I was wondering if sex before marriage is forbidden in the Bible. I have a hard time understanding what could be so destructive about two people who genuinely care about each other having safe sex. What about having multiple partners? Saying almost anything clear and definite about it is bound to offend somebody. Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life is not designed to win any popularity contests.
The reality is that the Bible is nowhere near as clear about sex before marriage as many Christians seem to think it is. In fact, though the Bible does generally condemn sexual immorality, there is no clear prohibition against premarital sex in the Bible.
No, sex before marriage is not forbidden in the Bible. 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. 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? The Bible says that marriage comes from God First, the Bible says that God created two people to be united into one, and that this relationship is to be honored.
In the first creation story, God creates man and woman together: God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. In the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, it says: Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Assuming, of course, that the people in the marriage are living in a godly way. The real question about premarital sex, then, is whether it contributes to marriage or damages marriage.
The Bible is full of imperfect people who do imperfect things. The only person who is presented by the Bible as sinless is Jesus Christ see Hebrews 4: Adultery, in particular, carried the death penalty see Leviticus What about those who had sex before marriage? Here, the law was more complicated, and more pragmatic. If a woman got married, and it was then discovered that she was not a virgin when she got married, her offense was punishable by death see Deuteronomy Yes, this was sexist and unfair.
The same rule did not apply to men. But that was an earlier and more brutal age. This law was their way of assuring a man that his children were his own. By the same token, if a man raped a woman who was pledged to be married, he was subject to the death penalty, while the woman was not to be punished at all see Deuteronomy What if the woman was neither married nor pledged to be married? So if an unmarried man did have sex with an unmarried woman, unless there was some proof otherwise, it was considered rape, and the man was to be punished for it—but not by the death penalty: Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.
Of course, these laws are not in force for Christians today. In the Bible, acceptable sex is connected to marriage But consider the pragmatic meaning of that law about sex before marriage. 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. And purity did not mean abstinence from sex. 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.
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. What about premarital sex today? We are no longer living in the ancient Biblical cultures that existed two to four thousand years ago. At least in the West, premarital sex no longer carries the stigma for women that it did in those days. And the standards for men are, if anything, even more relaxed. Is that good or bad? However, if, as Kimberly says, two unmarried people who genuinely care for each other choose to engage in safe sex with each other, is that really so bad?
Of course, in some families and in some segments of society, there are still major stigmas attached to sex before marriage. Those who engage in premarital sex will have to deal with the attitudes of their families, their friends, and their community. Beyond social strictures, though, is sex before marriage really so bad? These days, many people are sexually active from their teenage years onward, and still go on to get married and have good marriages.
Yes, I know, many also get divorced or have unhappy marriages. It all depends on your attitude toward commitment and marriage. Multiple partners or faithfulness to one partner? Most commonly, this means committed and faithful marriage.
Is There Marriage in Heaven? Marriage is based on mutual love, commitment, and trust between two people. It cannot coexist with promiscuity and casual sex with multiple partners. It will ultimately destroy your prospects for a real marriage. However, as I also said earlier, if you value marriage and want to be in a committed, monogamous relationship, sex before marriage is not such a serious issue.
Your longing for a real marriage relationship will move you in that direction if you remain committed to it. Both spiritually and socially, premarital sex still carries risks. For one thing, though you may be clear in your own mind that you want commitment, and eventually marriage, how can you be sure that your partner feels the same way? If serious differences do come out at that point, it can lead to a traumatic break-up, and a sense that you have just wasted many months or years of your life on a relationship that was nowhere near as real as you thought it was.
It works much better to start the relationship from the inner levels of finding out whether you truly belong together than it does to start it from the outer levels of physical sexual intimacy. But if your partner is willing to take that step with you, it does give greater assurance that he or she is just as committed to the relationship as you are. Is sex before marriage recommended in the Bible?
The Bible simply presents some of the issues and consequences involved in sex without the intent to marry vs. These are very personal issues, and very personal choices. No one else can make them for you. However, before you decide to go all-in physically, do consider what you want from the relationship.
If you simply want to enjoy sexual intimacy with someone you feel close to, that is quite doable. However, if what you really want is a long-term, committed, faithful marriage, consider the possibility that starting out with sexual intimacy early in the relationship may make the kind of marriage you long for less likely rather than more likely.
That inner oneness is at the heart of every true and lasting marriage. This article is a response to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.