What’s so wrong with sex before marriage?

Is God the pouncing ogre when He says that sex is strictly for marriage, or is He the loving, caring father, who knows that lovemaking is only satisfying when the lovers have a commitment of marriage?

The Bible is not the "prudish" book that common opinion says it is. In Genesis, right at the beginning of our species, God instructs Adam to "know" (i.e. have intercourse with) his wife, Eve. Human sexuality is dealt with as an issue that is very much a part of our make-up. The "love poem" that is the Song of Solomon contains some very descriptive passages relating to lovers enjoying each others bodies. There are also many passages that relate the results of "inappropriate" sexual contact. There are strong prohibitions against incest, rape, homosexuality and any form of sexual molestation. The Judaeo-Christian "cultural" prohibitions have grown out of these commandments, and centuries of observation of the results of sexual behaviour.

 A few facts.

    Females who have slept with three or more people over a lifetime are 15 times more likely to get cervical cancer.

    Couples who have sex before marriage are more likely to get divorced. According to a study by the National Survey of Family Growth, ( USA ) women who have premarital sex increase their odds of divorce by about 60 percent. This fact alone provides secular evidence for St. Paul ’s injunction, "flee fornication."

    The more promiscuous you are before marriage, the more likely you are to commit adultery AFTER marriage.

    If you live together before marriage, you are more unlikely to marry that person. Columbia University found that "only 26 percent of women surveyed and a scant 19 percent of men" married the person they were living with. Another study showed that even if they do marry, couples who begin their marriages through cohabitation are almost twice as likely to divorce within 10 years compared to all first marriages: 57 percent to 80 percent.

    Found that 'perfect person'? Don't be fooled! People who have sex before marriage run a risk of marrying someone who is not right for them. Sexual intimacy can be emotionally blinding and it makes couples feel closer than they really are. One counsellor put it perfectly by saying, "Real love can stand the test of time without physical intimacy." The sexually active lose objectivity."

    That who try it outside of marriage often suffer guilt and fear due to the dangers of STDs or unwanted pregnancy. Feelings of guilt can lead to frigidity and impotence."

    Perhaps not so remarkably, it is those who stay pure and marry who enjoy sex most: The Family Research Council surveyed 1,100 people about their sexual satisfaction. In a Washington Post op-ed, FRC’s William Mattox, Jr. took a look at the inspiring results. It was "found that 72 percent of all married ‘traditionalists (those who believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong) report high sexual satisfaction. This is," Mattox explained, "roughly 31 percentage points higher than the level registered by unmarried ‘non-traditionalists’ (people who have no or only some objection to sex outside of marriage) and 13 percentage points higher than that registered by married non-traditionalists."

July 19, 2000 The Medical Institute Advisory www.medinstitute.org

Most Sexually Experienced Teens Wish They Had Waited.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy recently surveyed a nationally representative sample of 501 teens ages 12 to 17 and found that 41 percent of them had had sexual intercourse. Among those who were sexually experienced, 63 percent of the total and 72 percent of the girls reported wishing they had waited longer before becoming sexually active.

Other important findings of the survey included:
1.) Teens rated their parents as the most influential factor in their decisions about sex.
2.) 78 percent of all teens surveyed believed that teenagers should not be sexually active.
3.) 89 percent of those surveyed would advise their own brother, sister, or friend not to have sex until at least after finishing high school.

In 1997, 73.0% of births to married women were healthy, compared with 53.5% of births to single women.

In 1997, 70.6% of births to women with at least a high school education were healthy, compared with 51.2% of births to women with less than a high school education.

Mothers under 15 years of age continue to be the most likely to have a low birth-weight baby; risk of low birth-weight is lowest among births to women 25-29 years of age.

Low birth-weight infants as a percentage of all infants born in the United States, by age of mother (1998) ...
Under Age 15 13.1%
Ages 15 - 19 9.5%
Ages 20 - 24 7.5%
Ages 25 - 29 6.7%
Ages 30 - 34 7.0%
Ages 35 - 49 8.7%

To read more on this subject go here




Sample Evaluative Essay

Task:   Evaluate X’s argument in What’s so wrong with sex before marriage?

X, in his article, sets out to convince his readers that they shouldn’t have sex before marriage.  Undoubtedly his intended audience is teenagers and he seeks to convince them by presenting lots of separate, unconnected premises in support of his basic contention.   Surely, none of these premises on their own is strong enough to prevent a teenager from having sex before marriage but it is understandable how some teenagers may be greatly affected if they are presented with this whole range of reasons all at once.  The argument would be a lot stronger if all the premises were linked and were all well supported. Depending on a teenager’s background and experience he/she will find certain parts of the argument more or less convincing.   For example X begins his argument by seeking to present the Bible as a ‘cool’ text and an authority on sexual matters.   If I am anti-religion, or simply of a different religion than Christianity, then I will obviously not find this aspect of his argument convincing.   After discussing the authority of the Bible, X moves on to the presentation of what he calls ‘a few facts’.   Whether or not, what X presents as ‘facts’ are indeed facts is the first question we should ask and even if they are accepted as facts, one still needs to go on to consider the significance of these facts.

X’s first choice of fact is somewhat worrying.   Instead of trying to convince us logically, through reason, he jumps in with scare tactics.  If you are a woman and you have sex before marriage you are 15 times more likely to get cervical cancer.  So, what X seems to be saying is ‘if you want to avoid cervical cancer, then avoid sex before marriage’. This is similar to the tactic of showing videos of actual bloody abortions to teenage girls, used so often by the anti-abortion lobby. Trying to get someone to adopt your point of view, through fear, is not a sound way of arguing your case.

X’s next fact suggests that if you have sex before marriage then you have a greater chance of getting divorced. To me, all this suggests is that those who did not have sex before marriage did not do so because they believed strongly in the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.  Those same people, when the marriage goes wrong, are equally reluctant to get divorced for exactly the same reason.   Marriage is sacred and even when it is an unhappy one, it must be endured because ‘what God has joined together no man must separate’.  Those who have sex before marriage are relaxed about sex, realistic about relationships and are prepared to admit defeat and try again elsewhere.   What X should be seeking to establish is the degree of happiness in a marriage amongst those who had sex before the marriage and those that hadn’t. What he might find is that there are many unhappy people in marriages because they are afraid to get divorced – and what he might further find is that the people who are afraid to get divorced are the people who were afraid to have sex before marriage.

X goes on to claim that ‘if you live together before marriage, you are more unlikely to marry that person’.  He obviously wants to present this as evidence as to why you should not have sex outside marriage.  However, if what he claims is true, then I would say that it leads to the opposite conclusion: you should have sex before marriage - it’s a way of testing whether the marriage would work.  If your ‘hormones’ are pushing you into having sex and you marry someone just so that you can legitimately have sex and thereby calm your raging hormones, then surely your marriage is based on very insecure foundations.   However, if you have been having sex regularly with someone and you still decide to marry them, you are doing so for much sounder reasons.   Surely it is better to have sex with someone and not marry them than to marry them, have sex for the first month, become unhappy and stay with them for the rest of your life just because you think marriage and sex is sacred?


Above, I have only focused on three of the ‘facts’ that X offers in support of his claim that sex before marriage is wrong. He offers many other ‘facts’ unconnected with each other which contain   as many, if not more flaws, than those just dealt with above.   Overall, X’s argument against sex before marriage is unconvincing because of the disconnectedness of the premises and the questionable interpretations of his ‘facts’.   Indeed the facts themselves are questionable.   X has failed to convince me that sex before marriage is wrong and any teenager that may read his article, while considering having sex, would undoubtedly act according to his own wishes rather than follow any advise given by X.

Copyright - © 2002 David O'Regan - All rights reserved.