What is Abstinence?
Simply put, abstinence means to refrain from sexual activity. Abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). There are many other important benefits, as we will see. Abstinence has been practiced for centuries by men and women of all ages all over the world.
However, because the definition of abstinence relies upon "sexual activity," everyone ends up with their own personal definition of abstinence based on what they consider to be sexual. Does being abstinent mean you can do everything except for the actual sex act? Or is it doing absolutely nothing of an intimate or affectionate nature whatsoever (i.e., being "shomer" )? Is hugging and kissing still abstinent? What about second base? Third base? We all know that there are certain activities that may not result in pregnancy but are still sexual acts. Can one do those and still be considered abstinent?
For the purpose of our web site, we will simply define abstinence as refraining from sexual activity, but we'll leave it up to each person to determine for his or herself what constitutes sexual activity. Just be aware that halacha (Jewish law) does not permit any intimate or affectionate contact between men and women who are not married to one another (or close relatives). This includes hugging, kissing and even handshakes (under normal circumstances). So, one can be abstinent in the societal sense without conforming completely to halacha. (Of course, if one adheres to the halachic parameters, he or she will be abstinent by even the most conservative definitions.)
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