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Why shouldn’t you have sex before you’re married?

Marriage has been the boundary line God has put around human sex life for all of Christian history. However, it can be hard to be motivated to put this value into practice, if you don’t understand why He did this. God has always got great reasons for the limits He puts in place. Sin is not sin because God wants to make it hard for us, or because He is a control freak. God has defined right and wrong because He loves us and wants the best for us. It is called ‘sin’ because it has negative consequences for us and for others.

Paul says that the body is a temple for the Holy Spirit and that we should let our bodies glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Sex can never be a purely physical act, as many people today think. We are holistic people, made up of body, soul and spirit. Sexual intercourse is not only physical, it is the most intimate closeness two people can have, where body, soul and spirit are all involved.

Sexual intercourse makes two people one, you actually become part of the other. And even if the bodies can be separated easily, it is not easy to tear apart the soulish and emotional unity that’s created. You give away the most intimate thing you have, and you don’t get it back when you leave.

Sex outside of marriage can harm you

Sex is created to be shared by two people who are committed to each other for the rest of their lives. One of the characteristics of sex is that it binds them more strongly together. Sex is part of the glue in marriage. So it is even more painful if a relationship involving sex finishes. It’s as if you glue together two sheets of paper and then tear them apart from each other. Both sheets will be damaged.

There are three things I can think of that can be seriously damaged if you have sex outside of God’s limits. Firstly, and most importantly, your soul can get emotional injuries. In a sexual relationship we are vulnerable and give ourselves to another person. When the relationship ends it will quite naturally be painful. Of course, you can suppress these feelings, and after several breakups you may not feel that you are so hurt by it anyway. But then it’s often the case that you have become emotionally cold. This is what happens with your conscience. Most people get a very bad conscience if they steal something for the first time. But a hardened criminal no longer has a bad conscience. He’s suppressed his conscience so long that the bad feelings don’t surface. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right to steal.

The next part of you to get hurt is your mind, your thoughts. That’s because you will be left with knowledge that is not good for you. Firstly, it’s unhealthy for your future partner if others have also been involved with you sexually. Secondly, you can easily think of sex as something physical and practical, not as something intimate and personal as it should be. It can in fact be part of redefining what sex is for you, as it has for many youths around you.

Finally, your will can be harmed. Every time you give in to the decision to have sex with someone, your willpower to say ‘no’ next time will be weakened. Willpower is like a steel pipe. Every time it is bent, it is weakened. If it’s bent back and forward enough times, it will break. Remember that your willpower will not automatically be stronger when you get married. If you have had several sexual experiences, you are also in greater danger of giving in to temptation after you get married. This leads us to the next point.

The world talks about sexual experience, that it’s important to be ‘good in bed’. Of course it is nice to be good in bed, but you don’t need to rush into it to get this qualification. It doesn’t matter at all if you’re a bit clumsy on your wedding night. There has to be a first time for everyone. It must be better to have a slightly embarrassing start with someone who you’ve just promised to love and honour for the rest of your life, than with the teenage sweetheart who just wants to ‘make it’ and boast to their friends later on.

I think that you will have better sex in your marriage if you don’t have previous experience. You still have your honeymoon and the rest of your life to get the experience together! You can be open and secure with each other and explore your sex life together. Sex will just get better and better the more you know and trust each other. A lifelong marriage is the best framework for a powerful sex life.

Previous sexual experiences can also lead to unhealthy comparisons. You don’t really want to compare how your future spouse is in bed, with your ex partners, do you? And you don’t really want images of other people in your head or memories of other sexual experiences when you make love to your spouse? And you certainly don’t want your spouse to be wondering if your previous sweetheart was ‘better in bed’? Or that he or she compares you with their previous sexual experiences?

Sex is created for two people! So it is best when it is so intimate that it’s only between the two of you, and no one else has ever been involved. Sex before marriage destroys this intimacy. The ultimate intimacy is to share something with only one other person. If you share something that should only be shared with one person, with many, then it’s no longer so intimate. It’s as if you have a bouquet of roses that you are to give to the person who you will share the rest of your life with. If you give away roses to others beforehand, then soon there will only be one half-withered rose left, to share with the one who should have got them all.

There’s something very special about being ‘the only one’, not just the only one right now, but the only one ever!

Sex outside marriage is noncommittal

Sex is designed for two people who are committed to each other for the rest of their lives. All sex outside marriage is noncommittal.

 ‘That’s all very well, but what about people in a serious relationship, who are engaged and soon to be married?’

Well, if you’re not married then you’re not in a committed relationship, as marriage is the commitment. It doesn’t matter at all how much you love each other, or how serious or how faithful you are. The fact that you haven’t taken the step to promise that you will be together for the rest of your lives is proof that you’re not committed!

An engagement is just a statement of intent, and it can be broken at any time. Marriage is a lifelong covenant which is unbreakable and binding for life in God’s eyes.

Perhaps you’ll say ‘it’s not just about a piece of paper,’ or ‘we’ve decided, so God sees it as if we’re already married.’ Now, it is true that it isn’t just about a piece of paper, or a marriage certificate which is its proper name, it’s about commitment. But the fact that you haven’t signed the marriage certificate shows that you are not quite ready for the commitment! You are not ready to give yourselves to each other sexually.

Edited extract published with permission from the book Venner for alltid (Friends for Ever) by Gunnleik Hofstad, Proklamedia publishing 2015.