Student Culture, Trends & Issues

5 Reasons Why the ‘Sex Before Marriage’ Conversation Is Such A Big Deal

I started this blog (about ministry with college students) — in its original form — three years ago.

On January 11, 2011 I wrote I post entitled Is Sex Before Marriage Really A Sin? for the 1st Annual Sex & the Soul Blogathon.

Since that post went live, it has far and away received the most traffic on my site — accounting for more than 13,000 views.

Daily — DAILY — I’ll get numerous visits to my blog from people who have used some variation of the following terms in search engine searches:

  • sex before marriage
  • sex before marriage sin
  • is sex before marriage a sin
  • is sex before marriage really a sin
  • why is sex before marriage a sin
  • etc.

And I think I know why…

People — young and old — really want to know what God thinks about this.

And in most cases they’ve heard what the Church has to say — and yet they head online in search of more answers. Or different answers.

Why? I believe there are five distinct reasons.

#1 They don’t really know what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage — and they want answers

This percentage of the population has heard — probably from quite a young age — that sex outside of marriage is sin.

And that’s it.

They’ve never been told why it’s a sin, or what the Bible actually says, or even that sex is a good thing — in the right context.

They’ve only been told that sex is bad. Or trouble. And that they shouldn’t do it.

Yet now they find themselves in a place where this position on sexual activity — and the lack of supporting argument or evidence they’ve been given — has them in tension.

It could be that they’re wanting to have sex, or they have friends having sex, or they’re dealing with raging hormones that seem to be urging them towards sex — and they just don’t know what to do.

And the Church — for the most part — has failed to have this conversation beyond “don’t” or “wait.”

So they go searching.

#2 They want to support (or reaffirm) their choice to wait

This percentage of the population tends to fall in line with the Churches stance that sex outside of marriage is not a good idea. It’s wrong. It’s sin.

And yet what they see and hear in our North American culture leads them to believe that they are in a small minority of people who believe this — especially among college students.

So they search for those key biblical passages, or statements from strong, convincing Christian leaders, that will further help to support and encourage them in their decision to wait on sex until they are married.

#3 They want to see if there’s a loophole for their situation

This percentage of the population wants to honor what they believe God wants.

But they’re also feeling the strong urge to engage in sexual activity.

This group often knows what the Bible says — or where the Church stands on this — and have even done some study on their own. And this study has left them wondering if maybe — just maybe — there isn’t a “loophole.”

Maybe, they wonder, sex is permissible for the “long-term” or “committed” relationships.

Maybe the Bible is just talking about not having sex outside of marriage — if you’re married. Which means that sex before marriage is permissible. Or sex after divorce, or death, is OK too. Just don’t cheat on your spouse.

They want to do what’s right, I believe, but they also want to parse out the details of the law to see if there isn’t something there that would allow them to have their cake — and eat it too.

#4 They want to justify (or rectify) their past (or present) actions

I think this percentage of the population tends to take one of two forms.

They either want to justify their past (or present) actions — meaning that they have some level of faith, but don’t believe that it should get in the way of their lifestyle choices. In this case they want to prove that the Church is wrong in saying that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and therefore justify their choice to engage in it.

Or, maybe they’ve engaged in sexual activity in their past (or recent present) and they are now feeling some level of guilt or remorse about their actions and want to make things right — with God and/or others. In this case they go in search of Truth and a path of repentance and restoration.

#5 They want to justify their future actions

Similar to the first group in #4, this group is about justifying their actions.

They have not yet engaged in sexual activity — but they want to — and want to prove (to themselves and/or others) that it is OK.

They don’t want God to get in the way of their good time — and if they can prove that the Bible really doesn’t say what the Church says that it does — then they can engage without feelings of guilt or remorse.

In each of the cases mentioned above, I believe that those who are searching for answers are — at some level — concerned with what God really thinks about this issue.

They likely feel at odds with God, the Church, their parents, their peers, or themselves — in some way, shape, or form.

There is a present tension with one or more (or all) of these entities — and they want to alleviate it.

It’s a big deal — and most of these people seem to recognize that — so they’re searching for answers. And we — as people who walk with college students — need to be willing to have these important conversations with them.

We also need to recognize that when they come to us — if they come to us — that they likely come for one of the above reasons — all of which deserve our listening and discerning ear, as well as a distinct and measured response.

What do you think?

What do you see on your campus?

Where do you see the tension within your students?

Do your students see you as a “safe person” to have this conversation with?

How do you respond to students who come to you with this tension?

What wisdom or insight do you have to share?

  • Pingback: Creativity, Humility, Risk, and The Importance of Turning Off Your Phone | theilluminationdilemma()

  • MJ

    Thanks for addressing this so thoughtfully! God help us communicate the truth of LIFE (not restriction) that the command to remain sexually pure before during and after marriage represents!

  • Pingback: Top Posts for August 2012 | Faith ON Campus()

  • Adam

    So can you please tell me where this information is found in the Bible? Or is it implied? You give these reasons why there is no evidence, but I still get to end waiting for a verse. I know there is not much, but I need something. So can you please elaborate more with some kind of documented evidence? Please and thank you.

    • Hi Adam!

      Allow me to point you towards a post that includes a few different biblical scholars weighing in on this same conversations. I think what you’ll find is that it is explicit in a few different places, and implicit in a number of others.

      One of the biggest challenges is how different our culture is today from what we see described in the Bible.

      Have a look and let me know what you think:

  • Pingback: 2012's Top 12 Posts | Faith ON Campus()

  • Guy,
    Yes I too came to your blog looking for scriptural encouragement to wait.Yet I don’t see you providing that for people. Just acknowledging the issue and questions so many of us have. Curious why you didn’t go into the answers? Well here is an article my roomate found for me titled: What does the Bible say about sex before marriage?

  • inkaboutit4u com reply

    Sex before Marriage is NOT a sin from the Bible.

    Check out my web pages for more details.

    They have the WRONG definition for the word “fornication”,
    They say it mean single sex or sex before marriage to a “one man, one women”
    marriage. This is clearly the WRONG definition.

    Man made dictionaries only reflex how people are using or
    misusing the word at that time. ST. Paul definition the word “fornication” in 1
    Cor 10:8 and the definition is found in Number 25: 1-9. This is clearly the
    correction definition of the word “fornication” which is the misusing your sexual
    freedom that God gave all people at creation to have many sex partners over a
    life time, was misused by joining in the worship of a pagan fertility god, one
    of Baals many gods. Joining in the Worshiping a pagan fertility god is NOT equal
    to sex outside marriage. There is a major big different. This was a major
    problem in all the Bible days, both OT and NT.