Does the Bible prohibit sex before marriage?

Aug 15, 2021 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

In my experience, there is a very broad range of answers to this question. It has generally been assumed by moral ‘conservatives’ that the answer is self-evidently ‘yes’; by contrast, it has generally been assumed by moral ‘liberals’ that the answer is ‘no’, since there does not appear to be any specific prohibition in Scripture. The massive changes in our culture around sex and sexuality since the 1960s and the advent of contraception have put us at a very big cultural distance from the world of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, so there are significant challenges in the task of translation here.

I was recently pointed to this summary comment from a Jewish perspective:

In biblical times, a man was not prohibited from having sexual relations with a woman, as long as it led to marriage. The Bible never explicitly states a woman and man may not have sexual intercourse prior to marriage; therefore, no sanction was imposed for premarital sex, but it was considered a violation of custom.

The question immediately raise is: what is the status of such custom? I therefore offer here the piece I wrote for Premier Christianity the other week, in response to the less-publicised half of the motion passed at the Methodist Conference, and add a few reflections.

Read here

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