If you have ever gone looking for a Bible verse on whether or not you can have sex before marriage (or, God forbid, done a Google search) you might be surprised to find the Bible’s instruction indirect and vague. The Bible assumes that sex only happens within the covenant of marriage so most of the time, sex before marriage is not addressed directly.
In Genesis 2:18-25 we read that Adam is single and it’s not good. God creates a woman from Adam’s side (deep symbolism here) and Adam sings the first love song (see v. 23). God invents marriage in v. 24, “that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Sex is a symbolic union. In the same way that two bodies are connected, two people are bound together on multiple levels; body and soul.
Sex and marriage have been assumed to be connected ever since. That is why in ancient cultures (and some cultures today) the husband and wife are married and the marriage is ‘consummated’ (started) by the act of intercourse.
A biblical understanding of sex is this: Sex is a sign. It is not just an exchange of fluids or a recreational activity. There is more going on there than that. Sexis becoming vulnerable (naked) and giving yourself physically to someone else and the Bible says that you shouldn’t do that physically unless you are willing to give yourself to them in every other way too: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. That’s what marriage means! You are completely given over to your spouse. You love them no matter what. You are putting their needs before your own. You’ve ultimately given up your personal choice to your beloved. When that happens, sex becomes a symbol and a renewal of that vow. In this intimate act you are saying, “Yes, I give myself wholly to you, again! In every single way.”
There is no Hebrew or Greek word used in the Bible that precisely refers to sex before marriage. The Bible undeniably condemns adultery and sexual immorality, but is sex before marriage considered sexually immoral? According to 1 Corinthians 7:2 , “yes” is the clear answer: “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” In this verse, Paul states that marriage is the “cure” for sexual immorality.
Since 1 Corinthians 7:2 clearly includes sex before marriage in the definition of sexual immorality, all of the Bible verses that condemn sexual immorality as being sinful also condemn sex before marriage as sinful. Sex before marriage is included in the biblical definition of sexual immorality. There are numerous Scriptures that declare sex before marriage to be a 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 ). The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4 ).