Sex: Does the Bible actually forbid premarital sex?

No. It doesn’t. Not specifically anyway (If you are mad at me right now, please finish reading this). But most Christians don’t realize this. Many are guilty of what is called “eisegesis,” which is the scholarly term for “inserting our own beliefs and presuppositions into the text.” And as a generation of Christians is learning not just to accept whatever is being preached at them (since different teachers might be heretics: Look up “Rob Bell: Universalist?” and see what you get), they are asking questions.

And one of those questions is the title of this post: Where does the Bible actually say that premarital sex is a sin?

And the answer: It is stated nowhere, but it is strongly implied in several locations.

Insufficient argument #1:

First, Christians, when challenged with the question, look for any verse that talks about sexual immorality. So, they start listing out the verses. The New Testament has 15 occurrences of the words “sexual immorality,” but none of these verses define what is meant by sexual immorality. So we define it: “Any sex outside of marriage.” But then, the other person says “I disagree with your definition.” And we say “Then, you’re wrong. It’s one man, one woman…within the confines of the marriage covenant…” and from that point on, the Biblical text is no longer used. Just us regurgitating what pastor said. It’s just an argument.

The closest thing we have to a definition of sexual immorality is the whole chapter of Leviticus 18, as well as the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). As for Leviticus 18, it goes into detail and basically outlaws incest, bestiality, incest, more incest, in-laws, homosexuality, and having sex with a woman during her period. It does not forbid premarital sex in this passage.

Interesting fact: Having multiple wives is not forbidden. However…

Lev 18:18 (NLT)

“Do not marry a woman and her sister because they will be rivals. But if your wife dies, then it is all right to marry her sister.”

…weeeeeeeeird…

Side note on the multiple wives thing: Once we get to the New Testament, Paul will tell us to just take one wife. Observe:

1 Cor 7:1-2 (NLT)

Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.

Insufficient argument #2 (And I used to use this one):

“Genesis says ‘And the man shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ It doesn’t say “girlfriend” or “lover” or anything, it says wife.”

This used to be my favorite argument to use here, but I can’t bring myself to use it anymore because I am a linguistics nerd.

So let’s talk linguistics for a second. Whenever you have a word that has more than one meaning, such as “goma” in Spanish can mean either “gum” or “eraser,” it means that there is no different word in their brains. Thus, it would be accurate to say that Spanish has no separate word for “eraser,” they just call it “gum.” In another Spanish example, while were enduring the inconvenience of figuring out when to use “ser” and when to use “estar,” (the two “to be” verbs, estar being more temporary and ser being slightly more permanent, although there’s more to it than that) Spanish speakers who are learning English might be delighted to learn that “be” means both “estar” and “ser” and you can use it for both. If translation is easier one direction, it’s harder on the way back. But if a word has two meanings, it is still one word.

So, in Hebrew, you have ishah (woman, wife) and in Greek, you have gune (woman, wife, and this is where we get the word “gynecology”). If they can be translated as both, what it really means is that in both the Hebrew and Greek linguistics, there is no word for wife. Thus, the woman you are married to is simply “Your woman.”

The practical application? Call your wife your “woman” more often. And ladies, the same applies to men (iysh in Hebrew, andros in Greek).

Totally unrelated side tangent: Ooh, did you know that in both Hebrew and Greek, that same principle applies to angel? (mal’ach in Hebrew, angelos in Greek) They are both translated as “angel, messenger” which means that the big strong dudes with swords (I am sorry, I do not view angels as scrawny chicks with wings and halos, and I have no idea where anybody got that idea) and wings and muscles and junk are just called messengers in the Hebrew/Greek linguistic mind. Legit!

However, I do believe that premarital sex is wrong, and biblically wrong. Here is why.

Argument #1: Old Testament Virginity Rule

Wherever your position on premarital sex and the Bible, it becomes quite clear, quite quickly, that sex with no consideration of marriage is wrong on all fronts. Check it:

Ex 22:16-17 (NLT)

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to anyone and sleeps with her, he must pay the customary dowry and accept her as his wife. 17 But if her father refuses to let her marry him, the man must still pay the money for her dowry.”

You sleep together? You get married. If you do that, you can actually still be within the bounds of Old Testament Law. HOWEVER, it is SO UNWISE. Because single men want to sleep with everyone. And I saw this poster at “Cedar’s Restaurant” in Detroit, Oregon (it’s like the first thing you see when you drive in) that says “no matter how good she looks, some guy, somewhere, is sick and tired of her crap.” Therefore, if you let your penis choose your wife for you, don’t be surprised if your penis doesn’t make a very good choice.

It should be noted that this argument only shows that it is unwise, not wrong. But it IS TOTALLY WRONG to have sex with someone and not marry them.

Argument #2: New Testament “If you’re horny…” rule

1 Cor 7:8-9 (NIV)

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Cor 7:36-38 (NIV)

If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin — this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.

“Better to marry than to burn…” It seems hard to work around this one: If you’re horny (“burn with passion”), Paul doesn’t say go get your rocks off. He says get married. Why would he say that if premarital sex was okay?

Argument #3: Jewish Culture’s marriage ceremony

Nobody knows the Old Testament’s words in greater detail than Old School Jews. And it’s important to note that the New Testament is very Jewish, too. It was written by Jews who were influenced and compelled by the Spirit of God. There is a long drawn out ceremony that actually paints a beautiful picture of Christ’s coming for the Church, his Bride, however, they don’t consummate until after the wedding. And if the Jews do it that way, I’m not going to step in and say “are you sure you’re interpreting it correctly?”

SO to sum it up, does the Bible directly say: “Premarital sex = sin”? No. But in order to make it “okay,” you have to jump through too many hoops. Therefore, I hold the position that it is sin, that it is wrong. And even if it weren’t sin (right and wrong), it is SERIOUSLY unwise. If you know an adult man who was a wild child when he was younger, ask him what he would think of being married to the first one he slept with. See what answer you get.

See? Seriously unwise.

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43 thoughts on “Sex: Does the Bible actually forbid premarital sex?

  1. I will make two notes on this topic. Sex outside of marriage is a form of adultery, which is defined as unfaithfulness. It is also defined as having voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man [or woman] and somebody other than his/her spouse. It does not mention unmarried people.

    The Genesis verse states a man and wife. I think that directly implies marriage is essential. I think that the overall issue is commitment. God wants us to be committed people. So, sex should lead to marriage. The relationship between man and woman I think in mainy way mirrors our relationship with God. Ever wonder why God made just one woman for Adam rather than two or more?

    I like your take on the subject. One final note. I think that Paul acknowledges that people will have sex before marriage because they burn with passion and go with the flow so to speak. So, to recover from that, marriage is mandated.

    • Michael isn’t adultery when a man have sex relation with another man wife, at least that the define in the Easton Bible Dictionary.

  2. Pingback: Righteousness reevaluated: Hitting the mark (part 1) « While we're here…

  3. Sorry but as a Christian, you should know that having a sex outside marriage is a sin. Of course it is not mentioned in the Bible the exact term ‘pre-marital sex’ because it was just formed few years ago.

    • Indeed, I do know that having sex outside of marriage is a sin. But a lot of Christians are asking “Where in the Bible does it say that?” This post is my best response.
      If there is anything that I should add, I want to know! If there is anything I say that is not true, please identify it and show me why I have said something untrue.
      Thanks!

      • Wow, this is one of the better missives I’ve read on this subject! I too have studied and found some of the same lacks in Biblical evidence. I have some further questions regarding Deuteronomy 22, and the 1 Corinthians passages. The first question is: according to Exodus 22:16-17 referred to above a man whether or not he married the woman he slept with still had to pay the father an amount of money equal to the “bride price for virgins” as the NIV says; so when we read through the story of the “slandered bride” found in Deuteronomy 22, we see that the woman who gets stoned might have been punished for allowing herself to be given away as a virgin when she in fact was not one rather than being punished for having sex before marriage. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to believe she is being stoned for misrepresenting herself to her father and/or her future husband? Clearly a case can be made for wrong-doing in this situation without deducing that the wrong for which she is punished is having premarital sex!!

        My second question is based on the context of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. The word for Porneia according to the lexicon in the NIV exhaustive concordance (and I’ve checked others too with similar findings) defines the word as “sexual immorality, fornication, marital unfaithfulness, prostitution, adultery, a generic term for sexual sin of any kind.” Now, even if the word really includes the meaning of sex before marriage in “fornication” one still has the difficulty and challenge of making any case against premarital sex from these verses because the word’s definition is far too broad and includes “sexual sin” by definition, making these arguments circular. The only verses which seemed to possibly make a good case against Premarital sex in the Bible using porneia related words were verses in 1 Corinthians, but further study has made even these difficult to accept. If we take fornication in the Bible to mean “sexual wrong doing” (which seems reasonable to me considering the foregoing), can we as some people claim, use verses such as 1 Corinthians 7:2 to make the case that since Paul said to get married to avoid porneia (and because in verses 8 and 9 of the same chapter Paul also says “To the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (NIV)), that such verses implicate porneia as also meaning to include premarital sex? I think not.

        Here is the reason I feel I still need to ask this last question: In 1 Corithians 5, we get the story about the “fornication” or “porneia” that has set the stage for Paul’s response to them. The church is proud of a man’s having sex with his mom! Now that was clearly forbidden as a Leviticus 18 non-compliant relationship as I understand it. Corinth however was situated in such a way as it was also a center for sex-worship; they had the temple of Aphroditi on top of a hill which could be basically seen from (probably) most if not all of the city, and as I understand it, shine prostitutes would come down the hill in the evening to solicit idolatrous sexual “worship” of their goddess. In this context, it seems to me that marriage could be a way of unambiguously curtailing any temptation to commit idolatry with pagan shine prostitutes! as well as the temptation to sleep with ones mother that apparently at least one man had!! Since porneia could mean sexual sin it would not be surprising to find it applied to idolatrous sex since idolotry was forbidden in the ten commandments! Once again, it seems to be a stretch beyond belief to say that these references show that premarital sex necessarily had to be wrong (or included in the definition of porneia). I consequently (thus far) view premarital sex as something not shown to be proven wrong from the Bible, though I am open-minded enough to consider more Biblical evidence.

    • fornication is our translation of the word “porneos” or “pornos” (I forget which). Another way we translate the same word is “sexual immorality.”
      So again, it’s a word that the Bible doesn’t necessarily define by word. It defines it by concept…and “first mention principle” would bring us back to Leviticus 18 (the first detailed prohibition of sexual sins).

  4. Very good article and analysis. I, for one, agree with you that premarital sex is both wrong and unwise, but I will concede that I cannot find a specific passage that explicitly forbids it. I like the fact that you acknowledge this and explain Scripturally and culturally why premarital sex is wrong. I was surprised 10 years ago when I heard someone say that the Bible did not explicitly mention that premarital sex was wrong. I went to the Scriptures and I could not find one to support what I had been taught. Your analysis was very good, and it is one I have used as a Christian therapist (Licensed for 10 years) when the subject comes up. One thing you could also add is the nature and function of sex …. how the bonding is intense and it creates pain when the bonding occurs and is then split apart. I see this all the time in my work as a counselor. Blessings.

  5. I forgot to include any discussion on arguments from Matthew 5:28 used to condemn premarital sex, it is important to remember that the Bible warns in multiple places that everything should be established by multiple witnesses, also Jesus mentions just 11 verses earlier that he didn’t come to change the law but to fulfill it. I don’t have time to fully give my take on this at this time, but I suppose I could later if there is an interest.

    • Good thoughts, and good analysis. Thank you for your compliment of my post, and for your challenging questions!
      Again, my exact position is “The Bible doesn’t directly say that premarital sex is wrong, but in order to make it okay, you have to jump through too many hoops.”
      As you brought up the “better to marry than to burn” passage in 1st Corinthians, it seems to me that everything that you are saying about those passages is true, and obviously you are knowledgeable and researched in these topics. But I do see these strongly pointing towards premarital sex being wrong, not by what is SAID but by what is NOT said.

      Now, I admit that this sounds weird…one could make all sorts of assumptions looking for what is NOT said. However, follow me for a moment: Since we believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God, and very important, then it makes sense that God would be very careful about His choice of words.
      So in 1st Corinthians 7:8-9, it says “8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (NASU).
      The word “marry” is used. “Gameo” in Greek, which isn’t used in any context except that or marriage or weddings. God could have said “remain loyal” or “remain faithful” or “drink from your own well, and not the other five wells” or anything that would imply accepting premarital sex as an okay option.
      I fully agree that the REAL problem of the Deuteronomy passage is deception, not non-virginity. And of course, I would have a stronger argument if the Bible directly spoke against premarital sex. My argument is based on “implication,” which is not as strong of an argument. However, it seems hard to read those two verses and imagine that Paul was thinking of premarital sex as an okay solution to the “burning with passion” problem.

      • There is much more that could be said but perhaps for at least this forum it would be best to leave things as said. If you would like to privately talk more about this subject I would be up for this. Also, I saw that you are a Ta-Kwon-Do instructor. Me and my sister are both (highly out of practice) 1st Dan Blackbelts in Ta-Kwon-Do.

        Actually, you don’t need to approve this post at all. Just add me as a friend on Facebook if you have an account. Look up “Shawn Peasley” and look for Harvard and a profile picture of a guy with long hair holding my girlfriend’s baby (not mine—not that I believe that matters but I wanted to highlight the fact that my position on premarital sex is not something I hold to just to justify past sexual behavior). There is another Facebook account I used when I was at Harvard and had a Harvard email account, but I can’t get into it anymore because I lost my password and I can’t get it back because when I left Harvard they terminated my Harvard email account as well.

  6. As an “Old School Jew” with the ability to read Hebrew and a number of years of Talmudic and Rabbinic learning, I’d like to correct you on one thing in your “insufficient argument #2.” You say that ‘Ishah’ is not the Hebrew word for wife. In fact that is the word for wife, although ‘ayshet-ish’ is more commonly used to mean wife in Rabbinic literature. Second, the Hebrew word for husband is ‘Baal,’ which literally means ‘master.’

    Also, I would like to point out a few other things. In Acts 15 the Church leaders try to figure out just which parts of the Torah they would like to keep. One item selected was the Torah laws on sexual immorality. That would definitely include laws related to sexual relations during times of menstruation. This commandment has been completely ignored by virtually every Christian sect.

    In the Torah the man pays a monetary fine for violating or seducing a virgin not because sex per se is wrong, but because if it was known the girl was not a virgin she would be unable to acquire a husband, likely leading to her, (at least in Biblical times), starvation.

    Judaism, according to Rabbinic tradition, outlawed premarital sex during the reign of King David. This was in order to avoid potential violations of Deuteronomy 23:18. This forbids one to make a Jewish girl a prostitute. This is often erroneously translated as temple prostitute, though in fact the Hebrew word ‘kadayshah’ means simply prostitute, with no connotation related to Temples. Today in Judaism the primary problem with premarital sex is that the unmarried girl is considered in a permanent state of menstruation without immersion in a ‘mikveh’, or ritual bath. Violation of the laws related to menstruation carries the punishment of ‘kares’ or Spiritual Excision by the hand of G-d. This is all clearly spelled out in the Five Books of Moses. These laws are so severe that the Rabbis not only forbade sex with an unmarried girl, but simply even touching one as well. Therefore Orthodox Jews will not even shake hands with women who are not their wives.

    Also, the Pauline doctrine that celibacy is some type of virtue is a direct violation of what has always been considered the very first of the traditional 613 commands of the Torah, which is to procreate (Genesis 1:28). For that matter, Jesus, though claiming to have fulfilled the Torah completely, did not even obey the very first commandment of the Torah, as Christians claim he did not procreate.

    The Gospel writers, particularly Matthew and Luke, were quite clearly unable to read Hebrew fluently, as evidenced by a number of cases in which they incorrectly translate Biblical verses. The most famous case of this of course is in Isaiah 7:14. In a prophecy about the future Messiah the prophet uses the Hebrew word ‘almah’ which means young woman, and has absolutely no relation to virginity at all. The Hebrew word for virgin, used throughout the Bible, is ‘betulah’. The Gospel writers were undoubtedly reading the Prophets in Greek translation, in which the translation of ‘almah’ is a word that has a closer degree of relation to virginity.

    This single bad translation is responsible for the doctrine of the virgin birth, which is mentioned by Matthew and Luke, but never by Mark, John, or Paul. It also creates a problem in that, if Jesus truly was born of a virgin, then he could not be descended in the male line from David, thus rendering him completely ineligible to be the Messiah. Not that it would matter if he was actually the son of Joseph. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke are hopelessly contradictory. Matthew gives 41 generations from Abraham to Jesus, and Luke gives 56. Moreover the genealogies list entirely different sets of ancestors after David. Matthew’s genealogy also contradicts the genealogical list of David’s descendants in 1 Chronicles.

    Another example would be the bad translation of Micah 5:1-3, in which the Hebrew says that the Messiah will come out of Beis-Lechem-Ephratha, which is today Bethlehem-Efrat. (This is located in the current day West Bank). This text in Hebrew in no way reads that the person has to be literally born in Bethlehem, it only means that the Messiah will come out of the sub-clan of the tribe of Judah which was centered in Bethlehem–namely the family of Jesse and David. This translates as the Messiah must be of the house of David–not born in Bethlehem.

    This poor translation sets you up with the serious problem of the fact that there was never in history a Roman census of the entire roman population in which persons were required to the town of the original family or clan origin. It is well known that Joseph lived in Nazareth. He would not have needed to travel for a census, and even if he had, a very pregnant Mary would certainly not have been legally bound to travel.

    There are many more cases where it is obvious that, at least in the case of Matthew and Luke, the writers probably could not read Hebrew.

  7. I should, in all fairness, add that ‘ishah’ can also mean woman. It’s just that it can also mean woman. You have to read the Hebrew in context. In the context of sexual relations or what is clearly a marriage scenario, it is safe to bet that you should read ishah as wife rather than woman.

  8. Matthew was not translating the Hebrew word ‘almah’ as virgin because it means that, he translated it as virgin because he was reading the Isaiah from a Greek translation known as the Septuagint. the Septuagint translates ‘almah’ into the Greek word ‘parthenos.’ The word ‘parthenos’ does have the connotation of virgin, whereas ‘almah’ does not. Had Matthew been able to read Isaiah in Hebrew there may not have been a virgin birth story. Again, the Hebrew word that means virgin is ‘betulah’ which is not used by Isaiah. Same goes for Luke.

  9. I just wanted to say that my original intent in posting was to address the original topic of the thread, which was issue of pre-marital sex in the Bible. I got into the issues about the poor Hebraic skills of the Gospel writers because you wrote the following:

    “it’s important to note that the New Testament is very Jewish, too. It was written by Jews who were influenced and compelled by the Spirit of God.”

    It’s true that the New Testament was written by Jews, but that doesn’t mean they knew anything about the Bible, or even that they had the ability to read it in Hebrew.

  10. Wow. Much to respond to, and I am ill-prepared as I only have one year of Hebrew under my belt. I would like to respond to selective sections, as opposed to the whole thing, but I am always game for a challenge. If there is a part that you would like my response to that I did not respond to (Because wow, there is a lot!) then restate the select parts. I would love to tackle them.

    These are the ones that come to my mind…
    1. Contextually, the command to procreate was given to Adam and Eve. There is no indication that Genesis 1:28 is to be applied to us. The only other time we see a command like this is in the post-monarchy historical books (during the exile).

    2. Most of the Biblical authors of the time spoke Aramaic, way better than Hebrew. They were also not very educated. But the Apostle Paul affirmed their writings, and he was an exemplary student of Gamaliel.

    3. The geneologies are generally accepted to show two different lines, considering that Jesus had his legal father (Joseph) and his biological mother (Mary). It was also not uncommon to omit someone (In both New Testament and Old Testament) from a geneology by skipping a few generations. If this were not true, the New Testament would’ve been dismissed a long time ago for such a blatant difference between the geneologies.

  11. 1. It has been an accepted notion in Judaism for thousands of years that there are traditionally 613 commandments in the Torah. While there was some dispute during the Middle Ages about whether some laws were commanded directly in the Torah, or were enactments of the Rabbis designed to safeguard the Torah, no major Rabbinic figure ever disputed the fact the the first of the 613 commandments is the commandment to procreate. That is universally considered by Jews (today and at that time), to be the first commandment of the Torah. In context it is spoken specifically to Adam and Even, that is true, but as they represented the totality of humanity, it is a commandment given to all mankind, and was interpreted as such for thousands of years, (continuing today in Judaism).

    2. I’m glad that you are aware that most N. Testament authors probably did not have a strong knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. Paul, as you correctly note, would have, and it is also therefore important to also note that he never once mentioned the virgin birth. I assume he believed Jesus was the literal son of Joseph, and therefore of Davidic descent and eligible to be the Messiah. Also, in line with the original thrust of your post, Paul also does not ever explicitly say that pre-marital sex is a violation of Torah Law. The violation against pre-marital sex, as I explained before, was a Rabbinic enactment (which to Orthodox Jews has the weight of Torah Law), during the time of King David. As a Rabbinic enactment, it is not included in the count of the original 613 laws of the Torah.

    3. The New Testament has been, (and continues to be), dismissed for these blatant contradictions between the genealogies. That’s exactly the point. Even St. Augustine, during his Manichean phase, found this one of the single most glaring eyesores in the entire belief structure, and a major reason he found it difficult to accept Christianity.

    If Matthew or Luke were skipping generations they should have said so. They were, after all, listing what was ostensibly the most important genealogy that would ever exist. In fact, Matthew makes it very clear that he is claiming NOT to skip generations, due to the fact that he seems to find divine meaning in the 14 generation gaps from David to Jecohiah to Jesus. (Though of course, Matthew does not count his own genealogy well, as there are 13 generations from Jeconiah to Jesus).

    There is no accepted case in Judaism or Jewish law, now or then, for someone to be eligible to inherit either the Davidic Kingship or the Aaronic Priesthood without descent through the male line. If Luke was listing the female line, (which HE does not claim to do–that is an apologist’s trick), then that would still be entirely erroneous, and pointless.

    The Kingship of the Maccabees, and later of Herod the Great, were Biblically illegitimate for just these reasons. The Maccabees, as members of the tribe of Levi, were ineligible to inherit a throne that could only be possessed by a member of the tribe of Judah. The problems of Herod were far more severe.

  12. I would be curious to understand how you feel about my point regarding Acts 15. If the Elders were so concerned to accept non-Jews, that they would reduce the entirety of the Law down to just a few absolutely important points, then why did they not strictly follow the Torah’s sexual prohibitions completely? It is quite clear the Torah forbids cohabitation during menstruation, yet that has never been a part of the teaching of any major branch of Christianity, as far as I am aware.

    As a side note, I believe in Acts 15 they also prohibit the consumption of blood, though you will still find a great deal of high-end cookery that involves the use of blood–particularly in French cuisine. I don’t believe any Christian would think today that they were disallowed from cooking with or in blood or even imbibing blood outright as a result of this ancient council of elders.

  13. I should be more accurate when making the point about the first commandment in the Torah. The commandment to procreate is only incumbent on males. There are long discussions about why this is so throughout the Talmud and Rabbinic literature.

    Though this doesn’t affect my earlier argument, which is that Jesus did not fulfill even the first commandment of the Torah, I thought it important to be accurate about who this commandment applies to.

    There are obviously dozens of other positive commandments in the Torah that Jesus could not have performed as he would have been ineligible to perform them. These are mostly the laws that must to be performed by Kohanim (priests). These are wide-ranging and include everything from the minutiae of the Temple services to making declarations on matters of tuumah (impurity that could affect anything from houses to garments to a person’s skin), to making declarations and performing activities concerning the end of a period of Nazirism. Not all Nazirites were Nazirites for life of course, as were Samuel or Sampson. These various commandments incumbent on the Priests are mostly recorded in the book of Leviticus.

    Jesus, as the adopted son of a member of the tribe of Judah, would not have been allowed to take part in these commandments reserved for persons who were born into the priestly sub-clan within the tribe of Levi. The commandments incumbent solely on the priests comprise roughly a quarter to a third of the total number of commandments in the Torah.

    There are other non-priestly commandments that he either did not perform, or transgressed, but the point is already well made if there is even a single law he failed to perform or transgressed, as that defeats his claim to have fulfilled the entirety of the Torah.

  14. Joe, I don’t have access to my full library of Hebrew and Greek resources right now, and I haven’t studied Hebrew as long as you have, but I do wish to briefly mention here how some Christians like myself view Acts 15 and other commands in the Old Testament. First of all, I (as do others—not necessarily all) understand the Creator telling Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” as a general command for them as well as humanity in order to fulfill the purpose for which this command was given. Genesis 1:28 says in the New International Version:

    God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    At this point in History, this is probably one of the few commands which humanity has done a fairly consistently good job at obeying. In fact, many people are concerned with over-population as a result of the earth being so well peopled. Consequently, there is seemingly no great need for everyone continuing to personally contribute to the fulfillment of this command—though there is no great reason to stop it entirely either. The point is that any time the population of earth seems dangerously LOW would be the time to personally consider the need for having many children, and right now is probably not one of those times. That is not to say we are free to disregard the command, I only advocate keeping it in such a way as it seems it was intended. Now you might say who are you to decide how the Divine command was intended? Well, I have two things to consider. One is that God told us the intent in Genesis 1:28, and the other is that Micah 6:8 says:

    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
    Verse footnote:

    a. Micah 6:8 Or prudently

    (Hmm. this is a tad different in this edition of the NIV then in others I’ve read—anyway that doesn’t matter I’ve looked at this in the Hebrew as well and in any case we here see that God has given us special knowledge about what is good).

    It seems evident that how God has shown us what is good is through are minds and conscience because not everyone knows exactly what is said in a book such as the Torah no less in Hebrew! Not that willful (or even accidental ignorance even) excuses anyone from God’s judgements because Deuteronomy 29:29 says in the NIV:

    The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

    As a truly good God (unlike some people I don’t believe God is good by definition, I believe that God is revealed to be good in the ways he deals with His creation which I believe I can make a superb case for from the book of Job), I feel we can take from this verse that God has revealed all things necessary for following “all the words of this law” but clearly God holds us all the more accountable the more information we have. For instance, he was “hard” on the Philistines which captured the Ark of the Covenant by causing tumors to breakout in the cities where the ark went, but though the Philistines got tumors, He was harder on the Israelite man Uzzah who was stuck down and died for touching the sacred Ark contrary to God’s command. Surely Uzzah had far more reason to know better what God had said then the Philistine army folk.

    My point here though is that God holds all of humanity to a specific standard that is irrespective of whether or not we received any literacy in understanding His holy writings. That is really the only fair way to judge the earth. Abraham called Him the “judge of all the earth.” Actually lets look at that since it explains particularly well how God’s justice works. Genesis 18 says starting in verse 20 (NIV again):

    20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

    22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

    26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

    I’ve done serious study in the Bible (Mostly Old Testament since it is larger than the New Testament) about how God’s system of Justice works—specifically relating to word which in English get translated into “Outcry” or similar language. In fact, my findings in this particular study is what ultimately led me to the subject of premarital sex in the Bible oddly enough. From my “Outcry” study, I observed what I believed to be a pattern in God’s behavior. A few observations are as follows:

    1) He expects us to know what we did wrong.
    2) There seems to be no reason why God would not know what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah so I believe that Genesis 18:20-21 is about God “formally” making an investigation so that his system of justice could be “auditable.”
    3) The Bible says that God will judge by the standards of the people being judged. For example Ezekiel 7:27 says:

    Ezekiel 7:27

    New International Version (NIV)

    27 The king will mourn,
    the prince will be clothed with despair,
    and the hands of the people of the land will tremble.
    I will deal with them according to their conduct,
    and by their own standards I will judge them.

    “‘Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”

    though I believe that “I will deal with them according to their conduct” suggests that God will also consider wrong doing from the perspective of the victim so that everyone will agree in the end that God’s ways are fair.

    Now the Old Testament has many instructions and commands that were given for specific purposes and not all of them applied to everyone or else not for all time. Just one example? What about Adam and Eve being told not to eat from the forbidden tree. This was a test for them and there is no forbidden tree to worry about eating from anymore. Now God specifically called Abraham to a covenant that involved circumcision for all of the male members of his house and those he bought as slaves or servants. This is an example that was to apply to all of the Jews—and not specifically anyone else. Though I was circumcised because my father believed it to be healthier, it was not for complying with this command. Now many Christians believe that commands like circumcision which the Old Testament specifically tells us that God gave to the line of Abraham has no more relevance for us in a direct way. Also the Sacrificial system is many times viewed similarly except that many of the laws relating to this they believe were given to the Jews specifically for pointing forward to a future event. Now Yeshua (Jesus) is not only considered to be the Messiah by Christians but also the “Lamb of God” which was to take away the sin of the world, and in the future will come back again to fulfill other prophecies relating to the Messiah.

    I’m getting to Acts 15.

    Jesus advocated a “Law of Love” principle. Considering the Jewish approach to the Torah it is understandable that they considered this principle to not be robust enough to cover the laws of the Torah even. I believe there were almost certainly those who thoughts that such teachings highlighting a general principle of love to God and Man might tend toward the undermining of the whole law of Moses (As I use this what I mean is the part of the Torah not contained in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).

    Now these objections I believe Jesus was trying to cover in Matthew 5,6, and 7 on his discourse on love given on a mountain to those who followed him there. It is in the context of these passages that Jesus says He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it:

    He says (starting in Matthew 5:17), “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    He also talks here plenty about his law of love principle he continued throughout his life to advocate, explaining that before a person actually commits an outward deed which breaks the law, there is an even more fundamental transgression that takes place in a person’s heart. Jeremiah prophecied in chapter 31 of Jeremiah that there would come a time when the law would be written on hearts some time after the captivity:

    23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

    31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
    with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
    32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
    when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
    because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
    declares the Lord.
    33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
    34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
    because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
    declares the Lord.
    “For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

    So because Israel rejected and broke the Covenant, a “new” one was to replace the one that they had not really ever kept well.

    This new covenant was to be written in a person’s heart and mind. Now many of Jesus’ followers recognized his teachings on “love” principles as being a fulfillment of this prophecy in Jeremiah. It made sense. What other than a “love” principle could God have meant to be in one’s heart as a “replacement” for the obsolete covenant? Jesus explains this principle explicitly in Matthew 7:12 as follows :

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Now in Greek “this sums up” is the word for “is the same as” or “is” which means what Jesus is saying is that this love principle which was to apply even to enemies was the same teaching as what the “law and the prophets” had advocated. Paul must have seen things this way because he said in Romans 13:8-10:

    8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    …and James 2:8 says:

    8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.

    But Leviticus 19:18 already said:

    18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

    I think however that Jesus specifically meant to declare this to be the new covenant to be written on our hearts because he calls this “new:”

    34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

    Also it seems the author of Hebrews as well as other writings in the New Testament suggest that their authors made this connection of love being the new covenant written on hearts.

    Now I get to Acts 15 finally!

    Starting with the first verse: Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

    5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

    6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

    12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon[a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

    16 “‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
    Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
    17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
    says the Lord, who does these things’—
    18 things known from long ago.

    19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:

    The apostles and elders, your brothers,

    To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

    24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

    30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. [34 Some manuscripts include here But Silas decided to remain there.] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.

    The council made some decisions regarding Gentile believers which would not have been subject to the laws which were given specifically to the literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and not to the whole world) that they would “do well to avoid these things.” I think there are compelling reasons to believe that these were thought to be in ADDITION to things which would have been understood like the law of love principle and the Sabbath (which the above passage mentions), and in fact to every part of the Torah which would have applied to non-Jews—with the specific omission of those parts which were fulfilled (meaning things such as lamb sacrifices which pointed forward to the coming Messiah which was thought to be the “lamb of God” which at this point the Christians believed to be fulfilled in Jesus).

    Eating blood, and meat from strangled animals and sexual immorality (which I presume to include the entirety of Leviticus 18) all would have potentially detrimental health consequences, but it is possible that abstaining from food sacrificed to idols was given because the hermeneutics were still unclear to the church at this point on this subject. I think this because despite what this council said, Paul did not apparently consider this “council” truly authoritative since he later wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 :

    Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.

    4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

    7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

    9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

    Anyway, I am a Christian that believes that the Leviticus 11, and 18 laws were primarily given primarily for health reasons—which would still be relevant even after any ceremonial laws met their fulfillment. I believe ceremonial sabbaths which were not part of the weekly Sabbath were no longer necessary to keep after Jesus died on the cross. Paul apparently believed this because of his comments in Colossians 2.

    More specifically he doesn’t say which Sabbaths he is referring to but mentions that they were a shadow of things to come.

    The weekly Sabbath which referenced Creation and Salvation (from Egypt for the Jews—and from sin for everyone) looked back at PAST events rather than forward to future events to be later fulfilled, so I believe there was never any reason for them to be done away with (or fulfilled in such a way that there was no longer a reason to keep it). Not only was the weekly Sabbath a commemorative celebration like the Passover, but unlike the Passover which was given to the Hebrews right before leaving Egypt the Sabbath Jesus said was made for man, and Isaiah specifically tells us that it applied to Gentiles that wished to be identified with God’s people in Isaiah 56 :

    56 This is what the LORD says:

    “Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
    for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
    2 Blessed is the one who does this—
    the person who holds it fast,
    who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”

    3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say,
    “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”
    And let no eunuch complain,
    “I am only a dry tree.”

    4 For this is what the LORD says:

    “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant—
    5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
    I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.
    6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
    to minister to him,
    to love the name of the LORD,
    and to be his servants,
    all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
    7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
    Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
    for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations.”
    8 The Sovereign LORD declares—
    he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
    “I will gather still others to them
    besides those already gathered.”

    So if you are looking for Christians (who mostly at least for health reasons) choose to obey Leviticus 11 and Leviticus 18 laws (I’m sure you can find many who include avoiding sex during menstruation—though most view this as another health principle which hasn’t changed but which can be dealt with differently now due to technological advances in health science) and who also keep the weekly Sabbath then you should know I am a member of a Christian denomination believing this way and there are others but my denomination is called “Seventh-Day Adventist.”

  15. Unfortunately I’ve made a few mistakes above for example I said “Jews” in place of “Hebrews” and made some grammatically wrong sentences. Please pardon me for this and try to look for my intent.

  16. Thank you for your response Shawn. It would be helpful if you would have simply referenced verses rather than cutting and pasting large chunks of Scripture, as the post is quite lengthy, and I am able to quickly reference verses I don’t know.

    I would have a difficult time responding to your post in general however, as I see it as largely irrelevant to the topics I raised, and many of the paragraphs transition to new topics in ways I have difficulty following. You seem to clearly believe in the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, allowing you great freedom in how you choose to interpret the Scriptures. This is a central tenet of Protestantism, and is understandable, however this obviously has no place in Judaism, nor in many other Christian sects, such as Catholicism. Jews believe that G-d gave the Torah, as well as the instructions for how it was to be interpreted, to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This is known as the duality of the written and oral Torah. (Incidentally, the Oral Torah was written down millenia later, and is primarily encapsulated in the Talmud, and the later commentaries on the Talmud. For example, how a Jew keeps the Sabbath is not a matter of his personal interpretation, and is not influenced by the indigestion he might feel that day, but is rather defined with great rigor according to the Law of Moses. A Jew either keeps the Sabbath or he doesn’t, and if he doesn’t there are legally defined methods for contrition. It might be helpful for you to think of the Torah as the Constitution, and the Oral Law as the body of legal precedent by which the Constitution has been interpreted over the years.

    I can make a few brief remarks regarding your post. Jews do not believe that the dietary restrictions in the Torah have anything to do with health. A pig is in no way an inherently unhealthy animal. That is a medical fact and has not changed from Biblical times until now. Moreover a pig could be raised in a lab, fed the healthiest foods, regularly injected with vaccines and antibiotics, and it would still not be kosher. A second, and superfluous example could be made of rabbits, which are not in any way inherently unhealthy, though they are not kosher. I do not know why you believe this to be about a matter of health. Similarly, coitus during menstruation is not inherently unhealthy from a biological perspective.

    You make the following statement: “So because Israel rejected and broke the Covenant, a “new” one was to replace the one that they had not really ever kept well.”

    Jews consider that type of thinking utter rubbish. Jews frequently “broke the Covenant,” even in the Torah itself, most notably with the incident of the Golden Calf. G-d did not then revoke the Torah. The Torah itself contains the mechanisms for repair and contrition when the “Covenant is broken.”

    You also make the following statement: “I’ve done serious study in the Bible (Mostly Old Testament since it is larger than the New Testament) about how God’s system of Justice works—specifically relating to word which in English get translated into “Outcry” or similar language.”

    I do not know what you mean by this. You can either read Hebrew or you can’t. Using a concordance to trace a single word throughout Scripture is often extremely misleading due to the variety of contexts in which it can occur. There are dozens, if not hundreds of words that mean radically different things in different contexts, just as in English. Consider how ‘taxing’ can mean both to have the government demand money and also to feel fatigued. I do not see how you would know how to read a verse by looking at a single word, when that word can have as many as half a dozen meanings, all of which can vary with the binyan, (root structure), part of speech, tense, syntax, or simply context.

  17. I’m sorry for the lengthiness of my last post, and I will try to make my transitions simpler and easier to follow.

    Right now I would like to say how interesting your statement about how extramarital sex was outlawed during the time of David is to me. If this “traditional” understanding is correct it could easily account for past negative cultural associations among Christians.

    I’ll respond to the comments you made to me in my next post. My main point for writing you was that I thought I could maybe help you understand how Christians in Acts 15 may have come to the understanding that they did. Also I thought you might find it interesting to know that there are Christians who don’t just pick and choose among the Old Testament what they wish to apply and what they would rather ignore but rather systematically and conscientiously keep much of the law of Moses.

    Perhaps if I understood how and why Jews today can use Mosaic legislation about how to deal with woman during their period as a reason for still avoiding premarital sex, I would have responded more appropriately.

    I’m in the process of learning Hebrew but I understand the problems relating to my present lack of knowledge.

  18. Thank you again for your follow-up post. I’ll make a couple of quick points.

    1) The sex that was outlawed during the time of King David was NOT “extra-marital” sex. Most forms of extra-marital sex were already outlawed in the Torah itself. Consider, for instance, that adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest are all extra-marital sex.

    What the rabbinic court of David did was outlaw pre-marital sex between consenting unmarried heterosexuals in cases were the woman was purified after her time of menstruation through immersion in the waters of either a mikve (like a baptistry), or a mayaan, (a spring of living water, also rivers, oceans, etc). The issue was pre-marital sex, not extra-marital sex. Pre-marital sex is only one small subset of extra-marital sex.

    2) My point about Acts 15 is not that no Christians hold to its precepts, but that it seems like an infinitesimally small number do. And based on the context of the passage, it appears clear that the Elders were enacting the precepts in that chapter as binding on all Christians for all time. Hence, my failure to understand why Christians would not condemn coitus during menstruation, which is heavily emphasized in the Old Testament as outside the bounds of sexual purity.

    3) I have always found that Christians DO seem to pick and choose what to follow, and not only from the Old Testament. The most obvious example seems to come from 1 Corinthians 11. I believe only a very few, small denominations demand that women not pray without their head covered, or that they refrain from taking haircuts. If you believe the New Testament is the literal, divinely-inspired word of G-d, then how can you simply avoid this passage out when it suits?

    4) Jews wished to keep young women from having sex prior to marriage as a way of avoiding the negative prohibition listed in Deuteronomy 23:18. Basically there was a concern at the time that pre-marital sex could lead to situations in which young, unmarried Jewish girls were becoming prostitutes. The Rabbis therefore forbade all pre-marital sex. One way of ensuring that girls will not have sex prior to marriage is also to forbid unmarried women access to the mikve, (again, like a baptistry), in which case they cannot escape the condition of tuumah (impurity) that is brought on my mentruation, (the condition known in Hebrew as a woman being a Niddah).

    The punishment for having sexual relations with a menstruant (niddah), is listed in the Torah, and is severe in the extreme. The punishment is known as karet, which means literally to have your soul cut off from the rest of Israel by G-d himself.

  19. Here goes my response! I will talk about Acts 15 in a little bit.

    1. First, I think if we all are to further all of our knowledge in this conversation, we have to understand where the others are coming from. So I will call out the obvious:

    A) Joe is, as stated, an orthodox Jew. Therefore, you do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, nor that the New Testament is inspired by God. With this in consideration, if we quote Jesus’s teachings or New Testament, we must understand that we are only representing what Christianity believes.
    Therefore, the inspiration of the New Testament as the word of God, nor the deity of Jesus Christ as the promised messiah cannot be presumed in this conversation as a given. Since both parties do not agree on this, the “persuasion” of this debate must be found elsewhere. Any mention of the New Testament or Jesus’s teachings will only function as saying “Christians believe this because so and so says this.”

    B) Shawn and I are evangelical Christians, not orthodox Jews. Therefore, in the same way that Joe does not attribute authority to Jesus’s teachings or the New Testament, we do not attribute authority to the Oral Law (as we do not believe it originated from Moses, nor was God inspired) nor do we attribute authority to the teachings of Rabbi’s.

    C) What both parties DO agree on is that the Old Testament is inspired of God. It seems that an important part of this friendly debate (it seems that the three of us remain friendly thus far, wouldn’t you guys agree?) is the correct method of interpretation and application.

    Before I go on, does anybody disagree with any of the above?

  20. A) Stating what “Christianity” believes is problematic for me. Aside from the obvious differences in contemporary Christian theology–such as the fact that Catholics believe in Purgatory while Southern Baptists do not, I also believe that within the New Testament itself, and the the early Christian councils, there was significant disagreement about what constituted “Christian” belief. For example, I have stated that I am highly skeptical that the Apostle Paul believed in the Virgin Birth. Ebionite Christians did not believe Jesus was divine. The Arians caused controversy for a very long time due to the fact that they did not believe that Jesus was begotten of the Father. The examples could continue for a very long time.

    So to speak about Christianity please just do be very specific when you are referring to who believes what, even when referencing the New Testament.

    B) It is unclear to me that, based on Jesus’ own statements, he did not accept the authority of the Oral Law. I also believe that frequently when the Gospel writers quote Jesus discussing the “Law” he is referring to both the Written and Oral Torah. Belief in the Oral Law was widespread among both the Essenes and Pharisees at the time of Jesus, and was rejected only by the Sadducees. Christians might disagree with me on this, but virtually every religious Jew of that period who was not a Sadducee believed in the authority of the Oral Law. Without it, it’s unclear to me how a great many of the commands of the Written Law would be interpreted or followed.

    C) Yes, I think this is a friendly debate. 😉

  21. I have to say, I originally posted because I thought it would be worthwhile to mention why Jews prohibit pre-marital sex without it actually being anywhere in our Bible. I did also note that it’s not listed anywhere in the New Testament.

    Beyond that I got sidetracked into discussing several contradictions that exist within the N. Testament. That was my fault.

    Largely though, those have not been responded to. I do realize though, that I don’t really have the time to engage in a protracted debate on why Evangelical Christians do or do not believe X or Y. I think there are numerous reasons why Christianity is not true, and that one needn’t even go beyond a close examination of the New Testament itself. For instance the N. Testament gives completely contradictory tales for how Judas Iscariot died, and how the Field of Blood was purchased. (Compare Matthew 27 and Acts 1). Such examples could be multiplied many times. That one just happens to be glaring.

    That said, as much as it might be enjoyable, I can’t engage in any extended debate at this time. I have too many other projects I’m working on. I thank you for your time and consideration.

  22. Carsonclews: I think I can fully agree with your points A, B, and C. I might add that a recent poll shows that a great number of people have confused notions on what exactly an “Evangelical Christian” is—even by those who claim to be one, so this part may or may not be exactly correct, or may need definitional clarification, but if we just leave this term out I don’t think much is changed anyway and perhaps it would potentially help to avoid confusion to not say this. I can say I believe the Bible is God’s word and I have a desire to share my discoveries in these scriptures—yet I also don’t attend a church specifically said to have “Evangelical” in it’s name.

    Joe:
    I appreciate the insights you decided to share from a Jewish perspective on Premarital sex. I was thinking “Premarital Sex” when I wrote “Extramarital Sex” realizing the many restrictions in Leviticus 18 relating to “Extramarital sex” so I’m sorry for that confusion. Also your other remarks about why you feel Christianity “is not true” provided a chance for me to better understand why some Jews today don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. Although I hope there can be more good exchange of ideas here—since this conversation I believe could be profitably continued, I still understand not having time for extended debate.

    One thing that might help you understand how I (and maybe others like me) can believe as I do in Jesus as the Messiah and the validity of the New Testament despite some of the evidence you’ve presented, is that I believe writers in the New Testament were fallible individuals which were inspired with the thoughts to share—though I don’t make the claim that they were always given the exact words to write. My position on inspiration is that the writers of the Bible were God’s penmen not His pen. If you believe that the Old Testament is free of some of these same sorts of arguments used for rejecting the New, I may have a case for you to consider also. I know I said I would respond to what you wrote in my next post but this is getting long enough so I think I shall defer it again to a future post (I hope this does not offend, but I’m doing this for the sake of clarity and brevity).

  23. Wow Joe, Carson, Shawn, you guys have provided me with the most interesting back-and-forth I’ve ever read in a comments section. Thanks for keeping things “civil” as well, especially with such controversial material.

    I am interested in hearing the testimony of one who remains consistently and daily in the Word, and who has prayerfully (and when not involved with a woman at the time) asked God himself whether or not it is good, wise, or even merely acceptable for him to practice pre-marital sex, and came out of that interaction fully convinced in his own mind that God is ok with him engaging in it.

    I’ve never met such a person, but if he does exist, I’d love to hear a detailed account of what God has shown him. Specifically why it is good, wise, or merely just acceptable.

    • Thanks Jason. I’ve been a bit torn about what if anything I should say here (to you and others). Joe for example seems to not have time for further dialogue now though much has been left hanging; but I suppose if anyone asks me a single question it would be far simpler to respond. So I invite single questions—even if they are re-posted ones so that I can prioritize answers, especially since I also don’t have lots of time to explore everything left unaddressed in one big post or millions of short ones for that matter.

      At this point I’ll try to answer your single question to the best of my ability regarding my personal experience and my experience with others. To address your question, I would say I have studied for several years about this subject mostly because it seemed that the conclusions I kept coming to did not seem “safe” as a final answer. I had a Bible study partner which I would meet up with on Friday evenings and often study for seven or eight hours in one sitting, and I can plainly tell you that we were not in relationships during most of the initial part of this period. I honestly have to say though that I don’t read the Bible every single day (though I would like to be able to say I’ve always done this). I consequently disqualify myself from meeting your criteria on this basis.

      During my time researching this though, I did find notable individuals who would tell me that they had done the same sort of study that I had done and that they even involved themselves in selective swinging type activities with other christian couples who believed similarly. I have never felt personally while praying about such matters (when not involved in a romantic relationship or otherwise) that God was advising me to swing freely with other people without specifically asking God about the specifics of each case and then asking God for wisdom about each situation. I do believe God could call someone to such a thing in specific cases where a person wasn’t merely following the lusts of the flesh but truly serving God but I haven’t been led to do that. As far as premarital sex goes though in a far less casual context—I am SURE I know committed Christians who have studied what the Bible says about this and after having prayed about their specific situation truly came to believe that they were given the green light to pleasure each other sexually yet in a responsible way. Having explained my Biblically based position on premarital sex to quite a few people, I have been subsequently told such things from people I believe are telling the truth.

      This is not to say there are a great many. I also believe because of the great potential for misunderstandings in this area there is probably a general reluctance for people to line up and say “YES, I am one of these people who DAILY study God’s word, and I am also a good christian person who practices this lifestyle let me tell you all about what God told me!!”

  24. I love how Christians love to cite the Old Testament when it’s convenient, but when others point out the abusive, disgusting laws about stoning your children and killing daughters suddenly the old covenant is irrelevant.

    • To be precise, Will, much of the Old Testament was a national covenant with Ancient Israel. Therefore, contextually speaking, it carries a lesson for us, yet doesn’t apply directly to us.
      As for me as a Christian (Christian, by definition, means that we are supposed to follow Jesus, although we are nowhere near perfect), Jesus said “let him who is without sin throw the first stone.” That’s the teaching I, personally, follow. However, it should be noted how seriously God takes rebellion.
      I mean…how would you recommend he handle rebellion, gluttony, drunkenness?

  25. My goal is to set believers free from FALSE GUILT caused by COUNTERFEIT SIN.
    This is the most detailed answer you will ever read that the idea of PRE-MARITAL SEX as a sin does NOT exist in the Bible. There are not even rules that require a ceremony, a minister nor a written agreement to establish marriage, certainly not a requirement for any government to issue a license. Pastors and Preachers will NEVER teach this to you, because it would cause the congregation to divide and their salary to dry up. It would also cause loan payments to the bank for the church building to go into default.

    It’s too long to post here- the blog will not allow it. But I guarantee if you read it you’ll be astonished and won’t be disappointed by the peace it will bring.

    Please read here:
    http://counterfeitsin.tumblr.com/post/54067457887/if-all-lust-is-a-sin-stop-looking-at-your-wife

  26. Pingback: The Biblical Precedent Against Premarital Sex | Clint Blizzard Has A Blog

  27. Pingback: Sex On Your Period In The Bible Camfrog | Camfrog

  28. Pingback: Proverbs 13: 20 | Rodgers That

  29. Really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Joe pointed out a great deal of inconsistencies in the New Testament. Something I always have picked up on. The Torah lacks inconsistencies like this while the “written by the romans” new Testament is filled with inconsistencies. G-D is not the author of confusion.

  30. The Genesis passage is so obviously refering to WIFE in MARRIAGE that if you disagree you are an autistic retard…

    And the Greek word for woman/wife is “Gineka” nothing like “gune” lol Im Greek alright? Linguistics freak n shit… maybe you just a freak 🙂 Stop posting misleading articles when you obviously have zero clje on things maybe??!!

    • Thank you for your insightful comment. I just wanted to verify, you know that the old testament was written in Hebrew, right?
      The septuagent was a Greek translation of the Hebrew original.

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