It’s so often said that saving sex for marriage is outdated and unrealistic in a culture where people are getting married later and later. It’s said that it’s not ‘natural’ to curb sexual appetite because we were created this way, so it can’t be wrong to express that, right? I’ve even had a fellow Christian tell me he thinks that this rule was only for the time in history where girls were getting married at a young age, such as fourteen, and that it’s no longer applicable. I think the problem with the word ‘rule’ is that we associate rules with things that hinder our freedom, when in fact it was never meant to be that way at all.
In Genesis 2:18 and Genesis 2:24-25 it says: “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a [helper] for him… Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”
In Genesis 4:1: “Adam knew his wife, Eve and she conceived.” Some translations say ‘Adam had intercourse with his wife, Eve’ but the KJV translation is a lot closer to the original Hebrew, for the original Hebrew word used is yada and yada means ‘to know.’
Interestingly, in John 17:3, Jesus says: “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” In the original text, the word used is, you guessed it, also yada.
Are you seeing a pattern here? God uses the same word to describe relationship with us as He does a relationship between a husband and wife. Isn’t that interesting? We see that God created mankind in His image, He knew them and He brought them together to know each other in a permanent relationship.
In Genesis 17:2 God says to Abram: “Between you and me I will establish my covenant.” In verse 7, He says: “I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendents throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant.” Marriage is also often described as a covenant. Covenant means ‘to enter into binding agreement.’ It’s something people enter voluntarily, understanding that it’s for life.
Have you ever heard the sticky-note analogy used to describe sex? That when you stick two pieces of paper together and rip them apart, one or both comes away a bit damaged. It might sound silly, but we know this to be true about sex, don’t we? We that have experienced sex outside of marriage know that we come away with this odd feeling of being just a little different, a little off. It’s not something we can quite pinpoint, is it? It’s just like this mist hanging over our heads. So what do we do? We have more sex, thinking it will make us feel better and eventually sex begins to lose its significance. It doesn’t feel the way it used to. Looking at God’s design for sex, we can begin to see why Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians that they are to “flee sexual immorality. For every sin a man commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (6:18).
Why do people hide their sexual sin? Why do we feel hurt when our partners tell us how many people they’ve been with? Why does it even matter, if sex is just a physical need you fulfil like hunger or thirst? It’s because sex isn’t just physical. It’s because it has been designed with a spiritual purpose – to reflect the covenant relationship God has with us through a permanent marriage relationship.
It’s all about intimacy
Does this mean you’re doomed for a life of no intimacy with your spouse because you’ve had sexual experiences outside of marriage? No. Because being pure is not about following the rules and intimacy is about more than just sex. Sex happens as a result of intimacy, not the other way around. Intimacy is to be fully known and truly loved.
Start by entering into relationship with God and asking Him to forgive your sexual impurity. 1 John 1:9 has the great promise that when we do, “he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Loving relationships don’t keep score and they aren’t transactional, so when God invites you into a covenant relationship, He says He will forgive your iniquity and remember your sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
Understanding God’s design for sex makes us view it a little bit differently, doesn’t it? It’s no longer a burden for the single or a mere form of pleasure for the married. It’s about intimacy and that’s all we all long for, isn’t it? That’s why sex outside of its proper context is so dangerous and so damaging. God created sex. He created it to be awesome. He also called us to honour Him with our bodies, not because He wants to steal our fun, but because He loves us and wants to protect us.