I hear this question often.
Here are several considerations:
Do you have a relationship with Christ? If not, then I would encourage you to first respond to Christ. His life, death, and resurrection demand a response, either of belief/faith/trust or unbelief. No one sees the bloody cross of Christ and responds with “meh.” If you do have a relationship with Christ, conversations of sex start with God.
It must be believed that all things are from God and to be lived through/with/under* him (Rom. 11:36). One of these things is sex. He gives it as a gift. And it is to be received through/with/under him. Do you believe sex is a gift from God that is best received through/with/under him?
Part of receiving it through/with/under him is actively believing that God knows what he’s doing in designing it. Trust that he’s established good, pleasing, and perfect boundaries. To disagree with his boundaries is tantamount to giving God the finger and prematurely nabbing this gift right out of his hands. The Bible (Rom. 1:21) says such action represents futility of thinking (though we think we know better than God) and a darkening of hearts (though we claim it’s due to greater/deeper/purer/committed love).
Part of his design is that this gift would be received within the covenant of marriage. The boundaries for sex is marriage. You knew this was coming, right? Think about it. Our conscience recognizes there is a time and place for sex. Prostitution is not it. Rape is not. Adultery is not it. Getting sloshed, grabbing a stranger, and hooking up in the bed of a pick-up truck is not it. I use these examples because we all recognize there is a line. Somewhere. Somewhere there is a distinction where we can point and say “Okay” or “Not okay.” With faith in Christ, we say God’s draws the line. And he has drawn it at marriage (see: Gen. 2:24-25 where order is marriage and then nakedness and 1 Cor. 7:2 which holds up marriage as essential for avoiding sexual immorality is one is in fact having sex. It should be noted it’s not the only essential).
Ultimately, why is this all so important? The covenant of marriage and relationship between husband and wife is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the Church. For Christ to establish this relationship he came to earth, lived sinlessly, died substitutionally, and raised victoriously. It says he purchased us with his blood. He loved us so much that he died for us.
So, “is it okay to sleep together if we really love each other?” Absolutely! Because I understand “really loving each other” to actually mean laying down your life as Christ did for the Church, living through/with/under him, trusting his good design, and entering into covenant with the other person through publicly exchanging vows. If you really love each other that way, by all means, sleep together.
QUESTIONS: What do you think? Is hooking up without hitching up a good idea? A biblical idea?
Here’s a video of what happens when two cars hook up without hitching up? (Note: turn down volume if offended by profanity)
* “through/with/under” is a cumbersome phrase, so why use it repeatedly? I think it communicates several important principles. “Through” communicates living life through the power of his Holy Spirit. We are to be a spirit-filled people. One of the fruits of this is self-control, an important character quality within this discussion. “With” communicates that God the Son took on human flesh and frailty. He experienced bodily temptation, weakness, and pain. In these ways he is with us and able to sympathize with our weaknesses. “Under” communicates that God is Lord. There is no one greater. Using this cumbersome phrase reminds me of how important it is to live for God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.