What does the Bible say about sex before marriage?
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Question: Are there any explicit passages about sex before marriage, passages that are not open to interpretation?
Answer: Sex before marriage is usually discussed along with other forms of adultery in the Bible. Jesus gave us the clearest spiritual as well as physical application of God's Commandment to not have sex with another person outside of marriage: "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28, NKJV throughout)
In the Old Testament women were never permitted to be close enough to any male until they were betrothed and then only under chaperoned conditions. Sex before marriage not only was not permitted, it came with penalties - some of which were severe. A betrothed woman was legally bound to her future husband even if she had never met him - so if another male took her virginity she was considered immoral and could be stoned to death for adultery along with the male. If an unbetrothed woman and a single man had sex, the man was to pay the woman's family a certain amount of money and was forced to marry her - and never be able to divorce her:
"If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days." (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
God promises blessing to his people when they obey Him and do not sin. When we do not commit adultery, we are protected from a variety of things in this world such as diseases related to illicit sex, unhappy relationships, divorce, and a unwanted pregnancy to name just a few.
"For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1John 2:16-17)