I’ve talked before about whether the Bible says that premarital sex is a sin. (It does.) But have you ever wondered why God would warn against it?
God does not set up rules just to make things difficult or keep us from having fun. Actually, it is the opposite: God only prohibits things because they are harmful to us, and hurt our relationship with Him. We are not to murder, steal, lie, or cheat on our spouses because those things always lead to pain for one or both of the parties involved. That is true even if you don’t believe in God, because the consequences we are talking about take place here in this life.
The same is true with premarital sex: regardless of your beliefs, premarital sex is still a really bad idea.
Some of the potential consequences of premarital sex, such as pregnancy or STDs, are so obvious that it seems almost silly to mention them. Besides, you can eliminate those possibilities if you are careful, right?
In the U.S., there are more than 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and around 1 million abortions. Singles account for almost all of those abortions, and the majority were using some form of contraception.
According to the CDC, there are about 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. each year. STDs would be virtually nonexistent if not for sex outside of marriage; if each person had only one partner, they would have no STD to transmit.
Still, at least you can take steps to make those things less likely. There are other consequences, though, that you can’t protect against.
Your Brain on Sex
The reason sex is so pleasurable is because it triggers the release of chemicals (such as dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin) in the brain. Some important things to know about these natural drugs:
They produce emotional bonds. Oxytocin, for example, plays a big role in causing mothers to bond with their newborn children. They are part of God’s design for sex because they cause you to bond with your spouse. Outside of marriage, they still cause you to bond—with your girlfriend, your computer screen, or whomever/whatever may be present at the time.
They are addictive. They create passageways in the brain that then become a “path of least resistance” towards that next chemical high. In other words, each time it becomes a bit easier to say “yes” and harder to say “no.”
So, when you have sex outside of marriage, you are creating that strong bond with the person, whether in real life or on a screen or in a fantasy. But most of the time, you don’t end up marrying that person. There is a break-up, which is more painful because of the bond. You start seeing someone else, and since you are becoming conditioned to it, you are now more likely to have sex with them—and also bond with them.
Wrecking Your Marriage Before It Starts
Now let’s say that you do get married at some point. Numerous studies show that people who have premarital sex are more prone to divorce. The biology of it explains why: they are not bonded just to their spouse. If anything, they are addicted to variety—taught not to bond. Here are a few examples:
The divorce rate is around 50% for all couples, but only 9% if both partners are virgins before getting married. If you wait to have sex until you're married, your chances of getting divorced decrease by 70%!
Couples who live together before getting married are 250% more likely to divorce in the first five years of marriage than those who don't cohabitate.
90% of people who live together first, don't get married. 80% of those who do get married afterwards, get divorced. That is about an overall 2% success rate for a healthy marriage if you live together first!
Some people claim that is just how humans are, and that we are not wired for monogamy. But the bonding chemicals prove that we actually are created for monogamy; the problem is that we have rewired our brains by using sex outside the commitment of marriage.
I say all this because this is part of my story. I started having sex in high school. By college, sex had become a sport for me, and I eventually became a sex addict.
Then I came to know Christ, and got married. At my wedding, I literally prayed and thanked God that I had escaped the consequences: specifically, that I did not have an STD, or a child born out of wedlock, or a psycho ex-girlfriend waiting outside to kill me. I thought I had gotten away with it.
Year 1 of our marriage: honeymoon. Year 2: disaster. It was a misery I can’t even put into words. I know you may find this hard to believe, but I would have gladly chosen the consequences of having an STD or a child out of wedlock, over being imprisoned to a struggle with a woman that I had no idea how to love.
God has worked in and through us since then, to bring healing and to build this really amazing marriage that I don’t deserve. But it was hard, and I want to spare you that.
I also want to let you know there is hope; you are not disqualified for anything just because you are not a virgin. But the best way to pursue what God has for you is to start healing now.