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Sex Before Marriage,
Prostitution and STD's

By John Edmiston

 

God has designed a Universe that operates on the principal of one sexual partner for life. The following scenarios are forbidden in Scripture.

1. Adultery (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 22:22)

2. Promiscuity (Mark 7:21, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Hebrews 13:4)

3. Prostitution (Leviticus 19:29, 1 Corinthians 6:15,16)

4. Swift remarriage after divorce (serial monogamy).(Matthew 5:27-32)

5. Sex before marriage with a partner other than the intended spouse. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

6. Rape, especially of an engaged or married woman (Deuteronomy 22:23,24)

The Bible's rule of thumb is that it is the second sexual partner that gets God angriest.

Sex Before Marriage With The Person You Eventually Marry

This leaves the obvious loophole of having sex before marriage with the person you eventually do marry. God's ideal is to be a "pure virgin" on the wedding day. (2 Corinthians 11:2) and this is obviously the aim of the Deuteronomy 22 passage listed above. Sex with a single partner before marriage is only addressed in two places in Scripture that I can find . Seduction of an unengaged virgin is addressed in Exodus 22:16,17 - the penalty is to pay the full bride price and generally marry the girl. Rape of an unengaged virgin requires marriage to take place and the full bride price to be paid. (Deuteronomy 22:28,29) and he may not divorce her ever. The man gets stuck with a hurt, angry woman for life.

Thus the penalty for sex before marriage - is marriage. This does not "make it OK" if you do get married later. Sex before marriage is not God's ideal but neither did He make it a capital offense. If it was, then Satan could have used the Law to carry out his enmity against Christ and have Mary stoned to death for being pregnant before marriage. There is no law against being pregnant before marriage in Scripture however from the passages above it is clearly expected that marriage would take place under such circumstances.

To use today's legal terminology sex before marriage is a misdemeanor and not a criminal offense - providing it is with the person you eventually marry. With a 50% rate of breakdown for engagements you are taking a huge risk. Many Christians can testify to the extra pain that occurs when a relationship breaks up if there has been significant sexual involvement. The pain is just not worth it. Stick to God's ideal and wait until the wedding day.

Sex Before Marriage As A Recreational Activity Without Any Real Lasting Commitment.

The Bible calls this "harlotry" or "prostitution" and "fornication". It is wrong, wrong, wrong. Little distinction is made between the paid and unpaid versions. In the Mosaic Law it resulted in the death penalty, in the New Testament it prevents entry into the Kingdom of God. Like any sin it can be cleansed and forgiven but is sin and it is wrong and Christians must not engage in it. The natural penalty God has designed for this is sexually transmitted disease which is part of that complex of things involved in illicit sex that the bible calls "burning" or "taking fire to one's breast" which denotes the physical pain of the disease as well as the searing of soul and conscience and the destruction it wreaks in one's life and relationships.

The church in Corinth had a problem with church members visiting the temple of Aphrodite and having sex with the prostitutes. This is discussed at length in 1 Corinthians 6&7 where the 'agamos' or unmarried were told "it is better to marry than to burn". That is it is better to have sex in marriage than enter into destructive relationships with prostitutes. The "agamos" were a special group only mentioned at length in this epistle. They are not "parthenoi" or virgins and neither are they widows. Rather they are unmarried but previously sexually active people. That is either divorced or de facto or with a history of promiscuity that was common in that city. Their sexuality was aroused, they felt they couldn't "do without sex" and rather than commit adultery they were using prostitutes to relieve the tension.

In the light of this Paul says "because of immorality each man should have his own wife.." a most unusual statement if its talking about virgins getting married. The Bible normally rejoices in marriage and nowhere else is marriage viewed as a concession or a response to immorality. Paul spends chapter 7 saying how chaste relationships were preferable but if they were not possible then marriage was the proper outlet for their sex drive - this was a concession not a command. Until recently the context of the problem in chapter 6 was not associated with the commands in chapter 7 because the idea of the "agamos" was not common in the churches and church members visiting prostitutes was unthinkable. Not so today unfortunately.

We should find proper marriage partners for the members of our congregations who face the problem of being single with strong sexual urges. Meanwhile those who struggle with temptation should strive to refrain from sex outside of marriage.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases & The Problem of Shame

Sexually transmitted diseases have long been associated with both heterosexual and homosexual promiscuity (Romans 1:18-25). In classical literature it was known as "the fire". An apt term that combines judgment, the pain of the disease and the heat of lust all in one metaphor. Unfortunately if statistics are anything to go by perhaps a quarter of any church congregation will have a sexually transmitted disease (known as STD'S). The disease is acquired during a time of sin and rebellion but persists into the redeemed life as many STD's have no known medical cure. This is one of the main contributing reasons for Christians marrying non-Christians as Christians with STD's feel alone and isolated and believe no Christian would marry them.

Let me be clear - I do not have and have never had an STD. However many of my close friends do have them and are deeply ashamed of the fact. They sit at the back of the church and generally only build relationships with the "not so holy" or very accepting people. They feel second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. They see the presence of the disease as indicating God's continuing displeasure with their life. It is also very embarrassing to ask for prayer for healing of an STD so God is not allowed in - and medical science can do nothing. Its a very sad and alienating situation. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Your disease is not part of your identity and will not accompany you to heaven, it is not a part of your true self. It dwells in your flesh and will vanish when you die.

  2. If you are a repentant Christian God has forgiven the sin that lead to the disease.

  3. Your task now is to maintain godly sexual relationships so you do not go back into sin and so "worse does not befall you". Therefore it is imperative that you identify with where you are going (heaven) rather than where you have come from in your past.

  4. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from all sin.

  5. You are just as much a Christian as anyone else. Paul called the Christians in Corinth "saints".

  6. The judgment of God on you has finished but the consequences of that judgment may be with you for some time.

  7. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit that God wants to be clean and undefiled therefore He desires to heal you of your disease and restore you to confidence and joy.

  8. You should seek God for healing and particularly for mercy and for grace. He is kind and He loves you.

Summary and Conclusion

The Bible forbids all forms of sex before marriage except sex with the person you are going to marry and even then it is viewed negatively as a falling short of God's ideal of being a pure virgin at the altar. The pain both emotionally and physically and spiritually is intense. Life-long shame can result. However even in the worst cases God's grace is bigger than our sin and restoration and forgiveness can overcome much of the damage of the past. While in this life purity may have been lost in Christ our glory will be restored. In the resurrection all sin and shame will be forgotten as you and I are transformed in the twinkling of an eye and made glorious, spiritual and pure. I will end with a few verses from 1 Corinthians...

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB) Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, {10} nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

© Copyright GlobalChristians.Org 1997

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.