Is There A Biblical Precedent Against Premarital Sex?

In light of my previous post, which was mostly inspired by a conversation on Facebook plus some blog comments regarding sex without marriage and its rightness or wrongness (mostly in a Biblical sense), I think it’s important for anyone discussing the concept of sexual purity to consider whether God and/or the Bible actually forbid sex without marriage.

I’m no Biblical scholar, and I’ve never even read the Bible from front to back, but I have studied the base principles of Christianity and dug into particular messages contained in the Bible and their interpretations. Mainstream Christianity holds the axiom that sex without marriage is wrong and sinful, but where does it actually say that in the Bible?

Some of the most commonly cited passages only reference sexual immorality, and that’s, of course, only the English translation. Language nerds could argue about the actual meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words referenced in the Bible, leaving a lot of room for interpretation. You will see many Christians fallaciously argue the Biblical precedent against non-marital sex by citing verses denouncing “sexual immorality”, but sexual immorality is never really defined. This could mean that church culture has merely accepted that non-marital sex counts as “sexual immorality”—and is therefore instanced into any verses denouncing sexual immorality—without any clear Biblical precedent. Now we’re looking at post-Biblical church culture that has been accepted as the word of God—which any Christian (except Catholics) would probably agree is dangerous stuff.

There are vague references in Genesis to a man and a woman joining together permanently as “one flesh”, but at that point no such thing as marriage has been laid out in the text. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul basically says a celibate life is best, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and at the time the Corinthians were fraught with “sexual immorality” (only exemplified by a man who had a sexual relationship with his father’s wife [his mother?] but otherwise not clearly defined), and Paul said it’s better for a husband and a wife to be married and take care of each other’s sexual needs than to be tempted to sexual immorality. Furthermore, if you pay attention, little of what he says in this passage is claimed to be God’s command, but how Paul suggests the Corinthians behave to best hold close to their faith and God’s will. There are many old rules and laws that Christians no longer uphold because they were specified for a certain people, time, and place–just look at Leviticus.

Here are a couple of articles that I found interesting. One is from someone who espouses that sex without marriage is actually not forbidden in the Bible at all. The other says that, while the Bible never explicitly forbids it, it carries other rules and requirements and is discouraged. Food for thought.

If all lust is a sin, stop looking at your wife.
Sex: Does the Bible actually forbid premarital sex?

Interesting side point regarding Biblical misinterpretation that’s ingrained in the social consciousness: “Sodomy” is associated with homosexuality and anal sex, but the people of Sodom were actually defined as “wicked”, with little else in the way of description. Their crime that brought their destruction was demanding that Lot bring out God’s visiting messengers so that they could rape them (Genesis 19). This is rape, not merely homosexuality. Some interpret it as a power move; the messengers were foreigners, and the intolerant Sodomites were to “put them in their place” through sexual domination. The people of Sodom may not have necessarily been homosexual themselves.

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