The Bible On Premarital Sex And Sexual Morality
Its easy to think that the Bible doesnt say anything about premarital sex. But thats because people usually look for negative statements: a condemnation or thou shalt not. But the Bible expresses Gods perspective mainly in positive terms. And Scripture clearly states that sex belongs in marriage, between one man and one woman.
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Why Premarital Sex Is A Sin
Jonathan Pokluda | 07.30.12
Talk about dating and the subject of sex is bound to come up. Sex within dating. Premarital sex.
It is amazing the wide range of opinions on the subject. Some within the church would wonder why we even need to be talking about it of course you shouldnt have sex outside of marriage. At the other end, a big percentage of people outside the church would think that viewpoint is crazy, and would argue that you not only can but should have sex before marriage. Somewhere in the middle you would have secularists who agree that premarital sex is a bad idea, and Christians who try to argue that it is not actually a sin.
Truth is truth, though, whether you choose to believe it or not. Premarital sex is a sin. Even if you dont believe that or dont believe in God at all, premarital sex is still, at best, a bad idea.
Clearing up misconceptions about premarital sex
Ill talk about why it is a bad idea, even for readers who do not believe in God or sin, in an upcoming post. First, I want to address Christ-followers here to clear up any misconceptions about what the Bible has to say about it.
Secondly, and more importantly, the Bible does say that premarital sex is a sin. Many times. Here is one of them:
It is essentially impossible that Biblical authors wrote the word with that suspiciously narrow definition in mind, though. Look at how Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, used the exact same word just a few sentences later:
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The Bible Forbids Adultery And Values Marriage
The Bible simply doesnt say much specifically about premarital sex. And some of what has been interpreted as applying to premarital sex doesnt really apply to it.
What the Bible does condemn in no uncertain terms is adultery. However, even though premarital sex is traditionally considered fornication, it is not adultery. Adultery is when one or both of the people engaging in sex with one another is married to someone else. Strictly speaking, the commandment Thou shalt not commit adultery does not apply to sex before marriage.
The Bible presents marriage as a relationship that is sacred because from the beginning God created two human beings to be united into one. Based on this, we can conclude that:
- If the people engaging in premarital sex think there is nothing wrong with promiscuous and adulterous relationships, and just want to sleep around with no restrictions or boundaries, it is a serious issue.
- But if the people engaging in premarital sex value marriage and want to be in a committed, monogamous relationship, it is not such a serious issue.
Does the Bible give a green light to premarital sex, then?
No, it doesnt.
But it doesnt give a red light either.
Lets take a closer look at the Bibles yellow light on sex before marriage. Then well look at some issues that are worth considering in making decisions about engaging in sex outside of marriage.
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What Does The Bible Say About Sex Before Marriage Is Abstinence The Only Option
The original language of the Bible has no word to describe sex before marriage, so we need to look at other biblical principles to help us figure this out. The Bible condemns adultery and sexual immorality, but does premarital sex fall into that category? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 7:2, which offers a “cure” for the sin of sexual immorality: “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”
The Apostle Paul was basically saying that when people can’t control their sexual urges, they should get married. By committing to one person for life, they may enjoy sex in a monogamous relationship and be satisfied rather than pursue sinful, sexually-immoral relations. This biblical principle leads us to conclude that sex within marriage is a perfectly moral way to fulfill sexual passion. Sex outside of marriage should therefore be considered sexual immorality, which is a sin . For the unmarried Christian, abstinence is the only option.
Sex Is For Marriage And Marriage Is For Sex
God wants us to save sex for marriage not because its bad or dirty but because its unique, exclusive, and wonderful. Sex isnt just casual fun. And its not just a feel-good way of expressing mutual love. Its about two people becoming one flesh.
- Jesus says, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? .
- This fits with the apostle Pauls warning in 1 Corinthians 6:16: Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, The two will become one flesh .
- The same concept underlies the commandment against adultery . In the biblical view, adultery includes any sexual activity outside of marriage. This is why the Bible says, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous .
Sex is a holy mystery. Its a powerful bonding agent that shapes and affects the relationship between a man and a woman as nothing else can.
Thats why the Bible often compares idolatry to the sin of fornication or adultery .
And its why the Bible uses sexual purity and faithfulness between spouses as an image of our relationship with God .
So, what about Isaac and Rebekah, or Joseph and Mary?
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In The Bible Acceptable Sex Is Connected To Marriage
But consider the pragmatic meaning of that law about sex before marriage. If two people engaged in sex before marriage, they were required to get married in order to preserve the womans honor and hold the man responsible for his actions.
Another way of saying this is that in Old Testament times, the laws about sex were aimed primarily at enforcing the sanctity of marriage.
In the New Testament, there are no such detailed laws about how to handle various cases of sex before marriage. Instead, there are more general injunctions to avoid fornication and adultery, and to honor marriage through faithfulness and purity in ones marital life.
From this brief survey of what the Bible says about sex and marriage, we can draw two conclusions that support the ones I stated above:
- Promiscuous and especially adulterous sex with no intent to marry is forbidden in the Bible.
- Premarital sex that leads to marriage, though not ideal, is tolerated in the Bible, and is handled in pragmatic fashion to preserve social order.
This is what I meant when I spoke earlier of the Bibles yellow light on sex before marriage. The Bible does not forbid premarital sex as many Christians claim. But it does consider it non-ideal, and either requires or encourages those who engage in it to move toward marriage.
In short, the Bible generally teaches that sex should be connected with, or lead to, marriage.
Does The Bible Really Prohibit Sex Outside Of Marriage
God loves sex. The first two commands recorded in the Bible are have dominion over creation, and then be fruitful and multiply . In other words, rule the world and have lots of sex. Not a bad day at the office.
Whoever said God was some cosmic killjoy? God created sex and declared it to be good.
Within Christian circles, its assumed God only wants us to have sex if were married. Sex outside of marriage is one of the clearest, unquestionable prohibitions in Christianity. But where does the Bible teach this? Can you name a verse?
Many will race to the Ten Commandments: You shall not commit adultery . But adultery means having sex with someone elses spouse it doesnt refer to an unmarried couple sleeping together. Likewise, when Jesus condemns lust in Matthew 5, He does so in the context of adultery. In other words, we should not sexually desire another persons spouse as our own.
God loves sex. But Hes designed us to have sex within the boundaries of a marriage covenant.
Others might turn to Leviticus 18. This sex chapter lists all sorts of sexual prohibitions including incest, bestiality, adultery and other sexual sins. Its fascinating, though, that nowhere in Leviticus 18 is sex before marriage condemned.
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The Communal Aspect Of Marriage
Different cultures have different ways of arranging marriage and marking the marital bond. Not surprisingly, then, the Bible doesnt require all marriages to be sealed in a church ceremony or with a state-authorized license.
Still, whatever the time and place, biblical marriage always includes a distinctly communal aspect. Its first understood in a couples decision to leave their parents and cleave to one another. With that step, they start a new family unit as a part of general human society.
In other words, marriage involves a couples public commitment to build a strong and lasting relationship. That relationship isnt only a foundation for the nurturing of their own children its also a building block of social stability and a contribution to the well-being of the broader community.
In Bible times, that communal part of marriage was overseen almost exclusively by the family. However, in 21st-century America, it also involves the state and for serious believers, the Church.
What about Mary and Joseph? Well, betrothals in ancient Judaism werent like modern engagements. A betrothal did require that the couple not have sex until after the wedding ceremony. But aside from this, the relationship a betrothal established was every bit as binding and permanent as what we normally think of as marriage.
It Brings Rise To Comparison
Comparison often gains power in our marriage when weve inched open the door with premarital sex. Were likely to be tempted to compare one partner to another, the encounters, feelings, and more. It can be detrimental. When we refuse sex outside of marriage, however, the comparison thief doesnt stand a chance. Just as with emotional bonds, comparison is an emotional response that can rear its ugly head time and time again. Discussing this with your partner, before marriage and after marriage, will help to settle a run-away thought life. Discussion and forgiveness are central to the healing process.
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Effects & Consequences Of Premarital Sex On Marriage
When hormones rage and unchecked emotions sit in the drivers seat, we risk a ride we never anticipated. The body and heart can be injuredbut not only ours. Partners, future spouses, family, children, and friends stand at risk. What if we consider these nine effects and consequences of premarital sex on before we jump in for the journey?
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What Does This Mean
The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves. Christians can mess up and receive Gods full forgiveness. But there is a stark difference between messing up and continuing to do so with the mindset, I can always ask for forgiveness.
What matters is a fully repentant heart. Repentance isnt just an attitude of the heart it literally means to turn from the former life with a commitment to change for the better. We, as followers of Christ, must strive to live within the confines of his loving boundaries and celebrate the good gifts hes given us even if that means we have to wait until our wedding day.
Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on .
What’s The Point Of Abstinence Anyway
Did you know that Paul advised couples to practice abstinence at certain times? That’s right! In an environment where consensual sex is fine, sometimes a married couple should abstain from sex. Why? If any verse can help us understand the point of abstinence, 1 Corinthians 7:5a will: “Do not deprive one another , except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer…” .
Abstinence helps us develop our spiritual health.
If we don’t allow sexual desires to rule our thoughts, we can better honor God as we focus on our relationship with Him . Paul goes on to explain the different concerns of the married vs. the unmarried:
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Our simple advice is this: Use caution in what you allow into your mind in the first place, and don’t dwell on sexual fantasies.
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