According to some who study the bible, it doesn't say anything at all
about age, possibility of disease or whether or not one might conceive
a child. Premarital sex is, they say, a sin no matter your age,
fertility, or disease free status - it is disrespectful to your body,
which according to christian teachings is meant to be god's temple.
Others say the bible doesn't address the question of premarital sex at
all, but does insist that sex is meant only for marriage, again citing
disrespect for god's temple as the reason for abstinence.
Let's look at both perspectives:
Mike Scott, minister of Mt. Vernon Church of Christ, writes that sex
is considered by god to be a "sacred relationship" reserved only for
"God's teaching is that when a man and a woman engage in sex they
become "one" with each other.
1 Cor. 6:16
"Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is
one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH."
Therefore, if we follow God's plan, we reserve our sexual activity for
our husband or our wife."
What Do The Scriptures Say?
Robert Nguyen Cramer similarly cites 1Co 6:15-20; 7:1,2 as a "biblical
perspective" on premarital sex. He goes on to cite a rather long list
of other verses which are supposed to address the issue, but upon
looking them up, I found discussions of "fornication" and adultery.
(I will note here that some students of the bible insist that
premarital sex is adultery. "Fornication" has long been the accepted
term to describe all sex outside of marriage.)
Biblical perspectives on premarital sex and homosexuality
The following verses are often put forth as evidence of premarital sex being a sin:
Colossians 3:5 -- Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which
Ephesians 5:3 -- But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must
not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.
Galatians 5:19-21 -- Now the works of the flesh are plain:
fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity,
strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy,
drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you
before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of
Mark 7:20-23 -- And Jesus said, "What comes out of a man is what
defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil
thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness,
deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these
evil things come from within, and they defile a man."
Revelation 21:8 -- But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the
polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all
liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and
sulphur, which is the second death.
Revelation 22:15 -- Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators
and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices
[ See this discussion:
Fornication vs. premarital sex
This page also offers scriptures purporting to prohibit premarital sex:
Scriptures Regarding Sex Before and Outside of Marriage
In no instance that I have found are exceptions made for one's age,
fertility or disease free status - *all* sex outside of marriage is
characterized as sinful and offensive to god. Most discussions seem
to boil down to "Because god said 'no', that's why."
David and Flora Tant offer a somewhat more practical perspective,
outlining their interpretations of various verses alongside reasons
that these verses make sense within the context of christian
They start their explanations with:
"God's law is plain: "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man
does is outside the body; but he who commits sexual immorality sins
against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18)
We have one basic rule from God with reference to sexual activity.
That is, "Wait until marriage." "
...which gives the initial impression that they are resorting to
"Because god said so", but then they follow up with a number of
reasons why the bible would insist on abstinence until marriage:
"Waiting as God commands gives peace of mind which affects our
physical health. We don't experience the stress of worrying about
unwanted pregnancies, or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) that
could kill or cripple us or our children."
"God blesses purity. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God" (Matthew 5:8). "Watch your heart with all diligence, for from
it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). We are to be "wise in
what is good and innocent in what is evil" (Romans 16:19). "Abstain
from sexual immorality...God has called us for purity" (I
Thessalonians 4:3-5,7). Clearly God's word forbids any type of sex
outside of marriage. There are spiritual consequences any time we
disobey God. "God will judge fornicators and adulterers"
(Hebrews13:4). Sexual sins brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah
in Genesis 19. Many Bible characters committed sexual sins and were
judged by God. Great trouble and grief came to Lot and his daughters,
to Shechem, Reuben, Judah and Tamar, Samson, and David."
"Premarital sex has a serious adverse effect on the self image of the
partners. Rather than joy, an emotionally crippling guilt seems to be
the companion of permissive sex. Sex is such a definite experience
that a part of each of us remains forever a part of the other. The
effects of this "casual investment" on the mind and emotions is far
reaching. Humiliation and a poor self image come to many after
sleeping with a person who never calls back or breaks off the
relationship. "Let marriage be held in honor...and let the bed be
undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4). One partner accepts sex as love and directs
his or her love toward the other. But anger and rejection come when
love is not returned. Resentment and bitterness often come toward the
other person, as well as blaming that one for causing you to violate
Dealing With THe Effects of Premarital Sex, by David and Flora Tant
On the other side, Dr. Gordon Hugenberger, pastor of Park Street
Church, acknowledges that "the Bible is not chock-full of references
to premarital sex", but cautions:
"It would be a mistake, however, to conclude from this that there are
no references or that God is indifferent to what couples do, so long
as they love each other, or that in human beings were somehow more
spiritual or less prone to sexual sin in earlier times than is the
Park Street Church Pulpit
In answer to the question of whether the bible says premarital sex is
wrong, Linda MacQueen writes:
"the Bible has absolutely nothing specific to say about premarital sex at all.
In the time when the Bible was written, there wasn?t anything like
?dating? and ?going out together?. People married young. Most people
old enough to be interested in sex were already married. That?s
probably why the Bible doesn?t deal specifically with the question of
premarital sex. For the majority of people, it simply wasn?t an issue.
But the Bible does have a lot to say about the proper use of sex and
the wrong use of sex. The Bible presents only one proper place for
sexual intercourse: within marriage. Adultery is wrong (Exodus 20:14)
and casual sex with prostitutes is wrong (1 Corinthians 6:15-17).
Single people who lack self-control are urged to marry ? not practice
?safe sex? (1 Corinthians 7:2,9). The Bible clearly states there is no
other place for sex but within the security and sanctity of marriage."
Does the bible really say premarital sex is wrong?
"The Bible has some very specific instructions about sex. True, the
words "premarital sex" do not specifically appear in the Bible. In
part this is because in Bible times, people married very young. There
was almost no opportunity for unmarried people to encounter the kind
of sexual temptation which young people experience today, and every
aspect of their society recognized and reinforced the taboos against
Sex in Dating: Setting Limits
A lengthy essay at OtherSheep.org addresses the idea that premarital
sex is not a sin at all. Where those teaching that 1Cor 6:18 is a
prohibition against premarital sex, others argue that it doesn't
discuss premarital sex, but rather that it forbids married christians
from consorting with prostitutes:
"Everyone who advocates going "Back to the Bible" for sexual
"morality" would do well to try it for a change and study carefully
the above texts and what they teach regarding "premarital sex." It is
symptomatic of the acute embarrassment of ideological Fundamentalism
on this question that the Biblical texts most directly addressing the
question often are totally ignored. Thus John White flatly rejects all
premarital sex as sin and gives as his only proof text a reference in
Ephesians 5:3 to porneia, which he understands as "fornication"
(1977;56-58). Even Smedes, in a lengthy and psychologically sensitive
treatment of premarital sex, arrives at a negative conclusion only by
skimming over the most pertinent texts and arguing from 1 Cor 6:12-20,
where Paul speaks not of premarital sex, but against (mainly) married
Christians who visit prostitutes (1976:109-136)."
"Notably, in neither Exodus nor Deuteronomy is the premarital sex
condemned as sin; the texts simply insist on "requiring full
responsibility from the male as consequence of his act" (Childs
1977:477). The freedom of the patriarch and his virgin daughter have
been violated; the offending male's freedom is correspondingly
curtailed. Neither text is mindlessly "sex-negative" but reflect
positive concerns for human freedom and justice in a patriarchal
context. And even within that context, when Deuteronomy eliminates the
patriarch's right to refuse the marriage and haggle over the price of
his daughter's virginity, but protects the woman from divorce--all
this may represent moves toward more justice for women (Mayes 1979
gives many examples of this cautious trend in Deuteronomy)."
"In the New Testament no text speaks so directly to the general
question of premarital sex (prompting Smedes to seek support for his
sexual ideology in a text on prostitution). In the most relevant text
in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul addresses only the situation of those already
betrothed/engaged (7:36-38; Fee 1987:349-357), not premarital sex in
any general way (cf. 7:25-35 on virgins and 7:8-9, probably referring
only to widows, III.13 below)."
"Taking the Bible seriously, with careful interpretation of the texts
most directly related, thus clearly leads us to the conclusion that
the New Testament nowhere directly addresses our broad modern question
of "premarital sex." "
Premarital Sex & Unwed Mothers: Moses' Final Solution(s?)
Among students of the bible, there is quite a bit of disagreement, but
in all cases it does seem that neither age, fertility, nor sexual
health play any role in the sinful (or sinless, depending on your
perspective) nature or premarital sex.
Thank you for a thought provoking question. My own faith does not
impose restrictions on sexuality, it's always interesting to see
another perspective. I hope you find the source materials helpful.
If you need further assistance, please just ask for clarification.
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