One of the main messages repeatedly taught to me while growing up was that we should not have sex before marriage. I accepted and did my very best to uphold that rule long before I understood why it was so important. I observed that non-Christians believed that abstinence until marriage was truly the most noble way to go about sexuality but saw it as impractical and trusted more in themselves than the recommendations of the church. They came up with all sorts of justifications for why sex before marriage was essential.
As I gave thought to my Christian beliefs on sexuality based heavily in biblical scripture, and the counteracting beliefs of non-Christians which made much sense from their perspective, I drew the conclusion that sex in and of itself is clean whether it is before the ceremony or not. What makes sex and pretty much all other biblically regulated actions unclean is the motive behind which it is done.
“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”
(1 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 5 (NLT))
Shame, shame, shame
Sex has been so heavily associated with shame that it is totally understandable for even a newly married couple who have all biblical and legal right to dive right in, to feel a bit sheepish when exploring each other’s bodies.
One of the churches main strategies over the centuries implemented to keep our members in line, was to instil a fear of sex and its potential negative consequences. Most Christians who grow up in church and truly have a desire to please the Lord, like myself, fight and pray against naturally occurring urges with very little understanding of the other side of the coin.
We see in the Bible that God invented sex and intended for it to be a good thing. However that image is on a head on collision course with all the negatives sex has produced in our societies. STDs, unwanted children, broken hearts and prostitution has caused us all to become hypersensitive around the topic of sex.
So now the question is, how do we renew the thinking of Christians around sex in a way that enables us to see its beauty and have a healthy desire for it, yet at the same time keep ourselves from being sexually immoral?
Redefining sexual purity/immorality
By the churches standard, the only pure sex is the sex between husband and wife. ALL other sexual expressions are considered sexual immorality. However, going by what the Lord has revealed to me through my own biblical studies and conversations with Him, I have drawn the conclusion that the churches stance though correct, is inaccurate. This puts a serious strain on Christian couples who are truly committed to each other but must abstain from even kissing each other through a long dating period before having their wedding ceremony.
Now I’m not saying abstaining from sexual interactions until the wedding is a bad idea and the church is wrong to encourage that. No, I truly believe that is the ideal approach. However, I am saying the church is wrong for being bashful toward couples who struggle with resisting each other and want to have their ceremony as quickly as possible. I will even go further and say if a man and woman are truly committed to each other and have sex motived by LOVE and not LUST, they are not guilty of adultery or fornication.
Marriage has existed since Adam and Eve, long before wedding ceremonies and documentation became our benchmark that identified a couple’s initiation into marriage. The original initiation for marriage was sex (the two becoming one flesh). Sin a.k.a selfishness is what has warped what God originally intended for good and has made it a tool for evil. Wedding ceremonies are primarily celebrations, but secondarily they serve as assurance givers to the community that the couple is undoubtedly committed to each other. It is this assurance that gives the community peace in allowing this couple to have sex without scrutiny.
Sex with a person you have decided to spend the rest of your life with is not a sin. That is what God always intended. However, because the wedding ceremony has become the benchmark in our societies, we assume a couple isn’t truly committed to each other unless they are legally married. But I have seen many marriages that have never had a ceremony far outlast people who have entered 2 or even 3 marriages within their lifetime by legal standards. So obviously the occurrence of an expensive ceremony and the signing of some paperwork has very little to do with the authenticity and strength of a union.
An important question all Christians need to ask themselves in relation to this topic is:
Which is more holy and just?
To live in undying commitment to one person for your entire life without a wedding ceremony;
To have a wedding ceremony, then divorce, and have another wedding ceremony with someone else while your first spouse is still alive.
In these two scenarios, who according to the Bible is guilty of sin? Who deserves more bashful scrutiny?
The answer to these questions and more will come in the next article.
Darren Salmon is a 28 year old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is husband to the lovely Mrs. Kimberley Salmon (previously Morgan), another talented young writer with Christian Today. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html