I know you’re really busy but we have a question for you. My girlfriend and I are Christians. We love each other so much and we intend to get married after graduation, or graduate school. But we have heard from other people that we should not be sleeping together. We can understand why this might be important for people who do not have plans to get married. But, like I said, we really love each other and plan to get married. Are there any good reasons why we should not be having sex? We’ve both prayed about it and we haven’t experienced any conviction. And we don’t really see where in the Bible it says to not have premarital sex. What do you think? Is there any value to abstaining from sex before marriage? Thanks for your time.
Sincerely, Brad and Jenny (names changed)”
Brad and Jenny,
Thanks for having the courage to write this note. I appreciate your willingness to seek out others for advice. The questions you raise are good ones and extremely important.
To more effectively answer your questions, I might need to ask a couple of my own. For example, you said you “don’t really see where in the Bible it says to not have premarital sex.”
What is your familiarity with the Bible? When you say that you and your girlfriend are Christians, what does that mean to you and how do you believe one becomes a Christian? And as it relates to your questions, if the Bible said that premarital sex was outside God’s desires, would you stop?
The reason I ask these questions is to gauge our starting point. How I speak to someone where God holds a lot of sway might be different than if God matters very little to them. In what follows, I will assume that God matters in your life and that you sought out me – a pastor – intentionally so.
- First, does the Bible tell us so? I believe it does. But I’d really encourage you to consider these Scriptures yourself. Because if we believe the Bible to be God’s Word and it says “Do ‘X'” or “Don’t do ‘Y'”, we need to heed his instruction. We do this both because God’s Word is right (it’s Truth) and it’s good (it’s Life-giving). To believe that we can do something contrary to God’s Word without consequence is false. There is always consequences to sin, even though they may not come to light for some time.
Here are two verses for your consideration (though I could find more):
1. Genesis 2:24-25 – 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. *Here we see the order is marriage (v. 24) and then sex (v. 25).
2. 1 Corinthians 7:2 – But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. *The teaching is Paul’s response to the suspected claim that it is better for a married couple not to have sex. So, Paul is saying both to have sex and to so with your spouse.
If the Bible doesn’t hold sway in your life, what does? What is your “True North”?
- Second, what is your understanding of covenant? Entering into covenant (or solemn agreement) with another person comes at the wedding ceremony through the exchanging of vows before God and human witnesses.
I believe that the covenant of marriage provides the most secure, safe, intimate, and loving environment possible. It’s in this environment that I believe sex can be most fully enjoyed.
- Third, each of you will need to learn self control. Some mistakenly believe that crossing the engagement line or marriage line means the end of practicing self control. It doesn’t. You will need to exercise self control prior to marriage and after marriage.
Sadly, this lack of self control prior to marriage often gets manifested in marriage. This can result in all sorts of chaos, including infidelity. So it is critically important for both of you to be able to demonstrate to one another control over your own bodies.
I could share much more but that’s enough for me. I really want to open it up to the community here for their thoughts and wisdom.
QUESTION: How would you respond to Brad and Jenny’s question, “Is there any value to abstaining from sex before marriage?”