“Why is sex before marriage a sin?” asked Linda, one of our regular readers in response to a recent post.
Linda added, “I can see how extramarital affairs, sex outside marriage can be (sinful).” She further suggested the only dangers to sex before marriage might be “unwanted sexual diseases or an unexpected or unplanned pregnancy.” However, she opined that “thankfully these days many people have access to safe birth control and condoms so they do not have to suffer heart-wrenching punishing consequences.”
Linda is not alone in her thinking. A May 2019 Gallup poll regarding issues that Americans believed were morally acceptable found that 71% thought sex between an unmarried man and woman was acceptable. However, 89% believe it was morally unacceptable for married men or women to have an affair.
The answer to Linda’s question does not reside in social acceptance, personal opinion, or majority rule. If you believe in God and that the Bible is the Word of God, then His divine decree determines what is right and wrong.
The Bible says that “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
The word “fornication” is generally used in the Bible of any illicit sexual activity. However, when it is used in the same context of adultery, the former refers to sexual immorality between unmarried people. And the latter to sexual immorality between people who are married, but not to each other.
Both fornication and adultery are listed among “the works of the flesh” that will hinder one from entering the Kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
All types of sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage are unholy and cause one to sin against his body and defile the temple of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Paul warns, “Flee sexual immorality.” Because you belong to Christ, glorify Him in your sexual purity (1 Cor 6:18-20).
Furthermore, Paul instructs “Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:2). In the relationship of marriage, the sexual union is sanctioned and sanctified by God.
I’m reminded in the 2018 Florida College Lecture program, Dr. Tom Hamilton began his lecture, “Not in Passion of Lust” with these two words: “Holy Sex.”
“If Christians were honest with themselves, “holy sex” sounds like the greatest of all oxymorons,” Tom wrote in the lecture book. “In any number of church buildings, the word ‘sex’ is yet to be mentioned (unless it is spelled ‘sects’), being considered a taboo topic for public proclamation.”
Preceding Hamilton’s lecture, Gospel Preacher Mark Broyles, spoke on “The Spiritual Nature of the Sexual Relationship.” Mark observed that “God created us in His image as sexual beings.” While God is a Spirit and not a sexual being, He chose to make us male and female, body and spirit, with sexual desires. Both Broyles and Hamilton Biblically obliterated the notion that somehow sexual feelings and relationships are somehow “unholy,” or even “dirty.”
“Are my pleasure and my holiness inherently contradictory to one another?” asked Mark. “Is it possible that God created us with strong urges and desires that can be richly fulfilled and yet our holiness not be tainted? He further probed. “Yes,” is the answer. “It is not only possible, it is true.”
The Old Testament Song of Solomon offers, as Homer Hailey used to say, a divine picture of “true mating love.” Rich in symbolism and explicit in the imagery of that day, we learn that God created physical intimacy to be enjoyed to its fullness within the marriage relationship as God intended.
1 How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
the work of a master hand.
2 Your navel is a rounded bowl
that never lacks mixed wine.
Your belly is a heap of wheat,
encircled with lilies.
3 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
which looks toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Carmel,
and your flowing locks are like purple;
a king is held captive in the tresses.
6 How beautiful and pleasant you are,
O loved one, with all your delights!
7 Your stature is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
Furthermore, the wise man offers this captivating insight in Proverbs 5
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
Why is sex outside of marriage sinful? Because God said so. He ordered and ordained marriage, and thus has the right to make the rules. Also, He knows what is best for us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The consequences of disobeying God’s Word are far greater than a disease or unwanted pregnancy. They are eternally disastrous.
But obeying God’s commandments regarding sexual purity, not only provides pleasure in this life, but promises eternal ecstasy in our Heavenly home.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman