Is all premarital sex actually prohibited in the Bible?

Debating issues regarding sexuality

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micatala
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Is all premarital sex actually prohibited in the Bible?

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Post by micatala »

It has been assumed in many posts that premarital sex is a sin, or against certain Biblical teachings, or both. One recent example is in the Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner thread.

Obviously, one of the 10 commandments is Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery. However, common understanding would be that adultery is:
Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary wrote:
voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or a married woman and someone other than her husband
Fornication is usually defined as sex between unmarried people.

Here are a few relevant verses:
LEviticus 19 wrote: 20 " 'If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD. 22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.


29 " 'Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

The latter implies that being a prostitute is certainly less than ideal, but it does not seem to be prohibited. Certainly there are many examples of prostitution in the Bible, and neither the men nor the women are necessarily punished for engaging in sex in this context.
Leviticus 20 wrote: 20 " 'If a man sleeps with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.
One assumes the uncle is already dead. Notice the punishment is something we assume only God can accomplish.

Priests are to be held to a higher than ordinary standard.
Leviticus 21 wrote: 7 " 'They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God. 8 Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the LORD am holy—I who make you holy.

9 " 'If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

13 " 'The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15 so he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the LORD, who makes him holy. [d] ' "


The latter implies it is OK for others to marry women who are not virgins. The fact that there is prostitution and it is at least condoned means sex outside of marriage must have been occuring and at least condoned.



QUestions for debate are:

Does the Bible unambiguously teach that premarital sex is wrong? Where is the Biblical justification?

Many Christians would say 'all sins are equal.' However, many others would say some sins are more serious than others. Murder might be considered more egregious than adultery, and adultery more egregious than telling a 'fish story.'

WHere does premarital sex rank on a list of sins, say even compared to the 10 commandments?

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Post #31

Post by pyrite »

micatala wrote:
pyrite wrote:
micatala wrote:if one is acting in faith, one is not necessarily sinning. If one is acting against your faith, then you are sinning no matter what you do
this is very true..
i'm not sure whether paul's statement 'all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial' (1 Cor 10:23) and its surrounding chapter have come into this thread, but they should! another thing we may need to consider is if premarital sex will hurt or offend other people we are close to (eg christian family), or cause them to stumble against their own beliefs. it is our responsibility to honor the convictions of our close ones, and as soon as your sex becomes public and offends them, there's an opportunity for you to cause them to stumble against their own convictions, which is highly discouraged in scripture.
I think this is a valid point. As noted in Romans 14, we should act for the benefit of our brothers. However, it seems to me we also have to consider the possibility of becoming 'hostage' to other people's over-active tendencies to be offended.

For example, if person A marries person B who is of another faith, it might cause members of person A's family to quarrel with each other, be offended, or even leave the church or the faith. Should A and B allow what they feel is their God-ordained love to be held hostage to this potential situation? They can certainly attempt to be as diplomatic, discrete, and understanding as possible, but it is not likely they would long be able to hide their intentions, or their marriage if they end up, for example, eloping.

I would certainly agree that those engaging in pre-marital sex are, at a minimum, obliged to act very discretely so as to avoid creating a temptation for others who for whom such action would prove harmful (because of lack of maturity, inability to distinguish between love and lust, etc.)
agreed on all counts :)

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Post #32

Post by youngborean »

Confused wrote:
youngborean wrote:I don't think premarital sex is forbidden in the bible. But it is clear that the intention after extra-marital sex is that the man needs to fully persue the possiblity of marriage with that woman.

Deu 22:28 If a man find a damsel [that is] a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Deu 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty [shekels] of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

and
Exd 22:16 ¶ And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
Exd 22:17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins

I think that the basic scriptural premise is that it is not proper or respectful to have premarital sex, but it is not a sin punishable by death. The outcome should always be that the man seeks to make good by her. There is responsibility for the action in other words.
But this is just your interpretation, correct? I read the scripture you have listed, and listed it earlier in the thread and while it might appear to suggest one should marry if they have sex, it does say that if they don't , the man can pay a virgin price and it is ok. But there isn't anything that condemns it per se, or makes it a sin right?
Well I would say that the negation of a positive commandment (to pay the price) would be considered a sin. So it is really the intention that is the issue and where the idea of sin comes in. The easiest way to avoid sinning in the intention is to avoid the act of premaritial sex all together. But there is nothing in the OT that outwardly forbids the act it self, but the act requires retribution. It is not specifically called a sin to hurt people physically but there is retribution (eye for eye, eg) required. But I would say it is extremely difficult let good intentions outweight the desires of the flesh.

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Post #33

Post by Confused »

youngborean wrote:
Confused wrote:
youngborean wrote:I don't think premarital sex is forbidden in the bible. But it is clear that the intention after extra-marital sex is that the man needs to fully persue the possiblity of marriage with that woman.

Deu 22:28 If a man find a damsel [that is] a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Deu 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty [shekels] of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

and
Exd 22:16 ¶ And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
Exd 22:17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins

I think that the basic scriptural premise is that it is not proper or respectful to have premarital sex, but it is not a sin punishable by death. The outcome should always be that the man seeks to make good by her. There is responsibility for the action in other words.
But this is just your interpretation, correct? I read the scripture you have listed, and listed it earlier in the thread and while it might appear to suggest one should marry if they have sex, it does say that if they don't , the man can pay a virgin price and it is ok. But there isn't anything that condemns it per se, or makes it a sin right?
Well I would say that the negation of a positive commandment (to pay the price) would be considered a sin. So it is really the intention that is the issue and where the idea of sin comes in. The easiest way to avoid sinning in the intention is to avoid the act of premaritial sex all together. But there is nothing in the OT that outwardly forbids the act it self, but the act requires retribution. It is not specifically called a sin to hurt people physically but there is retribution (eye for eye, eg) required. But I would say it is extremely difficult let good intentions outweight the desires of the flesh.
Prostitution was practiced in both the OT and NT. Is there any reference to a penance being paid for either a) being a prostitute or b) using a prostitute. I ask this out of ignorance, not challenge. I have looked at some of the most popular books but found nothing addressing this. I admit, I avoided Leviticus. And will continue to do so. So would these prostitutes be sinning or those using these prostitutes (those not betrothed nor married) be sinning. Perhaps sinning is right, are they doing something that requires retribution and if so, what would it be?
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Post #34

Post by youngborean »

Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.

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Post #35

Post by Confused »

youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
Yes in regards to the OT, the general concept was to condemn the "whore" per se. But in the NT does Christ not preach forgiveness to help those sinners (including whores) find a path back to God? So in regards to the OT, the harlot can never be married in the eyes of God because of her immorality, right. Christ doesn't change this opinion in the NT. But it would assume that if Christ came for the sinners, then prehaps he came for the harlots. Either way, He never condones nor condemns premarital sex. So based on the OT, must we still consider anyone who has sex before marriage a harlot? If so, is it a sin?
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Post #36

Post by micatala »

youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
I find it interesting that whores are in some way being equated with sodomites. I am assuming some translations would give the latter term as 'homosexuals'. I wonder what the original Hebrew term actually meant in their context. Was there a connotation of idolatry, for instance?

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Post #37

Post by Goat »

micatala wrote:
youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
I find it interesting that whores are in some way being equated with sodomites. I am assuming some translations would give the latter term as 'homosexuals'. I wonder what the original Hebrew term actually meant in their context. Was there a connotation of idolatry, for instance?
This particular one was a prohibition against the Jews to be a 'cult prostitute'. In many other religions locally, there was prostitution in the temples as a form of worship. (I am sure you have heard the term 'Temple handmaiden' before). This was a prohibition aimed at that practice (such as Asherea did). It was a prohibition what was allowed in the temple. It also served as a way to seperate the Jews from trying to follow other religions too. The word 'aobmination' is hebrew 'tovah' which means 'ritualistically unclean'.

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Post #38

Post by youngborean »

Confused wrote:
youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
Yes in regards to the OT, the general concept was to condemn the "whore" per se. But in the NT does Christ not preach forgiveness to help those sinners (including whores) find a path back to God? So in regards to the OT, the harlot can never be married in the eyes of God because of her immorality, right. Christ doesn't change this opinion in the NT. But it would assume that if Christ came for the sinners, then prehaps he came for the harlots. Either way, He never condones nor condemns premarital sex. So based on the OT, must we still consider anyone who has sex before marriage a harlot? If so, is it a sin?
It is my belief that Christ pointed out that all have sinned under the standard of the OT. And that repentance is the only way back. David was guilty of adultery and murder and should have been put to death according to the law. But was spared because of repentance, perhaps this idea was always there, but Jesus made it his central ministry. Saying, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." This isn't to say sinning is good, but that sinners can repent.

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Post #39

Post by micatala »

goat wrote:
micatala wrote:
youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
I find it interesting that whores are in some way being equated with sodomites. I am assuming some translations would give the latter term as 'homosexuals'. I wonder what the original Hebrew term actually meant in their context. Was there a connotation of idolatry, for instance?
This particular one was a prohibition against the Jews to be a 'cult prostitute'. In many other religions locally, there was prostitution in the temples as a form of worship. (I am sure you have heard the term 'Temple handmaiden' before). This was a prohibition aimed at that practice (such as Asherea did). It was a prohibition what was allowed in the temple. It also served as a way to seperate the Jews from trying to follow other religions too. The word 'aobmination' is hebrew 'tovah' which means 'ritualistically unclean'.
I am really glad we have someone around who knows a little Hebrew. :)
I am learning some very interesting things.

Would 'tovah' also be the word used in Leviticus regarding several of the other sexual sins?

The word abomination has taken on a connotation more of 'something God really really hates' in evangelical circles. It is portrayed as the most vehement rejection possible, something against the very nature of God.

This seems to me to be a little bit different than 'ritualistically unclean.'
youngborean wrote: It is my belief that Christ pointed out that all have sinned under the standard of the OT. And that repentance is the only way back. David was guilty of adultery and murder and should have been put to death according to the law. But was spared because of repentance, perhaps this idea was always there, but Jesus made it his central ministry. Saying, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." This isn't to say sinning is good, but that sinners can repent.
I would agree.

With some sins, however, there is a problem regarding what repentence means and if repentance is even possible.

Repenting from premarital sex would, it seems to me, mean to stop doing it, and more so, to even refrain from situations of temptation. Does getting married count as repentance? Is all forgiven once the marriage vows are taken?

Elsewhere in the forum the issue of divorce and remarriage has come up. If a divorced person has remarried, would not repenting mean leaving the new spouse and returning to the old?

Regarding homosexuality, my view is that asking a homosexual to 'repent' from being a homosexual makes about as much sense asking a heterosexual to repent from being a heterosexual.

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Post #40

Post by Goat »

micatala wrote:
goat wrote:
micatala wrote:
youngborean wrote:Well the idea in that culture seemed to be if you weren't a virgin, you were a harlot. There really wasn't an in between. This is an example of some of the stronger language in reference to those ideas.

Deu 23:17 ¶ There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Deu 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
I find it interesting that whores are in some way being equated with sodomites. I am assuming some translations would give the latter term as 'homosexuals'. I wonder what the original Hebrew term actually meant in their context. Was there a connotation of idolatry, for instance?
This particular one was a prohibition against the Jews to be a 'cult prostitute'. In many other religions locally, there was prostitution in the temples as a form of worship. (I am sure you have heard the term 'Temple handmaiden' before). This was a prohibition aimed at that practice (such as Asherea did). It was a prohibition what was allowed in the temple. It also served as a way to seperate the Jews from trying to follow other religions too. The word 'aobmination' is hebrew 'tovah' which means 'ritualistically unclean'.
I am really glad we have someone around who knows a little Hebrew. :)
I am learning some very interesting things.

Would 'tovah' also be the word used in Leviticus regarding several of the other sexual sins?

The word abomination has taken on a connotation more of 'something God really really hates' in evangelical circles. It is portrayed as the most vehement rejection possible, something against the very nature of God.

This seems to me to be a little bit different than 'ritualistically unclean.'
youngborean wrote: It is my belief that Christ pointed out that all have sinned under the standard of the OT. And that repentance is the only way back. David was guilty of adultery and murder and should have been put to death according to the law. But was spared because of repentance, perhaps this idea was always there, but Jesus made it his central ministry. Saying, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." This isn't to say sinning is good, but that sinners can repent.
I would agree.

With some sins, however, there is a problem regarding what repentence means and if repentance is even possible.

Repenting from premarital sex would, it seems to me, mean to stop doing it, and more so, to even refrain from situations of temptation. Does getting married count as repentance? Is all forgiven once the marriage vows are taken?

Elsewhere in the forum the issue of divorce and remarriage has come up. If a divorced person has remarried, would not repenting mean leaving the new spouse and returning to the old?

Regarding homosexuality, my view is that asking a homosexual to 'repent' from being a homosexual makes about as much sense asking a heterosexual to repent from being a heterosexual.
Yes, tovah is used in regard to a lot of sins. For the most part, leviticus is dealing with restrictions in reguards to the temple, and for the priests. Mind you, that doesn't mean that Judaism doesn't say that homosexual acts are wrong. THere is the whole thing about sex where the orthodox at least feel it should end in at least the potential for reproduction.. (which I personally think is out dated). However, 'TOVAH' is used for cleanlyiness and is more concerned with being able to enter the temple than anything else.

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