Let them have sex,” proclaim the freethinkers, the Hollywood agents, and the cool kids’ parents as they defend our youths’ famished libidos. Growing up Adventist is not exactly the most sexually fulfilling route teenagers can find themselves in. “Just say no” and “purity is power” messages have been our bread and water since before we had acne. We learned to scrunch our noses at the s word and to reflect on the very real pathological threats of the cooties. Somewhere between fourth and seventh grades, however, we stepped into an entirely new world. Finding Blue’s clues was the least of our concerns. Find me a good face wash, and then I’ll be impressed. As we grew, we traded in our coloring books for Facebook, satiating our desperate need for connection.
Somehow those mysterious pubescent hormones transformed precious, picky children into ravenous monsters prone to eating entire pizzas and then asking for seconds. Hot dogs, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese—was there nothing that could satisfy? And yet, sometime between our first and eighth meals, we looked across the lunch tables and found that food wasn’t the only thing our bodies were craving. Had Anna always been that cute? And was it just me, or was Timmy taller? The relationships that we cooked up followed the natural order of things—we passed notes, we talked about our braces, we even called once in a while.
Our new favorite TV shows portrayed Christians as nerdy, unreasonable prudes. What a shame and an embarrassment to be so socially outcast. Look at how much more fun life was when you just loosened up!
We watched as the beautiful people we dreamed of becoming cooingly hissed that age-old loaded question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1). Did God really say you can’t have any fun? Why would He restrict you like that? He must be cruel to ration you to only bread and water. The media looked down on our seemingly starved selves and declared, “Let them eat cake, give them icing and chocolate and sugar to feed on, let them have sex!” Bombarded with shows, movies, magazines and love songs, we were daily reminded that we won’t be young forever. Why would God be so cruel as to deprive us of the best years of our lives, telling us to wait until we get married?
If puberty sets in and our appetites for sex are triggered when we’re 11, 12, and 13, how can God truly expect us to wait a decade before we can eat? True enough, we are not socially equipped to marry at that age. Most 11-year-olds I know are more inclined to build a fort than a household full of electricity bills, insurance forms, and taxes. Marriage simply must wait until we are ready to handle it. But strain out the responsibilities and duties, and you find yourself with a bowl of sweet, concentrated love. Shouldn’t I be allowed to munch on that until the timer dings and I’m ready to go into the oven of marriage and withstand the heat of the pressures it entails?
Society’s cake gospel seems so appealing at first glance. But the more you eat sweets, the more you will crave. The appetite grows with indulgence. Sugars and junk foods are tasty, but they are bad for our bodies—they clog up arteries, expand our waistlines, and rot our teeth. Similarly, hastily indulging our sexual appetites heightens our risks of developing STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and/or emotional attachment problems.
But worse than these risks is the risk that we may spoil our appetites. We may grow accustomed to the sex made from uninhibited-passion concentrate, and then when we’re served up the real deal as a part of marriage it will seem too diluted by responsibilities and real life. Perhaps that is the reason we are told to restrain from eating all of our favorite ingredients at the beginning—God is trying to cook up something much greater for us than just a glob of sugar. Sure, it’s sweet, but the more you taste and experiment, the more it spoils your taste for the banquet God has been preparing for you. Marriage is a gift from God, so save up your appetite, because when God spreads before you that feast of wedded bliss—bon appétit!
Melissa Breetzke is a junior at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she is studying Spanish, French, and almost anything else she can fit into her schedule. This article was published January 20, 2011.