Sex Before Marriage is Impossible
Yes, sex before marriage in the Biblical view and therefore in God’s eyes is impossible.
The modern ritual of marriage has become so ingrained in our culture that it is difficult to imagine life without it, but it has not always been understood in the form which it is understood now. Readers of the Bible may have a bad habit of inserting everyday practices into the narrative which were not actually prevalent during those times. Doing this, unstudied readers can be fooled by more modern institutions that want to rule over and exert control over men. To understand scripture, we must understand its audience and the context of the times which it was written in. This way we can understand exactly what certain commandments and statutes are telling us.
Don’t let any tyrannical institution fool you: marriage in the Bible isn’t what you think it is. Sex before marriage is impossible. How is that? Let’s find out.
Some Biblical Marriages
Besides from the natural union of Adam and Eve and its abbreviated account, one of the first marriages described in the Bible is between Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac did not seek out and court Rebekah himself, but rather his father Abraham had sent a servant to Padanaram to find a wife among their kin. Searching for a wife from among their brethren, this fulfilled the singular Biblical prerequisite of marriage uttered by Adam: that the two partners be of the same flesh and bones. This is a requirement that would later be ignored and disgraced by Isaac’s son, Esau.
While Isaac was spending a quiet moment of reflection in the field, he sees Rebekah approach and they meet. There is no extravagant courtship or wedding ceremony, as Isaac then takes Rebekah into a tent and marries her there (Gen 24:63-67). What happened in this tent? A very private affair.
When Jacob (a son of Isaac) fulfilled the terms of the contract he made to Laban, a feast was held in celebration but the feast itself was not the marriage. The marriage happened later that night when a woman whom Jacob imagined to be Rachel entered his tent and slept with him. There were no flashlights in Jacob’s day. It wasn’t until the sun rose in the morning that Jacob saw who was lying underneath the covers, and Jacob realized that he had married Leah instead of Rachel (Gen 29:25). Jacob being a righteous man knew that because he had relations with Leah, that she was now his wife and that he was obliged to keep her. Therefore he did so, but not without bitterness towards Laban.
The feast was never the marriage and Jacob did not realize who he had married until the sun rose and he saw who he had sex with. This could not have happened if there was an actual ceremony held at the feast.
David was wrong in the way he obtained Bathsheba as a wife, but when Uriah died she was no less his own. There was no wedding or vow to officiate it as that is a recent phenomenon never found in our scriptures. She was understood to be David’s wife through the factual matter of what marriage truly is.
This is why in the Law, we see that a man who rapes a woman is obligated to keep her (Deut 22:28-29, with some exceptions involving dowry). That commandment is no longer a mystery. Because the woman was no longer a virgin after being raped, she was no longer a candidate for legitimate marriage and was considered defiled. Essentially, she was married to the man who laid hold on her and anyone else afterwards would be an adulterer. It is the fact of the matter. A poor method to obtain a wife but in the eyes of God it is marriage, for marriage is sex and there are no other exceptions, rules, laws or statutes in regards to what it is and what it isn’t. We see that even rape is marriage in the eyes of God, with or without ceremonies. If the woman was married beforehand however, and she was defiled in this way, then the man would have been subject to death (Deut 22:25).
Although it is not demonstrated as the ideal model, (for God has one wife, that being Israel; God gave Adam one wife; and teachers are expected to be husbands of one wife), a man may have many wives provided that he has the means to provide for them and that they are virgins (Exodus 21:10). The point is that we once again see this prerequisite of virginity and this is crucial, as upon the act of sex a woman is from that point on married. A virgin woman is unmarried because of the facts and not because of a lack of government officiated ceremony or paper slips.
The Wedding Feast at Cana
Some argue that the wedding feast at Cana was a wedding, and it can make one worried of literacy problems among such critics. This was a celebration and a feast held to celebrate a marriage but it was not the actual marriage itself. There was no such thing as people getting married in assembly halls with Levitical priests. That literally did not exist.
The feast was an optional celebration of the marriage to come, Christ attending the feast shows that we may hold such celebrations ourselves. But the feast was not the marriage and we cannot confuse it for such. Most people throughout history would not have even been able to afford such a celebration. We can think back to Laban’s wedding feast with Jacob, which had no ceremonies. Then later that night Leah sneaked into Jacob’s tent and he married her there in his bed. That was the marriage, and not the feast.
In the time of Christ, the Greeks also believed that marriage happened in a bed and for that reason the word κοίτη referred to the marriage bed. There were no genuflecting proposals, which is a modern invention. There were no rings, which is a tradition of ancient pagan origin. There was no altar, as that only happened before Baal (Herodotus’ Histories 1:182, Tertullian’s Apology 15:7, et al). There were no priests, as that is a church invention to give themselves more authority.
Because Christ performed His first recorded miracle at a wedding feast does not mean that He would approve of the modern legalistic instrument we call marriage today. And why is that?
Our modern understanding of marriage has slowly evolved over the past centuries, but before 1538 our ancestors understood and practised marriage within the Biblical perspective. In 1538 the Church of England under the orders of Thomas Cromwell began requiring that local churches record the marriages that happened in their communities. Not officiate, just simply record. This was thought to help with the upkeep of censuses, among other things.
Before this time, the churches had nothing to do with marriage. Wedding feasts if celebrated were hosted at home, and the various traditions varied among families and regions. For many centuries couples would do nothing except stand outside a church on Sunday and announce their marriage to their passing fellows. This was done so that the community would recognize them as husband and wife. “We’re together now so don’t try any funny business!” No papers and no officiator, just as it was meant to be. When an officiator is brought into the mix, this is a tradition that has no place in the Law of God. There is no officiator but God, who knows who has been married and how many times. When you replace God with a priest, they’re pretending to be God as if their opinion can nullify or supersede God’s existing witness.
Over time the church and state would insert more supposed authority into the marriage process until degenerating into its current state. Marriage today is nothing more than a financial and legal agreement with contractual obligations over property. Once the state replaced God as the lawmaker in the eyes of most men, it was allowed to redefine marital concepts under its own terms. (Don’t we see this often?!) Now men are not obligated under the Biblical concepts of marriage, but only look at the legal terms of their personal national state. To them they are only married if there is a paper slip and to them they can marry just about anyone and anything. In the eyes of God, they might have been married more times than they can count. In the eyes of God, they might have never been married at all.
In reality, the knowledge that sex is marriage in the eyes of God: this puts even more accountability towards a man and not less. Any promiscuous affair in a man’s youth is not corrected by a settling down once he is older and mature but that is rather adultery. For this reason Christ said that in His eyes there is no divorce except for reason of adultery or fornication (Matt 19:9). While we live under Babylon, we do the best we can, and God has mercy on us. But we must strive to keep His Law!
In the Law the only paper slip is the bill of divorce, and this was the permissive will of God who knew that divorce was inevitable among fleshly men (Matt 19:8). The paper was designed to protect the woman from accusations of adultery after the divorce, for if they were condemned the penalty would be death.
In an ideal world there would be no need for divorce, and God Himself said that he hates putting away (Mal 2:16). Divorce literally means to put away, and the bill does not define or officiate the divorce but protects the woman post-divorce. To put a woman out of your house was to divorce her. If you had sex with a woman you’re married to her with or without a paper slip. If you put her away out of your house you’re divorcing her with or without a paper slip. The kindred Greeks thought the same way.
Our modern perception of marriage is a recent tradition and not the eternal and permanent Law of God. In Jacob’s time and in Christ’s time, there were no political entities that ruled over men and the recognition of marriage was known to be fulfilled in the eyes of God. No ritual or paper slip was required for a true and biblical marriage and nothing has changed today in this light. We have had corrupt authorities butt their heads into the process but men should favour the perspective of God who has not changed His views on the matter (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8). And it is His views that matter, and it is His views only. We should think like Jacob. And we should think like Christ (1 Cor 2:16).
The church has failed regarding the Law of God and the Biblical prerequisites for a legitimate marriage. Unfortunately men take the government definitions of words and try to apply them to scripture. The church allows men to “marry” individuals that they should not be marrying and that makes it not even marriage but fornication. This is what happens when you place corrupt institutions on a pedestal where you should only be looking towards God.
The Biblical Prerequisites and the Fornication of Ignoring Them
Understanding that marriage happened in a bed, then sex before marriage is definitively impossible for sex is marriage. So where does the concept of “no sex before marriage” come from then? Well, like most misconceptions it comes from the church and not from scripture.
We know that sex before marriage is impossible, so when fornication is mentioned in the Bible, what is it? (this is explored in detail in the follow-up to this presentation) The word fornication comes from the Greek word porneia (#4202) and its literal definition means prostitution. The word is versatile and is used both in scripture and secular Greek writings to refer to a wide variety of sexual sin. Some would say that fornication means homosexuality. And they would be correct. Others would say it describes adultery. Not wrong there either. Others would say it describes racemixing. Very correct as well. Fornication is a word used to describe illicit sexual activity, so it can refer to prostitution, homosexuality, or any other sexual sin. If you are sleeping with someone it is either marriage or fornication and it all depends on who you’re sleeping with.
Paul uses fornication in reference to a man sleeping with his father’s wife in 1 Corinthians, which would be a transgression of the law and is therefore illicit sex. (Deut 22:30, 27:30) The Bible says it is not legitimate relations and therefore it is not marriage but fornication! Fornication is sometimes falsely labelled as strictly and solely adultery or homosexuality, which is wrong not only in secular Greek but also throughout the Bible as fornication is listed as distinct from these other sins in certain Bible passages (such as 1 Co 6:9).
There are several prerequisites for a legitimate marriage given to us in our Scriptures. Any sexual interaction which does not fill these requirements is not marriage but is rather fornication. We mentioned the first prerequisite early in this video: that your partner be of your same flesh and bones. This has deeper meaning once you realize that Adam was not the first man, I have a video on the subject. Jacob travelled many miles to find a wife from among his kin to fulfill this requirement. His brother Esau didn’t put forth this effort and took Hittite wives from next door. This led to his mother Rebekah fearing she would die with nothing but bastard grandchildren.
Fornication is also racemixing and Jude describing it as such in his short epistle (Jude 1:7); it is the only honest way to interpret the pursuit of “different flesh”. One can be a homosexual, an abominable sin, but to define it as different flesh is not proper unless the partner is of a different race. Men of Israel in the Old Testament call each other the “same flesh”, so it does not defer to gender (Judges 9:2, 2 Sam 5:1).
If we want to understand Jude’s usage, we can see that Paul at 1 Corinthians 10:8 refers to the incident with the men of Israel and the daughters of Moab as an instance of fornication using the same Greek word. Those Moabites were of a different race, having mixed themselves with Canaanites due to their incestuous origins, and Phinehas was blessed by God for bringing an end to the madness. In Revelation 2:14, this incident in Numbers 25 is referred to by Christ with the same language, being associated with the “doctrine of Balaam”, as he was the one who had encouraged Balaaak to send the women in order to seduce the men of Israel.
If Esau had sinned because his wives were pagan, that cannot be the case. Even Jacob’s wife Rachel was a pagan and took her father’s idols with her when Jacob brought his family with him to his land of upbringing (Gen 31:34). Paul tells us that an unbelieving spouse is sanctified in their partner (1 Cor 7:14), but that we are to remain separate from aliens (2 Cor 6:14, check the Greek or the CNT: Paul does not contradict himself). There were Adamic races that Israelites were allowed to marry under certain circumstances (Num 31:9 – Midianites coming from Keturah and therefore kin), and mixed races that the Israelites were not allowed to marry under any circumstances (Neh 13:1, etc).
When the people in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah repented of their fornication, they were obligated to also forsake their strange children as well, for their transgression had nothing to do with the belief of the woman or of the child, but it had everything to do with the origin of the people in question (Ezra 10:3). Paul at Hebrews 12:16 calls Esau a fornicator, using a form of the same Greek word once again. This was also the sin of Eve, who ate the fruit of another family tree.