently married if they are planning on divorce anyway?   Yes No
  • with someone who's three years old?   Yes No
  • with someone against their wishes?   Yes No
  • with someone who isn't married, but you are?   Yes No
  • with a corpse?   Yes No

You can see how confusing it can get. Is "sex with anybody" still a useful measure? Many of us would like to set the bar somewhere in the middle: "I do have my standards. I think x, y, and z is sick. But there's nothing wrong with the rest."

In all honesty, we all have somewhat self-centered criteria regarding sex. How many of us determine our standards for sex based on what's best for the other person?

There are at least a couple of reasons to follow God's set of standards. First, God cares about us AND the other person. Secondly, His wisdom and love for us is unsurpassed.

So what does God give as His standards?

In one sentence we're told to avoid "sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry...rage, anger, malice, slander and filthy language..." God says that we all sin, but His desire is that we don't allow our lives to be characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, lust, anger, etc. And you might agree with Him.

Here’s what God wants to build into our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. When we enter a relationship with Him, He produces these qualities in our lives. He is not demanding that we become loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind people. Instead, when we come to know God’s love for us on a personal level, we find we have a new capacity to love others, be patient with others, treat each other respectfully, etc. A relationship with God is so valuable and so remarkable that it affects our relationships with others.

Here's one guy's (true) comment about the value of following God's direction in the area of sex:

"My wife and I had dated for 3 years before we got married and NOT had sex. Keeping my pants on during that time was the HARDEST thing I ever did in my life, bar none.

"In exchange for that discipline, here's what we experienced.

"Neither one of us has spent one nanosecond of our 20 years of marriage worried that our spouse couldn't keep their pants on with other people of the opposite sex.

"I've traveled all over the world to places like Malaysia and China and South Africa and my wife's never been worried that I had a mistress, or that I was flirting with women in some dance club somewhere.

"We've never spent one nanosecond worrying about STD's.


"Because we did was God asked of us.

"We don't regret that."

What surprises people is that God is not laying down laws just to be strict. God wants us to be free from the consequences of sex that cause heartbreak. Things like STDs, unplanned pregnancies, habits that would make a partner wonder if the other one is being faithful. Maybe that's why God says:

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1Corinthians 6:18)

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