Why has God given teens such strong a sexual drive and no healthy, acceptable way to satisfy it? This just doesn't seem fair. In Bible times people got married at a younger age. As a result, it was normal to have sex and start raising kids before you reached the age of 20. These days, much of society still frowns upon teenagers engaging in any kind of sexual activity. Why has God given us these feelings if we can't do anything about them?
You're very perceptive. You've also raised an excellent point. What you may not realize is that the problem you've identified is bigger and more broadly relevant than your question suggests. Teens aren't the only ones who are caught in the tension between sexual desires and sexual prohibitions. Single adults of all ages are in the very same boat.
Yes, we've all been given the gift of sexuality. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean that we're expected to enjoy it or actively cultivate it whenever we feel the urge. On the contrary, we're supposed to steward it wisely. We're supposed to learn how to exercise self-control.
According to God's plan, there is only one appropriate context for sexual activity: marriage (see Genesis 2:24). We understand that this can be a hard truth to swallow. After all, some of us may never have the opportunity to marry. Until we are granted that opportunity, our obligation is clear. We have to exercise sexual restraint. That means everyone – not just teenagers, but unmarried men and women at every age and stage of life. Even within marriage, husbands and wives are not necessarily authorized to engage in unbridled sexual indulgence. Instead, each partner must live by the rule of loving and disciplined regard for the other's needs and wishes.
You're right, of course, to insist that teens are at a special disadvantage. Because of educational and financial considerations, the option of marriage is virtually closed to them in contemporary culture. What's more, it's closed to them at a time in life when sex hormones are particularly potent and sexual feelings are running especially high. In modern society, there's a stretch of almost ten years between puberty and what our culture considers "marriageable" age. And the problem is only getting worse: recent statistics indicate that the average age of marriage in the United States is now 28 for men and 26 for women. No wonder so many young adults seem to regard premarital sex as an inescapable "given."
What you have to realize is that none of this has come about by God's design. As you pointed out, there was a time, not so very long ago in some parts of the world, when people did get married and start raising a family while still in their teens. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably no more than 13 or 14 years old when she was betrothed to Joseph. What has made this kind of arrangement impracticable in contemporary America is not the will of God nor the implications of Christian morality. On the contrary, it's the result of a complicated web of social and cultural factors, financial considerations, technological innovations, educational requirements, career-oriented thinking, and occupational demands.
So what's the answer? Hard to say. Unless you have a prospective spouse in mind, and unless the two of you are mature enough, wise enough, skilled enough, and educated enough to provide for your financial needs and set up housekeeping on your own, you have only one choice. You have to go back to square one. You have to learn what it means to exercise sexual self-control – at least until you're in a position to overcome these practical obstacles. In that sense, your situation is no different than that of any other single adult.
If you'd like to discuss this subject at greater length, call us. Focus on the Family has a staff of counselors available who would love to talk with you over the phone.
God's Design for Sex