Last updated on August 27, 2022
So I want to know what I can and can’t do. Literally. Tell me what I can and can’t do with a woman. We’ll talk about the other areas of life later.
If I see a pretty girl walking in the shops, I can’t think sexually of her and we can’t do anything sexual together. Can I think she’s an attractive-looking person?
If I have a Christian girlfriend, whom I love, who has either fully given herself to God or not, can I think sexually with her? Can I kiss her? What can I do? Or what if we’re engaged and about to get married?
Or if I have a girlfriend whom I love, can I speak to and get to know other girls because we know we can’t fully commit to somebody until we’re married. There’s too much risk to put all eggs and expectations in one basket. I can’t talk sexually before marriage? Can I talk in a seductive manner to allure a girl?
When I’m married, can I look at other women thinking they’re attractive? Can I maybe think of them sexually?
What can I do? Tell me.
Please bear with me as I’m going to start with the foundations and build up.
Having sex without marriage is the word porneia in the original Greek of the New Testament. It is translated as fornication, but many of the newer translations use “sexual immorality” or just plain “immorality” because the translators think “fornication” is too old of a word and not often used. Unfortunately, “sexual immorality” and “immorality” are too vague. They don’t capture the meaning of the word well. For a list of sexual terms in the Bible and their meaning, see Notes on Sex.
Now that we understand the meaning of the term, we can see whether it is bad. In this, we’ll let God answer:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10).
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
The word “bed” in Hebrews 13:4 is translating the Greek word koite. It literally means “bed” and it is where we get our English word “cot” from, but the Greeks used the word the same we say “Jack was sleeping was Jane.” You know that Jack and Jane were having sex. By the way, we get our word “coitus” from this same word. “Coitus” is the act of intercourse.
Now, this should lead to the question of why God said it is wrong for you to get naked with a girl and engage in sexual acts. God doesn’t make arbitrary rules. The laws He gives are there to make life better. Therefore, there are things about having sex without marriage that make life worse. For an answer see:
One problem that occurs when sex enters a relationship is that it dominates the relationship. Everything revolves around sex and the relationship stops developing. Ultimately the relationship falls apart because sex is not enough to hold it together.
If you understand that you may not have intercourse before marriage, the next question is what about the things done prior to intercourse? Can you do anything so long as your penis doesn’t enter her vagina, mouth, or anus?
The first problem is restraint. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, “I didn’t mean for it to go this far,” “I don’t know what happened,” or “It was an accident.” Such statements aren’t lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn’t have a healthy respect for the strength of his sexual instinct.
Solomon points out the problem when he asked, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it but it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn’t change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, “But I love her!” Solomon’s point is that your feelings toward your girlfriend won’t change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.
Solomon also asked, “Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn’t mean to step on it, but you’ll still be hurt because your intentions don’t change what it is. Thus, the excuse, “But I didn’t mean for it to go this far!” becomes an empty one because your intentions don’t change your body’s drive.
That is why Solomon concludes, “So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. The “in to” in this passage is meant quite literally, as in his penis going into a woman. When you start stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when things go further than you wanted.
That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can’t be legitimately completed.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:3-7).
God wants you to be set apart for a holy purpose (sanctified). You cannot be holy and special when you have your penis in girls you are not married to. However, to keep yourself out of such situations, you have to exercise self-control over your body (your own vessel). As most guys know, self-control becomes particularly difficult when you are sexually aroused. This is why you can’t get involved in lewdness (acting like an animal in heat); thus, you can’t be taking off clothing, putting your hands under clothing, or making out with a girl. This means no touching each other’s private areas. No stroking skin to get you or her sexually aroused. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1).
Since the actions are wrong, then logically it would be wrong for a Christian to talk as if he engages in such actions.
“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7).
You don’t stay pure by sexually arousing the other person with your language or behavior. Therefore, you don’t talk dirty with a girl (filthiness), you don’t play around by being silly and it “just happens” to involve sexual hints (foolish talking), and you don’t tell sexual jokes (coarse jesting). It should be clear that you don’t send nude or semi-nude pictures to each other.
Yes, you feel close to a girl when your sexual passion is aroused. Instinct drives you to focus on her and your feelings. But when you are dating a girl, your focus should be on your friendship. The sexual stuff will come after you commit yourself in marriage to her. This doesn’t mean you can’t see a girl and think “Wow! She’s pretty!” But when you start thinking about what she is like without clothing, then you have gone over the line and into lust.
Since sex is reserved for married couples, this means that all these rules remain true when you are dating a girl and when you are engaged to a girl. Engagement means that you have decided that you will be marry one particular girl. When you are engaged, you are no longer available to date other girls. If you can’t be exclusive, then you are not ready to be engaged. The engagement period is to give you a chance to decide that you have made a good choice before you say “I do” at your wedding. And even in engagement, sex stays out of the relationship.
I’ve read thoroughly, as best I could, the links provided. I have some comments and questions that are very reasonable in my eyes.
By the way, the Bible can get really confusing because it mentions something really specific in one passage, then in another passage, it’ll say it in a blurry fashion, or not even mention a part of it at all. It is just very not specific sometimes. I hope you get what I mean.
We know looking sexually is wrong, thinking sexually is wrong, and all forms of sexual communication are wrong including sending nude or sexual pictures, and acting sexually is wrong before marriage. Cool! All is backed up by the words of the Bible. I acknowledge this easily.
However, here is where my contradictions and questions come into play. Please answer them reasonably and backed up with passages that specifically and clearly say it’s wrong and will make the person not be accepted into Heaven. Please do not use passages that make it blurry and require “reading between the lines” or require adding two ideas together to find the meaning. I don’t want explanations that say “which means” because a modern-day man’s opinion is different from the original truth. You proved it by exhibiting the history of “porneia, fornication, and sexual immorality”. So let’s keep what is the modern-day meaning of words not intervening with the past unless it’s obvious. Respectfully.
We’ll go slow and easy. I’m sure you have answers to some confidently.
“Defile” just means “damage the purity or appearance.” OK. Where does it say it’s wrong? Or are you talking about rape, which is, of course, wrong? If the former is the case, then how is sexting impure? Yes, it says it’s not to be done in Ephesians 5:3-5. But how is it impure according to the definition of “defile?”
Also, I think Ephesians 5:4 is the one that makes clear sense to “foolish talk”. “Sexual immorality” and even “fornication” are just not completely understood. Those two words and even “porneia” don’t exactly mention thinking, or speaking about sex. They mainly focus on intercourse, or even oral sex, and masturbating each other.
Proverbs 6:27-29 is an example of following through while being unaware. OK, I’m aware of my girlfriend (hypothetical girl) whom I truly love. (It is hard to explain this on., I had a good thought on it for discussion numerous times and keep forgetting it, but you’ll see what I mean later on.)
Uncleanness makes sense since “no filthiness” and having “physical or moral blemish”, this one I can’t word correctly so I’ll take your word on it.
In regards to masturbating oneself (man or woman), where does it say it’s clearly wrong?
In regards to the ejaculation of semen (man or woman). Where does it say it is wrong?
In regards to intercourse with divorced women or men, I don’t get that. Obviously, you cannot have sex while the person is in a marriage. That would be adultery. What if that man or woman wants to get married again? They can’t have sex for the rest of their life then?
Incest I don’t get. Of course, it is “weird” but a clear passage on it being wrong would be good to see. I think this one would be easy for you to find.
Here is where it gets a little more controversial.
1 Corinthians 7:1 only says no sexual relation. How is holding hands sexual, holding or rubbing a thigh, arm, neck, back, or chest sexual? If it is done with no sexual intent, whether it be by expressing pure comfort, warmth, love, or even a massage.
In Thessalonians 4:3-5 it says “Not in lustful passion.” This is for sexual desire. What about the passion of pure love?
What if I can control my vessel, touching with no sexual intent, just warming and comfortable for my girlfriend? (And to prove that I’m not a robot. I have feelings, but clean ones since love is clean.) All acts don’t have to be perceived strictly as sexual. I understand why the biblical words were used here. They were put here for the men with wrong intentions toward women.
What about love talk? “I miss you, babe. I want to be with you and hold you, feel our warmth, put your hair behind your ears, run my fingers through your hair while we stare into each other’s eyes and fall asleep on each other.” Do you not know that there is love talk? Not everything is said sexually.
I’m in a battle with my girlfriend. I’m in a sports competition with my girlfriend. I’m saving money and building my finances with my girlfriend. Are you saying that after we have accomplished what we have worked so hard for while supporting each other through thick and thin and the adversity we conquered, we can’t hold each other and kiss each other with love? Not with sexual intentions and mindset at that moment, but with pure love and being so proud of each other. It’s kissing with love, not with sexual intent. Even if we simply just saw each other, it’s kissing with love, of course, but avoiding the sexual feelings if they ever start to budge in. Whether it’s 5 minutes of making out or a peck, it’s love.
“And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matthew 13:10-13).
While I know that instruction that requires you to think and reason can be difficult at times, the plain fact of the matter is that God did not write His teaching in the manner that you demand. He made your mind and He insists that you use it. Playing dumb doesn’t work with God.
Regarding the word “defiled.” The only place that word was mentioned was a quote from Hebrews 13:4 when the writer said that the marriage bed was undefiled. I did not give a definition of that word. The Greek word amiantos is the antonym of miaino, which means to stain, defile, pollute, or soil. To have your mind defiled will keep you out of heaven if the situation is not corrected. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:15-16). “Defiled” (miaino) is not used in Ephesians 5:3-5, so I’m unable to answer your question as expressed.
If you are asking how sexting is condemned by Ephesians 5:3-5, then realize that you send and receive nude and semi-nude images because they arouse your desire for sex. That is stimulating your lust for something you cannot have because you are not married. Ephesians 5:3-5 mentions three categories of sexual sin: fornication, uncleanness, and coveting. “Coveting” means “greediness,” not just for money but having an insatiable appetite, such as for sex. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). Sexting stimulates coveting, and so it is wrong.
You missed the point about fornication. The word is perfectly clear. It basically means using your penis with another person to who you are not married. Yes, “fornication” is about the physical acts of sex. Paul’s point in Ephesians 5:3-5 is that if you understand the physical acts are wrong, then talking about those acts as if they are acceptable is also wrong. He gave three examples: dirty talk, foolish talk, and coarse jesting. People involved in talk like these give the impression that they find fornication, impurity, and coveting acceptable. It is the wrong image for a Christian to portray (“are not fitting”).
For more on “uncleanness” see Uncleanness.
For more on “masturbation” see Is masturbation sinful or not? I think you’ll be surprised at the answer.
Ejaculating semen is something only males can do. Females don’t produce semen. Under the Law of Moses, a man became unclean for one day when he ejaculates (Leviticus 15:16-18). Being unclean does not mean a person sinned, it was simply a state a person was in that required special rules (such as isolation and bathing before becoming clean again). See Uncleanness again. Therefore, ejaculating isn’t sinful. However, it can be used sinfully, such as if you are ejaculating into a girl you are not married to.
In regards to divorce, you need to first understand that marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14). A covenant is a lifetime vow that is made before God. Just because a person wants to end the covenant, it doesn’t mean he can leave his vows for any reason. “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). God only grants one reason for a person to be released from his covenant and that is if his spouse is committing fornication (Matthew 19:9). That release is for the non-guilty partner only. He can marry again if he chooses. The guilty partner is not released from his or her covenant until the partner dies (Romans 7:2-3). This serves as punishment for the sins committed. Whether you think it is fair or not doesn’t enter into the matter. These are the rules God gave.
In regards to incest, “None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:6). For the meaning of the phrase “uncover his nakedness” see What does “uncover the nakedness” mean?
I Corinthians 7:1-2 says, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” The context shows that the touching being discussed is touching that leads to sexual arousal and the desire to commit fornication. See What types of touching are forbidden?
In I Thessalonians 4:3-5, there is a reason why Paul used two Greek words denoting sexual desire. Lust is strongly wanting something that is unlawful for you to have. Thus, to be involved in passionate things that generate a lust for sex is wrong. This is not forbidding having a strong desire to get married to someone because that type of desire is lawful.
If you are possessing your vessel in sanctification and honor, then you are doing what God commanded. You can hold hands with your girlfriend, and give her hugs and kisses, but if you realize that your mind is running away into forbidden realms, then you need to get yourself back under self-control.
I find it fascinating that when I point out that certain types of behavior are wrong, you jump to the conclusion that everything even remotely related is also wrong. Now, I would not recommend falling asleep on your girlfriend. While it sounds romantic, the practical side of things needs to be considered. Guy have erections while they sleep. That alone can be awkward. Some guys sleepwalk, which leads to wet dreams. That would be bad to have while on top of your girlfriend. There are plenty of examples of romantic talk in the Song of Solomon that are perfectly acceptable.
Love is not making out (which arouses sexual passion) or kisses or touches. Married couples who are in love have sex, but sex is not love. See What is this Thing Called Love?
Thank you for your time, sir, I really appreciate it. I hope you understand my gratitude. God bless you brother.