What’s the longest you’ve ever stood waiting in line? Do you remember what you waited for? Was it worth the wait?
I asked myself these same questions recently as I waited impatiently in a long line at the supermarket. Rows of candy and magazines almost distracted me — but within a moment I had the answer.
A few years ago my wife, Heather, and I took a weekend trip to Cedar Point just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. This legendary amusement park claims to be “the Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” It definitely lived up to its name.
King Solomon said, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?”
Although it was a blistering summer day, that didn’t stop us from standing in line for the “Top Thrill Dragster.” This roller coaster launches riders to 120 mph in 3.8 seconds, before sending them skyward over a giant arch that peaks at 420 feet. When the car rocketed from the starting line, I felt my skull squish into the headrest. A few seconds later, my whole body went weightless as the coaster scraped the sky. When the ride concluded, I was convinced it was the best coaster on the planet.
That day, I waited two hours for one 30-second ride. It was definitely worth the wait.
But the tragic truth of our day is that millions of American young people have been unwilling to wait until marriage before engaging in the thrills of sexual intimacy. Sex is good because God created it (Gen. 2:25), but those who engage in sex outside of marriage are like roller coaster riders who refuse the safety belt. They rush ahead thinking only about the delight, without ever considering the dangers. With God’s word as our trusted guide on sexuality, what should we communicate to young people about waiting until marriage?
1.) Waiting ensures God’s best for your life. Sex is gratifying, but God designed sex as part of the larger context of a committed heterosexual marriage, where glorifying Christ is the ultimate goal (Ephesians 5:32). When sex happens in marriage, it is free from guilt, shame, and worry (Hebrews 13:4). In addition, God uses the sexual relationship to draw the couple into even deeper levels of fulfilling intimacy — what Scripture calls “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
2.) Waiting shields your heart from unnecessary hurt. No one enjoys the feeling of removing a Band-Aid after it has been attached for a few days. The moment you start to peel the bandage away, the sticky adhesive fights back — and all the nerves in your skin explode with pain.
Something similar happens when romantic relationships end. When a relationship pulls apart, human hearts typically experience some measure of hurt. If the romance was only a short infatuation, the person’s hurt is brief and mild. But if the couple crossed the line into sexual intercourse, the guilt and shame of a wounded heart can be magnified tenfold and last many months. How can you avoid this pitfall of inward pain? Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23), and save sex for your wedding night.
3.) Waiting preserves your precious reputation. A wise person once said, “Your reputation precedes you.” This means that before you meet new people, they have already formed an impression of you based on things you have said or done in the past. By choosing sex before marriage, not only are you disobeying God’s commands, you are also dismantling your own precious reputation.
Do you want to risk being known as a man or woman who engages in casual sexual affairs? These are the real-life labels that come with a sexually active lifestyle outside of God’s marriage boundary. Scripture says, “A good name is better than riches” (Proverbs 22:1) — so protect your good name and your good reputation by waiting until marriage.
4.) Waiting protects your body from unintended consequences. All around us are young people chasing their own American dreams through hard work, education, and determination. But how many more young people are finding their dreams dashed as a result of sexual promiscuity?
Hollywood blockbusters like “Fifty Shades of Grey” glamorize unbridled sex. Yet we rarely hear the tragic stories of young women forced to quit school because of an unexpected pregnancy — or young men whose bodies are ravaged by sexually transmitted diseases. King Solomon asked, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27) Those who play with sex outside of marriage play with fire.
Sexual intercourse is a wonderful gift that God has given to human beings, not just for reproduction, but also for experiencing physical intimacy and the joys of committed love. However, this pleasure is so powerful and so life-altering, God reserved it for men and women joined in a marriage covenant.
He designed sex — so trust His infinite wisdom. Some thrills here on earth are over in just 30 seconds. But sex inside of marriage will thrill you for a lifetime. It is definitely worth the wait.
Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 17 years. He is a regular contributor to LifeZette.