kissIn my first message on “Sex Before Marriage,” I discussed what the Bible has to say about sex before marriage. I pointed out that the purpose of sex before marriage was that two people should be joined together and become one flesh. God desires that we only have one sexual partner because He wants us to have godly children. He desires us to remain pure until we can create a permanent, committed union with another person. Vague promises of future marriage are not enough, because they often end up in our defrauding the other person.

But now we consider the question from a different point of view. We consider the question: what about sex itself? Is sex better before marriage or after marriage? Can sex before marriage affect or damage my sexual fulfillment after marriage? Is there any way that ignoring God’s commands about marriage can ruin my chances to have a happy and fulfilled sex life after marriage and for the rest of my life?

I am not going to answer these questions from the Bible. Rather, these are things I have read, have heard in classes on this subject, or just picked up over the years. Yet I think that these things I am about to warn you about are real, and can and will affect you if you ignore God’s commands and indulge in sex before you are married. Let’s look at these things together.

What’s Wrong with Sex Before Marriage?

II. What other problems can sex before marriage cause?

1. The Focus Problem

Can sex before marriage really damage your sex life after marriage? Yes, it can, and there are several reasons why. One of them I would call the focus problem. When you have sex before marriage, as I explained in my section on fornication in part I, you are basically doing so in trade for something, rather than as an expression of a lifetime commitment as you do in marriage. Therefore the focus of your sex is basically selfish and self-serving. This contrasts with marriage, wherein sex is done as part of an expression of your commitment to the other person. As such, in pre-marital sex both partners are more likely to be looking out for their own pleasure and satisfaction rather than the other person’s. In marital sex, however, both parties are far more likely to be focused on the other person and what will please that person and make that person happy. As such, with both people looking out for things that will please and satisfy the other person, the actual sexual experience is far more likely to be a working together and an act of mutual enjoyment than in a more selfish exchange. When the two parties are looking out for themselves, on the other hand, neither one is as likely to get the maximum satisfaction and enjoyment that they could get out of the experience.

This problem of whom you are focused on, yourself or the other person, during the sexual act is only compounded as a person moves on to multiple sexual partners. The more partners you have the more likely you are to focus on what you can get out of “this one” and not what you can do for the other person. Moreover one is less likely to have the time to figure out what pleases the other person and really get “good” at pleasing that person than if you had a lifetime to work at it. In a committed, long-term relationship the sexual experience can grow as both parties focus on pleasing the other, but in an uncommitted, selfish relationship that is far less likely to happen, even if one has the time. Thus the focus of pre-marital sex, on gaining something for yourself rather than the other person, can work toward diminishing the actual sexual experience and how much enjoyment one gets out of it.

Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you think sex before marriage must be just as good as sex after marriage. Some people even suggest that those who wait until they are married are so prudish that they will never get much enjoyment out of sex. Well, statistics here are on my side. I read a very interesting study in the newspaper recently that studied couples starting out in their first year of having sex. Those who were living together for their first year without being married averaged around 2.5 times per week, whereas those who had waited until they were married and were living together for their first year averaged 3.5 times per week. Which group of couples do you think were enjoying sex more? On top of that, this statistic did not change if those who were living without being married got married sometime during that first year. Their numbers after marriage remained about the same as before they were married. That is because if you start out wrong, you are likely to stay wrong. I will give some reasons for this below.

So it seems those who wait until marriage really do enjoy it more. Besides, what good will your honeymoon be if you’ve already had sex together before it? Then it’s little more than any other vacation. But the problems caused by sex before marriage don’t end there.

2. The Forbidden Thrill Problem

There was a certain hotel restaurant that had beautiful bay windows with a view overlooking the ocean. This was a great attraction to their guests. However, there developed a huge problem with these windows, as they were constantly being broken. The restaurant was on the ground floor, and people with their rooms above the restaurant would attempt to fish from their balconies. The heavy winds would blow the fishing lines into the windows, and the heavy lures would break them. This was happening over and over again, and the restaurant management was at their wit’s end as to what to do about it until one hotel worker had a brilliant idea that stopped the problem for good. He simply took down the signs posted in every room above the restaurant that said, “Absolutely no fishing from the balcony.” It seems that once fishing from the balcony was no longer forbidden, it turned out that no one was really interested in doing it anymore. A balcony really isn’t a very good place to fish from, after all. So why had so many people tried to do it before? Simply because it was forbidden.

That is how we humans are, being marred by sin. When something is forbidden, we just naturally seem to have an attraction to it, and want to find out what would happen if we would do it and if we could really get by with it. It seems that the forbidden holds an attraction for us…a thrill. This seems obvious to me in many things in our society, one of them being our humor. There really isn’t anything funny about sex, when you actually think about it. Or about homosexuality, or about STDs, or any of the things that many of our modern day comedians make their stock-in-trade. There really isn’t much wit to such humor, or much cleverness, or much that is actually amusing. So why are these comedies so popular, and why do so many people get so many laughs and such a great time out of them? I am convinced it is because they realize that they are doing something “forbidden.” We all know instinctively that sex is very serious business, and that it should be treated with reverence and respect. Thus the thrill when we treat it irreverently and without respect. We realize that we are doing something wrong, something “forbidden,” and thus we get a thrill out of it. This thrill can almost be addicting, and I have seen many come to the point where it seems they cannot laugh at any joke unless it has this “forbidden” undertone to it. For them, without the forbidden thrill that comes with laughing at something that shouldn’t be laughed at, there just isn’t much humor.

The same, unfortunately, is too often true in the case of those who have sex outside of marriage. There is something in us programmed by God that lets us know instinctively His will for sex only within a committed relationship. We all know when we go into a sexual relationship surreptitiously or without the approval of society and the binding ties of a marital relationship, that we are doing something “forbidden.” This forbiddenness can cause a thrill that adds a certain spice and flavor to the entire sexual experience. This thrill is not present in the sexual experience for those who wait until marriage, but, as I have explained, their pleasure comes from sharing their bodies with the ones they love and to whom they have committed their lives. This pleasure is far more satisfying and enduring in the long run, but the thrill of the forbidden is far quicker, easier, and more seductive for us as humans who are constantly attracted to the “forbidden.”

The real problem comes in, though, when one who has been used to this “forbidden thrill” actually gets married to the partner with whom they have already been having sex. Once the marriage has occurred and the sexual experience is actually sanctioned by God and society, suddenly the “forbidden thrill” is gone. This thrill, as I have explained, can be addictive, and without it sex can suddenly seem empty and boring to those who have thrived on the thrill of the forbidden up until that time. Thus the sexual life of the formerly happy couple is suddenly eroded.

But the problem does not end there. Now, if either one of the partners wishes to experience a “forbidden thrill,” he will have to look to someone outside the marriage relationship to give it to him. Thus, this seeking for the forbidden thrill can actually drive one to adultery, and further ruin the relationship by tearing the couple apart through unfaithfulness. Which leads right into the next problem.

3. The Lack of Trust Problem

So how did your partner first talk you into having sex with him? Was it his “manly urges”? Was it “if you really love me you’ll do this for me?” And how hard did you have to work to talk her into it? Was she “easy”? These things might work out to please you in the short run, but what happens after you are in a supposedly committed relationship? Sure you’re together, but you can’t be with each other every minute. What happens when your husband is on a business trip and you start wondering if he still gets those “manly urges?” And what happens when you are sitting in your hotel room wondering if your wife is still “easy”?

If you didn’t have sex before marriage you’ll know, because you already know that your partner is strong. Why? Because he or she was with you! But if you had sex before marriage…how do you know if your partner is strong or not? Even if your partner is strong enough to fight off temptations to unfaithfulness, your trust can be eroded by doubt, and trust is one of the most important glues of a relationship. Doubts, whether on track or not, can destroy what would otherwise have been a loving relationship.

4. The Phantom Memory Problem

The Phantom Memory problem is more than just a play on the name of a recent, popular film prequel. It comes into play when one who has had sexual partners in the past at last finds the right person and gets married. Suppose this happens and you really do love your marriage partner very deeply, but now a problem comes in. It is well known that the mind is most important sexual organ of all, and it can call up many memories, even during the act of sex itself. The problem arises when these memories are of previous sexual encounters you had with past partners.

Imagine it…here you are, in the midst of intercourse with your beloved, when suddenly something she does calls to your mind a previous sexual encounter you had with another woman. So while you are sharing in this intimate moment with your beloved, you suddenly are thinking of a time you had intercourse with another woman who isn’t even in your life anymore. Well, that makes you feel guilty, because you love this woman you are with now so much that you don’t want to think of anyone but her, and suddenly your sexual experience for that night is ruined. Of course you chastise yourself and decide that you won’t think of that woman again when you are with your wife, but of course the more you try to forget something the more your mind calls it to your attention, and so the very next time you have intercourse those same memories come to mind, or perhaps others that you hadn’t thought of before. Maybe you even remember something that one of your previous partners did that you liked…something your wife has never done. Well, that makes you feel even more guilty, and your experience is again ruined. Now this continues, and it gets to the point where you don’t look forward to having sex with your wife because you are only going to feel guilty again. Yet the more your sex life with your wife is ruined, the more those previous experiences come to mind and the better they seem. So now it seems to you that you are being even more unfaithful to the one you love because you are thinking that your sex life with a previous girlfriend was better than the one you are having with her. This only increases your guilt and shame and causes you to avoid sex even more. So a huge problem develops in your relationship, and your wife whom you love so much doesn’t understand why…but it’s not anything she’s done, it’s all what’s going on in your mind. And these “phantom memories” are real, as I have heard the testimony of some who have experienced them. How much better if the only memories that come to your mind during intercourse with your beloved are memories of previous experiences you had with her! But that can only happen if you reserve sex for a committed marriage relationship.

5. The Sexually Transmitted Disease Problem

The lie of “safe sex” aside, there is no real way to guard against STDs when having sex. Genital warts, for example, affect the entire crotch area, and any skin contact can spread the disease. Remember, when you have sex with anyone, you are also having sex with anyone that person has had sex with in the past. And when your partner had sex with that person, she was having sex also with anyone he’d had sex with in the past. Thus the danger of catching an STD is very real. I don’t know the statistics everywhere, but I know that in the US among college-age students who are sexually active one in three is estimated to have genital warts, a painful condition that will follow those people for the rest of their lives. And that isn’t even considering the other STDs! Is that really worth the risk?

But what if your partner says you’re the first one? Well, if you are marrying her and she refused to have sex with you until then, you are pretty safe in believing her. But if she’s all too eager to have sex with you now, then how do you know that she’s telling the truth? And coming to her and saying, “You lied to me,” when you get an STD is really not going to do you any good…you have it now, and that’s that. Far better to avoid the possibility entirely by limiting your sexual experience to one person who has made the same decision to save herself for marriage that you have.

6. The Increased Likelihood of Divorce Problem

It is said that those who have sex before they get married are far more likely to get divorced afterwards. Statistics bear this out, showing a divorce rate almost 80% higher for such couples. I think the reasons I have listed above should be sufficient to explain some of why this is. I don’t think anyone dreams of getting divorced some day, although many dream of getting married. Divorce is a messy, painful business, and worst of all it is a terrible failure, both to yourself, your partner, your family, and your God.

Anyone who has experienced the divorce of their own parents does not need me to tell them all the hurt and problems it caused for them. They know it far better than I do. Yet why not try to make something better for your own children? You are not doomed to the same mistakes your parents made. Your chances for making a successful go of it increase dramatically if you keep yourself pure until you are married. Wouldn’t it be smarter to play the odds and save yourself until your wedding night?

7. The Suitcase Dad Problem

I suppose we all think about what it will be like to be a father or a mother some day. Maybe we think of things we can pass on to our kids, or stories of our families we can tell them, or places we can take them, or things we can do together. I don’t know if there is a greater privilege short of salvation that God allows us than to have kids. But those who commit sex before marriage often don’t get to see these dreams come true…at least not in the way they’d like. Imagine having to give your beloved child up the majority of the time to live with a woman you don’t even really like anymore. Imagine if she moves away and leaves you with hardly any time with your child at all. Do you really want to be a “suitcase dad”? Do you really want to only see your child on holidays and weekends? Because that is very likely what will happen to you if you have sex outside of marriage. Or imagine having to give your precious babies over twice a month to a man who doesn’t share your same values and goals for them. Imagine trying to raise them alone and without the father they need to love and nurture them. Imagine trying to bring your kids up the way you want them to be without the help and support of a man who loves you and wants to help you do it.

Remember, even if you get married to the person you have sex with before marriage, there is a much greater chance your marriage will end up in divorce and you will end up in the same situation anyway. I’ve already explained why that is much more likely, and statistics bear me out.

I don’t think there’s a person with any real character at all out there who’d actually want to be separated from his own children or have to raise her children without the help of their father. But the best way to insure this won’t happen is to marry the girl before you get her pregnant and before you even have intercourse with her, or else to make the guy marry you before you give yourself to him and have babies with him. Otherwise you may be the suitcase dad or the single/divorced mom, and there will be nothing you can do about it.

III. Conclusions.

1. Rape cannot defile you.

I don’t think any discussion of this topic would be complete without acknowledging the fact that there are some who have lost their virginity against their will. I am speaking of those who have suffered from rape or incest. These people often feel extreme guilt at what has happened to them. I remember a story of one 15-year-old girl who felt so dirty and defiled from the rape that she had suffered that she would take a shower multiple times a day to try to make herself feel clean. This girl finally ended up committing suicide.

What can we learn from the Bible about the victims of such acts? Would God hold them responsible for what someone else did to them? I believe an important passage to consider in this regard is Mark 7:2,18-20.

“Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.”

“So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outsides cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’”

“And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.’”

We learn a very important principle from this verse. It is not what comes into our bodies from the outside that defiles us. Rather, it is those things that come out of our hearts that defile us. Christ goes on in verses 21-22 to list such things as evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, and so forth. These things all come out of the heart and thus can defile us. Things that enter our bodies, however, cannot defile us, not coming from our hearts.

I believe this can be applied to the case of rape and incest. These are things that do not proceed from the hearts of those who are the victims of them. Though it is a sin that enters their bodies, it is a sin that does not come from their hearts. Thus, these things cannot defile them. I realize what a terrible experience this is, and how awful it must make those who experience it feel. I sincerely hope that no one who reads these messages has ever had such an awful thing happen to her, or will ever have such a thing happen in the future. However, if it should, I do not believe that it can truly defile a person, for it did not come from the heart.

2. If it’s too late, what can I do?

For some reading this message, it may be too late to take my advice and that of Scripture in this regard. Then the question arises, “What do I do? Is it too late to please the Lord in this matter? Might I just as well go on sinning since it is too late anyway?”

I know that some promote what they call a “spiritual” or “restored” virginity, saying that you can rededicate yourself to sexual purity and somehow “restore” your virginity. Although I am all for giving hope to those who have sinned in this regard and all for them starting to live in purity, I do not believe we should deceive ourselves by thinking that somehow virginity can be “restored.” This is something that we only get one shot at, and trying to pretend that things are different is not going to change anything.

The fact is, though, that anyone who has sinned in this regard can turn their lives around and start living in purity and the way God would have them to now. We know that God can and does forgive us our sins. However, we should not use His forgiveness as an excuse to keep on sinning. If I tell someone who has wronged me, “I forgive you,” and he responds, “Great! That means I can do it again,” has he really appreciated my forgiveness? Of course not! Our response to God’s forgiveness should be ceasing to sin and attempting in every way we can to live our lives as He would have us to. As Paul says in Romans 5:1-2a, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” There is no time like the present to start pleasing God as we should!

Sex before marriage causes many problems, as I have pointed out above. Many of these problems can be cumulative. The more we sin sexually, the greater these problems will become. The best thing those who have sinned in this regard can do for themselves and their future is to stop sinning now and stop multiplying the consequences of their actions that they will have to face in the future. Repeated sexual fornication might be compared to sticking a piece of tape to something and then ripping it off over and over again. Pretty soon the tape will fail to stick. Sex is the same way. The more times we sin in this regard, the less likely it is that we will ever be able to truly become one with a person of the opposite sex. The best thing you could do with your piece of tape is to stop ripping it off and to stick it where you want it to stay for good. The same thing is true of your sexual life. The best thing you can do to insure yourself a happy future marriage and sex life is to stop joining yourself to and then ripping yourself from person after person and wait until you can stick yourself to the person you want to be joined to for good. This is the wise and righteous course of action to take.

3. Conclusion.

So what is my conclusion? The facts are clear. The Bible leaves no room for sex before marriage, equating it with prostitution (fornication) and commanding that believers flee from it. Moreover the facts in the matter not only tell us that sex is better left to after marriage, but that we will be more likely to enjoy a problem-free sex life then anyway. There are numerous problems that can arise from sex before marriage, many of which can ruin your happiness, your relationship with your children, your marriage, and your relationship with God. Moreover, I believe sexual sins, although they cannot take away our salvation, can cause us to lose the rewards that God would have given us. So it is far better, in my opinion, to wait until the situation that God set up for sex to be acted out in a permanent, committed relationship, than to indulge your desires and partake in sex before that time. Not only sin or righteousness is at stake, but your own happiness as well.