Talk about dating and the subject of sex is bound to come up. Sex within dating. Premarital sex.
It is amazing the wide range of opinions on the subject. Some within the church would wonder why we even need to be talking about it; of course you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage. At the other end, a big percentage of people outside the church would think that viewpoint is crazy, and would argue that you not only can but should have sex before marriage. Somewhere in the middle you would have secularists who agree that premarital sex is a bad idea, and Christians who try to argue that it is not actually a sin.
Truth is truth, though, whether you choose to believe it or not. Premarital sex is a sin. Even if you don’t believe that or don’t believe in God at all, premarital sex is still, at best, a bad idea.
Clearing up misconceptions about premarital sex
I’ll talk about why it is a bad idea, even for readers who do not believe in God or sin, in an upcoming post. First, I want to address Christ-followers here to clear up any misconceptions about what the Bible has to say about it.
I’ve run into Christians who want to argue that having sex while single is not actually a sin. And I get where you are coming from; there was a time when I tried to make the same justification. The argument goes something like this: the Bible really just talks about not committing adultery, but you can’t commit adultery unless you are already married. Right? Well, yes and no—but the “no” cancels out the “yes” you are looking for.
First off, remember that Jesus said you don’t even have to have sex to commit adultery, so quit trying to minimize God’s commands so that you can seemingly “get away with” things that clearly are not God’s ideal for us. Any time you find yourself looking for loopholes, it means that you are trying to do what is intended to be wrong and somehow just escape the consequences for it. There is no one as creative as someone in the middle of self-justification.
Secondly, and more importantly, the Bible does say that premarital sex is a sin. Many times. Here is one of them:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
This mentions adultery, but it also mentions something different from adultery: sexual immorality, or what is sometimes translated into English as “fornication”. The meaning of “fornication” is clear enough, but what some people will do is argue that the original Greek word, pornea, has been misinterpreted. The word basically means “a forbidden sexual pleasure”, and some people have argued that it had a very narrow meaning and referred only to sex that was part of idol worship. Those people say that it is fine to have premarital sex, as long as you are not doing it in a pagan temple.
It is essentially impossible that Biblical authors wrote the word with that suspiciously narrow definition in mind, though. Look at how Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, used the exact same word just a few sentences later:
But since there is so much immorality (pornea), each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. – 1 Corinthians 7:2
Paul is an extremely logical person, and his practical solution to the problem of pornea was to get married. Why was that the solution? Because within marriage you can have sex. He actually spends the rest of that paragraph encouraging married people to have sex together more often, and specifically tells the unmarried that “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” if they find they “cannot control themselves” (verse 9).
If he was talking specifically about idols, marriage would not be the solution; you can be married and worship idols. He is clearly and very frankly talking about sexual release within marriage as a solution to the problem. And if Paul’s logical solution to the problem is sexual release, why doesn’t he offer premarital sex or masturbation as options? Wouldn’t those be the most practical solutions to the problem of pornea?
The reason he doesn’t list premarital sex as a solution is because premarital sex is the problem. Premarital sex is pornea, and it is pornea whether it happens in a temple or not. That is why his solution to the problem, for those who could not control it, was marriage.
Premarital sex is more than a sin - it's a really bad idea
So, yes, premarital sex (or any sex outside of marriage) is clearly a sin. We should consider why God would forbid it, though. He is not out to spoil your fun, and any “rules” God gives us are only mentioned because they are in our best interests. He wants to save you from trouble and keep you from unnecessary pain. In other words, even if you don’t believe in God or refuse to believe it is a sin, premarital sex is still a (really) bad idea.
We’ll talk more about that, though, in a later post.