Youth pastors have these perennial conversations with their young adults. If they were made into a FAQ and then fed into a robot, it would be an Android Youth Pastor without the cool hair and guitar. These questions start off as, “What’s wrong with . . . ?” and “Where in the Bible does it say that you can’t . . . ?” One of the spiciest topics is premarital sex. “Where in the Bible does it say that you can’t have sex before marriage?” On the surface, there is no explicit command that says, “Get thou married before thou haveth any sex.” But taking a closer look will reveal that the Bible is clear. However, before we dive in, and rather than having presuppositions of a “[sigh] here we go with another what-the-Bible-says-we-can’t-do [eyeroll]” attitude, we must approach this holy topic with a “what-does-God-have-in-store-for-me?” assumption for a better understanding.
God’s creation of man and woman already imbues humanity with dignity, value, and worth. The fact that Christ has died for humanity further magnifies our value! Anything that degrades humanity is something that God is passionately against. As previously established, Genesis 2 records that the first couple was made for social interaction and exclusivity. The purest form of love and intimacy must have preconditions where permanence is assured for full vulnerability, exploration of the selves, and acceptance without risk of shame, fear, or rejection.
The problem with premarital sexual experiences is that the body is seen as a separate entity from the whole being of the individual. Two bodies come together for sheer physical pleasure and temporary hormonal satisfaction. This separation is in itself the degradation and even dehumanization of the body. The separated body is not different from an animal, an item of furniture, a machine, or an object. The biblical sexual experience requires the absence of risk, the promise of permanence, and mutual grounding for respect, commitment, and love. This is what marriage provides, as seen in the first matrimony in Genesis, later in Song of Solomon, and in many couples of Scripture.
The Bible is also clear about the value of virginity. In fact, many narratives would not make sense unless sexual purity were not highly regarded. Though there have been double standards for men and women in various societies, virginity for both males and females is prized. Deuteronomy 22:20, 21 comes the closest to an explicit prohibition of premarital relations where the result was capital punishment, if the situation was not resolved in marriage. Whether we should keep these covenant laws is another question, but clearly God saw the value of sexual purity.
First Corinthians 6:15, 16 condemns premarital sexual experiences involving prostitution. First Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 13:4, Ephesians 5:3, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reject adultery, fornication, and any other sexual experiences without biblical grounds. What is common in all these verses is an overarching theme that God is Creator, and under the new banner of Christ as our Redeemer, we look to Him for standards of sexual ethics.
Spirituality is not only relegated to the ephemeral in this world, but this impacts the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical worlds we inhabit. Seeing as some may have already compromised their state of sexual purity, it is God alone who can give purity, cleansing, sanctification, holiness, forgiveness, and spiritual chastity. Just as Jesus says in John 8:11, we look to Him for the power to “go and sin no more.”