I recently received an email asking me about sex before marriage. It’s a question I get asked often, and one that we in the Church deal with on a daily basis.
The question is repeatedly asked, “Why should I be celibate before marriage?” Here’s part of my response.
I could give you dozens of reasons to abstain from sex until marriage. Here are only a few:
As a single person, you’re already married to someone else. Your life and and body belong to God, even if you’re not a Christian or don’t believe in God. He is your spouse until he gives you permission to marry someone else. That’s why the Ten Commandments call sex before marriage adultery. It’s cheating on God.
Marriage is a covenant relationship, and sex is the covenant act. Covenant is a big deal in the Bible, and there’s no greater covenant than that between a man and a woman in marriage. That’s why in both Testaments of the Bible the most commonly used metaphor for God’s relationship with us is that of a husband and a wife.
God established sex as the covenant act of marriage. Sexual union actually and gloriously recreates the actual, physical way that people used to establish covenants with each other. It is the literal “one flesh” union that God described in Genesis.
Sex without covenant is complete rebellion before God. It’s a mockery of marriage. Sex outside of marriage is a covenant action without the covenant. It’s playacting. It’s pretending. And sex outside of the covenant of marriage brings always condemnation, not life.
Sex is spiritual. When you have sex with someone, your union with that person goes way beyond physical. God designed sex to be not just a physical act, but also an emotional and spiritual act. In sex you actually give your partner access your soul. That’s why God requires monogamy. He only wants you to give that much access of yourself to one person–one equally faithful and committed person. That’s why breakups in sexual relationships hurt so bad. You’re leaving part of your soul behind.
Doing the math on this one is really scary: the number of sexual partners you have equals the number of people who have walked away with a piece of your soul.
Sex before marriage undermines relational commitment. Sex before marriage does little to strengthen a relationship. In fact, it typically undermines it. Psychologists and sociologists have looked at this one, and their studies tend to reach one of two opposing conclusions. They find that sex before marriage either hurts the relationship or it doesn’t. Seriously, I’ve found studies that argue both sides.
What I have not found is any study that says sex before marriage actually helps the relationship, increases intimacy before and in marriage, or adds to the longevity of marriage. Besides that, my thirty years of ministry experience and my relationships with some of the leading marriage and family therapists in the country tell me that sex before marriage is typically devastating to a relationship.
The mantra among counselors is basically, ” If you really want to kill your relationship before you get married, move in together and start sleeping together.”
It’s sin. Bottom line, God told us to wait. Just because our culture has shifted and most people think sex before marriage is actually a good idea, God has not changed his thinking on it. He commanded us to save sex for the beauty and intimacy of marriage and we’d be wise to obey what he says. If we don’t, we can’t expect him to bless our relationships and we can also expect consequences.
Recently, former NFL quarterback and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow gained national attention after his girlfriend, a former Miss USA, broke up with him because he wouldn’t have sex with her. This is the second time Tebow has made headlines for his relational stand on abstinence.
Social media and gossip columns crucified Tebow, basically questioning the manhood of any man, especially a football player/celebrity, who refuses to sleep with a girl who wants him.
Does anyone actually think our society is stronger because of our new sexual mores? Can anyone produce even a shred of evidence saying that our marriages last longer, that divorce is decreasing, that STDs are declining, that there are fewer unwanted pregnancies and abortions, that the number of fatherless households is shrinking and that our society overall is more sophisticated, has more integrity, character and social stability, because sex before and even outside of marriage is now common practice?
Seriously people, open your eyes.
God’s Word hasn’t changed. He gave us boundaries around sex for our good and protection. If you need any data about what happens when we don’t honor his Word, just look around.
I ask every reader to commit today to honor God’s Word. Save sex for the marriage union as God designed it. Anything else will only lead to heartache.