Is it OK to have sex before marriage? What if you really, really love the person?

Teens and young adults are torn between strong arguments for it or against it.

Many years ago, when I was beginning to form and solidify my own beliefs and convictions about this subject, I stumbled upon the book Sex, Love, or Infatuation: How Can I Really Know? written by Dr. Ray E. Short, then professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville.

Dr. Short was a speaker who was popular to college students and school assemblies. Although it was originally published in the 1960s and updated in August 1990 (with over 300,000 copies in print), I think you would still find the book enlightening and encouraging.

He titled chapter 10: “To Be or Not to Be — A Virgin.” According to Dr. Short, science had established 11 factsbacked up by solid research — regarding the probable effect of premarital sex on your future marriage.

11 Known Facts About Sex Before Marriage

  • FACT 1: Premarital sex tends to break up couples.
  • FACT 2: Many men and women do not want to marry a person who has had intercourse with someone else.
  • FACT 3: Those who have premarital sex tend to have less happy marriages.
  • FACT 4: Those who have premarital sex are more likely to have their marriage end in divorce.
  • FACT 5: Persons and couples who have had premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital affairs as well.
  • FACT 6: Having premarital sex may fool you into marrying a person who is not right for you.
  • FACT 7: Persons and couples with premarital sex experience tend to achieve sexual satisfaction sooner after they are married. However
  • FACT 8: They are likely to be less satisfied overall with their sex life during marriage.
  • FACT 9: Poor premarital sexual habits can be carried over to spoil sex in marriage.
  • FACT 10: Guilt may push a couple into a bad marriage.
  • FACT 11: Premarital sex robs a couple of “sexual cement.”

Facts are still facts.

My point is simply this: Premarital sex just isn’t smart. There are more disadvantages to premarital sex than what society leads us to believe.

Dr. Short doesn’t preach or moralize, but his conclusions clearly confirm the teachings of the One who invented sex in the first place. Sex was God’s idea.

The Divine Purpose of Sex

Sex is not just a physical, casual, mechanical experience — no matter what Hollywood, Madison Avenue, or your friends want you to believe. It’s very much a mental, emotional, and spiritual experience as well — powerfully bonding two people like no other pleasure in life. And so when it is misused or abused, the pain can be just as devastating.

Therefore, our loving and wise God inspired these five powerful verses:

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
~Hebrews 13:4, ESV

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
~Proverbs 6:32-33, ESV

Flee from sexual immorality [or fornication = sex between people who are not married to each other]. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his [or her] own body.
~1 Corinthians 6:18, ESV

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
~1 Corinthians 7:2, ESV

[NOTE: The only sex approved by God is between a husband and his wife within a marriage. Everything else is called “sexual immorality.”]

For this is the will of God, your sanctification [sanctification means being set apart for sacred use — being different]: that you should abstain from sexual immorality
~1 Thessalonians 4:3

We know that sex can create new life. God intended this power to be used only in marriage, so a child can grow up in the nurturing environment of a secure and stable family — ideally with both parents (a father and a mother).

Therefore, God designed the gift of sex to be an extremely powerful “spiritual glue” to help bond and bind a married couple through all the many challenges of life, especially as they raise a family together.

We’re familiar with the pain and suffering that happens (especially upon the children) when a marriage becomes “unglued” through divorce or separation.

When one or both partners engage in premarital or extramarital sex, marital sex may begin to lose its “specialness” — its bonding force — especially when sex is shared with multiple partners in many casual encounters.

Therefore, the wise King Solomon was inspired by God to write this proverb:

Drink water from your own cistern [a water container; a tank for catching and storing rainwater], and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you.
~Proverbs 5:15-17

[NOTE: These metaphors are referring to the sexual relationship in marriage. It’s special, and should never be shared with “strangers.”]

Sadly, many people in our society just don’t care. Having lost the fear of God and having rejected the authority of the Bible, they’re quite tolerant of sex before (and even outside of) marriage. In fact, some believe every couple should do it. Is it any wonder then, why many marriages today are unhappy and even end in failure?

“Safe Sex” Isn’t Safe. “Protected Sex” Doesn’t Protect.

Here are some of the many risks when sex is misused or abused. Not even “safe sex” or “protected sex” can protect you or keep you safe from most of these:

  • Unplanned pregnancies
  • STDs (including AIDS)
  • A loss of self-respect
  • Depression
  • Heartache
  • Suffering
  • Remorse
  • Betrayal
  • Suicide
  • Shame
  • Guilt

How often do they show these things in most portrayals of premarital (and extramarital) sex on TV and movies today? Are those few, brief moments of pleasure worth a very long time (sometimes a lifetime) of pain and regret?

The only “safe sex” is abstinence before marriage, and faithfulness in marriage.

The Decision Is Yours

After getting all the facts, I made a decision many years ago to save sex for my future wife. Today, we’ve been happily married for over four years now (we were virgins on our wedding day); I still haven’t regretted my decision to wait (and neither has my wife).

It will be tough, but God will help you. His way is the best! You won’t regret it.

I realize that some of you may already have had sex. You may already be facing undesirable consequences. You may be thinking, “This article is not for me.”

Listen, my friend. It’s not too late. You can still turn your life around. God can cleanse your past and forgive any sin, no matter how big. Whether it was your fault or someone else’s fault, God can give you a brand new start!

Like that woman caught in adultery, our Savior doesn’t condemn you (John 8:11). But He says, “Go and sin no more.” May God give you the wisdom, as well as the strength, to choose His way of real pleasure and lasting happiness!

Conclusion: “Sex Is Like a Gift Wrapped in Brown Paper”

There’s a beautiful gift inside this package.
It’s wrapped for protection,
Tied for security.
Stamped: “Fragile!” “Handle with Care!”

It’s easy to loosen the strings,
To let anyone tear away the wrapping,
To give the gift without commitment —
Offer it to the highest bidder,
Or hand it out as a prize for a game.

There’s a gift wrapped inside this brown paper.
It’s for keeps — not to be exchanged.
No deposit. Nonreturnable.
It’s a surprise,
A happy treat to be opened by the person
To whom it’s addressed,
On the date marked “Forever.”

~Ruth Senter