Sex is a powerful drive, and for most of human history it has been firmly linked to marriage and childbearing. In modern history, the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s accelerated the separation of sex from marriage and procreation. The development of modern contraceptives and the legalization of abortion were two key developments that prompted more people than ever before to move sexual expression outside the marriage boundary.
In addition, the rate of change in our sexual mores has greatly increased. The liberal media, a decade of privacy with personal computers in the home and the rapid growth in small electronics have resulted in an explosion of sexual content being accessed by family members.
Today, the issue of abstinence from sexual behaviors before marriage is most often discussed within the context of sex education in the public schools. And the ensuing debate over the most effective and appropriate method of sex education for students is a logical by-product of an ever-increasing sexualized society. Fundamentally, abstinence is viewed as refraining from sexual activity, but it would be better understood in the larger context of God's plan for relationships and intimacy.
As Christians, the concept of reserving sex for marriage is a part of God's original plan. In fact, it was an integral product of creation. Indeed, during creation, the gift of sex was among those things God declared to be "very good." In the beginning, God created man and woman, ordained marriage and gave sex, both as a gift and a responsibility, to mankind.
Notice that sex – more correctly identified as one's sexuality – was given to all mankind and not just married couples. The act itself is confined to marriage. Only then, when done according to God's plan, can sex be physically enjoyed to its fullest extent, emotionally satisfying, psychologically fulfilling and spiritually meaningful.
If the act of sex is meant for marriage, it begs the question: What is the practical application for those who are not married? We are to remain celibate and to offer ourselves completely up to God for His service, something that's very difficult when married.
For those who follow God's plan, He offers up His blessings. We see these blessings even from a purely secular context. Abstinence prevents unwed pregnancies 100 percent of the time and will prevent sexually transmitted infections if all behaviors are reserved for marriage.
Multiple studies have shown that individuals who remain abstinent before marriage have a better chance of remaining faithful in their marriage. When spouses are faithful within marriage, it allows the couple, and specifically the male, to build, save, protect, plan and prosper. So abstinence before marriage and faithfulness within marriage have historically protected the individual and society.
While sexual intimacy is the exclusive privilege of a husband and wife within the context of marriage, sexual morality is the concern of individuals, families and society. When approached in accordance with God's plan, the benefits of abstinence are innumerable.