What’s Okay Before Marriage?

Recently, MH posted a poem that included a memory of sexual activity before marriage, though not intercourse. The characters in the tale were an engaged couple only a few days out from their nuptials. MarriageHeat exists to support hot sexuality between married couples, and this couple was married, but remembering back to a time just before the wedding when they “went almost all the way”.

MH has a wide readership that includes unmarried people seeking an idea of what to expect and accept as righteous behavior during dating, courtship, betrothal, and marriage. Please know that MH upholds married sexuality as God’s best for us. Within marriage, we believe anything safe, sane, consensual, and loving between man and wife alone is condoned, even commanded, by Scripture.

That said, there are many, many Christians who believe either that marriage begins at betrothal or that certain acts of a sexual nature are permissible even before betrothal. Of course, that doesn’t mean they are God’s best for us, but they feel those who engage in them shouldn’t be condemned by their fellow Christians since the Bible doesn’t say that such activities are sinful.

Our discussion posts are a place for the MH community to voice their insights, supported by scripture and experience, for the benefit of those questioning what the Bible does and doesn’t allow or encourage. As such, we put forth these questions for your input:

What activities of a sexual nature (and we understand the definition of “sexual in nature” will also vary) do you believe the Bible permits between unmarried persons? What has been your experience as to the level of intimacy allowable versus advisable during the different stages leading up to marriage?


Christians: how does your upbringing in sexual matters compare to how you raise (or plan to raise) your children?

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25 replies
  1. NoahZark says:

    Facts About Bible Erotica

    Please consider the following facts about Song of Songs, a divinely inspired book of the Bible.
    According to the first edition of the New English Bible (NET Bible), which was brave enough to accurately translate this book, the following acts are spoken of approvingly and thus are endorsed:

    1. Love making (1:2)
    2. Manual stimulation of the male (1:12)
    3. Laying with bodies intertwined (1:14)
    4. Oral genital caress of the man (2:3)
    5. Oral genital stimulation of the woman (2:16)
    6. Running hands and mouth over her body (2:17)
    7. Making love, this time on her mother’s bed (3:4). Implies parents teaching or coaching them.
    8. Marriage procession takes place in chapter 3 verse 11!

    So did you notice what has taken place with these two young people before the wedding? There is the implication that they are in a serious relationship and are most likely engaged. But the Bible still permits and even encourages love making, bodies intertwined and laying together, oral stimulation by both of them, manual stimulation, and parental coaching in sexual techniques. Again, all before the wedding!

    Something to consider when someone tries to determine their personal scruples regarding intimate relationships. This also means that if we want to give young people a biblically based sexual education before adulthood, they need to know what these things are and how to do them. They are going to explore and learn it anyway, so make sure they learn it from a biblical perspective and aren’t ashamed about it!

    Blessings,
    Noah

    Footnotes:
    (1:2) Song of Songs 1:2
    “Oh, how I wish youwould kiss me passionately!
    For your lovemaking is more delightfulthan wine.”
    (1:12) Origen, one of the great fathers of the early church, observed that the actual spikenard plant emits its scent only when its hairy stem is rubbed, thus hinting at some erotic connotations.
    (1:14) “henna” – a fragrant bush which grows and intertwines itself among the vines in a vineyard. Their bodies had become intertwined.
    (2:3) “shade,” “fruit,” “apple tree” – all ancient erotic symbols. Extra-biblical literature uses “fruit” and “apples” as a symbol of the male genitals, indicating here an oral genital caress. Biblical endorsement of oral stimulation.
    (2:16) “feeds among the lilies” – refers to kissing some tender part of each other’s bodies. Another biblical endorsement of oral stimulation, specifically of the female.
    (2:17) “upon the mountains of Bether” – run your hands and mouth over the contours of my body.
    (3:4) This is before they are married, and yet the Bible here speaks approvingly of them making love in her mother’s bed.

  2. Gemlin says:

    I've always been a firm believer in two people, who are fully commited to each other before God, and have decided, openly, to each other, that they plan on spending their lives together have already been married in the eyes of God. I know it might not be widely approved (it certainly wasn't amongst most of my Christian friends and family), but it is something I believe strongly.

    My wife and I became sexually active after only month of being together, but I knew after only a couple of weeks I couldn't imagine being with another human being, and the same with her. I wasn't ever planning on commiting to another human being the way I was going to commit to her and vise versa, and so we took the plunge. I have always believed that you didn't need a marriage ceremony and a piece of paper to be married to each other in the eyes of God. All you need is two people who choose each other for life.

    • PatientPassion says:

      Gemlin, I'm actually warm to this argument. I think God is the single most important witness at the marriage ceremony. I also agree that neither a ceremony nor certificate are necessary for a marriage to be real. The biblical account of Adam and Eve doesn't appear to have either of those.

      However, I do think this is still dangerous territory. Without human witnesses to the marriage, we can be much more easily tempted to flake on our commitments. Plus, true marriage is designed to be entered into and experienced in community with others. (I don't have a specific biblical reference for that right now, but that idea is all throughout the Bible and many different Christian writings.) Your community is supposed to know you're married and be able to hold you accountable in your behavior. Proverbs 18:1 is relevant here: "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement."

      And finally, God designed marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church. Because of that, "Let marriage be held in honor among all" (Hebrews 13:4). With that in mind, it shouldn't be a private commitment, but a very open and public one.

      So while I believe you're right that it's the commitment between two people and God that truly makes a marriage, I think it's foolish to let in the dangers that come when the marriage agreement isn't explicit and public.

  3. TPC says:

    Great post MH, especially for this time in history. Here are my thoughts. Marriage is a covenant relationship that creates a unique triune relationship between a man, a woman and the Lord and that serves as an earthly reflection of the mystery that is the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Sex inside of marriage is a holy act that joins the man and woman as one with the full blessing of the Lord. In my understanding a couple must fully commit themselves to this covenant relationship before the Lord before becoming one flesh. Now that still leaves a lot of gray for a serious couple that is moving toward marriage that must be worked out between the couple and the Lord. Concepts that are worth considering in this gray area include one's testimony, one's private relationship with the Lord, showing respect to each other and to one's parents, etc.
    My wife and I dated for six years before we got married right out of college. We had lots of fun making out and got frisker the closer we got to our wedding day. During those years there were times we just enjoyed being in love and other times we confessed to the Lord and to each other that some of our fun might be a bit much and scaled back. The lesson I learned from this tension was that the Lord wants me treat my wife and the freedom and blessing of sex with love, respect, honor and selflessness. The lessons I learned in 6 years of dating still pay dividends after 25 years of marriage.

  4. PatientPassion says:

    First, since the post uses the word "betrothal," I'd like to make sure we don't confuse it with engagement, since they aren't necessarily the same thing. We might use them interchangeably sometimes, but biblical betrothal and modern engagement are very different. Betrothal was a very formal commitment, whereas engagement has no legal power, at least in the US as far as I'm aware.

    Maybe I can eventually lay out a more detailed case, but to briefly state my position, I think the whole list in the poll except for kissing should be off-limits before marriage. Personally I'm even more reserved than that. I'm seriously considering waiting until the wedding day for my first kiss. I wouldn't hold others to quite that strict of a standard, but I also think it's not right, and at the very least unwise, to go beyond kissing. I think even that should wait until the relationship is moving seriously toward marriage.

    I'm just finishing up reading "Not Yet Married" by Marshall Segal, and he makes a good point: you will rarely find a couple who regret setting and upholding strict physical/sexual boundaries, but you can find plenty of couples who regret not doing so. So what if you never felt each other up before the wedding night? So what if you never kissed until the wedding day? Nothing at all has been lost. You have the rest of your lives to explore and practice; there's no benefit in jumping the gun.

    Yes, talk about sex thoroughly to make sure you have the same values and beliefs, especially as engagement and the wedding draw closer. But save the activities for marriage; that's where God meant them to be. Why risk playing with fire in the middle of the living room when you have the fireplace of the marriage covenant that allows that flame to burn hot and wild?

    • SinglePringle says:

      I 100% agree with what you're saying. I too would say that anything more than kissing should be reserved for marriage. I've seen too many engagements break up sadly so I think the excuse "we're engaged so we can go further" is a very poor one.

      I actually wasn't considering waiting until my wedding day before I had my first kiss but now that I've never dated, I'm thinking it's easier to save it rather than engage in that activity. It will make it more special and furthermore, it will throw off a lot of the guys who will try and date me but not respect my boundaries. You have too many situations of guy "claiming" they'll wait but then try and push boundaries.

      I'm not too sure what happens vice versa but that's what I've seen.

  5. HigherQuest says:

    I offered some thoughts on this issue under my Discussion of the permissiveness of open marriages, swinging, and soft swapping. I'll include them here as well…
    __________

    The question about whether it is "ok" with God for engaged couples to either enjoy sex minus intercourse, or sex with intercourse, is one that has been hotly debated for eons. So what I would say here merely represents my best guess since Scripture no where outlines what is sexually permitted prior to marriage and what actually constitutes marriage in God's sight.

    I generally take my cues in this area from what Paul spoke into the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 7:

    1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
    1 Corinthians 7:8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    In this passage we see 8 key words "temptation, sexual immorality, wife, self-control, marry, and burn. I think they answer most of the questions you pose.

    1) Temptation to do what? Sexual immorality. The Greek word for immorality is porneia. Most commentators are in agreement that it certainly covers "intercourse," but whether it extends beyond that to passionate kissing, fondling, oral sex, and anal sex, is less certain. I lean towards believing it covers all of the elements mentioned and not just intercourse, with one potential exception and that would be passionate/french kissing. Therefore couples, even those who are engaged, can commit immorality by overstepping moral bounds and marriage is God's answer for that.

    2) Wife and marry. Both indicate the answer is to take a spouse by marrying them. It seems, from a general study of the biblical concept of marriage, that it includes a few key elements: a formal covenant ritual that includes the presence of others ratifying it, the giving and receiving of gifts, statements of commitment, and culminated by sexual intercourse. I do not think it needs the sanctioning of an Institutional Church, special clergy, or the State. But if a couple in modern America want the benefits the State can confer to their marriage then they need a recognized officiant and a State provided marriage license. Before God those last two elements don't make one more or less married, but I do suspect the previously mentioned elements have merit to them in His presence.

    3. Self Control and Burn. These two speak to the issue, along with the term "immorality" to perhaps increase the scope of what might not be allowed during engagement. Surely having intercourse would describe "a lack of self control," but the word "burning" is very interesting to our consideration. Thayer's lexicon describes burning as – to burn with fire, to set on fire, kindle. Now that sounds like fondling and the other non intercourse related activities. It implies a stimulating process…burning in an increasing way with a full blown fire being intercourse. And, since the way God made humans, once the fire begins to burn it is a common experience to feel almost drunk with sexual passion, and in that drunken state of being, good judgment sooo easily goes out the window and intercourse "just happens…". The next thing the couple experience is "oh no…we just did the deed…now what???" I know some couples seem to be able to do all the other things short of intercourse, but I'm not sufficiently convinced, both by what Paul has said here and the meaning of porneia that he is only talking about intercourse. That's my take on it…

    Moses, in Deuteronomy 22 speaks to a part of the question at hand – 22:28  “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29  then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days."

    What if they did everything except intercourse? Nothing is said here about such a case. The implications of this passage and 1 Corinthians 7 seem to be that sex is for marriage, not betrothal/engagement, but if a couple are going to play with this fire (and according to Deuteronomy violate each other…) then according to Deuteronomy 22 it would seem their attitudes need to be "I fully intend to marry this person, and if our sexual behavior violates God's intention for intercourse being in marriage only we are prepared to get married, especially if she becomes pregnant.

    I think absolute dogmaticism in these areas is something that has sooo characterized Church history in unhealthy ways. I lean towards walking these things out closely before God. After all, why is it He is likely setting standards in these areas? Is it not to avoid wounding the heart of another, possibly damaging them emotionally if they don't end up being one's spouse, perhaps damaged reputations, unwanted pregnancy, etc.? I think the history of premarital "non-intercourse" related sexual history tells us that many people have been significantly wounded by not waiting for all of it until marriage. Can couples heal? Absolutely! But, if wounding can be avoided then it seems the wisest and most loving thing to do.

  6. PacMan says:

    Sorry, but I refuse to type a sermon on something the Bible never addresses. I totally think it’s appropriate for a couple just days or weeks away from the wedding day to have a very deep physical relationship. This didn’t happen, but if I found my FW, and she said her previous relationship ended just one week prior to the wedding… I would *expect* that they engaged with the vast majority of things on this list… if not all of them.

  7. SecondMarge says:

    Certainly everything that can not cause pregnancy is ok before marriage. Whether PIV sex is ok comes down to your personal opinions. A very tiny percentage of marriages involve two virgins. From what I have seen the only difference in if things work out well is when one partner is a virgin and the other is not. We need a much more realistic view on sex. Unless you are making babies it’s just sex. Shouldn’t do this or that merely introduces guilt. Guilt is a negative to marriage and happiness.

    • NoahZark says:

      I agree. Biblically, what mattered was virginity, so unless it was a penis inside of a vagina, it doesn’t meet the definition of “sex”.
      We must also note that the reason for the virginity requirement was that it significantly lowered the bride price her father could get for his daughter. Thus lying about virginity was fraud and punished by death.
      Since we don’t sell our daughters now, how would this even apply?
      For sure, promiscuity is bad. But passages like 1 Corinthians 7 are trying to prevent joining oneself to a temple prostitute, and thus joining with an idol/demon. Somehow a committed, loving couple doesn’t fit either of those scenarios.
      Better to be open and honest rather than have hormone-crazed young singles sneaking around and being unsafe.

    • HigherQuest says:

      NoahZark

      I'll have to admit, when you make the comment "We must also note that the reason for the virginity requirement was that it significantly lowered the bride price her father could get for his daughter. Thus lying about virginity was fraud and punished by death.
      Since we don’t sell our daughters now, how would this even apply?" This touched a nerve in me.

      I know there was clearly a commoditization of women in the OT, and the Deuteronomy 22 passage may be focused on that issue, but when we come to the NT the focus of pre-marital purity seems far more slanted towards the "heart issues" than the "commodity value issues" of a woman.

      This seems so clear in the following passage:

      1Thessalonians 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality (Grk. Porneia); 4  that each one of you know how to control (Grk. Ktaomai) his own body (Grk. Skeuos) in holiness and honor, 5  not in the passion (Grk. Pathos) of lust (Grk. Epithumia) like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6  that no one transgress and wrong (Grk. Pleonekteo) his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 9  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

      Paul’s primary concern is the avoidance of sexual intercourse, but combined with his words in 1 Cor 7, on "burning", it seems clear to me that he was concerned with the courting process that leads up to marriage as well. Here in 1 Thess. 4 he uses some words that are challenging to interpret, given the matters of sexual sin he is addressing.

      Control – Ktaomai. Thayer‘s Definition:1) to acquire, get, or procure a thing for one’s self, to possess, 1a) to marry a wife.

      His own Body – Skeuos. Strong’s Concordance: Of uncertain affinity; a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively [specifically a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband]): – goods, sail, stuff, vessel.

      In other words, a wife was both a valued commodity but a personal treasure of the heart.

      Regarding this word “Body” Adam Clarke has the following to say: "How to possess his vessel – Let every man use his wife for the purpose alone for which God created her, and instituted marriage. The word Skeuos answers to the Hebrew Keli, which, though it signifies vessel in general, has several other meanings. That the rabbins frequently express wife by it, Schoettgen largely proves; and to me it appears very probable that the apostle uses it in that sense here. St. Peter calls the wife the weaker Vessel, 1Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel-skeuos, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.  Others think that the body is meant, which is the vessel in which the soul dwells. In this sense St. Paul uses it, 2Cor 4:7 : We have this treasure in earthen Vessels; and in this sense it is used by both Greek and Roman authors. There is a third sense which interpreters have put on the word. The general sense is plain; purity and continency are most obviously intended, whether the word be understood as referring to the wife or the husband, as the following verse sufficiently proves."

      I strongly lean towards seeing Paul telling his readers that they are to avoid fornication by “acquiring a wife / marrying a wife”. This is not the first time he has expressed his belief that God’s way of avoiding fornication is to get married – see 1Corinthians 7:2  But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

      The phrase, “not in the passion- Grk. Pathos of lust – Grk. Epithumia”

      How does one avoid fornication?
      1) By marrying a wife.
      2) He doesn’t do it by exercising the burning passion of sexual lust. This is a parallel concept to what Jesus referred to in Matthew 5:27,28. Just as Jesus is saying that a married man must be sooo careful to avoid covetous lust (Grk. Epithumia) for his neighbors wife, so here in 1 Thessalonians Paul is saying that God’s protection from covetous lust is the acquiring of a wife. This means that a godly unmarried man faces the reality of his sexual desires and realizes he is never going to be successful at avoiding fornication unless he gets married, and the married man is never going to be able to avoid adultery unless he controls his mind by focusing on sex with his own wife. Thus, a great sex life is God’s way of preventing both fornication and adultery.

      Adam Clarke, in commenting on the phrase “wrong (Grk. pleonekteo) his brother” says the following: "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother – That no man should by any means endeavor to corrupt the wife of another, or to alienate her affections or fidelity from her husband; this I believe to be the apostle’s meaning, though some understand it of covetousness, overreaching, tricking, cheating, and cozenage in general."

      The word Pleonekteo means: Strong’s Concordance – to be covetous, that is, (by implication) to over reach: – get an advantage, defraud, make a gain. Thayer’s Definition:1) greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice.

      Therefore, Paul is talking to both single men and married men. He is warning single men that the best remedy for burning and fornication is to get married, and the best remedy for adultery in marriage is each married man to develop a strong and vibrant sex life with his wife. Why? Because otherwise as a single man having sex with a man’s wife he is fornicating and corrupting her, and if he does it as a married man he corrupting another man’s wife by committing adultery with her. Either way, the man who is married to the object of either the single man’s lust or the married man’s lust, is going to have his wife corrupted if that man doesn’t control himself. Marriage and great sex in marriage is God’s remedy for lustful/covetous sexual passions.

      When a man fails in this area his primary sin is against God and secondarily he sins against his brother. Either way…he is in HUGE trouble with God.

      Some have said that this passage in Thessalonians even extends to the future wife of the brother who is at risk of being defrauded. In other words, if a single man or a married man fornicates with a single woman he is not only wounding her heart but also the heart of the man she will one day marry. I think it is entirely possible Paul’s words can be taken in this manner also. Sexual immorality all comes down to loving people as God wants them to be loved. In this case love is shown by protecting the wife of another man.

      Therefore this passage is exhorting the single man to manage his sexual desires so that he doesn’t have intercourse with a woman who is not his wife. If he has intercourse with her before she marries he has wounded her and her future husband. If he has intercourse with her after she has married another man he wounds her and her husband. In both scenarios love is to dictate the sexual behavior of a horny man and cause him to resist the temptation of sex outside marriage.

      So, whereas in Deuteronomy 22 it is possible that what we are seeing is the damaging of a father’s daughter as his commodity of future income from marrying her off, here in 1 Thessalonians 4 the focus is far more on the issue of love, both for the woman involved and her husband. And, if this is true of fornicative intercourse when we combine what Paul says here with what he said in Corinthians 7, regarding “sexual burning” prior to marriage, it is reasonable to conclude that his concerns went beyond just fornicative intercourse. He was just as concerned with the steps of burning that lead up to such intercourse (fondling, oral sex, etc.). If in the OT a woman is a father’s commodity that is sold and rights to her are transferred to her future husband, in the NT era the issue may still include an element of commodity, but in the Thessalonians passage the issue is much more slanted towards the principle of a “protecting love.” – 9  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,…

      So, while I respect your understanding of the Deuteronomy passage I'm concerned it fails to acknowledge the truths of 1 Thessalonians 4.

    • PatientPassion says:

      HigherQuest, even though it was long, your comment here was worth reading! You make some good points, and though I probably didn't understand all of them fully, I think they were solidly based. Thank you for your insight!

      And in response to SecondMarge, I would respectfully say this: just because a tiny number of people achieve the ideal doesn't mean we should stop striving for it, or stop teaching it as the ideal. Yes, biblical standards are often murky and make it difficult to draw clear boundaries, but we should never just shrug them off and go by our own standards instead.

      And yes, while guilt is a negative emotion that does corrode happiness and marriage, there are certainly things we SHOULD feel guilty about. Again, it requires tireless discernment, not a shrug as we dismiss every instance of guilt as illegitimate and baseless.

  8. SinglePringle says:

    I think because this is such a "grey" area, you need to know what works for you and what you are willing to accept from your spouse. I would say if you can't accept your future spouse having done some of those things, you also shouldn't be doing those things before marriage.

    However I know for me, if a guy had done more than kissing with his ex, I'd be pretty upset about that because I believe anything more than that should be saved for marriage. Maybe the odd touch or grope but nothing more than that. I'd feel cheated because I would like us to experience all of those things together.

    I think engaging in things like oral sex is playing yourself. If saving your virginity is important to you, yet you feel comfortable engaging in an activity that has the word sex in it, I'd question the morals and reasoning behind why you're waiting and why you think it's appropriate to engage in sexual activities before marriage. There are a lot of people who want to wait until they are married, but have oral sex or do some of the other things on the list. When they break up, they realise that they have, in fact, created a bond or soul-tie with that person which they then have to deal with before they get married.

    I'd be pretty upset to know that he had been so intimate with someone like that. I think because people count virginity as a technicality thing so just PIV, they want to know what they can get away with rather than practice self-control and respect for their future marriage (I personally believe if you do a lot of these things, you aren't respecting your future marriage and just chasing after your lustful desires). Again, engagements aren't a guarantee of marriage. I think I saw somewhere that 20-30% of engagements break-off. By saying you can do some of this stuff during engagement only for it to break off because you hope that you'll both make it to the alter is risky.

    For me, I define virginity as someone who hasn't engaged in an activity that includes another person's genitals and/or that has the potential ability to bring you or another person to orgasm. This is because, once you are involved in activities that cross those lines, they create intimacy and bonds between two people.

    I would say a lot of people are virgin* and that some of these activities are sexual but do not constitute loss of virginity. However, I do believe that if the aim is to know what you can and cannot do before marriage, are you really trying to make it to the altar a virgin or are you just trying to see what you can get away with? In other words, have your cake and eat it. There are too many people trying to do that nowadays, and that's rather disappointing. This mentality is often what leads people to go further than they initially intended. Again, there are many people who regret losing their virginity or doing activities like in the list with people that they aren't married to in comparison to those who abstained from those activities, and normally, they don't regret waiting. With that in mind, clearly God knows what he's talking about when he says to flee sexual immorality, not just PIV sex.

    To define PIV as the only non-okay activity to not do before marriage seems naive to me. Now I believe, as everyone on this site does, that marriage is between a man and a woman as God intended it. However, if a person is homosexual, they would define sex or the loss of virginity as either oral/anal sex for men and fingering/oral sex for women. If that is the case, then clearly those acts are intimate enough between those people to create a bond that keeps them together. You wouldn't say that they aren't having sex (or that they are still virgins) just because they have never put a penis in a vagina (for men) or they have never been penetrated (for women). They also wouldn't define themselves as virgins either. For me, this is where a lot of the arguments people have, to do the activities above, fall flat on their face because clearly they are intimate and should be reserved for a married couple.

    There are also couples who don't engage in oral sex because that's too intimate. So why have we cheapened it to something that is okay outside of marriage when in certain cases, it can be more intimate that PIV sex because you are literally putting someone's genitals in your mouth?

    This is why God asks us to flee sexual immorality, not just PIV sex in particular. Sexual immorality is the issue here, which we have been called to avoid. Any sexual activity with another person that you are not married to I believe falls into this arena. Therefore a lot of the activities listed, I believe would fall into this category.

  9. HeSaid-SheSaid says:

    NoahZark mentioned here already that what mattered Biblically was virginity. I'm not so sure, was that a Biblical standard, or a cultural standard mentioned in the Bible? Even so, people get fixated on technical virginity. To lose ones virginity normally begins with 1st base, so I say that losing ones virginity is a process that ends with orgasm, and that doesn't have to include penetration. Heck, orgasm can be obtained from kissing alone. So the question is, do you want to play with fire???

    It seems people want to make excuses that allow them to get it on before marriage. I mean, what is the hurt in waiting??? There is none. So just be honest with yourself and keep your hands off of each other. There will be plenty of time for that after you say 'I do'.

    From my own personal experience, if I could go back in time and stop myself from even kissing my wife, I would. Our relationship was too physical way too soon, and that complicated matters for us before and after marriage. If we had self control, and instead learned to truly love and appreciate each other without the pressures of sexual burning, I believe we could have seen in ourselves better the issues we each had prior to marriage. If we had identified those issues, we could have worked on them much sooner and prepared ourselves for a better marriage. But as it sits, we were quite physical and that distracted us from getting to know each other better in other ways. Our marriage has suffered greatly as a result of our blindness and lust for each other in our dating years.

    • PatientPassion says:

      I fully agree, HeSaid-SheSaid! I believe there is really no harm, and only benefit in waiting. As I said earlier, couples should definitely discuss sexual matters to make sure their values and expectations align. They should make THAT the way they explore their sexual relationship; save the acts for the place God designed them to be!

      I left this out of my original comment, but I was going to make a point like yours that putting too much focus on sexual things too early in the relationship can prevent the two future spouses from getting to know each other as well as they should. Thank you for sharing that caution from your experience with us!

    • HigherQuest says:

      HeSaid-SheSaid

      Thanks for your transparency about premarital sex. I'll agree 100% with you, and share here that because we too took far too many sexual liberties while dating we both believe it contributed to a psychological block to her being able to orgasm after marriage. It literally took her decades to work through it. We knew we were doing wrong but we did it anyway, and while she never consciously harbored resentment towards me we think it had a negative neural imprinting in her brain through the guilt process and it took her years to resolve and move on from that guilt. Now she is super orgasmic but for a long time it was a cause of great sadness for both of us.

    • HeSaid-SheSaid says:

      HigherQuest
      That sounds like my wife too. Lots of guilt and hard to orgasm. The neural imprinting is huge, but our brains can be re-written, it just takes time and understanding and TRUTH. Sexually my wife is coming around slowly, but she also has an abusive childhood to heal from as well.

  10. Sarge says:

    Kissing is fine, and the closer you get to the wedding date you can discuss the go and no goes when you’re wed. But, I don’t think it’s wrong to fantasize about your future spouse and have solo Masturbation. By reading MH you can get some idea of what you’ll want to add to your married sex tool box.
    I would avoid even French kissing because of the temptations it may lead too. My late wife and I pushed the boundaries by French kissing and taking liberties one by one until we had to just stop French kissing. But I sure enjoyed my imaginations of what we would do after we married, and jacked off frequently. Once we married it was all a go, except anal, neither of us wanted that. But that was just us.

  11. HigherQuest says:

    In continuing to ponder the question this discussion poses, another passage of Scripture appears to me to expand on Paul's discussion of "burning passion" and its affects.

    Listen to John in the book of Revelation address the inebriating aspects of sex:

    Revelation 17:2  with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 

    The way God made the brain and the affects of sexual hormones, those who begin to stir sexual passions, like one stirring a fire in a wood stove, or like one sipping too much wine, will likely find their brains reaching a stage of burning passion like one drunk, that they lose control of their behavior and progress towards intercourse without being able to stop it at some point. I’m not saying that I think sexual fondling should be called “sin”, since the Bible no where says fondling short of intercourse is fornication or sin (as Southernmost aptly corrected me on), but I do think it is playing with fire and wrong, foolish, and dangerous. Couples shouldn’t be surprised that they end up fornicating having given themselves to the wine of their drunken passions…

    I'm aware that some here believe the term "fornicating" only refers to sex with a temple prostitute in Apostolic discussion, but I'm not convinced that is an accurate limitation of understanding for this word. Intercourse outside of marriage appears to my study as covering temple prostitution but also other acts of sinful intercourse beyond just temple prostitution.

  12. HigherQuest says:

    There seems to be something else that needs to be said, as regards the question being considered here, and that relates to what Southernmost has said “It is really important to not call things ‘sin’ that are not anywhere in Scripture called sin, but at most might be considered ‘unwise, dangerous, and foolish.’

    My concern in this area is that some Christian web articles either directly or indirectly teach that giving in to these temptations represent “full immorality” and that full immorality will result in removal from the Kingdom and an eternity in Hell. It is this kind of extreme teaching that completely overstates the issues, implies things about God that are untrue, and ultimately does more damage to believers than any good. Legalism is often marked by excessive fear oriented exhortations and in my many years of pastoring, counseling, and talking with believers, such legalism has done more to create sexual bondages in their lives than to set them free.

    Those who teach that masturbation, using any form of erotic media, and sexual touching before marriage can cause a believer to end up in Hell unless they quickly repent and not return to these things, are not correct in their assertions. I’m as close to 100% certain they are completely wrong about this as I can be, and my prayer is that they will themselves repent of such false teachings and publicly rescind them online.

    So, if you are not currently married and you are being tempted to sexually touch the one you are dating or moving towards marriage with here’s how I would address you, if you came to me for counsel, “I believe you do well to avoid all sexual touching before marriage, but if you fail you are not going to be kicked out of the Kingdom, you are not going to go to Hell because of it, Jesus still loves you, will answer your prayers, bless your life, and want to walk closely with you. He will lead you away from such sexual behaviors, but not by hanging you over the fires of Hell to do so. You may very well experience some uncomfortable consequences for your behavior, but one of them will not be Hell.” I realize, in the broader scope of things what I think or how I would counsel such a person may not be of any great significance in the Kingdom…I’m just one man with strong beliefs in this area, but I’d rather speak for avoiding defining God as some kind of out of touch and cruel Being than to teach things I believe do more damage than good in the end. Legalism is a killer! I’ve seen it cause sexual obsessions to develop, ruined marriages, unnecessary divorces, and depression, and that depression has led many to commit suicide. I don’t want to be anywhere near those men and women when they pass into Heaven because I think it will be a very uncomfortable moment for each of them when they realize “Oh my God…you are almost nothing like I portrayed you to be…I’m sooo sorry Lord, and I’m sooo sorry for how I hurt believers with my legalistic false teaching.” I’m sure Jesus will put His arms around them, comfort them in their sorrow and express His forgiveness, but it will be a real moment for them…

    If saying this offends any here it is not my intention to offend you…simply to gently warn you that there are some pretty serious consequences for false teaching, and I'm well aware there are many who would consider me to be a false teacher myself. I'm prepared to be considered so, given the amount of time, study, and prayer I've given to the subjects we discuss here at MH. It's my prayer that millions and millions of believers worldwide will visit MH and be encouraged by each of you here. There is sooo much confusion out there about sexual matters and most of the counsel I've read here represents true hope for sexual health and healing of personal lives and marriages. God bless MH in this role to the nations…

  13. Waiting Hardly says:

    [Comment relocated from a similar post called "Growing Up." https://marriageheat.com/2020/06/03/growing-up/ ] In the OT, the laws specify that it is virginity that was required of the bride, and that meant she could not have had intercourse before. So what you did, in the legal sense, was not sex so not forbidden. And since you were betrothed at the time, even that was not off-limits if you married and never divorced. The reason for the ban at the time was that she would not fetch as high a bride price when she married. That’s why when an unmarried couple did have sex, the man had to pay her father the full price so he wasn’t cheated out of the money. We don’t sell brides anymore, right? I know I’m probably a minority opinion, but what is forbidden was prostitution and promiscuity. But study it for yourself.

  14. SecondMarge says:

    Definition of what sex is? Complicated subject.

    Virgin originally defined as “young girl” meaning not have bled yet. After that, they were available for sex. But as you state a female that had not had sex brought a higher price. At the time of Jesus, no one anticipated people waiting until their 20’s or 30’s. Selling daughters to royal wealthy men like Solomon was compensation for not having a son who could work in the fields or get a job.

    The beliefs on remaining untouched until marriage came centuries later. The war against sex that occurred in the Catholic Church gave us all kinds of negative feelings and guilt about sex that God never intended.

    • Waiting Hardly says:

      SecondMarge, I totally agree. What is condemned is cult temple prostitution, or any prostitution for that matter, and promiscuity. Sex does not equal lust, and lust it’s not always about sex. When we take the Scriptures out of the original place of context in history we come up with things like the prohibitions better taught today, and the harmful parts of so-called purity culture. If the couple was engaged, they could have sex and even live together. One can only wonder what harm we have done two generations of young people by having them fight against rather than manage effectively the way God designed their bodies.

  15. 1blessedman says:

    For clarity, i suggest folks do their own research as others present what is claimed as “facts”. Point # 1 of the first comment suggests the factual translation of the Hebrew word means lovemaking. Maybe some empirical evidence to substantiate this claim would help. Interestingly the NET is in the minority for such a translation versus the word love. The other point above to be scrutinized is point #7. I can not find anywhere that the Hebrew words specifically indicate a bed versus bedroom. Actually the Hebrew words literally mean darkened room with suggestive understanding by individual contexts. You can find all of these words in Strong’s translational works. We translators must always be careful not to force our own desires upon the texts we translate. The noted translations from the NET are questionable and seem to be a translational hope versus a translator following the etymological evidence.

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