by Tim Hall
**Who wants a reward for moral behavior?**
The Associated Press carried a story on October 23 that seems most curious. A program called “Marriage Appreciation Training Uplifting Relationship Education” was highlighted. Based in Conyers, Georgia (near Atlanta), the program is under the auspices of Rockdale Medical Center. As you might suspect, MATURE is not a religious effort.
Organizer Philippia Faust has offered a $10,000 reward to a couple who plan to wed. The terms are simple: They must live in one of three counties in the vicinity, undergo marital counseling, and open their wedding to the public. So far, so good.
Making the offer a little less attractive, apparently, is the stipulation that no alcohol can be served at the reception. One other qualification for the $10,000 is what has made national headlines: The couple must agree not to engage in premarital sex.
No couple has yet stepped forward to accept the challenge. With the October 31 deadline fast approaching Faust observed: “In our society it’s going to be hard to find” a couple that hasn’t had premarital sex. Few would argue with her assessment.
The Bible’s standards for sexual behavior are well known: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV). Within marriage sex may rightfully be regarded as a gift from God. Outside of marriage it is always sinful. That truth speaks to premarital or extramarital sex.
The temptations facing young adults are strong. This was true in Bible times, as well as today. Paul gave clear counsel in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” Few, however, respond as Joseph did when confronted by an immoral woman (see Genesis 39:11-13).
If any engaged couples from DeKalb, Newton or Rockdale counties in Georgia read this, consider this opportunity to be rewarded for doing what is right. Young couples everywhere, though, should realize the superior heavenly rewards God has promised to those who walk by his standards of morality.
by Tim Hall