Yes, I'm going there.
And just to clarify, I write this blog post to followers of Christ (why would an unbeliever care about God's plan for relationships?)
Just like pornography, premarital sex is a huge problem in today's world that many shy away from talking about. Taking a look at the Bible, it never says, "Thou shalt not live together in a house and have sex before thou are married." Because many people are looking for exact wordage to correct their lives, they miss the principles in the Bible. People usually look for "loopholes" in Scripture that they can use to rationalize their lifestyle, instead of looking at it for what it says.
"Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people." Ephesians 5:3
People who live together and/or engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, take part in what we call premarital sex. Have you watched TV or movies lately? The whole view of marriage is thwarted in media. It is the norm and completely tolerated for couples to live together before they are married, sometimes it is even encouraged. We use terms like, "make love" to describe sex before or outside of marriage. In popular shows we see that premarital sex is something a person does when they "love" the other person, with no mention of commitment or marriage. Without knowing it, this generation is faced with a decision to obey God's Word or the world's teaching.
In Bible times, it was rare for anyone to live together and have sex before marriage. Paul writes this to the church at Corinth:
"Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
The Greek word translated “sexual immorality” or “fornication” in these verses is porneia (modern word for “pornography”). It basically means, “unlawful lust.”The meaning of the word "fornication" means any unlawful (or outside the law-abiding act of marriage) sexual intercourse, including adultery. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says, "But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies."
The reasons people "shack up:"
- "Try on the shoe to see if it fits" mentality. I have heard people say this before as if we "rent" another person and become married to them physically, emotionally, and mentally but not officially. God's plan for sex is in the context of a covenant marriage relationship. Any sex outside of marriage is fornication (premarital) or adultery (affair). Paul writes to the church at Corinth about sexual immorality:
"Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband." 1 Corinthians 7:1
"Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure." 2 Corinthians 12:31
- Financial reasons. Usually this is the main reason people live together. Usually the financial reason quickly disappears. The "separate room" mentality quickly changes into sharing a room together. Fornication quickly follows. My encouragement would be if you are living together, to go get married! If you are "burning with passion" then you should be married.
See what the Apostle Paul says,
"But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust." 1 Corinthians 7:9
"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures." Galatians 5:19
- Relationship with benefits but no commitment. People want to sleep together with no strings attached, especially guys. To be honest, women get the raw end of the deal. Usually they are bringing more to the table, emotionally and physically while men bring low commitment and security to the woman. David Popenhoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University say, "Men experience few social pressures to marry, gain many of the benefits of marriage by cohabiting with a romantic partner, and are ever more reluctant to commit to marriage in their early adult years." The reality is that sexual sin affects the mind, will and the emotions. According to God's Word, sexual fulfillment is only blessed in covenant marriage between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). Anything outside of marriage (premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality) is sin.
What do we do about sexual sin? Paul writes in Colossians 3:5, "So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world." Scripture is clear that marriage is great! In today's culture it is important to model that fact that a Christ-centered marriage is fun, exciting and a blessing. Marriage is God's first institution. He created it!
The Biblical Marriage:
- The church is the bride and Jesus is the groom. God is committed to us and this was seen through the sacrifice of the cross. His unconditional love for his bride is the standard that should be instilled in a marriage relationship.
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." Ephesians 5:22-28.
- Sexual fulfillment is found in a marriage relationship (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). God created sex! It is His idea. In the marriage relationship it is fulfilled. Marriage is a picture of Christ and His commitment to His children. Marriage should be honored and commitment to each other should be the foundation. If a marriage is missing Jesus at the center, it can easily crumble in today's culture.
- Model forgiveness and commitment. The marriage relationship is to help children see that forgiveness is a part of a healthy relationship. Cohabitation is experiencing the benefits without the commitment. Marriage says, "to death do us part" not "I'll love you when I feel like loving you." Marriage is an ongoing relationship with two sinners learning to love and forgive each other.
"Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery." Hebrews 13:4
Will God forgive me if I have failed sexually? Yes! God's love and forgiveness is available to anyone who comes to Him. God's story is to redeem mankind. Through the power of Christ, we can be forgiven and made whole. God can build a great marriage even if both sides made mistakes beforehand. In church leadership, we must mentor, equip and encourage couples to establish God's plan for relationships and marriage. Silence is doing no good in helping people build a foundation for a lifelong marriage. My prayer is that this next generation will honor marriage as God's picture of His unconditional love for us!
This amazing video poem by Jeff Bethke sums it up perfectly:
"This poem mainly focuses on anyone who has been deeply affected, hurt, and damaged by sexual sin. Forgiveness and mercy are given freely by Jesus. He cleans, restores, and heals us beyond measure and asks nothing in return. He saw all our sin and filth before he went to the cross and it was still his joy to go get us." Jeff Bethke