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.”
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.