“I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11
Everybody knows a Christian who has had sex or is having sex outside of marriage. Until recently, I believed Christians accepted that sex before marriage was wrong, but some continued to do it, believing that God’s grace would cover it. But now that we’ve gotten to a point where some in the body of Christ don’t even accept that pre-marital sex is a sin in the first place, it’s really time that we as Christians start to filter out the lies we’ve been told — and the lies we tell ourselves to soothe our guilt about sexual sin. As the Church, as the unified body of Christ, we must start talking about sex and the stronghold that it has on us, our friends, our neighbors, and our children when it is perverted outside of the safety of marriage. Because people who do not have the interest and purity of our souls at heart are talking about it, and they are influencing us, as opposed to us bringing the truth to the world, as God has required of us. It’s time to pump the brakes, break out the Word of God, and figure out what He really has to say about sex — and, most importantly, why He says it.
I. Pre-Marital Sex is SIN. Sex outside of marriage (i.e. “fornication” in the King James Version, “sexual immorality” in the NIV, pick your translation) is not something God glosses over in the Bible. “Fornication,” “fornications,” and “fornicators,” are all described as sin at least 43 times in the Bible, stretching from the Old Testament all the way to the end of the New Testament in the book of Revelation, where it is mentioned 12 times in 10 different scriptures (Rev. 2:14, 20, 21; 9:21, 14:8; 17:2, 4; 18:3, 9; 19:2). This, brothers and sisters, is what our high school English teacher would call a running theme.
Here are some examples, just so we’re all clear that God considers sex outside of marriage a sin:
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NIV)
Paul also warns us not to trick ourselves; if we continue in pre-marital sex without asking for forgiveness and turning away from that sin, we are on our way straight to Hell:
[D]o you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9,10 NIV) (see here for more on what inheriting the kingdom of God means.)
Hopefully, the easy part — identifying the sin — is now out of the way (and if not, read my post “Single, Saved & Sexin’?” Not in the Name of Christ, You Don’t!). Now on to the why behind God’s “no marriage, no sex” rule.
II. Why Doesn’t God Want Me Sexin’ Outside of Marriage?
A. We Hurt God. Imagine a man who loved you so much he threw himself in front of a bus to protect you from being hit. Imagine him sacrificing everything he could possibly sacrifice just to show you how much he loved you. He marries you and commits himself to you. His only desires are for you to feel loved, validated, secure, at peace and full of joy with Him. But, for some reason, he isn’t enough. You walk out your husband and find what you think you’re missing in Tom, Dick, Harry, Sam, Tyrone…whomever else, really. None of them satisfy you, none of them really care about your soul, but for some reason, you want them and you reject the husband whose love for you and devotion to you is pure. This is what we do to God every time we choose to have sex outside of marriage. He considers this adultery — we are cheating on God. Throughout the Bible, God describes His relationship with us as that of a devoted husband and wife. One of my favorite examples of this is found in the book of Jeremiah where God says:
“‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest…” (Jeremiah 2:2,3 )
Remember how excited and devoted to God you were when you first got saved? We wanted to live right and do right and please God with all of our hearts. Then, we went right back down hill:
“See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving— in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her. (Jeremiah 2:23,24)
Did God just call us she-camels in heat? ::shrinks down into seat:: And it gets worse, just in case you think God is cool with us cheating on Him by having sex with someone He did not ordain for us to have sex with:
Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame. (Jeremiah 3:2)
“Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways. On your clothes is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all this you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’” (Jeremiah 2:32-35)
Welp. There it is. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking God is speaking only of pre-marital sex — we cheat on God every time we put anything or anyone above Him. Whenever we value the opinion of our friends or family or co-workers, or strangers on the street above God’s opinion of us, we have made those people, our reputations, our fame, our fortune, our prestige to be more important to us than God is. When we pursue sex outside of marriage, we’re making the statement that our desire for this person who is not our spouse is more important to us than pleasing God, and He will call us out for it, and punish us accordingly.
But most of all, we hurt God, because He bought us. We belong to Him, and therefore, He should have control over our bodies. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18-20 (The Message):
The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…[D]idn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
When Christ died on the cross for our sins, He purchased our souls. When we willingly accept that we are depraved and need Him to save us from sin, we are acknowledging Christ’s purchase of us and make a commitment to let Him take control of our lives. Since He created all things, knows all things, and is all powerful in all things, it is so much better for us to cede control to Him, instead of going our own way, which will lead to destruction, like a blind man driving up and around a mountain. So because we give Him control, we cannot squander ourselves with pre-marital sex, because, as Paul says, He paid too high a price for us.
Furthermore, if Christ can sacrifice His own body for our sake, why can we not sacrifice our own bodies for His? “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16)
B. We Hurt Ourselves: Sexual sins can cause a host of physical damage to our bodies, from lifetime sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), to unwanted pregnancies. Though 99.9% effective, condoms do not protect all areas where STDs can transfer. But most of all, as Pastor Rick Warren says, “There’s no condom for your heart.” Your soul, either, for that matter. Sexual sins defile our spirit. As Christ explained in Matthew 15: 18-20:
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…”
Sexual immorality begins in the heart (our emotions) and defiles our spirit. The defiling occurs when we form soul ties with the person/people we sleep with outside of marriage. Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 (Message Bible):
There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another.
What it means to be “one flesh,” with someone is not just the physical act of sex, you also join spirits. Whatever spirits we’re carrying with us (whether they be joyful or destructive spirits) they transfer and swap with whoever we’re sleeping with. Do you suddenly have abandonment issues that you never dealt with before? Are you still thinking about someone you slept with years ago even though you don’t care anything about that person? When we allow other people to enter our spirit, we take on their baggage and they take on ours. Whether we are consciously aware of it, or not, if we do not break those soul ties, these people will be with us forever, and we will be with them. (read more about soul ties, here).
C. We Hurt The Other Person: By acknowledging that when we sin we are separating ourselves from God, we must also acknowledge that when we have sex without marriage, we are involving another person in our sin, which means we are helping them to be separate from God, as well. And we also create soul ties within them, transferring to them whatever is haunting us, whether it be depression, anxiety, deep-seated anger, or whatever we may be struggling with.
Some like to say that if they are in a committed relationship and they both love each other, then it is o.k. for them to engage in sex, because it’s “safe.” But how much can you really love a person if it is more important for you to meet your own sexual desires than it is to ensure you cause no harm to the soul of your mate?
Christ said, “no greater love has any man than to lay down his life for a friend.” We are commissioned by Christ to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our neighbors, whether we are close to them, or just met them that night. In love for that person’s soul, do not harm him or her by helping to defile a soul and aid a separation between God and that person.
D. We Hurt Our Future Spouse: “Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6) This scripture lets us know that there are people God joins together — and people He doesn’t. If we choose to join ourselves with someone who is not intended for us by God, we are damaging our future spouse and jeopardizing our future marriage, if God has indeed called us to be married, one day.
We may be too distracted with other people and things that we end up delaying time with our intended person. We may find our intended person, and then cause chaos and confusion to enter into the marriage because we still have soul ties with other people that have not been broken, causing us to be unable to fully commit or give ourselves to our spouse because we don’t have 100% of ourselves to give! We’ve divied ourselves up over the years.
By having sex before marriage, we’ve also adopted bad habits that we will carry into our marriage. If our relationships weren’t Christ-centered (no matter how much you two went to church together or read the Bible together), why would you think your marriage would be? Moreover, we’ve internalized a complete misunderstanding about sex: that it’s all about us.
III. What Can We Do About It?
A. Understand that Sex is NOT bad. Too often we misinterpret God’s desire for us to keep our bodies holy as a sign that sex itself is unholy and wrong. Even if we do wait for marriage, having the fulfilling sex life that God intended for married couples to have will be difficult if we are still trying to shake this misunderstanding that sex is bad. Sex is a wonderful gift from God given to married couples to enjoy and to spiritually connect with each other and with Him. Know that sin only arises when God is not included in your sex life. Where there is light there cannot also be darkness, God will not dwell in your sin, as you engage in it outside of the bonds of marriage. But in your married life, let sex be an offering of praise to God for His amazing creation — the human body — and His ability to join two people together as one spirit, in love.
B. Transfer Your Desires from Sinful to Holy. In addition to misinterpreting sex as “unholy” in and of itself, we can also be confused by what to do with our sexual desires when they enter our minds. The knee-jerk reaction may be to suppress these desires or ignore them. But by ignoring them, we may be setting the same subconscious standard for what to do with sexual desires that we set when we deem it “bad.” Suppressed sexual desire in a marriage is clearly unhealthy, but this pattern can be difficult to break if we’ve trained ourselves to suppress when our desires arise. But how can we maintain desire without sinning? We simply have to transfer an unholy desire to a holy desire. When we are overcome with desire for someone who is not our spouse or to be satisfied in a way that is unholy in our singleness, STOP having sex, STOP masturbation, and instead, pray for your future spouse that you may not have met yet. Write your spouse love letters about how you are waiting for him. Read the Song of Solomon and be excited about waiting for that kind of God-ordained love. But, seek first the kingdom of God, and ALL other things will be given to you. Cry out to God: “Transfer this unholy desire to a desire for more of You. Let me yearn for you, and seek after you, and thirst for you more than I thirst for sin. Let me crave righteousness and a closeness with you more than I crave unholiness.” Isaiah 58:11 says that “the Lord will guide you and continually satisfy your desire.” He will do just what He says.
C. Break Soul Ties: If we have slept with someone outside of marriage, we have to acknowledge what God already knows about us. By confessing this sin to God, we acknowledge the impact that the person has had on our soul and the impact we have had on the person’s soul. Christ says in John 14:13: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Ask in the name of Jesus that He break all soul ties that you have as a result of sexual sin, and pray for those whose souls you have also defiled, that they might seek God and His perfect way and turn from sin, as well.
D. Recommit to God: It is never too late to get back up again after you’ve fallen. Just like when Adam and Eve sinnedin the garden, God did not turn away from them! He went looking for them, saying “Where are you?! Why do you hide from Me?” We can’t hide from God, anyway. He sees us. He already knows what we’ve done and what we will do in the future. But He loves us so much and is waiting for us with open arms to come back to Him and obey His way — a path that is righteous, and holy, and for our own good. Christ said “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” He says we will not only eat with Him, but He will eat with us, as well! He wants this to be a two-way street. He wants us close to Him, and He desires a relationship with us above all things. Will you desire a relationship with Him above all things, and turn away from sexual sin?
Jesus said, “if you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). Recommit to God by reading His word. This is how He communicates with us, and this is how we learn what He requires of us, what He likes, what He doesn’t like, and what He won’t tolerate. This is how we can learn to please Him. It is His blog with His whole life story right there for you to know everything about. Will you scour it like you do other blogs?
God’s rules give freedom from sin, not punishment, and bring peace to the mind, body, and soul, not harm. Chase after God. Desire Him more. Seek His will and allow Him to change your heart to reflect His. There is nobody greater than Him, and nothing worth sacrificing His perfect love for.