Re-post of website godandscience.org (link below)
Common “wisdom” says that living together in a “trial marriage” is a good way to determine if couples are compatible before marriage. A companion paper, based upon scientific studies, shows that this idea is false. Many Christians seem to have bought into the secular idea that as long as one is “in love” it doesn’t matter if couples live together (and engage in premarital sex). The problem is that many times “love” fails, and Christians end up moving from one relationship to another. This paper examines what the Bible says about living together before marriage, for those who claim to be Christians.
Biblical love isn’t a feeling
Most people think that love is that elated, “high” feeling we get when we “fall in love.” This kind of “love” is something that lasts typically less than a year. Most couples decide to live together during this period of time when their decisions are often based upon emotions and passions. According to the Bible love “rejoices with the truth… always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… never fails”1 One will notice from this description that love isn’t what you get from someone, it is something you give to someone. The Bible confidently says that love never fails, because as long as these things are done, love cannot fail. However, if we are interested in getting rather than giving, then selfishness always succeeds in shipwrecking a relationship.
Sexual relationships and the Bible
The doctrine of keeping sexual relationships within the bounds of marriage is so important that it is spelled out in the second chapter of the first book of the Bible (Genesis 2). The marriage covenant is spelled out in the original narrative that describes the meeting of the first man and first woman:
For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)
The Bible actually encourages married couples to enjoy their sexual relationships within marriage.2 The New Testament confirms that sexual relations within a marriage is not sinful. Paul says that those who marry have not sinned.3 The writer of the book of Hebrews states, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure,”4 indicating that sexual relations within marriage are “pure” and not sinful.
Old Testament laws about sex
The Bible has a lot of bad things to say about being a harlot.5 In fact, it was so frowned upon in Jewish society that, among all the laws in the Old Testament, spiritual unfaithfulness (idolatry) is compared to harlotry.6 These days, people tend to think of harlots as those who engage in multiple sexual relationships. However, the Old Testament indicates that engaging in even one sexual relationship before marriage (i.e., not being a virgin) makes one a harlot.7 Engaging in consensual sexual relations with a married person was a capital offense, and those who were found guilty (both the male and female) were executed.8 Consensual sexual relations between an unmarried man and unmarried woman resulted in the man being fined and required to marry the woman without the possibility of any future divorce.9 Essentially, there was no premarital sex, since once you were caught you were married.
New Testament laws about sex
The New Testament confirms the laws of the Old Testament. Specifically, adultery is condemned,10 even including mental adultery,11 incest,12 and homosexuality.13 Other sexual sins, including premarital sex, are condemned through a couple Greek words (the original language of the New Testament) that can refer to a number of sexual sins, depending upon context. These words are porneia14 and pornos,15 from which the English word “pornography” is derived. English Bibles will translate these words different ways, so it is important to know some of the ways in which the words are translated. For example, the New American Standard translates the words as “fornication”16 (e.g., premarital sexual relations) and sometimes as “immoral persons,”17 which seems to be some kind of generic immorality, although it specifically refers to sexual immorality. Other English words used to describe premarital sex include “unchastity.”18 The fact that these words refer to premarital sexual relations can be seen in the Pharisees answer to Jesus, where they insinuated that He was born of fornication.16 The severity of this kind of sin can be seen in the descriptions of what will happen to people who practice sexual immorality at the judgment.17
The New Testament directly states that sexual activity is to be restricted to marriage in the book of Hebrews, where it condemns both adultery (engaging in sexual relations with a non-spouse while married) and fornication (engaging in sexual relations before marriage):
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)
Premarital sexual relationships are strongly condemned in both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. Therefore, Christians who engage in premarital sex are breaking God’s laws and are not following Jesus Christ. Under such practices, God is not honored, and both yours and your partner’s walk with Christ is hampered. In addition, one’s witness for Jesus is nullified, since even non-believers know that living together before marriage is not what a Christian should do. If you are involved in this kind of relationship, you need to repent and start living according to biblical standards. It is not okay for a Christian to keep living a sinful lifestyle, including sexual intimacy before marriage.
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