I was 17 years old my “first time.” You know—THE “first time.” There are a lot of firsts in our lives—first steps, first grade and the first bite of a perfectly cooked T-bone steak straight from the grill. Then, there is your first girlfriend, first kiss and THE “first time.” Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be my “last time” outside of marriage.
Ironically, even though I would not become a Christian until I was 21, somehow, I still felt guilty and ashamed every time. Even without the Holy Spirit living inside of me, I still knew I was entering into an area of life that was reserved for someone else. Reserved for people that were in a different stage of life and relationship than I was in. I knew I was trespassing.
At 25 years old I married the absolute love of my life. What’s the biggest regret of my life? Not being able say that my wife was my “first time.” However, I still rest in the truth that my Savior has redeemed me, restored me and has made me new. My sin was deep, but His grace was deeper.
At the time of writing this I have been in ministry for over 16 years. Every year I speak to tens of thousands of people, and a large segment of them are students and young adults. Of course, one of the big topics that people expect you to teach on when you’re constantly with young Millennials (born 1980–2000) and Generation Z (born 2001–present) is sexual purity and saving the “act of marriage” for marriage.
Now, I do believe that teaching on sexual purity is extremely beneficial. The world has a lot to say about sex, but what does God say? We must know. Sadly, for the most part the church usually operates in one of two extremes when it comes to sex–we’re either completely silent about it (once again while culture as a lot to say about it), or we completely demonize it—“Sex is gross, vile and disgusting! So save it for the one you love!” How confusing is that?
Nevertheless, a healthy biblical view of sex is this: God invented it. He is for it. He desires for people to enjoy it. Think about it, the first commandment He gave Adam and Eve was to “multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). God didn’t create man and woman, then turn around to get a drink of water; only to turn back around in horror yelling, “Adam! What are you doing? Get off of her!” They were created this way. Sex was introduced this way. The enjoyment of it was commanded this way. And yet there is a lane that God created sex and intimacy for—marriage. “And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed ” (Genesis 2:25).
When it comes to relationships, marriage and sex—God invented it, so He gets to define what it is and how it’s used. Sex is like a Lamborghini. Yes, you read that correctly, a $250,000 Lamborghini was created for the racetrack. It would not be very smart for me to take that sports car off-road and drive it through mud pits. That very expensive car would break, wreck and be destroyed because a sports car is made for the racetrack. It’s the same with sex. It’s made for the roadway of marriage, and anytime it’s taken off that road and used in a different way, then people’s hearts break, emotions are wrecked, and our lives and testimonies can be destroyed.
We know that to be true for young adults and students. So we want teenagers to hear this message. We want students to obey it by walking in sexual purity. “Save it for marriage” is the banner we wave. Even if you’ve “done it” before, God can forgive and restore. He is still calling you to “be holy just as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:15).
However, this truth is not only for teenagers. Sexual purity is just as much for the Gen Xers and the Baby Boomers as it is for Generation Z. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 55, you’re called to walk in sexual purity.
It’s amazing how Christians seem to ignore this particular sin among our more aged brothers and sisters. Sadly, there has never been a shortage of parents or guardians who speak to my wife and I with broken hearts over their child’s promiscuity, while at the same time, having their own live-in boyfriend or girlfriend at home waiting for them.