By Philippa Lowe. 3 minute read
“I really want to have sex before marriage. I go to church, the person I’m dating goes to church. We do plan on getting married. So why wait? Plus, isn’t it better to know if we’re compatible or not in the bedroom before we get married? It helps with intimacy. I think the Bible is really outdated on this one.”
The best answer to this question starts with 1 Corinthians 6:20:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.
I’ll tackle all the other questions, but this is the starting point. This question is not simply about sex before marriage. It’s about the relationship we have with God through the power of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
If you believe that relationship with God is your primary relationship, that you were bought at a price – the death of Jesus on the cross who paid the penalty of all sin and shame – and as a consequence of your faith in him and his resurrection you have the Holy Spirit in you – then what do you do?
1 Corinthians 6:20 tell us: Glorify God with your body.
Glorify. All the acts of the heart and mind and body that intentionally express the infinite worth of God. All of life is supposed to be worship and glorification to God. And that includes sex. Worship with your body by the way you handle your sexuality.
Now, I fully understand there are times when sex – heck, life – certainly doesn’t feel anything remotely like worship. That’s a whole other blog! But answering this question – I’m a Christian and I want sex before marriage, why can’t I? – means working out first if you’re doing something for God, or for yourself.
And what does God ask us to do for Him in regards to sex? Save it for marriage.
Not because He’s boring and it’s all about Christian fun police. He created the orgasm for goodness sake, He wants sex to be enjoyable. He designed sex to be so intense, so exciting, so memorable, that He wants us to share it with one person: our spouse.
Because of God’s love for us, He established sexual guidelines to increase our sexual pleasure, to save it for the marital bed (or the marital kitchen, table, shower etc.)
I’m not saying it’s easy… no, no it’s not. Hormones. Like anything we’re told we can’t have, the desire for sex grows when you’re told you’re not supposed to be having any. It’s a heady cocktail of excitement.
Plus poor teachings from churches over the years have resulted in people unable to relax sufficiently to enjoy sex when they do get married because they’ve been browbeaten with the purity message. Or feeling bad about themselves and guilty because they got carried away with the excitement and had sex outside of marriage.
Neither outcome is what God desires for us. So start from the top. Rather than giving reasons why sex before marriage ought to be OK, begin to look at sex from God’s perspective, embrace His wisdom on it. MoS will be starting a series of articles on sex and marriage, based on interviews with a wide range of people, in the next month.
Now for the other questions asked:
Is the Bible outdated on sex?
It’s easy to think this thousands of years old book is archaic when it comes to sexual purity. The argument regularly used is that people in the Bible got married in their teens (ie: sooner!) so didn’t have to struggle with sexual temptation we do nowadays.
So does an inability to control ourselves, make it ok ? If it’s harder to do today compared to back then, do we remove all the challenging verses like 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Hebrews 13:4 that all look at sexual purity and saving sex for marriage. Because now, unlike when the Bible was written, we can’t control ourselves and our sexual desires?
But that means if scriptures in the Bible became untrue because people can’t control their desires, then we’d also have to cut out the commandments on stealing, lying, cheating and having affairs. So if sex before marriage is okay because people supposedly can’t control themselves, then it must be okay to engage in pornography, too, right? After all, the temptation to watch and participate in porn abounds like it didn’t in Bible times.
Sex produces intimacy
It’s correct that sex produces as physiological bonding thanks to the chemical cocktails released in the brain during sex and up to 24 hours afterwards. And the Bible says sex causes “two people to become one.” Therefore, it’s more than just a physical act, it’s also a spiritual encounter (Mark 10:6-9).
But genital sex is an expression of intimacy, not the means to intimacy. Intimacy is more than sex – intimacy comes from verbal and emotional communication, a commitment to honesty and emotional vulnerability. There’s no guarantee sex will produce long-term intimacy.
Sex will help us determine our compatibility
Do you really want to test drive someone for sex like you’d test drive a car? And what happens when you start mentally comparing your eventual wife’s or husband’s sexual compatibility with other partners? Now you might say you’d never compare – but if you’d never compare, why do you need to determine sexual compatibility in the first place?
What do I think?
Personally, any struggle or temptation – be it sexual or otherwise – comes down to whether I’m willing to be obedient to what God seeks for me. Whether I want to make me god, or to look to God. On my own track record (and I’ll be frank, you don’t become a Christian in your early 40s like I did without some colour and baggage coming along too!), God does a far better job of guiding, loving and helping me than I’ve ever managed on my own.
Feel free to drop MoS a line, details below.
The intent in these Q&A articles is not to deliver ‘Thou Shalt’ or ‘Thou Shalt Not’ finger wagging, but to attempt to offer the Jesus lens on some of the questions asked, rather than a cultural lens.
We won’t always succeed, but we pray to do so gracefully.
In all, MoS aims to be a safe place that explores desire, consent, agency, mutual pleasure, contraception, addressing porn and toxic sexuality, for young, old, single or married, in the view that all these are important with the intention to wait for marriage but acknowledging the aspects of Christian sexual ethics realised outside of marriage.
If you have a Question you’d like featured, please email info(AT)ministryofsorts.com