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lonehunter65

Is premarital sex sinful?

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Mods, feel free to move this wherever it needs to go. I posted it here because I would like to be able to have discussion and disagreements.

I've really been struggling with this topic for a while now. I've posted here in the past adamantly arguing that premarital sex is sinful, but I have really been studying it and honestly I'm not quite so sure anymore. I've grown up being taught that it is sinful, so it is still hard for me to follow through to the logical conclusion of my objections. All help is appreciated.

I want to keep this debate strictly based on scripture. Please support your view with scripture.

Most of my change of opinion has come from studying the original Greek of the word typically translated as 'fornication'. The greek porneo can be translated as 'fornication', but a more accurate translation would be 'sexual immorality'. I don't see anywhere in the bible where sex outside of marriage is defined as sexually immoral. Even in the Leviticus passage (Leviticus 18) that forbids types of sexual immorality (which I would argue only applies to Levites anyway) there is no mention of sex outside of marriage.

Also, the Greek word gyn (used in verses such as Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.") can actually mean wife OR woman. So in the Greek language there is no way to distinguish between a woman and a wife. So, in my mind, the interpretation of Matthew 5:28 actually makes more sense to say that anyone who looks at a married woman with lustful intent has committed adultery with her in his heart. Adultery is the act of betraying marriage, and seeing as the Greek could mean wife or women, it makes more sense to use wife.

The only passage I can find that is remotely close to condemnation of premarital sex is 1 Corinthians , which I assume will be the main contention of this debate. So I'll go ahead and post the whole thing, and add some of my thoughts at the end:

1 Corinthians 7

7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.[a] 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants[e] of men. 24 So, brothers,[f] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

25 Now concerning[g] the betrothed,[h] I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman[j] marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed,[k] if his[l] passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

To me, this passage seems more of a positive reinforcement of sex in marriage, than a negative condemnation of sex outside of marriage. And an encouragement to not seek change, but to accept your position with humility.

The verses that most quote in support of the sinfulness of sexual immorality is: 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

But the verses never explicitly mention sex outside of marriage. Marriage is not just a deterrent to premarital sex, but all types of sexual immorality. Why do we assume that the 'self-control' and 'passion' mentioned here have to do with premarital sex? I would love to hear some thoughts on this.

Apart from these specific New Testament examples, there are plenty of Old Testament passages that contain sexual euphemisms that seem to imply premarital sex. One of these is found in the Ruth-Boaz story. Not to say that these instances permit premarital sex, but they certainly seem to imply its validity.

So in all of this, I am left wondering even how sinful it is to lust after single women. And certainly questioning of the idea that premarital sex is inherently sinful. All help and comments are appreciated. Please don't stone me.

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There are a couple points I can think of that address this.

First, the Bible seems to always assume that legitimate sex happens only within marriage. When God created Eve, and He married Adam to her, at the same time He instituted sex as them becoming one flesh. The initial announcements of marriage and sex are unified, as Jesus reminds us in Mark 10.

But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife [evidently about marriage], and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh [evidently about sex].

Throughout the rest of the Bible, marriage and sex go together in places where the conduct was explicitly approved, while every time they are obviously apart the conduct is either explicitly or implicitly condemned. It is hard to come up with a list of references for this, but it is at least as hard to come up with any exceptions.

In Mosaic law, single people who had sex had to get married, also showing the necessary connection of sex and marriage.

Another issue that comes up is the line. If the line is anywhere besides marriage, it seems arbitrary. After all, few people who argue that premarital sex is okay will say that sex is okay with whoever, whenever, for any reason. They will generally say that promiscuity is a sin. But where is the line for promiscuity? If the girl who has sex with every boyfriend she has, even if she keeps each one for a few months and genuinely believes she has a real commitment, promiscuous? What about the guy who is never looking for sex but is often unintentionally seduced? I have never seen a clear line presented by people who argue for premarital sex but against promiscuity.

Jewish precedent is also valuable. It is quite clear that Jews of Biblical times only regarded sex as legitimate within marriage, but unlike the Jews' various added regulations, Jesus never refuted this view.

In light of everything I know in the Bible about sex and marriage, it is a simple matter. God designed sex specifically for the marriage relationship. Anything within this relationship is good sex, while anything outside of this relationship is bad sex. In fact, given that marriage as originally constructed by God is monogamous and heterosexual, I would almost say that the only reason any sex is wrong, whether prostitution or fornication or homosexuality or promiscuity or bestiality, is that it is not in the marriage relationship that God made.

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I occasionally struggle with this one as well...

I think the answer to the question depends on our definition of marriage: does it comprise the legal contract and the ceremony, or is it simply the action of having sex? Paul seems to imply the latter, when he warns that he who unites himself with a prostitute becomes "one flesh" with her.

PLEASE don't stone me either :o I don't know the answer, and I'm looking for the truth...

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There are a couple points I can think of that address this.

First, the Bible seems to always assume that legitimate sex happens only within marriage. When God created Eve, and He married Adam to her, at the same time He instituted sex as them becoming one flesh. The initial announcements of marriage and sex are unified, as Jesus reminds us in Mark 10.

Throughout the rest of the Bible, marriage and sex go together in places where the conduct was explicitly approved, while every time they are obviously apart the conduct is either explicitly or implicitly condemned. It is hard to come up with a list of references for this, but it is at least as hard to come up with any exceptions.

In Mosaic law, single people who had sex had to get married, also showing the necessary connection of sex and marriage.

Another issue that comes up is the line. If the line is anywhere besides marriage, it seems arbitrary. After all, few people who argue that premarital sex is okay will say that sex is okay with whoever, whenever, for any reason. They will generally say that promiscuity is a sin. But where is the line for promiscuity? If the girl who has sex with every boyfriend she has, even if she keeps each one for a few months and genuinely believes she has a real commitment, promiscuous? What about the guy who is never looking for sex but is often unintentionally seduced? I have never seen a clear line presented by people who argue for premarital sex but against promiscuity.

Jewish precedent is also valuable. It is quite clear that Jews of Biblical times only regarded sex as legitimate within marriage, but unlike the Jews' various added regulations, Jesus never refuted this view.

In light of everything I know in the Bible about sex and marriage, it is a simple matter. God designed sex specifically for the marriage relationship. Anything within this relationship is good sex, while anything outside of this relationship is bad sex. In fact, given that marriage as originally constructed by God is monogamous and heterosexual, I would almost say that the only reason any sex is wrong, whether prostitution or fornication or homosexuality or promiscuity or bestiality, is that it is not in the marriage relationship that God made.

Thanks for the answer! Gives me some things to think about. I plan on responding to some of these points probably in the next couple days.

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It depends on what your consider a mariage. Some people believe it's living 6 months+ together while others believe in have an actual marriage through the church. I believe in getting married by a pastor through the church then having sex. It's against what the bible says to be married by living 6 months+ together. It's just what my pastor preaches on one day....

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:huh: How do you generalize that anything within a marriage relationship is good sex? In your opinion, are there no exceptions?

I was using sweeping generalities with black-and-white terminology, not absolute statements, to make the point that sex is designed for marriage and marriage alone, while marriage is a haven for tons of sex. Of course someone could do something evil with sex within marriage; that is not in dispute.

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God clearly states that he made sex for marriage! the world today has taken that out of context and ruined the meaning of it in the first place. end of story. dont let the lies of the world twist the word of God!

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God clearly states that he made sex for marriage! the world today has taken that out of context and ruined the meaning of it in the first place. end of story. dont let the lies of the world twist the word of God!

This is a great example of a response that I am not looking for.

1.Where does God 'clearly state' that he made sex for marriage?

2. Please validate your opinion with scripture.

3. Don't accuse me of twisting the word of God when you have yet to provide any actual word of God.

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More food for thought:

Even Jacob, who at the time was very unrighteous and seemed to be most interested in sex, didn't attempt to sleep with Rachel until their wedding night (Gen. 29).

David, after committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband, married her. The disgrace of the immoral sex was to be met with the grace of sex in marriage. This doesn't directly address premarital sex, but does show further unity of sex and marriage.

Joseph and Mary, both devout, had not yet had sex when the angel first announced Jesus' coming, despite being betrothed. And in Jewish law, a betrothal was nearly the legal equivalent of marriage, with the only real differences being that with marriage they would move in together and start having sex.

Sex and marriage are a picture of Christ and the Church. As I am sure we can agree, as of now we are not yet fully intimate with Jesus. This will not happen until Heaven, even though an omnipotent Savior could easily grant us full intimacy now. Yet we have first the marriage supper of the Lamb. The parallel would then reserve sex until marriage.

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I will try to write more scripture based response when I have some more time later. I just want to point out a historical context to help you understand Paul's text a little better. In that day in Jewish culture a marriage was not official until you had sex. The couple would have sex in tent come out and that was when they began their celebration that could last week. We see Jesus first miracle taking place during such celebration.

So you ask is premarital sex wrong? To me the real question is what is the motive behind this question. Bible is very clear that when you have sex the 2 become 1 flesh. Marriage is a symbol of unity, man woman becoming one and that is made official with sex. Sex in it's proper context within marriage is a beautiful God created thing.

Reason I ask about your motive is because most people asking this question more or less if they are honest are looking for a get out jail card. They are looking for a loop hole to do what the flesh wants and desires without the commitment God requires in marriage. Paul clearly makes this point in your passage about if you can't restrain yourself you should find someone to marry.

If I am being honest and would never state this from a pulpit because it's a slippery slope, if a couple commits to each other and vows to be together, and all your waiting on is a piece of paper to make it official, as said before act of sex is really what makes it official not a piece of paper.

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This is the Christian debate room, the only subforum where the SoF doesn't apply.

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This is the Christian debate room, the only subforum where the SoF doesn't apply.
All right. I will come up with a convincing thesis tomorrow.

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Yes, premarital sex is sinful. This is the case because it naturally flows from God's plan for marriage and the family. Secular society has done its best to distort what the purpose of sex is. Sex has two core purposes, the procreative and the unitive. Secular society has all but erased the procreative purpose from the public consciousness and instead has sought to replace it with sex as a recreational activity.

When you see procreation as intimately connected to sex as one of its core purposes, the only context sex should be taking place is between a married couple; it is better for the society and for the partners. We see what harm is done by out of wedlock pregnancies, women are often abandoned and left to raise their children on their own, what's more is that such children will never have the benefit of an unbroken home. Single mothers are among the most noble of people out there for what they do, but life shouldn't have to be like that in cases where the father has abandoned them and their child. It is nature's way, and nature's God's way for children to ideally have two parents present to raise them. This two parent form of mother and father is best accomplished through marriage, and premarital sex undermines this plan for social cohesion by distorting God's plan for human sexuality and the family.

Now I can foresee certain objections and certains reasons people may cite for saying that premarital sex is not wrong; they might say that sex is an extremely important part of married life and that two partners ought to see if they are sexually compatible before they get married.

To this I would respond that married life holds in store a plethora of unknowns for both of the partners; but this doesn't mean you should engage in aspects of married life to test your prospective partner out to see if they're up to your standards. No couple who is dating has any idea what it is like to be parents, and yet they wouldn't use the same reasoning for sex as they do for child rearing; they wouldn't dare say that they ought to adopt a baby to see if they would be good parents or if their parenting styles are compatible. Ideally they wouldn't being living together for years to see if they have the compatibility to live together for their marriage, when this attitude is taken to it's extreme, it essentially wants the married experience without the vows. People may want to have sex before they're married, live together before they're married, have children before they are married, at the end of the day they are doing their best to turn marriage misconstrue marriage as a formality. I say that we should leave what belongs in marriage within marriage even if you have to take a leap of faith and trust in your partner and believe that you two will be just fine in all aspects of your married life without having shared experiences such as sex, living together, and child rearing prior to the actual marriage.

Secondly, consider the private nature of sex, it is something that should only be known to the two partners and no one else; no third party should be involved. Ideally none of us would be having sex with anyone other than our spouse, for someone to have wrongly shared such an intimate experience with someone other than their spouse is a distortion of God's plan for the family and human sexuality. It would be real unfortunate for two people seeking to get married (where one of the partners or both had already had sex with others) to be in a situation where they are unable to keep that intimate experience exclusive to them and their spouse because it is something that had been shared with one or more others prior to marriage.

Now going back to what I started on about; does anyone really think society, that is the human community, is better off when premarital sex is accepted? I don't see how it is, a society that doesn't accept premarital sex isn't repressive, it is properly expressive in my view at least in that regard. It is better socially for people to not have had children with multiple partners to whom they have made no commitment, it is better socially for people to not share that intimate sexual experience to people to whom they have made no commitment, and the commitment I'm talking about here is more than just wanting to be boyfriend and girlfriend. If people merely reserved their sexuality for their spouse, a myriad of problems would be solved. We would see sexually transmitted diseases become less and less frequent, one of the reasons they are spreading is because people keep having sex with multiple partners and they eventually have the misfortune of contracting a disease from one of them.

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Now going back to what I started on about; does anyone really think society, that is the human community, is better off when premarital sex is accepted? I don't see how it is, a society that doesn't accept premarital sex isn't repressive, it is properly expressive in my view at least in that regard. It is better socially for people to not have had children with multiple partners to whom they have made no commitment, it is better socially for people to not share that intimate sexual experience to people to whom they have made no commitment, and the commitment I'm talking about here is more than just wanting to be boyfriend and girlfriend. If people merely reserved their sexuality for their spouse, a myriad of problems would be solved. We would see sexually transmitted diseases become less and less frequent, one of the reasons they are spreading is because people keep having sex with multiple partners and they eventually have the misfortune of contracting a disease from one of them.
Now, you know that I am not a proponent of licentiousness. We have talked about this many, many times on Skype. However, I think the appeal to harm obfuscates the true Vatican-Catholic position which is one of teleology. In other words, Vatican-Catholic theology of the body is willing to accept driving in automobiles and the ingestion of high-fructose corn syrup, even though both are hazardous to the human body. It is not about the harm, it is about the telos/τελος. We all trade potential harm for happiness/fulfillment, whatever. That is unavoidable.

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high-fructose corn syrup, even though both are hazardous to the human body
To be fair, no one has demonstrated conclusively that high-fructose corn syrup is any more harmful than sugar. The results of studies vary wildly. But I digress...

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Hey, sorry guys haven't been on the forum in a while. Just read through the responses and found them helpful. I know I said this before, but I do plan on respnding to Slave and -L-. Wesker, if you are still up for it, I'd love to hear an argument from the opposing viewpoint. For now, I have to head to lab, hopefully I will have time tomorrow.

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Gee I dunno, is fornication sinful?

I think this is the truest comment yet.

I'm baffled by the things that are debated now-a-days.

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To be fair, if you discard tradition and try to start fresh from the Biblical statements on sexuality, it's not blatantly obvious that premartial sex is wrong, even though I believe it is most definitely there.

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Guest JAG
To be fair, if you discard tradition and try to start fresh from the Biblical statements on sexuality, it's not blatantly obvious that premartial sex is wrong, even though I believe it is most definitely there.

It is blatantly clear though. It falls under sexual immorality which is repeatedly condemned in the bible.

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It is blatantly clear though. It falls under sexual immorality which is repeatedly condemned in the bible.

But that if falls under the broad scope of sexual immorality is not obvious. You'd have to diligently study the overall theology of sexuality and marriage or Jewish understanding of what sex is immoral to get it without the prior work Christians have done in codifing the tradition. It is not to say that the Bible is necessarily vague on the issue, but that what makes up sexual immorality was more obvious to the original recipients than to us, and that we can mainly be sure of it without independent study based on traditional interpretation.

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Guest JAG
But that if falls under the broad scope of sexual immorality is not obvious. You'd have to diligently study the overall theology of sexuality and marriage or Jewish understanding of what sex is immoral to get it without the prior work Christians have done in codifing the tradition. It is not to say that the Bible is necessarily vague on the issue, but that what makes up sexual immorality was more obvious to the original recipients than to us, and that we can mainly be sure of it without independent study based on traditional interpretation.

I still disagree. You can tell that having sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality because Jesus said even lusting after someone you're not married to is committing adultery in one's heart. Paul later urges those burning with lust for one another to marry. Both of these would imply that sexuality outside of marriage is immoral no matter what. I don't believe you need extra biblical sources to conclude this, it seems rather cut and dry.

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So in all of this, I am left wondering even how sinful it is to lust after single women.

It sounds like you're just looking for justification on a thought process you have already established.

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