A Biblical Argument Against Premarital Sex -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger
DBSJ 20 (2015) p. 45
A Biblical Argument Against Premarital Sex
The conversation came as a surprise. I was chatting with a young seminarian in our student lounge—that crucible where classroom theory dons a practical shape—about his future plans and upcoming wedding, when the question of premarital sex somehow came up. “I’m committed to abstaining from premarital sex,” he assured me in the most earnest of tones, “but I’ve never seen a biblical case for abstinence.” I was stunned. The young man in front of me had gone through four years of Christian high school, four years of Bible college, and had been in church weekly since before he could walk. How had this oversight occurred? We chatted a bit more and I trotted out the well-worn case from Genesis 2: God’s created design for humanity, the one-flesh principle, the biblical pattern of “leaving, cleaving, and only afterwards weaving,” the analogy of Christ and the Church, etc.
The student agreed that, though non-prescriptive and a bit abstract, the theological arguments made sense, and added that his sexual impulses had been further checked by other arguments ranging from lingering cultural disapproval, psychological unpreparedness, troubling statistics about the failures of those who has sex before marriage, to the problem of surprise pregnancies that could not only cripple his ministerial plans, but inordinately disadvantage the lives of a young mother and child. These arguments together offered a convincing cumulative case against premarital sex, he opined, but fell short of an exegetical case for abstinence.
At this point some interruption or other suspended our conversation, but its memory lingered. And when I was called upon to teach a class in ethics a short while later, I resolved to make this topic one of the first of our class discussions. To prepare, I pulled out all the standard evangelical ethics books and found almost nothing. I also searched the available OPACs and databases—again, mostly nothing. Turning to popular literature and weblogs I found a realm dominated (1) by arguments of the sort that my student described as “sensible,” albeit “abstract” and “non-prescriptive,” mostly from Genesis 2, but also from Ephesians 5, the Song of Songs, etc., and (2) by carefully crafted utilitarian arguments. The biblical argument, when it was made, very often
DBSJ 20 (2015) p. 46
reduced to a biblical censure of πορνεία, a term broadly assumed to equate with or at lease to include premarital sex in its scope.
Stymied at every turn, I s...
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