“Boys will be boys, young men must sow their wild oats, and women must not expect miracles,” wrote Louisa May Alcott in her classic novel Little Women, published in 1869.
Wild oats are a type of European grass. They are useless for cereal crops. Worse, they infiltrate good crops rendering them useless. According to worldwidewords.org, the idea of sowing wild oats was born in 1542. It referred to “young men who frittered away their time in stupid or idle pastimes.”
How times have changed
Today, the world exalts “playing the field” or “shopping around” before settling down. Through television, movies, music and liberal education, American society has been brainwashed into believing that it’s better to get it out of your system now because fooling around is inevitable. The world says shopping is the better way … just listen to the 1960 song by The Miracles, “Shop Around.”
In the mid-twentieth century, most women entered marriage as virgins. Today, if a twenty-year-old dares to confess being a virgin, he/she had better put on some armor because the ridicule will be unending, and the whispers will abound. And thus, we have movies like “20 Year Old Virgins,” (not recommended) hailed as a “coming-of-age” story, as if losing your virginity is the bastion of reaching adulthood.
Does society’s promiscuity translate into marital success as they advertise? The answer is an unequivocal no. God’s plan has once again been affirmed.
Nicholas Wolfinger did a study on the number of sexual partners women had before marriage and the divorce rate within five years after. His report, “Counterintuitive Trends in the Link between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability,” provided these results for the 2010’s:
Prior Partners Divorce Rate
Virgin brides 6%
10 + 33%
Not surprisingly, the study noted that virgin brides had a high incidence of attending church at least weekly. The Church is the only place in America still holding up this ideal and promoting God’s plan. That plan highlights self-control – the character trait missing in Adam and Eve and in every generation since.
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28).
The Marshmallow Test
In 1960, Walter Mischel, then of Stanford University, did a “delay of gratification” test using four-year-olds. The testers offered the children their choice of a treat, and told them if they didn’t eat the one right away, they would get a second when the tester returned. The testers left the children seated at a table in a room for up to twenty minutes with one treat (like a marshmallow). Only a third of the children could wait.
Later in life, follow up studies of this group showed the self-controlled were more successful in grades, social skills, stress levels, completing school work, school attendance, SAT scores and eating habits. In other words, good self-control is an early determinant of success. It follows that those who wait for marriage are more successful.
Today our kids are tempted with readily available video games, drugs and sexual entertainment – all of which tear down the walls of self-control. We adults are not much better with our smart phones, drive-through coffee and live-streaming movies. Is there anything we don’t want now?
But at what cost?
“He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness” (Proverbs 5:23).
The good news is that self-control is like a muscle – it can be developed. If you have lost your virginity, you can gain the necessary self-control with God’s strength. He will build you up to be a useful vessel for His kingdom.
This is the part where I normally give you some pointers for how to apply the information in your life. But the instruction has already been given.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control [emphasis added] with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. — 2 Peter 1:3-11
Patricia Hartman: Forensic CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. www.khwcpa.com. Speaker. Author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. President of South Florida Word Weavers. Board member Living Water Christian Counseling.