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What does the Bible say about unmarried sexual activity?

The Bible, God’s word, provides us with instruction on acceptably engaging in sexual interaction.  

The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:6-8 (NIV), “I say this as a concession, not as a command.  I wish that all of you were as I am…It is good…to stay unmarried as I do.”  Paul explains that as a prospective member of the body of Christ it is easier to serve God as a single, sexually abstinent person.  

That being said, we read in 1 Corinthians 7:9 (Weymouth), “If, however, they cannot maintain self-control, by all means let them marry; for marriage is better than the fever of passion.”  Although serving God might be easier for a single person who does not have tremendous family responsibilities to a spouse and/or children, it would be better to marry than to be consumed with desire to engage in sexual interaction outside of the marriage arrangement. 

According to the Bible, sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage is immoral and is fornication.  

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) warns, “Run from sexual sin!  No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.  For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.”  Paul strongly urges us not to merely walk away, but to flee from sexual behavior outside of marriage.

In Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB) we read. “…’You shall not commit adultery’… everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 

 Those that are already married must, of course, only have sexual relations with their spouse.  If an improper thought enters the mind, it is important to refuse to dwell on it and to promptly move on to a more beneficial activity. 

1 Philippians 4:8 (NIV) charges us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely…admirable…excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

It is harmful to all involved if one indulges in any improper sexual thought or action.  

Matthew 7:12 (NASB) admonishes us, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…”  No married individual would prefer to have an unfaithful spouse.   

The importance of servants in the church properly attending to their husbandly responsibilities is stated in 1 Timothy 3:12 with the requirement of deacons having one wife, or being faithful to one wife, depending upon the translation. This admonition is sound advice for all Christian couples.

We realize these warnings often go unheeded at this time.  As Christians, it is not appropriate to state our scriptural beliefs on every occasion to those we disagree with unless necessary, and if proper, we are to do so in in love with the highest and best interest of all in mind.  Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to speak the truth in love. 

Proverbs 25:11(KJV) states, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  Also, our families, friends, work associates, and acquaintances should be able to see by how we live, speak, what we are willing to do or not do, and our interactions with others that we strive to live in an upright manner and to treat them generously.  They should see that we stand for good morals in both speech and actions, regardless of the behavior of others.  

We realize that this can occasionally feel like paddling a boat against the wind in a stormy sea of surrounding wrongdoing.  We need to keep bailing out the water that inevitably splashes into the boat to stay safely afloat inside while paddling toward our safe harbor of life everlasting!  We also need to not give up! 

When it comes to moral issues such as unmarried sexual activity we would do well to remember the words of Winston Churchill in a 1941 speech proclaiming, “…this is the lesson:  never give in, never give in, never, never, never…never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”  It both is, and will, be worth it.   

We can encourage others by holding up a high standard even if they think it is peculiar now. Our words and actions will be remembered and others will be helped by our behavior when they are eventually ready to understand it.

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12.

All sin of fallen man is able to be forgiven and all people have been provided for in the ransom of Jesus Christ who died for all mankind.  We may, in proper righteous indignation, strongly disagree with an action but must love the individual sinner, without exception. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23 NLT).  

Although we all have sinned and all have a mighty savior Jesus Christ, knowing these things does not give us an excuse to engage in sexual sin. Following God’s instructions to the best of our ability now brings blessings to our heart now and will prepare us for the future eternity of blessings He wants to bestow on ALL mankind, provided they are willing from the heart to learn righteousness.  Not following his word on this or any subject will always cause us to reap bitter rewards eventually, thus making it harder to grow into the just people He will gladly help us become. 

His future kingdom is planned for ALL people to bring them to an accurate knowledge of the truth, to righteousness and to perfection whether they know His plan now or not (see 1 Timothy 2:4, Isaiah 51:11).  Revelation 22:17 (NIV) speaks of that glorious kingdom saying, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’…let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

Finally, sex is intended as a beautiful and loving expression of the oneness of a married couple.  God created it to be a meaningful bonding experience for married couples and as the method of procreation.  Sex can bring about unintended procreation and sometimes disease if one partner has lived an unchaste life.  These are weighty matters not to be trifled with.  The marriage institution is a picture of Christ and his “bride” the church, who will accompany him in lifting mankind to perfection in due time. 

God understands that people crave human companionship and comfort (see Genesis 2:18).  He created a helpmate for Adam for this reason.  However, since companionship does not have to mean sex, we may find great satisfaction in other wholesome relationships with friends, family, those we may volunteer to assist in a variety of ways. 

 Our connections to God and His Son Jesus are truly the ultimate and most fulfilling connections any human, single or married, could have or hope for.  We look forward to the day when all people will have those most wonderful of relationships.  God will be “all in all”.  

“But when the whole universe has been made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also become subject to Him who has made the universe subject to Him, in order that GOD may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28 Weymouth).     

To learn more about how to resist temptation listen to, “How Do I Deal With Enticing Temptations?” and “Is it a Sin If  I…”