Like Panda Bears and Western Lowland Gorillas, young people who abstain from sex until they are married are a threatened species. Worse, unlike respected and protected animals, Christian sexual hold-outs are treated like foolish moral throw-backs, the nearly extinct Dodo Birds of our permissive society. This article is written to present (i) the Bible's teaching about sex outside of marriage and to present (ii) practical information that supports God's expectations.
The Bible and Sexual Morality
Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Mt. 19:4-5, quoted from Gen. 2:24).
With these words, Jesus reaffirmed God's original "one flesh" (see I Cor. 6:16) intention that sexual relations are to be enjoyed only within marriage. This was also the impact of Exodus 20:14: "You shall not commit adultery." God protected the ideal of sex within marriage with so much respect that, not only were marriage partners commanded not to seek sexual satisfaction outside of marriage, but sex before marriage was also to be avoided out of respect for future marriage partners.
"You are to abstain from...sexual immorality" (Acts 15:29). This moral line in the sand was drawn because the ancient Gentile world, much like our modern world, had gone crazy with sexual excess. Combating immoral excess, Paul worded Hebrews 13:4: "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."
Both classes of sinful sexual adventurers are condemned in this passage. The first refers to married persons having sex with someone other than their spouse; the second refers to any other unmarried or "pre-married" sex. This teaching is entirely consistent with other New Testament passages that teach us to "Flee from sexual immorality" (I Cor. 6:18), that "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery...[are]...works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19), and that, in regard to "lustful passions," "no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister [because] the Lord will punish all those who commit such sins" (I Thess. 4:6).
Seeking to find lots of really great reasons to ignore the Bible's prohibition of sex before marriage, our sexually liberated and liberally sophisticated culture has failed. In fact, the more information research uncovers, the more God's truth is reinforced.
Randy Charlie Sheen's recent admission that he is HIV-positive reminds us that the loosing side of the sexual revolution includes many causalities who are suffering from sexually transmitted illnesses, some that are terminal. The following "fun facts" come from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that also reports, "The U.S. sexually transmitted diseases epidemic is increasing and the most common diseases are at record levels." How can these be avoided? Bible teaching preserves sex for marriage and protects the sexually disciplined.
- There are 19.7 million new STDs/STIs every year in the U.S.
- There are 110 million active STDs/STIs in the U.S. annually (out of a total U.S. population of 319 million - that's 34%, or one out of every three).
- Each year, one in four teens contracts an STD/STI.
But...but...but, isn't sexual experimentation just a natural part of growing up, and doesn't pre-marital sex assist young people in their maturity toward developing stable adult relationships? Uh, no.
Nearly a dozen studies from the 1970s into the early 2000s showed that men and women who lived together before marriage were far more likely to divorce than couples who moved directly from dating to marriage. In fact, on average, researchers found that couples who cohabited before marriage had a 33 percent higher chance of divorcing than couples who moved in together after the wedding ceremony (ccf.org).
Winking, giggling, and tacitly approving pre-marital sex contradicts the common sense of the STD epidemic and the spiritual sense of the scriptures. "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body" (I Cor. 6:18). The ideal of sexual purity might be unpopular with the world, but is of utmost value with God. Beyond that, saving yourself for marriage can save your health.