Throughout the latter part of last century there was a lot of “legalism” in the church. There are many different kinds of legalism, but I am referring to the kind which adds laws to God‘s laws.
Many churches, pastors, and Christians started to move away from this in the new millennia. Again I’m not specifically talking about moving away from God‘s law itself, but man-made laws which are added to God‘s laws.
This benefit was that Christians were able to see man-made laws for what they were. In many ways they were going back to Scripture and discarding laws and rules that God did not call them to. This was a more pure form of Christianity.
Something happened in the middle of all of that which should be a concern. As we were spring cleaning the man made laws, a couple of God‘s laws got bundled up with them and tossed out. Some of this came out of pure convenience for people and others came through people attempting to use their own logic to figure out God‘s laws on their own.
Interestingly enough, this same avenue led them to create extra man-made laws and pretend that they were God’s laws. They took the same route as the legalist and threw out some of God‘s laws as if they were man’s rules.
This is what happens when we don’t go back to Scripture. We must study it and take time deciphering what it really says. Only then will we truly be able to follow in the steps of Jesus.
One of the area that changed within the Christian mindset over the last couple decades and was placed into the dumpster was Christian marriage. By that I don’t mean that Christians were no longer married, what I mean is that people could call themselves Christians who no longer believed that you needed to be married to have sex or live together.
It’s easy to see how so many things have changed within modern churches. People looked at how things changed, from what used to be called sin, and were now labeled, not only as not sinful, but good. Take how some areas of music or how people dressed at church changed. Some hastily assume that the old rule of not having sex unless you’re married to someone seems like it might have been one of those man-made archaic ideas which no longer apply.
But this is not the case with premarital sex. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” This is pretty strong and straightforward. The idea is simply that you only share your bed with the one you are married to only.
If God gives us a command, we should easily follow that command. I also believe that it’s good to have the answer of why God commands such things, making it easier to follow. In many ways God is trying to protect us from ourselves.
Sex is and should be a very personal and emotional part of a marriage. It is something that unites us to another human unlike anything else. If we enter into a sexual encounter of any kind, even once, we we are sharing part of ourselves that should be only shared with one person.
Since God created us as humans he understands us best. He is trying to protect us. When we share intimacy with somebody else we are not married to and the relationship ends, we have emotionally damaged ourselves and the other person.
Now it’s not that people never get divorced and remarried. But think of it as your housing arrangement. There are different levels of commitment you have depending on your contract. Do you have an apartment that’s month by month in rent, yearly lease of an apartment, a place that you own, or do you have your own house with a mortgage? What is the higher level of commitment in this scenario?
This is marriage. Marriage is the highest level of commitment. Engagement has much more commitment than dating, but can be broken off without any legal ramifications. But to end a marriage requires much more legal and social actions.
There is something important for us to know about not having premarital sex, and it is not just about the logic in the level of commitment or the issues that plague us from an ended commitment. The marriage commitment is based on something far larger than legal obligation. For the Christian it is actually based on the gospel of Jesus Christ. If there is a direct correlation between salvation in the gospel of Jesus and marriage, then that is the highest level of argument for saving sexual encounters only with in a God-given marriage.
In Ephesians 5:22-33 we see how the apostle Paul explains how marriage is like the gospel. He sets up the sacrificial loving husband and the respectful solo wife as a dynamic duo. Paul talks about marriage in this passage and then we use the message of salvation in and out of it.
He says that the commitment Jesus has made to us in salvation is much like the commitment a husband and wife make to one another. We know from scripture that once Jesus saves us from our sins and makes us his child that he will never break off that commitment.
So in the same way God wants us to only commit to him and no other false gods. Paul is setting up an argument saying that he wants us to only be committed to one other person in marriage. But it actually gets deeper than that.
In the beginning of the book of Ephesians in chapter 1 we see in verse 14 that when we become a Christian the Holy Spirit is used to seal us. In many ways he is the wedding ring or the marriage license of our salvation between us in Christ.
Ironically, we actually can look to Jesus’s birth to tie into and what seals a marriage. We know that Jesus was born of Mary who was a virgin. The Bible it actually tells us when Mary and Joseph had sex, which was after Jesus was born and they married.
Matthew 1:25 tells us that they did not “Consummate their marriage“ (NIV), until after Jesus was born. If we looked through Scripture we see that what we would call the honeymoon was actually part of the marriage ceremony. This is not to say that people consummated their marriage in front of others, but it was considered part of the unifying of those two people.
In many ways the act of sex is a sealing of a marriage. Once it is past the legal and ceremonial, sex is the final binding of a marriage. It is that which consummates a marriage. If it does this, then how does sex outside of marriage affect a non-marital relationship?
This is why having sex only with the one you’re married to you is so important. For the Christian, marriage is a representation of the gospel. Just like the gospel, marriage has a covenant agreement and sealing. Ephesians 5 tells us that a godly marriage illustrates the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So when you hear that Christians still take marriage seriously, and are still against premarital sex, it goes beyond just what would be considered an archaic tradition. Emotionally and physically it is for our own good. It protects us for what a great marriage will be down the road.
But much larger than that a godly healthy marriage is a representation and illustration of what happens when God saves us through Jesus Christ. He does not ask us to pretend we desire a relationship with him and commit ourselves to only part of that relationship. He calls us to a full and real salvation which is a covenant and sacred and will never be broken.
So what should you do if you are in a premarital sexual relationship? I think the answer lies exactly with what Jesus told the adulterous woman in John 8:11. Jesus calls her out, and then she asked how she should live. He simply says, “go and sin no more.”
So for some it may mean breaking off your relationship. Teenagers who are involved in premarital sex who have no interest in marrying should end that relationship.
For those believing that the one they are in a sexual relationship with currently is the one who they will definitely marry, marry them now. Seal the deal with a sacred covenant between you, God, and a witness. Find a pastor or if need be a justice of the peace that will marry you. Make an official covenant between you and your future spouse and then consummate the marriage.
I realize that this is actually a large topic which cannot be covered in one single blog post. What are the pitfalls of moving in with somebody that you were not married to? If you have children, and they see you living with someone you were not married with what are you teaching them? What other areas of scripture do you think are included for an argument to save sex and living together until after marriage?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.