UPDATE: This post has been linked by Captain Capitalism, a libertarian non-Christian who respects Christians who act consistently with their beliefs.
Here’s the plan for this post. We’re going to take a look at a post by a woman who claims to be a Christian. In that post, she offers some reasons why premarital chastity is wrong. Then we’ll take a look at what the Bible says. Then we’ll take a look at what the research says. Then I explain what this trend among Christian women means for marriage-minded men.
First here is the post by “Joy”. Her reasons for disagreeing with premarital chastity are as follows:
- Chastity makes women who have had premarital sex feel ashamed
- It does no harm for a woman to have premarital sex before marriage
- God made people with a sexual drive, so God thinks that premarital sex is OK
- Most people are already having sex, so God thinks that premarital sex is OK
- Practicing sex with men you don’t intend to marry makes you better at marital sex
In another post, she is more clear about her views: (these are her actual words)
- Choosing to not to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage is not shameful.
- Your decision to abstain or not to abstain does not necessarily have any connection to the health of your future marriage.
- Your decision to abstain or not to abstain does not necessarily have any connection to the health of your future sex life.
Now first off, she has no Biblical evidence for any of these assertions in the original post I linked to. She also has no evidence from outside the Bible for any of her assertions. Assertion #3 in the list of 5 above seems to me to justify adultery as easily as it justifies premarital sex. Now, you might expect a person who claims to be a Christian to look first to the Bible to see what is right and wrong, then to look to evidence to strengthen the argument when discussing it with others inside and outside the church. For Joy, feelings and peer-pressure are enough to make anything morally OK. Now let’s take a quick look at what the Bible says about chastity and premarital sex:
1 Cor. 7:8-9
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to stay single as I am.
9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
The idea of “burning” here has to do with sexual desire. Here Paul tells all unmarried people that if they cannot control their sexual desires, they need to get married. Why? Because Paul assumes that one cannot fulfill this sexual desire outside of the marital bed. While Paul would love for them to remain single (1 Cor. 7:7), he believes that sex outside of marriage is a destructive sin and cannot be used as a gratifying release of our sexual passions.
Now what evidence outside the Bible is there to support that? Here’s some:
- New study: delaying sexual activity produces improves relationship quality and stability
- New study: staying a virgin longer enables more satisfying relationships
- New study finds that teens who lose their virginity are more likely to divorce
- New peer-reviewed paper highlights the benefits of pre-marital chastity/abstinence
- Does being a virgin before marriage affect marital stability?
- Two things you can do to make your marriage last
Now back to Joy, What I have found when dealing with women like Joy in the church is that the Bible has no authority over them. Not even the words of Jesus have authority to lead them. And obviously they are not impressed with evidence from science, history, etc. Their sole reason for acting the way they do is their own feelings, which largely stem from hedonism and vanity – the desire to feel good and to please and impress their peers. Whatever they do that seems right to them cannot be questioned or judged. If things don’t “work out”, then they are a helpless victim. God’s will for them is that they do whatever they feel like in order to be happy.
It’s very very important for men who are seeking marriage to understand that the typical woman they meet in the church does not understand that Christianity imposes any obligations on them. They don’t look at the Bible for moral guidance, but for comfort. And they don’t study outside the Bible to become persuaded (and persuasive) about what the Bible teaches. Their view of Christianity is that they are good where they are, and that there is nothing that they should be studying or planning for in order to achieve goals, like evangelism or marriage. Everything has to be easy and feel good.
Fortunately, there is a way to detect the women who are serious about Christianity, and it can be done by simply asking them questions to see if they have moved beyond the feelings/selfishness model of Christianity to the truth/responsibility model of Christianity. All you have to do is ask them questions to see how much effort they’ve put into confirming what the Bible teaches by reading outside the Bible. Christians read the Bible to know what’s true, and they read outside the Bible to convince themselves to act on what they know is true, and to show to others what’s true in a persuasive way. But reading outside the Bible is at war with the feelings/victim/don’t-judge-me view of Christianity pushed by people like Joy. That is because the more you read, the less room there is for doing what you feel like. When you study, what you learn constrains your actions.
When you ask a women questions about Christianity before marriage, you can see whether 1) she has studied these issues already or 2) she wants to study these issues, or 3) whether she has no interest in studying anything, no matter how useful to God it might be. You do not want to be married to someone who thinks that breaking God’s law is OK if she feels like it, and who has done no reading or studying of relevant moral issues in order to build up her own ability to have self-control for the good of others around her.
I think men should avoid women who respond to the claims of Scripture and the evidence from research by sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “don’t judge me! don’t shame me!”. You can’t make a marriage with someone who is dismissive of moral obligations, and who acknowledges no higher authority than her own feelings and the approval of her secular, progressive peers. The Bible forbids “unequal yoking”, which is the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian.
And I’ll go one step further and say that this attitude of “rules make people feel bad, so we shouldn’t have any” is destroying our society. We really need to be a bit more brave about holding immoral, destructive people like Joy and her progressive friends accountable. Note: Just to be clear, I don’t mind if a person is a non-Christian and has had premarital sex, then becomes a christian and is from that point on abstinent before marriage – that is fine. It needs some attention and care to make sure that it doesn’t cause problems, but it’s totally acceptable to marry someone like that in my view. What is wrong is to claim that Christianity and premarital sex are compatible. That’s the mistake I am arguing against.
UPDATE: In the comments below I like to other posts on “A Deeper Story” showing that these women are also pro-gay-marriage. So they are really not Christians in any knowledge-oriented sense, but just applying the label to themselves inconsistently, perhaps like secular Jews call themselves culturally Jewish while not believing in God.