Promoting sexual self-control often reveals how short-sighted people can be. For instance, when talking to a non-religious person (NRP)...
NRP: How do you convince public school kids to not have sex if you can't say "God says so"?
PW: "God says so" is certainly one argument, but it's not the only one.
NRP: I guess you can still scare them with unexpected pregnancy and STIs, but there's protection against that stuff now!
PW: The physical consequences are pretty scary -- especially when you consider how often "protection" doesn't protect. But again, that's only one aspect of the benefits of sexual self-control.
NRP: If its not a religious argument or scare tactics, what else is there?
PW: We talk about how being in control of your sexual impulses helps young people achieve their life goals -- whether its a specific career or a strong marriage. We show them that choosing not to use others for sex will inspire them to develop important conversational and relationship skills. And we connect it to one thing everyone wants: how to know if your partner will cheat on you. When someone with an established habit of sexual self-control legally swears to be faithful, there's a reason to believe they can do it. Unlike those who are sexually active -- their vows are little more than wishful thinking.
Conversations like that always seem to surprise non-religious adults. But, honestly, conversations with religious people (RP) can be just as short-sighted...
RP: My kids know God says wait until marriage. That's enough to keep them pure when they walk down the aisle.
PW: It's important for children to know God has set boundaries for sex, of course. But to adopt the biblical standard and not compromise under pressure, they need to make the case for sexual self-control beyond just, "God says so."
RP: They also know about pregnancy and disease.
PW: Physical consequences are very real, but secular culture offers protection against those risks that are very persuasive. Once a Christian teen is persuaded there is little to no danger of getting caught, the desire to NOT act on those powerful impulses is extremely diluted. And most religious teens compartmentalize only vaginal sex as biblically restricted. They still describe themselves as "pure" even if they are porn-users and participate in oral or anal sex.
There are HEALTH benefits to sexual self-control that apply to everyone. Physical health is obvious, but what about emotional health -- without sexual activity there is a dramatic decrease in DRAMA alone! And adolescent mental health improves when teens aren't tormenting themselves with questions like does s/he love ME or SEX? or if s/he can't resist me, how do I know s/he's not hooking up with anyone else?
There are Financial health benefits (no $$ for STD tests or abortions) and Relational health benefits (not lying to parents about who and what you're doing). Just as important, teens who are not sexually active are less likely to bully others, use recreational drugs or alcohol or drop out of school. Teens with impulse control make better friends, employees and students.
Last, but not least, learning the art of sexual self-control goes a long way toward making one Spiritually healthy -- people who don't waver in either moral code or integrity; who have decided its never okay to use someone made in the image of God. And treat all other people as if they are uniquely created for a purpose and worthy of honor and respect.
Just because its hard to do that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.