Sex before marriage. . . are there exceptions?

Is sex before marriage still wrong? And when we talk about it can we judge fourteen year old teenagers with raging hormones and divorced sixty-year-olds that found love again, equally?

It’s been drilled into us: Sex before marriage is wrong. You can get pregnant and on top of that God does not approve of it. Stop! Is it really that black and white or do we have to delve a bit deeper? Today many people only marry after thirty. Divorcees find happiness after a failed marriage but they have their children to consider before remarrying. Divorces take time. People truly love each other but they have lost their faith in marriage. Senior citizens get another chance at love, but are not up for a marriage in their golden years . . . Does this rule that we made as Christians apply to all of us.

YES for premarital sex: ‘It’s vital’

Leon Botha* believes that it is vital to be sure that you and your partner are sexually suitable. “If sex in a relationship is right, it encompasses 20% of the relationship. If it is wrong, on the other hand, it increases to 80%. It is important that it will be something you enjoy for the rest of your life. It will be part of a successful relationship. Why do you go through the effort to ensure that your personalities go well together, that you have the same opinion about religion and the number of kids you want? Why is it then not important to ensure that you make each other happy in the bedroom? To not engage intimately before you commit to someone for the rest of your life is like gambling.”

Lisa van der Merwe* believes that premarital sex is a way to discover what you are looking for in a partner, but that it is ultimately your decision. For her it is more important to engage in it responsibly rather than to say it is wrong. “I think that if it is a big deal for you, you should not sleep together. If you feel it is wrong and a sin, you should not do it because the result will also be negative – you will feel super guilty and regret it. If it is not a big deal I can’t see why it should be a problem.

I do not believe that every person you have sex with takes a piece of your soul or anything like that. If you do think so, it’s probably not a good idea to have sex with a lot of people. But if you don’t feel like that, what is the harm? It becomes a physical thing and not necessarily a heavy emotional thing. I think it frees you (especially women) to decide for themselves what they want – to discover what you like and what you want in a man. I think society attaches too much value to a type of chastity and it is not good.”

Sex freed me. . .
Gerrit de Villiers* admits: “I am a devout Christian. With that I am also a young man that had sex before marriage. For me there are situations and opinions that do not agree with the structured church and community in South Africa. One of these is premarital sex.

First of all there are no real grey areas for me – sex is sex. We can call it something else and soften it, but we have to be honest about it with ourselves. Secondly, prejudice is a manmade concept about what God’s opinion of us is. If we are honest, we will realize we are not without sin and never will be. There is an argument that says you cannot keep the crow from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest there. It describes our battle against sin.

When I was younger I already recognised my overactive sexual nature and it got me down. My self-image got worse by the day and I thought of myself as unclean and a bad Christian. It got so bad that I could not lead a normal life. Not that I was sexually active at that time (I wasn’t), but I could not look at myself in the mirror because I could not process God’s judgement about my thoughts.

Later I realized that it’s not just me. Most of my friends and young people my age experienced the same sexual urges. After that I thoroughly thought about who my God is and what He means to me. I wanted to see my own God and not the images I grew up with and what I saw every Sunday in church. The first thing I realised is that I was created, God made me, every part of me.

God’s salvation gives me freedom. Now I can stop worrying about this sin or that I accidentally look at that girl in an unclean manner. Now I can focus on what is really important – love. I am not married, but I love my partner. I never want to hurt her. I have the opportunity to love her fully now. We have sex, but don’t judge ourselves for it, because what happens tomorrow is part of God’s plan. We are not stupid and had ourselves tested for STD’s and we do not want children now so we use protection. But I am loyal to her.

We have sex, we call it by its name and we are honest about the possible consequences. Now we can plan ahead and we don’t hurt each other. It is peaceful and full of love. I hurt people much more when there were grey areas or a denial about what was happening. We were not honest and did not think anything would happen. I did not plan and hurt many people in the process. Sex is sex and there is no short cut around it. But it is not the end of the world. Do it in love, without judgement.”


NO to premarital sex: ‘I am glad that I waited’

Elma de Wet* says that she is glad she decided to wait. “As a young girl I always wondered about premarital sex. I told myself that it would be terrible to get pregnant because I would never be able to tell my parents and I would rather have an abortion if it came to it. Therefore my husband and I never had sex before we got married. We dated for a long time before we got married and it was very difficult, but we felt the same. Not so much for our Christian beliefs but because of our fear of pregnancy. Today I am very glad that we persevered in our decision to wait because as a mother of three children I realise today how naïve I was to consider abortion as an option. If I did get pregnant and chose that route, it would have destroyed me and would never have been able to forgive myself. I truly think God protected us against it by giving us a strong enough willpower to persevere.”

She also says: “I am not saying we were all innocent! And it definitely wasn’t easy, but today we are happily married. I think those that say you first have to find out if you and your partner are sexually compatible are just looking for ways to justify their decision. Every man and woman is sexually adaptable and if you have God on your side any couple can work through their differences. I am not prejudice to couples in a loving relationship that decide they are going to sleep together . . . if they know that they are going to get married and they are ready to raise a baby together – but on the other hand: Do you ever know that for sure? I think there are many grey areas and older people that know the world are more prepared for the responsibilities of premarital sex than young people. That big decision is every couple’s to make on their own. One should just never make the mistake to think that it is only physical fun with no emotion that goes with it . . .”

*Pseudonyms were used

To be continued...

*Pseudonyms were used