It is common practice for dating couples to sleep together long before they even mention the possibility of a wedding. To many people, sex before marriage is a normal part of life and is as common as exchanging phone numbers.
I would like to convince you of what you already know to be true in your heart–sex is only meant for marriage. Having sex with someone is a big deal and should not be common. It should not be the appetizer before marriage. Rather, it should be the culmination of romance that is a beautiful exchange of true love.
Regardless of your sexual past or history, below are seven reasons why you should commit to reserving sex for marriage.
Abstinence is the most effective birth control and the best protection from sexually transmitted diseases. This is unquestionably true.
Intimacy is a coveted gift. We all long to be known and to know. It is without question that sex is the most intimate action two people can engage in. The Bible describes this intimacy as “one flesh.” It is designed to be precious, deep, and creates memories that are to be treasured for a lifetime.
Saving sex for marriage increases the value of sex. Sex before marriage cheapens and wastes what is valuable. Rocks are not valuable because they are common. Diamonds are valuable because they are uncommon. If someone has sex with multiple people over the course of multiple relationships, the most intimate act a human can experience becomes watered-down and its value depreciated. Why should your precious lifegiving water be scattered abroad into dirty streets (Proverbs 5:16-17)? What is intimate about sex if it does not come with actual commitment and sacrifice?
Saving sex demonstrates legitimate love to your future spouse. If you sleep around before marriage (even if it is just with them), then there is no reason that you will not do that during marriage. The unavoidable reality is that someone else will come along who is more attractive than you and has a better personality.
True love really does wait. Sex before marriage destroys trust. Sexual activity before marriage is the opposite of love (Ephesians 5:2-3). Someone who engages in sexual activity before marriage says, “I don’t have self-control. I don’t really love you more than others. When passion arises, I will act on it.” Saving sex takes discipline (Proverbs 5:12, 23). It requires someone to put their emotional and bodily desires to death and instead have patience.
But who can be this self-controlled? Who can obtain this high standard of true love? Only those who have the Holy Spirit who produces love and self-control in hearts (Galatians 5:22-23).
Engaging in sexual activity before marriage is a trap. It promises pleasure and then leaves destruction (John 8:44). Sexual sin becomes enslaving because lust is never quenched. Lust longs for what it does not have, and it never finds happiness. It always craves more.
When a couple engages in sexual sin, they are walking down a path of painful memories, broken hearts, inner turmoil, and a distant relationship with God. Saving sex for marriage, when it is done to honor God and obey him, leads to peace, life, and a clear conscience.
Your life is complete without sex.
Read that again. You can have a fulfilled life without sex. Truly.
This goes against everything our culture is screaming. The reason our culture is screaming that sex is crucial to your identity is because they must scream it to make it sound true. But you don’t need sex to live the good life. Jesus lived the most humanly fulfilled life and he never once engaged in sexual activity. Sex is not your master and expressing it will never complete you. Sex is a terrible god.
Those who engage in sexual activity are worshiping something other than God and will be eternally punished. What I have just said is true regardless of who you are or who you claim to be.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Why is this the case? Because the ultimate issue is not about when or whether you have sex. The ultimate issue is about your heart and who is the Lord of your life.
Are you the lord of your life? If so, you will never be fulfilled and cannot save yourself. But if Christ is the Lord of your life, all of that can be different.
It is the historic and undeniable teaching of Scripture that sex was created for our good and God’s glory. God created the world and designed it to work a certain way. God’s way is the good life. The good life happens when we follow God’s loving law. His law is not burdensome for those who have new hearts (Matthew 11:29; 1 John 5:3)! Godly sex is the best sex.
In the most sexual book of the Bible, God is celebrating his created gift of sex within marriage and then tells us multiple times to not awaken love before its time (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). To awaken love before its time (to engage in sexual activity before marriage) is to miss out on the good gifts God gives and instead suffer the consequences of sin. The pleasures of God are far superior to the fleeting pleasures of sin (Psalm 16:11). But it takes faith to see this, not just the sight of an attractive person or the rush of intense feelings (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Every person has the law of God written on their conscience. We all know the fundamentals of what is right and wrong in the world. When we sin sexually, we know that we are engaging in the forbidden fruit that we should have waited on. Guilty sex pales in comparison to godly sex.
The only way to cover up a guilty conscience on our own is to sin more. The more we sin, the more seared our conscience becomes and the number we feel. This spiral of guilt and hardening of the conscience leads to a dark and lonely prison.
The way to experience freedom is to have the truth set us free (John 8:32-36). Once we embrace the truth, turn away from our sin, and trust in Jesus alone to forgive us, that is when we experience the joy of a clear conscience that no one can take from us. The gift of sex can only be fully enjoyed when it is done God’s way.
There are more reasons to save sex for marriage than just these seven. Yet it is my prayer that these reasons help you deepen your love for God and others. The good life can only be found in our good God.
I have met untold numbers of couples who have regretted sexual activity before marriage, but I have never met a single person who regretted waiting. True love waits and by God’s grace, you can start today.
This is part 2 of a blog series on Recovering Purity Culture.
Sean Perron is the Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. He is the co-author of Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement and Letters to a Romantic: The First Years of Marriage.