Is Sex Before Marriage Bad?

Sexual intercourse is a “life-uniting act,” as our friend Lewis Smedes calls it. That’s why sex outside of marriage is “sex-to-soon.” It violates the intended purpose of sex. “It is wrong,” according to Smedes, “because unmarried ­ people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent…. Intercourse signs and seals—and maybe even delivers—a life-union; and life union means marriage.”

Scripture clearly states that sex is for marriage and marriage is for sex. Jesus quoted from Genesis (1:27, 2:24), when he asked: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 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?'” (Matthew 19:4-5). The writers of Scripture use sexual purity and faithfulness between spouses as an image of our relationship with God (see Song of Solomon and Hosea, as well as the 16th chapter of Ezekiel).

So if you want to reserve sexual intercourse for marriage, the $100 question is how? How do you abstain from sex without shutting off your sexuality?

Granted, it’s not easy, it can be down right excruciating—but it’s possible. We know plenty of happy ­ couples who have saved sex for marriage. In case you are wondering, we abstained from premarital sex ourselves. In seven years of dating we had our share of passionate moments and plenty of tempting situations, but we stayed true to our decision to wait. Looking back over our entire relationship, it remains as one of the best decisions we ever made. We had plenty of time to evolve through the natural stages of physical intimacy as our permanent commitment to each other progressed.

The secret to saving sex for marriage is found in a single word: boundaries. Couples who abstain from sex without shutting off their sexuality have learned to set specific boundaries and stick to them. They have made intentional, deliberate, and conscious choices about how far they will go.

sex and marriage

case study of joseph



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