Is Sex Outside of Marriage Acceptable?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to respond to a young lady who was looking for some biblical advice about her dating relationship.  There is a lot of discussion about this subject in Christian circles.  While there are some points on which good people can legitimately arrive at different conclusions, there are other points on which there can be little debate.  The issue of pre-marital or extra-marital sex is one about which the Scriptures speak clearly.

What the Bible Says About Sex Outside of Marriage

God has designed sexual activity to take place within the context of marriage. This is made clear by the Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 7:2.  He says, “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” In this verse, Paul explains that marriage is the “cure” for sexual immorality.  He acknowledges that people find it difficult to control their sexual passions and urges them to marry so that their passions can be righteously fulfilled.

Because 1 Corinthians 7:2 includes sex outside of marriage in its definition of “sexual immorality,” all of the Bible verses that condemn sexual immorality apply.  There are numerous Scriptures that declare sex before marriage to be sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7).

What This Means in Your Life

This does not mean that those who have previously engaged in extra-marital sex cannot be forgiven.  They can be forgiven because the blood payment that Christ made on the cross was sufficient to cover all sins.  It does, however, mean that those who claim the name of Christ must refrain from all sexual activity—regardless of feeling, sentiment, or motive—outside of bonds of marriage.   Sex is intended to be a blessing and a benefit of the marriage covenant, and God has ordained that all sexual activity be carried out within the context of a loving relationship between a husband and his wife (Hebrews 13:4).

Trey Garner
Trey Garner is the Pastor of Children's Ministries at Faith Church. He has been married to his wife Deb since 2001. They have two children named Noah and Lauren. Originally from Texas, Trey appreciates barnwood, armadillos, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.