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Avoiding Pre-Marital Sex

By Reese Currie

How do you keep yourself from committing the sin of pre-marital sex? In the article Is Pre-Marital Sex Always a Sin? it is proved that pre-marital sex is certainly identified as a sin in the Bible. It is in fact a very serious sin. In 1Cor. 6:9,10 it is ranked with a number of other sins that are identified as being signs that a person is going to hell.

There are really two different kinds of people I want to address with this article. First, those who have never committed an act of pre-marital sex, but are still unmarried and at risk of doing so. Second, those who, while naming the Name of Christ, have committed an act of pre-marital sex and are trying to repent. I believe both sections are worth reading for those who have stumbled.

To Those Who Have Not Stumbled

If you have not stumbled into pre-marital sex, you have done well. However, do not rely on past success as a certainty that you will not stumble in the future. You must remain vigilant against the possibility. The number one thing you need to look out for is spiritual pride, the belief that because you have not stumbled in a certain way, you never will. The fact is, sin has a way of sneaking up on you while you are off-guard.

Take inventory of your spiritual condition and watch for issues that may seem subtle. When King David stumbled into sin with Bathsheba, the problem began subtly. In his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris describes how King David descended into sin step by step. Writes Harris, "David's plunge into sin didn't occur in a single leap. Like every journey into sin, David's journey into iniquity began with an almost imperceptible movement away from God."(1)

If you are in good spiritual shape, you will find there are a number of bad decisions needed to get you from the point of being strong against sin to the point of committing such serious sin. Watch out for the signs! Are you lonely, depressed, or dissatisfied with your life? Do you spend a lot of time in introspection? Have you found church attendance is becoming less important to you? Small things - but potentially symptomatic of larger spiritual problems.

The other major thing to watch out for, if you are a virgin, is mystification with sex. Sex is highly promoted by the media as the cure-all for every ailment. It is the life goal of the characters in many popular television shows; it is what many popular musicians dwell on in their songs. If you haven't "done it" you will naturally wonder what you're missing.

If your curiosity gets the better of you, you will realize all you are missing is a severe amount of emotional pain. People who have pre-marital sex with you are using you to perform a biological function, no differently than they would with, say, toilet paper. In the end, you will be discarded, just like toilet paper is flushed. You have the privilege of knowing forever after that you mean as much as toilet paper to the other person.

To Those Who Have Stumbled

Not only will you need to deal with the fact you have been used by another person, but more importantly, you have severely damaged your relationship with God by rebelling against His authority in your life. If you are actually a saved person, this will lead to chastening by the Holy Spirit. This chastening can be extremely painful; if your lust is strong enough to make you sin, your chastening will need to be stronger to prevent you from sinning. If you find your lustful feelings are strong, then you must realize how bad you will feel when chastening from the Holy Spirit will come upon you even stronger.

I believe, and a lot of other people believe, that if you really believe in Jesus Christ, you have already been predestined to be saved. That does not mean "you can sin all you want and not lose your salvation." It does mean you cannot lose your salvation, but you certainly can't sin all you want. If you are saved, God has predestined that you will conform to His will. The compulsion to obey God will prove stronger than the compulsion to sin. He will use whatever amount of force is necessary to achieve this obedience in your life. If you attempt to resist this process, God has more force than you do and you will be compelled to comply.

It is important to understand that if you really are saved, your obedience to God is inevitable. So, you must realize there is no option to continue in sexually immoral relationships; they will inevitably fail. If you are saved, you will not be able to continue in them. The conviction from the Holy Spirit will be too strong.

This conviction may lead you to believe God does not love you anymore and you are no longer saved. In fact, many churches teach this as doctrine. Satan will certainly be whispering this doctrine in your ear, since he is the author of it. It flies in the face of Biblical doctrine. The people in the world experience sorrow for their actions at times, but they never really change. They never have that change in heart about their actions; they may behave differently to avoid social problems in this world, but their sorrow does not lead to repentance, which is a true change of heart and mind about sin.

The Bible contrasts the two kinds of sorrow in 2Cor. 7:9-11:
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

The difference between the sorrows is that those in the world are "convicted" only by societal mores, while we as Christians are convicted by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:8 says, "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (KJV). This chastisement you have received for sin is not proof you are not saved; it is proof you are saved.

Understanding this is really critical to understanding that you can recover from the sin of fornication. If you were to try to recover from sin believing you were an "unsaved" person, you would not be successful, because the unsaved do not have Jesus Christ to help them. As Jesus Himself said, "I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

You may have asked yourself, "Is it even possible for a believer to commit a sin like this?" Of course! The whole New Testament was written to believers; if believers were unable to sin in this way, why would it contain so many references to avoiding fornication? Why did the writers of the New Testament warn what a devastating effect sexual sin has on a person's relationship with God, if the offender did not have a relationship with God? But a Christian will not be able to continue in the sin.

In Gal 5:19-21, "fornication" is listed among a list of sins of which "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (v.21). The word "practice" is a present participle which indicates a continual or habitual action. So an unbeliever can "habitually practice" fornication. A Christian, on the other hand, can commit the sin of fornication but will eventually and inevitably need to repent and turn away from it. A believer simply can not perpetuate sin.

1John 1:9 notes, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You have to not only repent of sin, but you have to repent and believe. Believe that God will forgive you your sin when you confess it.

One of the problems with sexual sin is that it is a natural instinct to want more sex. It is our reproductive drive. I am sorry to have to say you will continue to have sexual urges, and you may think that means you have not turned your back on the sin. The sexual urges are natural and will not go away, unless you have the gift of celibacy. Nevertheless, if you can honestly say to yourself that you do not want to have sex outside of marriage any longer, and have demonstrated that by stopping, you have repented.

Now, to use Nancy Reagan's phrase, you need to "Just Say No!" This thought is an echo of the Bible, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Do not be deceived on one important thing. It is not that important to God if you can resist having sex under the most extreme circumstances. It is more important to God that you avoid the circumstances. Some who do not understand that avoidance is good enough think they need to be strong enough to resist the temptation under any circumstances. These people "test" themselves by allowing themselves to get into tempting situations to see if they can resist.

To put that kind of thinking in another perspective, you should then swerve your car into oncoming traffic to prove it is strong enough to withstand the impact, rather than avoiding the oncoming traffic by staying in your own lane. When put in this perspective, you can easily see how stupid the very concept is, nevertheless, many people believe that way about sin. There is nothing dishonorable about admitting that you need to avoid circumstances that may lead you into sin.

If you do not have the gift of celibacy, it may be important for you to find a good marriage partner and settle down. You may wonder if it is just to do so, since you have prior sexual experience. I have puzzled over the question of whether it is just for a person who has had sex to marry another person. My answer finally came from 1Cor. 7:2. In the American Standard Version (ASV), the verse reads, "But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband."(2)

The KJV reads "to avoid fornication," but the ASV is more literal in translating it as "because of fornications." That would certainly imply the possibility of sexual experience prior to marriage. The answer to end fornication permanently is to be faithfully married. Of course, marriage is not a step to be undertaken lightly, and there are obviously a lot more aspects to it than sex. Getting a match can be very difficult. The point is, you still have the option to marry even though you have committed a sexual sin.

Avoidance From Now Until Marriage

I think the first, most important thing is that you stick to Christians for dating partners, and then, only Christians who agree with you (and God) that pre-marital sex is wrong. Be honest with yourself: It is entirely possible that one of you may falter and want sex. You need to be with someone who is reliable enough to prevent you if you should. You also have to be a person who will prevent your partner in case your partner experiences a moment of weakness. It takes two to sin, but it really only takes one to resist sin. If you find yourself always putting the brakes on for your partner, it may indicate a lack of compatibility and a need to break off the relationship.

I would also say that it is important not to avoid closeness with a dating partner. I think a lot of pre-marital sex happens in this world when simple hugging or holding each other would do the important task of communicating closeness and intimacy. However, sex itself is a level of intimate communication that cannot be allowed without first communicating your unswerving loyalty to one another through marriage.

In the meantime, not physically expressing the closeness you feel with another person may cause a buildup that leads to an "out of control" situation, so I think it is good to express that closeness to the proper degree. Just ensure that the physical expression matches the degree of commitment of the relationship.

Do not get caught in the worldly lie that you may not be sexually compatible with your marriage partner and have to try the person out before you get married. The very idea of "trying someone out" implies that you will get rid of the other person if you find the person's performance dissatisfying. It implies a total lack of commitment. Would you treat someone you claim to love like toilet paper? Should you deal with that other person the way you would a harlot (see Genesis 34:31)?

Firmly avoid situations in which you could easily fall into sin. Do not engage in situations in which one person handles the other person's erogenous zones, whether or not through clothing. Keep your thoughts and intentions pure. If you find yourself in a tricky situation, call on Jesus immediately; make a conscious effort not to hide what you are doing from Jesus. He sees it anyway! So bring Him into the situation by calling for Him and just watch how quickly the problem goes away.

In Conclusion

If you engage in pre-marital sex, you will have lost something irrevocably, that is, the state of virginity you could have offered a marriage partner. It is a very bad trade to make. If you have made this mistake already, you will have to live with whatever consequences come your way. However, you can confess the sin to God and repent of it, and continue in your Christian walk.

The way to continue as a Christian is to pick yourself up the same way David did in Psalm 51. I will not quote the entire Psalm here, but leave you to read it in your own Bible. But to summarize, David first acknowledges he has sinned and asks for forgiveness. Then, he asks God to repair his heart and spirit, and asks for deliverance from guilt. Finally, David pledges to God his continued worship, both in teaching others and in singing praises to the Lord. I suggest reading Psalm 51 aloud, prayerfully, and meditating upon His Word.

Finally, recognize that sin is the result of self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. To quote Baptist preacher W.A. Criswell, "Whenever 'I' becomes more important than God, sin has moved in."(3) Ask God to point out the spiritual problems in your life that led to this return to self-centeredness. Make a list of them and prayerfully learn how to resolve them. Don't believe the Devil's lie that you cannot recover from having committed this kind of sin. King David repented and recovered, and so can you.

As Mathew Henry comments, "When we have faithfully put away sin, that accursed thing, which separates between us and God, then, and not till then, we may expect to hear from God to our comfort; and God's directing us how to go on in our Christian work and warfare, is a good evidence of his being reconciled to us."(4)

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light


The links below are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million.

All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
1) Harris, Joshua. I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Sisters, Oregon: Questar Publishers Inc.), 1997. Note: For an interesting study, read this book along with I Gave Dating a Chance - A Biblical Perspective to Balance the Extremes, by Jeramy Clark.
2) American Standard Version (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson & Sons, Inc.), 1901.
3) Criswell, W.A. ed. The Believer’s Study Bible (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 1991.
4) Matthew Henry commenting on Joshua 8:1. Mathew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Nashville; Thomas Nelson), reprinted, 1979.

Avoiding Pre-Marital Sex. Copyright 1999 by Reese Currie.

The above article was posted on this Web site October 1, 1998.

Ethics, Spirituality, Christian Life
Pre-Marital Sex: Ethics, Spirituality, Christian Life

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