I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts (Psalm 119:45).
When children are young, it is unusual for parents to give reasons for their rules. What youngsters need is to hear the command and readily comply. A child must learn to stay away from electrical sockets long before he can understand the danger of electricity. The important thing is that children hear the command from one who loves them and has their best interests at heart, one who they believe to be wise. As children grow older, it becomes increasingly appropriate to give reasons for the commands. But the foundation has to be built on trust. For there is much we don’t understand.
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14) may well be God’s most unpopular commandment. Jesus of course only made it worse, drilling down to the bedrock by teaching that sexual faithfulness is rooted in thought and vision: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). God’s commandments concerning sexual faithfulness are considered ridiculous in our world, and wantonly restrictive.
Of course, this is not a new problem. It is as old as the Garden of Eden. What did the serpent do but point to the commandment of God not to eat of the tree and insinuate that God was a miser, unwilling and unable to do Adam and Eve any good. That the command not to eat was actually keeping them from real, abundant, life. And that there would be no consequences if they broke it.
But there are always consequences. The problem with sexual license is that we often don’t see them. And because we don’t, keeping God’s command requires trust—for the man who keenly feels the God-given desire to be joined to a woman, and the woman who rightly yearns to be loved by a man for who she is. Sexual relations are both beautiful and powerful, and therefore have consequences—for good in marriage, and for ill apart from it.
Do not be deceived into thinking that Planned Parenthood is simply seeking to provide health care for women. They are actively and aggressively promoting sexual license, particularly among young people who often don’t know what they are getting into. The chief way Planned Parenthood promotes sexual license is by communicating there needn’t be consequences: condoms will protect against sexually transmitted diseases and contraception will prevent pregnancy (and if it doesn’t, PP will “terminate” the baby by abortion). The kind of personal, emotional attachments that sex creates are ignored. All that Planned Parenthood requires is consent. They have nothing to say to the young girl who gives herself consensually and is then dumped. Or about the marriage that has suffered or broken because sexual relations change us, and the past is not easily left behind. We don’t just “move on.”
Hear another commandment from the Scriptures: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe” (Prov. 5:18-19). Here, painted in beautiful strokes, is the reason for God’s concern for sexual faithfulness. Marriage is a blessing. But it is a blessing that can be undone long before we are ready to receive it, for the consequences of past sexual relationships do not cease at the altar. They are carried, painfully, into marriage.
One of the reasons our world rejects God is because it doesn’t understand what the Psalmist quoted above knew: that keeping God’s commandments leads us to a wide place. To be a bright witness for life in our world requires one thing above all else—that as God’s children we believe that God is good, and therefore so are His commandments, even when we don’t understand.