Rethinking Sex…

Rethinking Sex… May 26, 2014

One of the biggest challenges of being a Christian young adult is trying to understand what to do with your sexuality and sex drive. In the conservative Christian world it is unanimously accepted that any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful and should be refrained from at all costs. This means no masturbation, no intercourse, and for many, no physical interaction of any kind with the opposite sex (other than the sanctified Christian side hug). These kinds of restrictions leave hormonally charged young people in a very difficult place. After all, God himself has given us these desires. He is the one who designed humans to experience intense sexual drives during their teenage years and into their twenties. The majority of young people who are not conservative Christians engage and experiment sexually, allowing both the release of the immense amount of tension that builds up and having a chance to learn how to handle themselves and their sexual desires. But for the conservative Christian, we are told to refrain completely. To wait until marriage. It is this mindset that compels many Christian young adults to pursue marriage at a very early age. At my conservative Bible College many of my friends get married before they graduate college, a system that has proven to not be successful in producing lasting and healthy marriages. But because “they burn with passion” (though few would actually ever admit to that reasoning) they get married quickly and get to experience that sacred joys of sex while the rest of us singles look on with great envy, wondering if there is something wrong with us because we’re not yet married and struggling to remain sexually “pure” as we progress on into our twenties.

Recently, my friend Andy Gill hosted Hannah Gordon, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, as a guest contributor on his blog who argued that the way she has chosen to respond to this sexually repressive purity culture within Evangelicalism is to simply to reject it and have sex. Her reasoning was admittedly (theologically) weak but I for one could totally sympathize with her thoughts. Sex has and continues to be a very difficult struggle for me (and every other Christian college kid!) and I have often wondered why our Christian moral standards around sexuality are so high. According to psychologists, I have been ready for sexual activity for a good number of years now. (I am just about to turn 22) Biologically, I have been ready to engage sexually since I was around twelve years old (when I began puberty). It has also been proven that sexual repression can have a number of damaging effects on young people. It also could explain why pornography and masturbation addiction is so high among conservative Christian men and women alike. (Though, to my knowledge, no conclusive evidence has ever been brought forward to prove this)

As I have studied the Bible and theology, I have come to the conclusion to sex and sexuality is nowhere near as “sacred” as conservative Christians make it out to be. The Bible is full of examples of men and women who fail to be sexually pure but God’s response to them isn’t to consider them “damaged goods” or “impure.” To the contrary, most of the men and women who sin sexually continue on to have great lives, faithful ministries, and eventually good marriages (or hundreds of good marriages in the case of Solomon!). It is also stunning how silent scripture is on what the qualifications for sexual activity are. There is no word in Greek or Hebrew to refer to premarital sex and while the Bible is very clear that adultery (or cheating on one’s spouse) is a sin, it has little to say about sex before one enters in to a marriage covenant. But that doesn’t get us off the theological hook. It is clear in both Jewish and Christian moral traditions that sex before marriage has been grouped under “sexual immorality” which is condemned in a ton of passages throughout the Old and New Testament. However, at the end of the day, the clear Biblical prohibitions of premarital sex remain missing. The traditional sexual ethic remains squarely in the realm of speculation about what Biblical authors meant when they wrote about sexual immorality.

This lack of Biblical clarity has led many in the millennial generation to develop a new Christian sexual ethic- an ethic that allows for sex between consenting and committed partners outside of marriage. And this new sexual ethic isn’t a small trend- a surprisingly large number of committed Christian young people have adopted this position and are engaging sexually with their significant others. In 2009, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released a poll that revealed that over 80% of Evangelical Singles have had sex outside of marriage. Contrary to what many may assume, these Christians who are sexually active are not “bad Christians.” They are not “forsaking God’s word” but rather have become convinced that this issue is a matter of conscience and not of clearly defined Biblical morality. These sexually active Christians are discovering that many of the warnings that they were told in youth group are simply not based in reality. They have had sex and have not backslidden into utter moral decay. Many have broken up with one partner and entered into another sexual relationship and didn’t face some profound emptiness or brokenness. Because that’s simply not how human sexuality works. And this is precisely the problem with the way conservative Christians teach on and speak to young people about sexuality. The apocalyptic purity language and guilt tactics aren’t helpful and don’t match the experience that many Christian young people end up having when they “fall” into sexual sin. It’s never as bad as their youth pastors and Sunday School teachers make it out to be- in fact, many discover that sex, is in fact, incredibly meaningful and pleasurable, not merely physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

As a side note- I should be clear that no Christian is suggesting is that casual sex between uninterested partners is morally acceptable. No one is supporting a “hook up, shack up, break up” mentality for Christian young adults. Commitment, love, and mutual respect are still key requirements before engaging sexually with a significant other. Sex is still seen as sacred by those who are adopting this new sexual ethic and it is to be reserved for those whom they are truly committed to and in love with. A gift to be reserved for only those with whom there is a potential for a future with.

This new Christian sexual ethic is sure to make many people uneasy. It makes me uneasy. I personally am not sure where I stand on these issues and I am not willing to jump into a position on this issue without being certain before God that it is where I feel led to be. But I do definitely sympathize with Hannah and my many other Christian friends who have chosen to be sexually active. I understand their reasoning and desires. I agree that the Bible does not make a clear or compelling case against premarital sex and also agree that the culture that conservative Christianity has created around the issue of sex, purity, and virginity is absolutely toxic. But I am still not sure that I am comfortable jumping the traditional ship. I still believe in the sacredness of the marriage bed and the gift that it can be to one’s spouse to be able to give oneself sexually to them and them only. I don’t believe for a second that if one is sexually active before marriage that they are somehow less-than or damaged, but I do see the beauty in striving to save sex for one’s spouse.

What I will say is this- the issue surrounding sex and the Christian is one that should be considered with much prayer and wisdom. I don’t think it’s smart or good for anyone to begin having sex with their significant other just because “everyone sins” anyways. In the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8, if you believe it is a sin, then for you it is one. This issue is important and requires great discernment. Wherever one ends up, one thing is clear. All Christians should be committed to love and commitment. All Christians should strive for healthy sex lives. All Christians should seek to have a clear conscience before God. All Christians should refrain from judging others based on their sexual ethics. This is a much more complex issue theologically, biblically, biologically, and psychologically than it has been given credit for in the past. It’s not black and white. It’s most definitely a gray area. And because of that we must exercise humility and grace.

So, is sex before marriage a sin? Potentially. But that is between each individual, their significant other, and the Lord. May we all submit ourselves to the Holy Spirits guidance in this complicated area and may we all seek to glorify God in everything that we do.

What do you think? Should Christians rethink sexual ethics? Or do you think the Bible and our tradition is clear? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

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  • Thanks Brandan for addressing this topic. I’ve found Christian sexual ethics to be ill-adapted for the 21st century. Sure, in the 1st century CE when people married at 16-18, “waiting til marriage” wasn’t a problem. But now with the average marriage age of an American male standing at 27 years old, we must repress our sexuality for over a decade.

    I too hesitate to jump off the traditional bandwagon, but how can the Church respond to these new cultural shifts short of drawing a line of “how far you can go” in a relationship?

    • Derek Bowen

      Also you have to remember that women were considered property in that day in time, and if they lost their viriginity, they lost their value. 🙂

  • David Gillespie

    Brandan, I was so pleased to read this piece. I have long thought that what was missing, for example, in discussions about gay issues, was a rethinking of traditional Evangelical ethics when it comes to sex in general. I was also very pleased to see you pointing out “how stunningly silent the scripture is on what the qualifications for sexual activity are.” Or again, “The traditional sexual ethic remains squarely in the realm of speculation about what Biblical authors meant when they wrote about sexual immorality.”

    You have done good work and hopefully deepened the conversation.

    I do have a question, however. There are Christians (scholars for that matter) who do indicate that there might be a place for casual sex. So I’m not sure I’d say, with you, that “no Christian is suggesting that casual sex…is morally acceptable.”

    My question would be (for Matthew Vines as well): if we limit the appropriate context for sexual activity to committed, monogamous relationships, are we not still marginalizing those whose understanding of a biblically informed ethic allows for sex simply between consenting adults?

    I don’t have an answer to that one yet, but am pondering it.

    Thanks again for the post and its contribution to the conversation.

  • Interesting… I’m still working out what I think on this topic. But I’ve read that in Song of Songs, some scholars contend that the couple is not married (which is actually the impression I got from my first reading of it way back when I was in high school–granted, I knew that since it’s been translated to English, I couldn’t tell for certain, but I still thought it wasn’t exactly clear). If that is indeed the case, then that kinda throws a wrench in the standard virginity culture rhetoric.
    I have Christian friends who waited until they were married, and I have Christian friends who lived together before they were (officially/legally) married. I think I just try to trust that they know what the Holy Spirit’s saying to them, they pray to the same God and read the same Bible, and just maybe it might be more of a conviction/personal decision than evangelicals have traditionally thought.

  • Brandan, I have just read your article titled “Rethinking, sex. . . “ and want to offer my gut reaction. (I wish I had the time to thoroughly read your article and
    respond but I don’t.) First of all I greatly admire your desire to be faithful to the Gospel of Christ and walk with Him as a man of faith. I have always sensed that about you and find no reason to change that opinion. I would characterize you as a man on a journey to find the truth whose desire is to live it once he finds it. To that end I say, Amen.

    One caution (?) I would offer is to remember that the Church is holy. She is the
    Bride of Christ, loved, filled with the Holy Spirit, washed clean and pure by
    the Blood of the Lamb, called to mission for the sake of Christ who came to
    save the world not to condemn it.

    We must not view ourselves exclusively as individuals looking to please our
    individual needs (for sex) as much as we are to consider the Body of Christ and
    how our actions are either a good testimony that elevates Christ or a testimony
    that does not elevate Christ.

    You may believe that what to consenting adults do under the sheets does not matter to God – and maybe you’re right. I understand sexuality. I too was born and grew into puberty and had girlfriends and dated. I have experienced the
    passions of living as a young adult.

    St. Paul wrote the Corinthian Church regarding a problem within the body. Most exegetes identify the problem as a man having sex with a woman related to him by marriage, not blood. Paul’s emphasis is on the fact that this harms the Church – the Body. It’s a bad testimony. This behavior is “PONERIAS” evil making the person a “fornicator” (Greek word, pornois).

    I have not studied the verses I’m about to list to any great detail but
    nonetheless I’m pretty sure you’ll find that the overriding concern is that for
    whatever reason an act of two consenting adults engaging in sex prior to
    marriage is considered fornication, immoral. (See Jer. 3:9; Numbers 25:1;
    Proverbs 6:24; 1 Cor. 5:9-11, 6:9; Eph. 5:5; Heb. 12:16.) I’d suggest the
    reason has to do with order in the community. Such behavior breaks down the
    communal order and makes it too freestyle, too unruly especially when the
    relationship breaks up and the once upon a time lovers are no longer in love,
    but potentially at odds with one another. If a person were to “fall in love” three times they could potentially have three lovers, three men or women they shared amazing intimacy with. I would say three lovers they shared God’s amazing gift of the giving of oneself to another with. At some point it begins to move away from beauty to lust and pure selfish satisfaction. I believe scripture addresses the issue, not out of some Puritan ideology but out of wisdom. God just knows that premarital sex rushes his grand scheme for the Church and her sexuality.

    The Church is called out of the world to be a witness to it. When we behave in any like manner the culture looks at us and says we’re no different. Hypocrites!

    In the strongest way possible, as someone who admires your intellect and gifts, I
    would urge you not to suggest to your readers that it’s their choice. In this
    case that’s bad council, my brother. When given the option “hormones” will almost always make the choice to be satisfied. I believe the satisfaction comes from marriage. The Church is the icon of purity and therefore must take the higher and more difficult road to be a witness to other Christians and those yet to believe.

    In the interim I greatly appreciate the issue of sexual fulfillment and how to deal with a celibate life. Maybe we could talk further at a later time?

  • Nate

    You may not be totally comfortable, but you have, in a very real sense, already left the the traditional view, when you say:

    “So, is sex before marriage a sin? Potentially.”

    A very good case can be made for abstinence ‘before’ an exclusive, monogamous covenant. What is near to impossible to forge, exegetically, is a non-casual, yet meaningful, serial monogamy. So, if you’re going to justify letting go of what is difficult to forge, you’re in a no-win situation, for you are giving up what is difficult for that which is near impossible – a meaningful exploration of sexual intimacy without covenant. You would be better just to claim that you’re going to leave the Biblical ethic behind and replace it with a more modern and progressive approach to sexuality.

    What you have done well to point out, is the physiological readiness of our bodies, yet the cultural expectations to delay. However, to point out that younger marriages – those who wait yet marry sooner – have not done well (I question this premise) is not grounds for foraking, but grounds for conversation, with the goal of creative renewal for the body of Christ.

    • Derek Bowen

      Our faith is based on faith alone and not of works. Our “morality” is to based on our love for others rather putting down others for their believes and forcing them to accept our beliefs and convictions. To each their own: as long as one shows love to all people, I see no reason to question their morality.

      • Nate

        Hey, Derek, Thanks for engaging, I do, however, fail to see your point. The notion of choosing between “putting down” or “no reason to question their morality” is a spurious choice. Love does NOT negate standards; it does, however, speak as to how those standards are administered.

        • Derek Bowen

          Maybe we as Christians need to evaluate our standards through the Gospel of Christ. Each people group dictates their own understanding of right and wrong. However, I hold on to universal ethics of love and coexistence of all peoples. And that’s what I believe what Jesus taught in his ministry. He continuously reached out and accepted all people, only criticizing those who failed to show love and compassion to others.

          • Derek Bowen

            Should we even use the Bible to dictate our life and our ministry? I say that we should learn the basic principles from it: love of God towards humanity, compassion, justice, and self sacrifice so that we can love others. We should be advisers of people, not dictators: we should lead them on the path that will show love and compassion for all creation.

  • Derek Bowen

    I think the church needs to be more concerned about violence and hate rather than if some one is or isn’t abstinence. To me sex as long as it doesn’t inflict pain or suffering on any individuals, I have no problem with it. The key to life and all is our love for people and only when our love for people is broken is when we sin. That’s just my progressive view on things.

  • Loved this Brandan – very thoughtful, and gracefully put! I think so many times we are so quick to pick up stones and throw them at each other, casting each other out, instead of gracefully welcomingly each other in…

  • Nick Tracy

    Don’t you think the convenience of sex in the 21st century plays a role in this perspective on sex among Christians? In other words, if birth control didn’t exist, people would probably be a lot more careful about it. But because it’s become so convenient to have sex without any reproductive results or consequences, what’s the problem, right?

    You also spoke of the healthiness of sex in the first two paragraphs of your article, and in a number of ways, I agree with you. However, I think you’re failing to recognize the UN-healthiness of it as well. For example, when a woman experiences an orgasm, her body produces oxytocin, which is literally nicknamed “The bonding hormone”, and it’s the same hormone a woman’s body releases when she breastfeeds her baby. What that tells me is that her body is telling her brain the relationship is a deal that’s not meant to be broken. It’s also clinically proven that when a woman does have sex, experiences the bond, and the relationship ends, her ability to experience the same level of bonding is diminished the next time around because, emotionally, she’s less likely to accept what her body is telling her.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

    Lastly, what about Matthew 19:3-5? I think we all get what Jesus is saying in this passage when he says “becoming one flesh.” He’s talking about sex. The pharisees are asking Jesus about the qualifications for divorce, which is how we know he’s speaking in the context of marriage. Jesus didn’t say “When you go through a ceremony, wear fancy clothes, exchange vows at a church, spend copious amounts of money on a ring and reception, then you’e married.” He’s talking about two people having sex as a physical bonding of marriage. What I take away from this passage is that literally nothing else is required! No ceremony, no rings, no flowers, no wedding dress…. none of that has ever been a Biblical prerequisite to marriage! The act of sex marries two people. It’s pretty irrefutable. When you have sex, you’re making an intimate exchange with another person that rivals nothing else we humans know of on this earth. If we casualize it, even a little, we could be losing the very thing that makes it so incredible.

  • Christina Coffman

    I read your article and see that you are not sure where you
    stand on this issue. I stand very firmly on the opposite side of your friend
    Hannah and would like to share my thoughts with you. Before I begin, I want you
    to know that I mean no disrespect to you or Hannah. You asked for peoples
    thoughts and here is mine. Also, I apologize if it turns out I am preaching to
    the choir and sorry that it is so long haha. Believe it or not, I have more to
    say but don’t have time to write a book. Thanks ahead of time for reading my response, Brandan.

    The 6th (if Catholic) 7th (if Protestant) Commandment clearly says “You shall not commit adultery”. This means you cannot have relations with anyone other than your spouse. That is pretty clear. I think our modern society has tried to change that commandment to only applying to married people but when we read the Bible carefully, we see that is not the case. Even if you aren’t married yet, you are still to be faithful to your future spouse. Sex is a symbolic union. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
    Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate”
    (Matthew 19:5). It is pretty interesting when you read though the Bible you can
    see that every time God makes a covenant, there is a physical sign or sacrifice
    to the convenient or promise. Sex is the physical covenant when we enter
    marriage.

    More passages confirming sex is only for marriage/ premarital sex is wrong:

    1 Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4 Acts 15:20;1 Corinthians
    5:1;6:13,18;10:8;2 Corinthians
    12:21;Galatians 5:19;Ephesians 5:3;Colossians
    3:5;1 Thessalonians 4:3;Jude 7

    Your article touched on waiting to have sex for marriage as not fitting with
    today’s world. It is important to remember that we are to live in the world but
    not be of the world (John 17:16). God set these rules to be followed all the
    time, not just when the rest of society is doing it. God wasn’t like “Hey follow my ways when you fit in but you know, if the rest of the world is doing it, go right ahead.” No way 😛

    Another comment you made was that there isn’t a clear line of what is and isn’t
    physically ok before marriage. I agree that it is a tricky one. The book “The
    Good News About Sex and Marriage” By Christopher West touches on this with a
    great answer to that question. You can probably get the book used on Amazon for a few bucks.

    Your friend Hannah says that sexual purity has been a struggle for her and then
    concludes that it is best for her to just give up and have sex. I totally
    understand that it is hard… but that is an extremely lame excuse. Sacrifice is
    a part of being a Christian. Jesus was tortured and truly suffered as he died
    for our sins. He didn’t stop following God’s will when things became tough.

    At the bottom of your second paragraph you infer that waiting to have sex has a
    direct affect on porn addiction. I see where you might think that people would
    just turn to porn if they don’t get the real thing but I don’t think your
    argument is supporting itself. That wouldn’t fix a porn addiction anyway; it
    would just be a diverted form of fulfilling the addiction. Also, I am assuming
    that we agree that porn is a sin? It uses a women.. is degrading… not a true
    expression of love… emasculates guys…

    Another quote from your blog, “The Bible is full of examples of men and women
    who fail to be sexually pure but God’s response to them isn’t to consider them
    “damaged goods” or “impure.’” Yes there are examples in the Bible of men and
    women failing to be sexually pure and God forgives them. That isn’t because it’s
    not a sin. Sexual impurity IS a sin but God is merciful.

    Near the end of your article, you say “So, is sex before marriage a sin?
    Potentially. But that is between each individual, their significant other, and
    the Lord.”

    This suggests that sin is relative. If sin is relative then does sin really
    exist? As Christians we know sin exists and God doesn’t pick and choose who has to follow his word. Of course if someone really doesn’t know that premarital
    sex is a sin, then they are not sinning because they couldn’t have known better.

    I have three books I highly suggest you read. They are from a Catholic
    perspective but any denomination would benefit from reading them.

    “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” By Christopher West
    “Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love” By Edward Sri
    “Absolute Relativism” by Chris Stefanick

  • Brandan, I wrote a blog post response: http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2014/05/28/the-bible-is-tellingly-silent-on-premarital-sex/

    I encourage you to read St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, or one of the summaries, to understand the strongest case for not having sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

  • Douglas Beaumont

    I think this is an excellent example of what happens when bad Evangelical principles of Bible interpretation (= private opinions + Greek lexicons) are taken to their logical conclusion. The absurdity can be easily seen when applied to other ridiculous things (that your kids will probably argue for if you do not see the problem yourself):

    There is no word in Greek or Hebrew to refer to arson, child molestation, S&M, gargling tacks, or shark surfing – and while the Bible is very clear that adultery (or cheating on one’s spouse) is a sin, it has little to say about arson, child molestation, S&M, gargling tacks, or shark surfing.

    It is clear in both Jewish and Christian moral traditions that arson, child molestation, swinging, gargling tacks, or shark surfing has been grouped under “immorality” which is condemned in a ton of passages throughout the Old and New Testament. However, at the end of the day, the clear Biblical prohibitions of arson, child molestation, S&M, gargling tacks, or shark surfing remain missing.

  • Mike Clapper

    My favorite line: “the issue surrounding sex and the Christian is one that should be considered with much prayer and wisdom.” Is prayer going to justify fornication just because prayer may provide one with a liver quiver when he considers the possibility of having sex? Maybe, because we all know we can get a hotline directly to God to go around the Bible when we don’t like what it says. That’s what it means to have a personal prayer life, isn’t it? And from where is this wisdom to justify fornication going to come? Certainly not from Scripture. Somehow, though, this wisdom justifying such behavior looks a lot like what the non-Christian world around us looks like. So why call this Christian sexual morality, then?

    Another line almost as good is the predictable conclusion from this mess of an approach to morality: “All Christians should refrain from judging others based on their sexual ethics. This is a much more complex issue theologically, biblically, biologically, and psychologically than it has been given credit for in the past. It’s not black and white. It’s most definitely a gray area. And because of that we must exercise humility and grace.” We definitely can’t judge each other by exposing faulty thinking on the matter because that would be ungracious. Pulling out the grace card is always an effective way to stifle disagreement with such absurdity. If you’re going to cloud sexual matters even more than the culture already does, why not do it looking more spiritual than those who could bring up the truth?

  • Catholicjoe

    As in Matthew, Mark 7 captures one of the few times Christ became upset. Reading chapter 7, you can almost see the indignation and resolve brewing within Jesus as he explains the need to purify the heart. He said what stains the heart like fecal matter is fornication–first and foremost. Of course, the word is rarely used these days but has a very clear and obvious meaning: Sex outside of marriage is fornication. Ezequiel 36:25 tells us how our hearts will be given a new with a tender and pure one. Matthew 5:8 tells us those with pure, clean hearts will see God. Being Christian is not easy. But, we see the ravages on culture sex outside of marriage has done–and it’s not done yet!

    The whole story of the Bible from start to finish is the search of the bride by the ever-faithful bride-groom. Let’s not forget that Luke 2:40 tells Christ was filled with wisdom so there is wisdom in his teaching in Matthew 7.

    You should read Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI–it’s quite prophetic breaking down the wisdom of sex as a unitive, procreative and commitment filled act of marriage. .

  • 4thegloryofgod

    Nonsense! It used to be that every 5 years or so, some new (relatively young) evangelical tries to make a sophistic attempt to justify the church’s drift with the culture rather than its influence of the culture. It is lame and biblically illiterate. Here’s just one link to help us think better about the topic. http://chosenrebel.me/2013/02/28/whats-wrong-with-living-together-unmarried/

  • Dave Armstrong

    I don’t agree at all that the prohibition of premarital sex is obscure in the Bible.

    See, e.g., Vine’s Expository Dictionary:

    “Fornication, Fornicator:

    is used

    (a)
    of “illicit sexual intercourse,” in Jhn 8:41; Act 15:20, 29; 21:25; 1Cr
    5:1; 6:13, 18; 2Cr 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 4:3; Rev
    2:21; 9:21; in the plural in 1Cr 7:2; in Mat 5:32; 19:9 it stands for,
    or includes, adultery; it is distinguished from it in Mat 15:19; Mar
    7:21;”

    Of many other arguments that could be made, from a variety
    of different contexts and words used, I would note the “one flesh”
    motif:

    Matthew 19:4-6 (RSV) He answered, “Have you not read that
    he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, [5] and
    said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be
    joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? [6] So they are
    no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together,
    let not man put asunder.” (cf. Mk 10:8)

    This is obviously a reference to intercourse, so that becoming “one flesh” is clearly morally done after being married, not before. St. Paul expands the
    argument and ties it in with the notion of the Church and Christ:

    Ephesians 5:28-33 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no man ever hates his own
    flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, [30]
    because we are members of his body. [31] “For this reason a man shall
    leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall
    become one flesh.” [32] This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying
    that it refers to Christ and the church; [33] however, let each one of
    you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her
    husband.

    The husband loves his wife because he is one flesh with her, just as Christ and His Church are one. This presupposes that sexuality is properly only within marriage. Thus, St. Paul offers a contrast of unlawful sexuality elsewhere, by noting how utterly immoral and improper in the Christian scheme of things sexual union is outside of marriage:

    1 Corinthians 6:9, 11, 15-20 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, . . . [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. . . . [15] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! [16] Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one flesh.” [17] But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [18] Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. [19] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

    Again, quite clearly, premarital sex is immoral, and not just when a
    prostitute is involved, but any unmarried woman and man.

    It’s not fashionable to say this today (and certainly not “sensitive” or delicate), but so what? People sometimes need to be jolted into reality. We must preach against sin from the rooftops. Christianity was never about being trendy and fashionable. It’s a narrow road, and part of Christianity has always been “waiting until marriage.” Just because we are in the aftermath of a disastrous sexual
    revolution and because cohabitation is now ultra-fashionable as a new “norm” (i.e., “everyone else is doing it, so why not us?”) doesn’t change that fact. Truth is truth, and right and wrong are what they are, and are so eternally.

    The zeitgeist today will continue to bring disaster: personal and societal. There is a reason we have massive broken homes today. “Putting the cart before the
    horse” doesn’t work.

    There are many verses about unmarried sex: whenever “fornication” or “licentiousness” or “immorality” or “sexual immorality” or “sexual vice” (various translations) are mentioned. It’s like saying, “there is no verse that says, “The Holy Trinity is God in three persons.” Yeah, sure, but there are hundreds of passages that, all taken together, teach the Holy Trinity, which is why all Christians have believed in that doctrine. A few heretical cults and sects deny it, and claim that the Bible never teaches it.

    No passage says, “original sin affects the entire human race.” There isn’t nearly as much in the Bible (as with, e.g., the virgin birth) about that topic, but more than enough to establish that it is true, which is why, again, that all Christian groups have accepted it, save a few fringe, semi-heretical groups such as Churches of Christ.

    I don’t buy this “pro-premarital sex” argument for a second and it’s spiritually, morally, and socially disastrous.

    The problem, I submit, is not the unclearness of Scripture, but rather, the unwillingness to accept a difficult teaching and unwillingness to counter worldly teachings and fashionable trends (post sexual revolution) in order to hold to biblical and traditional Christian teaching.

    I don’t buy it that polygamy is unclear, either (Luther’s silly argument). But that is a whole ‘nother discussion. We Catholics deny perspicuity as Protestants hold it (I do; have written two books about it), but we need not accept the notion that the Bible is exceptionally unclear, obscure, ambiguous, etc. (so that folks can’t figure out in Scripture that premarital sex is forbidden). I’ve always found that Scripture is pretty clear, in any research project that I have undertaken.

    And it is on this topic.

  • Good post. The evangelicals are comming after you. You may be on the wrong channel. I am not 100% sure on where I stand at this point, but I do not judge people who have premarital sex. I would rather leave it up to the individual than draw the lines in the sand that it shames those who disagree (and if I say it is a sin, I worry that this will make young women feel like damanged good even if it is not the intent).