Premarital Sex | John Ankerberg Show

Premarital Sex

By: The John Ankerberg Show
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By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2007
A viewer asks, “Do you believe a Christian couple, as long as they are ‘engaged,’ can be intimate?”

A viewer asks, “Do you believe a Christian couple, as long as they are ‘engaged,’ can be intimate?”

The Bible teaches that sex is to be reserved for a life-long monogamous commitment in marriage simply because this is the way God intended sexual activity for our benefit. In other words, no sex before marriage. Some people may grumble at this, but why should anyone be surprised that God knows what is best sexually for those He created as sexual beings?

Sex is so much more than mere physical pleasure that it is not incorrect to say that it is principally an emotional/spiritual act before it is a physical one.

Most people today seem to think that telling young people to wait for sex until marriage is unrealistic. But is it really?

Is it really impossible to wait until one is married to engage in sexual activity? It may be difficult at times, but it is hardly impossible.

Hundreds of millions of teenagers already practice complete abstinence in cultures and countries which continue to highly prize virginity – like China, Japan, India and Muslim nations. There are also many Americans, especially Christians, who have waited five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years before being married and engaging in sexual relations with their spouse. There are others who have remained celibate their entire lives for various reasons, including devoting themselves to Christian service.

No one is saying that abstinence is always easy, but increasingly, even secularists are saying it truly may be necessary. And certainly, it is a lot easier than suffering some of the painful consequence of illicit sex, such as unwanted pregnancy, fear of intimacy, a bad marriage, crippling STDs – or death from AIDS. Again, sexual abstinence before marriage is what God commands because He knows what is best for us. Given today’s sexual climate, who can logically argue that God is wrong?

Further, unless we deliberately and willfully sin in this area, or allow ourselves to be self-deceived, God will provide the strength needed to obey Him. If we ask Him and commit our lives to Him, He will bless our lives. And the welcome fact is that the vast majority of us are going to get married relatively young anyway and so most young people really do not need to be concerned over the issue of abstinence for too long. So is abstinence really too much for God to ask for those He loves? Because God does love us and desires our best interests, Christians especially should commit themselves all the more to honoring the Lord with the life that they have while single.

So what exactly does the Bible say about sex? First, that sex is good and something given as a gift from God:

…let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor. 7:2-4).

If God purposely created sex so pleasurable, then He certainly intends it to be enjoyed in marriage.

Second, as we have seen, God commands that we are to be sexually chaste prior to marriage:

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this manner no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:3-8).

According to this verse and verses like Galatians 6:7, this means that those who have violated this command have really never escaped the consequences: we think it is far better to not have to suffer those consequences.

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually, sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you are bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body (1 Cor. 6:13, 18-20, emphasis added).

Thus,

But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these things are improper for God’s holy people (Eph. 5:3).

And

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming (Col. 3:5-6).

These verses are obviously written to Christians because Christians can fall into sexual temptation and sin just like non-Christians. Yet what Christians need to remember here is not only the earthly consequences of illicit sex, emotional, physical and spiritual, but the fact that they will one day have to stand before their Lord Jesus Christ and give an account of what they have done in their body: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Of course, Christians will not be judged eternally for their sins. The penalty for all their sins was fully paid for by Jesus Christ at the cross (Eph. 1:7; Col. 2:13). But Christians may still lose rewards in heaven. Indeed, we can only wonder what some Christians will feel like and experience on that day when they lose those heavenly rewards because of the spiritually numbing and other consequences of fornication or adultery while on earth? It will certainly be an infinitely poor exchange – losing eternal rewards in heaven for a few fleeting moments of sexual pleasure on earth.

There is another reason God wishes to protect the sexual relationship within marriage – because it protects the family unit and the children who inevitably flow from that union. This is such a self-evident truth that no commentary is necessary.

But sex is holy for yet another reason; it actually mirrors what God Himself did in the incarnation. The institution of marriage was not something man invented for reasons of convenience or practicality. God is the author of marriage, and He began it the day He created woman to be a companion to man:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”…So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep…. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen. 2:18, 21-24).

We can see from this passage and others that marriage is designed by God and involves certain things. First, the woman is designed to be a helper to man, and just as obviously, the man is designed to love, nurture and protect the one that was taken from his own body (compare Eph. 5:25-30). The fact that the woman was initially taken from the man’s body and made separate from him is symbolized in a wonderful manner when a man and a woman are “reunited” and joined physically in marriage.

Second, God instructs the man and woman to leave their father and mother. This is something that can cause serious problems in a marriage relationship if those who become married do not successfully leave their parents in order to “cleave together” to begin their new relationship.

Third, a man and woman are to be united together “and they will become one flesh.” This physical uniting goes far beyond the physical dimension and also involves an emotional and “spiritual” uniting.

Indeed, marriage itself parallels what God did through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. What did God do in the incarnation and what are its results? Put simply, God Himself (Jesus Christ) left His own “family” in heaven (the Father and the Holy Spirit), came to earth and made a public declaration of His love for mankind at the cross. Because of this, when a person receives Christ, he is married to Him (in the sense that the Church is described in Scripture as the Bride of Christ), and there is unity, joy, and a new birth or new life.

This spirituality is paralleled in the marriage of a man and woman. A man and woman leave their family and come together at the marriage altar, making a public declaration of their love for each other. The man is then married to his wife, and there is unity, joy, and eventually new life.

Perhaps one reason why God treats the sexual act so seriously is because of all it implies concerning what He has accomplished in the incarnation and in His marriage relationship to the Church. Scripture itself comments on this by implication:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church – for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church. (Eph. 5:25-32, emphasis added)

Indeed, the spiritual aspects of sex and marriage are far more profound than many people realize.

Another reason God wants us to wait for sex until marriage is because He wants to protect the most important sex organ we will ever have – our mind. Those who do wait until marriage usually have better marriage relationships. This is not necessarily because the sex is any better (though there are those who argue from experience it is), but because a mutual trust has been established at the beginning of the relationship which provides a good foundation for a successful marriage.

Put another way, because sex and marriage are gifts from God, they are properly subject to His loving commands. Since God is their author, having sex in accordance with His purposes and obeying His commands about marriage should not only produce the best sex, but also the best sexual development, freedom and experience, and the best marriages.

In essence, the reason for the biblical teaching about sexuality is because God is the one who made sex and designed it to be enjoyed in the manner it was intended. Like anything whose proper function is abused, it either doesn’t work well or causes additional problems. God wants to protect us from this, and He wants to provide the best for us in a quality mate simply because He loves us. This is why He has given us commands to obey and why we should give our children the same commands.

Dating, sex and marriage are all wonderful gifts from the Lord and those who take them seriously will find great reward. God knows how He has created us, what human nature is like, what is or isn’t in our best interest. In truth, the commands God has given us are only those for our own best welfare. A God of love would do no less (1 John 4:8).

The John Ankerberg Show

The John Ankerberg Show

Founder and president of The John Ankerberg Show, the most-watched Christian worldview show in America.
The John Ankerberg Show
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