“What [does] the Bible [say] about the sexual reproduction growth of young people and their bodies?” (language reordered to clarify question)
Boundaries and the Issues of a Young Persons Life
“23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Proverbs Chapter 4 and verse 23 teach us that God expects us to keep our hearts. We do this by setting clear boundaries in all areas of our lives. Boundaries define who we are and help us to understand where our responsibilities begin and where they end. Healthy boundaries keep the good in and the bad out. A healthy boundary will also allow good to come in and help us to make sure any ungodly thing lingering goes out and stays out. We need boundaries in all areas of our lives, but we will speak specifically about healthy boundaries and our bodies for this topic.
When considering our bodies and what is acceptable to God, healthy boundaries are critical for us to practice. Let’s explore this thought further. Boys and girls, growing up together as children, might play in a way that involves a lot of physical contact with each other—like maybe wrestling, for example. But as they start to mature and their bodies begin to change, they begin to feel things they didn’t feel before. It’s almost like their young bodies wake up from deep sleep. Attitudes towards the opposite gender begin to change. Girls change their opinions about boys and find they aren’t disgusting or gross anymore, and boys think girls aren’t as repulsive and annoying as before. When this change happens to you, young men and women, it’s time to put away the child play and start setting appropriate boundaries. Because establishing boundaries for your bodies are part of God’s commandment in keeping your hearts.
Remember, out of your heart are the issues of life, and there are some issues that a young person does not want to confront, like pregnancy before marriage or sexually transmitted diseases. A sexually transmitted disease is an illness that someone acquires by engaging in sexual relations with someone infected. We can avoid these issues that would harm our health and lives by respecting our bodies. God gave us our body, and He expects us to be good stewards over it. A steward is someone who respects or is responsible for caring for something. Being a steward over our body means we care for and respect it as God would have us to for His purpose. In respecting our bodies we simultaneously, respect the bodies of others because we know how to draw clear limits for our own.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries for Our Body
Before we understand how to create boundaries for our bodies, we need to find our “no” and be comfortable communicating our limits. But before we can find our “no,” we must know who we are, what we stand for, what our responsibilities are, and practice telling others. When we know who we are and what we represent, we can set healthier boundaries. Young people need to practice saying no to situations that can lead to ungodly behavior. Unfortunately, sometimes young people have difficulty saying no to people they want to please, like their friends or someone older they admire. So they may struggle to say no to circumstances they don’t want to participate in, such as unwanted sexual advances and other inappropriate behavior. Remember, keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life?
Young women need to understand that it’s ok to say no to young men who put their hands on their bodies. Fear of saying no to advances like this could lead to unwanted situations for those involved. The fear and anxiety usually come from not wanting to be rejected or losing the friendship and attention. But young women who understand their responsibility to respect their bodies can set healthy boundaries and say no to inappropriate touching regardless of who they might offend. A young woman’s responsibility begins with her Christian values and ends with her body as a good steward. She is not responsible for the feelings of the one who crossed her line. The offended young man is responsible for his feelings and consequently learns how the young woman stands.
Likewise, young men need to know it’s ok not to allow young women to snuggle up to them, sit on their laps, or get close to their faces. Keeping these boundaries shows a young man respects his body. If someone’s touching makes you feel uncomfortable or is pushing the limit of what is proper, it’s a good indication for you to tell them to stop it. It’s ok to say I don’t appreciate that and don’t touch me. It’s necessary to say “no” when someone crosses your boundary. Learning this type of communication is healthy.
Saying no and voicing your limits isn’t mean; it’s called keeping your heart, just like the scripture tells us to do. Remember, you are responsible for your body. God made you steward over your body. If you communicate your boundary, most people will respect you. Our “no” or “stop it” voice doesn’t have to be loud or mean to work, just firm and clear. People can not read our minds and are not responsible for our boundaries. We must communicate our limits and boundaries, so others understand where we stand.
Respecting Others’ Bodies With Our Boundaries
The Apostle Paul taught the importance of modest behavior for our bodies to the Corinthians. He showed the Corinthians how to set boundaries between men and women so they could avoid sexual sins. Similar to how we respect our bodies, we also appreciate and respect the bodies of others by practicing modest behavior between men and women. This boundary also applies to young men and young women.
“1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
The Apostle Paul didn’t hesitate to tell the Corinthians, it isn’t good for a man to touch a woman, and then he said, and if you are having an issue, get married. The Apostle Paul supported intimacy between husbands and wives because this is God’s design for His people. Young people, you will have your opportunity for intimacy with someone you love when it is time for you to marry. It is not God’s plan for His children to experiment sexually with each other before marriage. Experimenting sexually outside of the bonds of marriage does not show respect for yourself or the one participating with you. Remember, you are responsible for your body.
We read that the Bible calls sex before marriage fornication. To fornicate is disobedience and disrespect toward God because our bodies do not belong to us alone. We were bought with a price.
“20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
This is part of who we are “bought with a price.” And our bodies are on loan to us from God that we might glorify Him. So, as the Apostle Paul stated, in Corinthians, we shouldn’t put our hands carelessly on the opposite gender. It isn’t good practice. We, too, can apply this clear boundary to our lives. The Apostle Paul’s boundary will keep us modest and pure before our brothers and sisters in Christ and our God.
Maybe you’ve heard someone say this before? She was asking for it! Many young men have had this thought about young women; she’s asking for it, she acted like she wanted me to. Thoughts like this are from the enemy, and young men respecting their own bodies would not act upon them. Even if you think the young woman is asking for it or doesn’t deserve your respect, you do not have permission to touch her. She is not your wife. Regardless of what thought comes to your mind, you must show respect anyway and keep your hands to yourself. Saying no to enticing sexual advances indicates that you have a healthy dose of self-respect. Young man, remember that if you want to serve God, respect for yourself and those around you is essential to Christian behavior, in general, and not just specific to our bodies only.
Young women can apply the same message. You are also responsible for your behavior. So let’s suppose your behavior is causing a young man to have difficulty keeping his flesh and thoughts towards you pure. In that case, you can change the way you behave with the opposite gender. Ask God to show you how to set solid boundaries for yourself. If you intend to keep God first, setting better limits on your behavior will not be a difficult task.
Weak Boundaries Lead to Greater Temptations
We are responsible for controlling our behavior, our impulses, and our responses to temptations. God promises us the power to overcome temptation and will make way for us to escape from it. Temptation is an impulse to act upon a forbidden desire. With God’s grace, we can say no to these impulses and overcome them. Then the enemy will learn that he needs to find another way to tempt us. We become victorious in Christ when we set appropriate boundaries for ourselves and consistently apply them. The following scripture is a promise to us from God.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
We are not alone when it comes to impulses or temptations, and God is just. He will not allow temptation that we cannot overcome. But what if we fail to set boundaries and limits that can protect us from the enemy’s temptation, or we push the limits and take chances with our soul? Putting our bodies in highly tempting situations makes it difficult for us to access God’s help and easy for the enemy to take advantage. We are responsible for our bodies, our choices, and then where our hands go. So, we are responsible for either choosing to keep our friendships with the opposite gender visible by being with others or finding places to be alone. Then we are accountable for our behavior after making that choice. God will not set our boundaries or make our choices for us. God gives the command, but it is up to us to choose whether or not we will obey. Setting wise boundaries is our choice and our work to do. Firm boundaries can keep us from falling into a tempting situation that might be difficult to escape.
Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? Adam blamed Eve for handing him the forbidden fruit in the first place. And then he blamed God for making Eve — his companion. The truth is Adam was responsible for his own choice to participate in the disobedience, not Eve and not God. Adam did not have a “no” for Eve, and God held Adam responsible anyway. What Adam and Eve did, they did together. Still, each was responsible for their behavior, and God held both accountable for their part.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Above we see Adam made his choice to receive the fruit.
“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
In Genisis chapter 3, verse 12, we read that Adam blames God and Eve for his disobedience in one statement. But it was Adam who was responsible for his own choice in the matter. Likewise, we are accountable for our own decisions. We are responsible for our bodies, not someone else. It may take two to participate in fornication, and one might blame the other for falling into this sin, but the truth is both are responsible, and both must own their part. Remember, we were bought with a price? We belong to God, so this means when people fornicate, they are not only disrespecting themselves and the other, but they also disrespect God. Fornication is a sin that separates us from God, just as Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from God. There isn’t a better example of this separation than the one recorded for us in Genesis.
“9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul is clear in teaching that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. We can not fornicate and think we are in good standing with God.
“19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
Our bodies are the temple of God, and we have a responsibility to keep our bodies pure for God. And again, we read that we are not our own, but we belong to God.
The Apostle Paul Understood the Importance of Setting Good Boundaries
I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
In 1Corithinans chapter 9, verse 27, we see, the Apostle Paul understood how to set boundaries over his body. He kept it under and brought it into subjection. He took responsibility for his impulses and his behavior. By the grace of God and the power that God gave to him, Paul was able to overcome his flesh and be victorious in Christ. Paul knew he was not his own. He was bought with a price and set apart for the glory of God. His purpose was to fulfill God’s plan for his life, and Paul knew what he stood for as a child of God. Knowing this allowed him to set clear boundaries in his life that protected his testimony with God and others and then teach others to do the same.
“4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:”
When the Apostle Paul taught boundaries to the Church of God, he didn’t hold back. Paul wanted to be sure that God’s people understood the risk of neglecting to set firm boundaries. The Apostle commanded the people to mortify their members. Mortify means to kill. So the scripture teaches us to destroy the evil desire lurking or squash the impulses that would overtake us. Notice he did not say pray and ask God to take it away. Paul reminded the people that they were responsible for their behavior. God set the command and the consequence. So it was up to them to set boundaries to help them overcome their flesh. It is still up to us today as Christians to own responsibility for our behavior and set good boundaries.
“1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
We are bought with a price, called to be a child of God, and the Bible teaches that keeping our bodies pure is our reasonable service. How can we present our bodies as a sacrifice to God if we practice fornication? It is impossible. Our bodies are no longer pure and holy once sin is conceived.
A Message to Engaged and Courting Couples
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”
The Bible teaches us to flee fornication because it is a sin against our bodies, and we know sin separates us from God. But with healthy boundaries in place, we’re less likely to find ourselves in a position that requires us to run away. Healthy boundaries can help us avoid situations that might put our souls in jeopardy. Remember, our bodies are on loan to us from Jesus, but they are also our responsibility as stewards over them. So think about what you can do to protect the body God loaned you.
If you are of an age-acceptable to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, or if you are engaged to be married, what boundaries do you have in place to keep you from falling into temptation? When you are together, do you plan to be with others too, because this would be a healthy boundary that can help you stay pure? Or are you consistently getting alone, where no one else can see you? If yes, you are more than likely putting yourselves in a position to be tempted. Remember, it is much harder to put out a fire after it begins burning than to keep it from starting in the first place. The Apostle Paul talked about this a little.
But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
In context for this scripture in Corinthians, the topic of discussion was unmarried widows and what to do with them. But the principle Paul established with the Corinthians can also apply to everyone who is not married. All humans are subject to feelings of passion in the flesh. So, when Paul says it is better to marry than to burn. He is talking about physical desires or passions that can overcome a person – male or female.
If engaged couples cannot marry for reasons sometimes that are valid but struggle with their flesh, setting good boundaries can be helpful. Because the enemy is savvy and sometimes convinces couples, it is ok to become intimate physically since they plan to marry each other in the future. But the decision to fornicate leads to a downward spiral. Meaning, once a couple starts, it is also hard to stop. Christians that decide to begin fornicating are at risk of losing their relationship with Christ and each other. Remember, fornication is sin, and sin equals separation from God. So the couple that fornicates needs to repent and be restored to Christ. But the damage doesn’t go away that easily. The enemy of our souls loves to torment people over past mistakes. And living with this kind of torment is the worst way to start a new marriage in Christ. Mark these words; it is a blessing to start a marriage with a clear conscience before God, and two people beginning their life together with a clear conscience is God’s ultimate plan for couples.
Thoughts prepared by SBT.