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Reasons for sex before marriage?

I’ve written down some reasons for sex before marriage, could you write some answers or thoughts about what I’ve written?

In Norway today the average age at marriage is 27. In Bible times the average age at marriage was fourteen. The hormones that create a desire for sex were never meant to be held in check until the age of 27, but were meant to be released in the teenage years when most people were married, at least in that era. God never meant for the majority of people to be unaffected by their hormones at their hormonal peak. That’s like acting contrary to nature, and God would never want that, would He?

What is marriage? Does love really need a priest or pastor to unite two people for eternity, and to consider them married? Can’t this be done in private, seen only by God? My argument is that it can be done in His presence alone, as He is judge, and the modern institution of marriage doesn’t certify the spiritual aspect of marriage, that’s up to God to decide. I’m referring to this argument, as in the Creation story in Genesis 2:20–25 God (the high priest) was the only one there to confirm Adam and Eve’s marriage.

‘But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame’ (Genesis 2:20–25).

So you see, there’s no need to have a priest to validate a marriage – only God. God was the only priest (as the high priest) there and they became husband and wife as it says in the last sentence of this excerpt from the Bible. There was no wedding service, nor exchange of vows.

The increasing levels of divorce these days is another sign that marriage is no longer a time-honoured obligation. The most quoted part of the marriage vows, ‘for better or for worse’, doesn’t seem to be respected today – on the contrary many people get divorced in tough times. To make it even worse, some people get married for the most selfish or trivial reasons. One example of a trivial reason is to make use of tax incentives that singles don’t get. This makes me sick! Yet another reason to get married is the need for sex. Christians abstain from that magical experience we call ‘intercourse’, which in turn can give them an increased desire for sex, which in turn leads to the point that people get married just to experience sex. Now that I’ve presented several basic arguments (I could easily have listed many more), do you understand why I think that marriage today is not what God meant? God meant that marriage should be for one reason alone: love. It was never meant for financial gain or selfish lusts. I believe that the phrase ‘sex before marriage’ should only apply to people who have sex without loving each other. If a couple are passionately in love and they unite in God’s sight, I think they should be considered to be married, regardless of whether they have a legal document or not. There shouldn’t be any documents, no exchange of money, no audience, and no priests or pastors, as the high priest (God) is the only one who can validate a marriage.

Hi, and thanks for your question,

It’s quite true that in Bible times it was normal to get married at a younger age than it is now. It’s also very clear that it can be challenging to wait to have sex, particularly if you are in a romantic relationship for many years and wait a long time before getting married.

However, it isn’t correct that everyone married at fourteen in Bible times, in fact not everyone got married. Their hormones peaked just as much then as now, nevertheless it was totally out of the question to have sex before they married. The Bible is very clear about the fact that sex only belongs in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. The argument that waiting to have sex is somehow ‘acting contrary to nature’ was out of the question in Bible times, and isn’t compatible with what the Bible teaches.

The fact that you may want something doesn’t mean that you are acting contrary to nature by not getting what you want immediately. Quite the opposite may be true: something which is good becomes even better as we wait for it. Young children may want to open their Christmas presents immediately, but their parents know that their joy will be greater if they wait for Christmas. No one can be forced to believe what the Bible says, or to live according to what is written there. However, as Christians we believe that what God has said in His Word is best for us. Everything the Bible calls sin either harms us or those around us. Just as parents know better than their children that it’s worth waiting till Christmas to open their presents, God knows what’s best for us.

It’s true that Adam and Eve were created as a couple, they were already married when Eve was created. When God created Eve he created her from a part of Adam’s body, she was ‘bone of his bone’ and ‘flesh of his flesh’. But this doesn’t mean that any man and woman can get married without a wedding ceremony. There are no other examples in the Bible of a man and a woman being counted as married without having a public wedding ceremony.

The Bible is very clear that marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14), something that is much more than a contract. Entering a covenant should be taken very seriously, and it is valid until one of the partners dies. A covenant is always entered into in the presence of witnesses, so a wedding ceremony has to be a public event. There doesn’t have to be a pastor or priest present, and a civic registrar can marry people if the wedding isn’t in a church. When the man and woman then have sex, according to the Bible they become ‘one flesh’ or ‘one body’ (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). In Bible times sex was looked on as a sign of the marriage covenant, as the man and the woman become one when they have sex.

The fact that couples unite and become one is one of the most important reasons that sex outside marriage can harm us. Paul writes that a man who has sex with a prostitute becomes one body with her (1 Corinthians 6:16). Becoming one body is beautiful within marriage, but it can be damaging outside of marriage. That is why the Bible says that fornication (having sex outside of marriage) damages your soul (Proverbs 6:32).

Today a lot of people have sex outside of marriage, and a lot of people get divorced, but this doesn’t change these truths. As Christians we have to relate to what God has said in His Word, which is much more important than what the majority of people in our society think. If you were to follow the same logic regarding nutrition and health, you could just quit exercising and eating healthily as there are so many obese people in society today. It is sad that so many people get divorced, just as it’s sad that so many people get sick and die young due to unhealthy lifestyles. But it doesn’t mean that we should choose to live as they do.

You write that the phrase ‘sex before marriage’ should only apply to people who don’t love each other. You have a right to think that, but that is totally different from what the Bible says about the subject. It says clearly that spouses should love one another, but loving one another doesn’t make two people married. The wedding ceremony is a public event in which a man and a woman enter a covenant. It’s only within this covenant that sex can be as safe and as good as God had planned it to be.

Best wishes

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