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Your religion in this picture . . .

Apart from various other reasons there are also religious convictions, like in *Gerrit’s case, that leave people with feelings of guilt regarding premarital sex. A religious leader explains it is the sexual aspect that makes a marriage different to any other relationship between people of the opposite sex. God meant sex to take place in a marriage and therefore the Word refers to sex outside of the marriage as immoral, unchaste, adulterous and so forth. From there also the feelings of guilt if people live together because God’s intention was not that people live together as married couple but do not marry.

These feelings of guilt causes one to want to get married at some point, even if you’ve been living together for a long time. Even non-believers are prepared to tie the knot and end the living together situation because God created the knowledge of marriage in people, even if they are not Christian. Without this God created yearning you would be able to simply live together.

Some religious leaders acknowledge the grey areas. Laws can make it difficult for a marriage to take place. A woman, for example, that will lose her pension and/or medical aid if she gets married again. You are then forced to just live together even if you want to do it differently. One could possibly have a contract drawn up by a lawyer that will lawfully protect the relationship.

Other religious leaders believe that the grey areas do not exist for premarital sex. Sex outside of the marriage portrays a story out of place, a story of lust and desire that cannot be controlled without the dedication of true love. In short, the story of man and woman is the story of God and His people for the world. Sex is the image of intimacy and outside of marriage the image of God is tarnished and sexual intimacy is declared cheap as part of everyday life and relationships. Sex brings unity and thus a person shares unity with many others when it is actually just meant for marriage.

What do experts say?

Psychologists are of the opinion that it is not about premarital sex being right or wrong. Whatever people do, they do it to protect themselves emotionally, even if the deed is destructive and against your better judgement or principles. It helps you to survive emotionally even if it is just for a while.

Brain research suggests that there are systems in the brain when it concerns sex. The sexual urge, a romantic component and an attachment component (commitment). The idea is that all three come together and that intimacy (in all aspects of it, including sex) is experienced in a committed relationship. The reality, however, is that this rarely happens. Therefore we find marriage problems, sexual problems as well as problems like adultery, paedophilic acts, molestation, rape and sex addiction.

It is rare that a person does not want intimacy and commitment in the same relationship. If two people cannot share in all the aspects of a relationship, sex becomes a commodity and part of a taking structure, in other words: I want something from you but not you. I want you now and not tomorrow. The existential phycologist Rollo May wrote in 1969:

“It is strange that in our society the things that go into a relationship – the sharing of tastes, fantasies, dreams, hopes and fears – seem to make people more shy and vulnerable than going to bed with each other does.They are more wary of the tenderness that goes with psychological and spiritual nakedness than of the physical nakedness in sexual intimacy.”

But if two people share in all these aspects of a relationship they quickly realize if they can make themselves vulnerable with each other and if they want to commit for the rest of their lives. Then the sexual relationship becomes a natural outcome of their love. This can also happen with two people that are not married but in a committed relationship.

The individual’s values are very important and thus it is vital that one communicates them and also respect each other’s values. Mutual respect and good communication is what makes intimacy grow and sex all the more exciting. If you can’t be vulnerable with each other sex is just part of the taking structure. The body is separated from the spiritual. If brain research shows that there are three systems of sexual urge, romantic love and attachment (commitment) in the brain, it makes sense to try and keep these three together.

*Pseudonyms were used