Those who grew up in the church can typically sum up their sex education as “Don’t have sex before marriage?” If a follow-up question were asked about a type of sexual behavior, the general follow up answer would be “Just Don’t” or the word “Sin” would be thrown in.
This answer hasn’t been helpful. It fails to take into consideration the range of sexual behaviors and the uniqueness of today’s world where people are getting married much later in life, if at all. If puberty starts around age 12 and the average age of a first marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, then the average person is spending 14-16 years of their life with the only sexual advice being “Stop. Don’t. Wait.” God has more to say.
For a variety of emotional and relational reasons, it is wise to be selective with whom we share sexual contact. Sex is holy which means that it is something special and needs to be shared with someone special. One good rule of thumb would be “Do not be physically naked with someone who you cannot be emotionally naked with.” We believe God is always FOR us. God always wants what is good for us.
While premarital sex is often described as ‘wrong’ in the church, better language would focus on health. Is this good for me as a person? Is this good for the other person?
One way of looking at sex is to view it as a spectrum. Imagine a scale from 1-10 where 1 represents holding hands and 10 represents sexual intercourse. Think about where you are today. From this point forward, how many people do you want be a #10 with before a possible marriage? How many people do you want to share #5 with before you get married? A #7? The Bible is rather silent on sexual behavior up until a #10.
(Quick aside, there are some sexual behaviors that would be a 11 or above on this scale that God does not want for anyone. This includes sex acts with multiple partners at the same time, violent sex, and infidelity.)
This may sound odd, but pray about it. Ask God to help you make the decision. It is best to have this conversation before you are in the moment to make sure the conversation includes your Head, Heart, and Body and not just your Body. We tend to be more impulsive in the moment. Ask a friend what they think. God speaks through other people, too. If you are a student, ask your parents what they think. The conversation may be awkward, but they have wisdom from their own decisions that they can offer as well.
Your body is good. God created your sexuality to be a good part of your life. Respect its seriousness and you will find that will allow you to enjoy its beauty.
God is FOR you.