Back to the no-sex-before-marriage issue…
In response to last week’s marriage post, my friend Scott made the following comment:
Can you address prominent Biblical figures who had multiple wives, or wives along with concubines, etc.? The kind of marital sanctity that I had always had faith in is something I’m starting to believe less and less, at least the way it has always been professed to me. The idea of two becoming one flesh (as far as your definition of it goes) seemed to be a foreign concept to many that we read about in our Bible (King David, a man after God’s own heart, or Solomon, the one whom God chose to build His earthly house). I’ve always wanted to believe that sex before marriage was wrong, and a part of me still holds on to that belief, but I’ve read no passage in the Bible that people like to claim addresses sex before marriage that can’t be questioned in some way or another.
Well said. Here’s my best answer:
I have read the same bible and I, like Scott, cannot find any passages that specifically speak of sex outside of marriage that cannot be questioned or possibly have alternative interpretations. We are reading a book that speaks of life and culture and values over the span of thousands of years!
Although I believe the Bible is God’s revealed standard for all behavior, I also recognize that it is possible to miss the point or make it say something that is not necessarily there.
God’s word tells the story of real people. People like us. Just because there are records of polygamy, misogyny, rape, incest, adultery and host of other sexual escapades by people whom God used in mighty ways to shape culture and communicate God’s purposes, it never means that God is somehow condoning it!
Sin is sin. And the fact that the stories of prominent and influential characters in God’s great screenplay continue to show up as fallible and weak human beings does not give us permission to act like they did…rather, it constantly points us to our need, as fallible and weak human beings, for a savior!
The sins of our fathers are what lead us into the realm of grace.
To me, the spirit and context of marriage is clearly painted in the bible…right from the beginning. From the nature of “covenant relationship”…the exclusive and jealous union between a husband and wife, or the powerful relationship that God had with the nation of Israel, or the act of baptism where the individual is united with Christ and pledging loyalty above anyone else…we learn about the heart of marriage.
The harmony of the sacredness of marriage is seen in both the old and new testaments. Though not as black and white as we like to see our laws, this seems abundantly clear to me… sex is for marriage:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2: 24-25
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19: 4-6
Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:16
It seems clear to me. Marriage is the act of becoming one flesh. Unity. Exclusivity. No longer two, but one. Never to be separated. A new and permanent entity. The act of having sex with a prostitute (and I would infer that it would be true of anyone else) is the act of becoming one with her body…becoming one flesh.
The question is how many people can a person become one flesh with…in God’s economy? Becoming one is designed to be done…once*. That’s how we have been wired from the beginning…from the point of creation. Anything that ventures away from that plan is a perversion of god’s intention.
So why do we tell young people to wait for marriage to have sex? Because you are only designed to do this once…with one person…in your life. So wait to be sure. Wait until you have prepared. Wait until the pledge is made and covenant is signed and the promise is sure. Before that is consummated, there are no guarantees.
The fact that Bible characters broke rank from God’s plan doesn’t change the plan. The fact that marriage seems to be continually redefined by culture does not change the plan. The fact that everybody’s doing it does not change the plan.
So what do you think?
*I believe this is one of the reasons why divorce is such a serious issue in God’s eyes. It is also why the words “till death do us part”, are so important in wedding vows. IMO.