What Does the Bible Teach About Sex Outside Of Marriage?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does the Bible say about sex outside of marriage?  Is it a sin to have sexual relationships even if a couple is engaged to be married?  Is there any harm to have casual sex between two responsible adults?

What Does The Bible Say About Sex Outside Of The Marriage?

God created man and woman just as He ordained marriage.  He also made men and women sexual creatures, therefore He created sex.  In Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Procreation is one of the reasons that God created sex.  This is the way that humans replenish those who die with old age.  But God also created sex for a husband and a wife to enjoy.  He is not against pleasure and the proof positive is that those who are married are to give to each other their own bodies for the fulfillment of the other’s pleasures (Prov. 5:19).

Is It a Sin To Have Sexual Relationships Even If A Couple is Engaged To Be Married?

Paul is crystal clear about having sexual relations before and outside of marriage.  1 Corinthians 7:1-2 he writes under inspiration from the Holy Spirit, “Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”  So the point is that even if a couple is betrothed to each other; that is they are engaged to be married, they should abstain from any sexual relationships until after they are married.   The seventh commandment clearly states that adultery is a sin.

God actually condones sexual relationships inside of the martial boundaries in Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Take note of the last portion of that sentence: “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”    Here God not only states that sex outside of the marital relationship will be condemned by God (e.g. “the adulterer”) but so too will sexual relationships before marriage (e.g. “sexual immorality”).  So even if a couple is engaged they are forbidden by God to engage in any kind of sexual behavior, and this even includes sexual contact with one another (I Cor. 6:18).

Is There Any Harm to Have Casual Sex Between Two Responsible Adults?

Sexual immorality, even between consenting adults, is harmful to one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).  A good example is the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.  If someone is promiscuous they can become infected and then bring a disease into the marriage, even infecting their partner and risking the health of any subsequent children.  The HIV virus, Herpes Simplex, and, AIDS are permanent and those infected may pay an enormous cost for the rest of their lives.  Some diseases can be fatal.

Paul’s advice nearly two thousand years ago is still as relevant today as it was the day it was written in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5: “Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

If you are married, it is your God-given responsibility to fulfill your mate’s sexual desires.  In I Corinthians 7, Paul says:

V 3: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

V 4: “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.”

Why?  “…so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Every marriage has difficulties.  There will be arguments, but sex should never, ever be used as a weapon to get back at the other party or be used in an argument to withhold sex from the other partner because Satan may tempt the other mate.  Withholding sex from marriage sets up the vulnerability of losing self-control.  And this can lead to infidelity…and sin.  It can ruin a marriage.

In conclusion, sex outside of marriage or before marriage is sin.  There are no exceptions at all.  There will be a heavy price to pay.  God will “judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral“(Heb 13:4).  But sex among married couples is a good gift from God for He knew it was not good for men and women to be alone (Gen. 2:18), and He wants husbands and wives to enjoy this gift (Prov. 5:15-19).   Sex is an honorable thing as far as God is concerned…but only among those who have been joined together by God in holy matrimony (Heb 13:4a).

Was this Article Helpful?

If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

What Are the Gifts of the Spirit?

What Does The Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?

How Do you Talk To Your Children About Sex?


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

lui November 12, 2012 at 6:32 am

yea this is such an intresting topic indeed,i also learned a lot right here.and my issue is,i always find myself thinking of my Girlfriend having sex with me and its realy bothering me a lot,i’v never been into the sex thing before,i’m waiting till i get married,but these thought they are realy bothering me a lot,i try stop thinking about it just for a little while then again the moment after seeing her it comes back at me,so i truely want to stop thinking about it and focus on what God wants for us!


Amanda December 8, 2012 at 1:43 am

I think I understand it all though I do still have tons of questions.


Noluthando April 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm

This is a truth and we thank for such information. But do I have to keep connected with a person who want to marry me? Or we just have to ignore till right time comes. How do I pray for a person whom we were friends for long long time and we are saved and we loved each other for long time but not telling each other untill we are stable even financially to get married. ?


Jack Wellman April 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

My friend, I would stay connected with this person you want to marry, especially since you said that you both are saved. I thought this person was not saved and so I am sorry for the misunderstanding on my part. I think its a good idea to be financially stable before you get married because the number one reason for couples to break up is over the issue of money. That is a wise decision on your part but by all means, do keep in touch with them. May God richly bless you and your future together.


Emmie May 8, 2013 at 10:23 pm

What should a person do if their marriage partner cannot have sex for many years due to illness? It’s harder for men.


Jack Wellman May 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

Hello Emmie. This is a hard situation. Let me ask you this, have you spoken with your own pastor first? That is always my recommendation for he knows you better than I do.

Also, when we marry, we are first and foremost in love with them and not for sexual reasons. I am not saying that sex within marriage is not important but think back when you were dating. What was the thing that attracted you to him? Whether it is harder for men, I can not say. You may be right there but we are to seek the Kingdom and Jesus first and above all things here on earth (Matt 6:33).

Please forgive me for I hope I didn’t upset you. This is a difficult thing. I again recommend you talk to your own pastor first and go as a couple if possible.


Emmie May 15, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Thank you Jack for your reply. It is a difficult situation and a sad one, especially if the sick partner stays sick the rest of their lives. I see a lot of trials and temptations could happen to people in this type of situation.

I guess we are required to be strong and have faith in God to overcome fleshly desires. I keep wondering why God would create us this way and expect us mere humans to overcome sexual urges without sinning in such situations. I am pretty sure a lot of people seek satisfaction elsewhere in such situations and I don’t know what that feels like for both partners but I can imagine it is awful especially if you deeply love your partner but have some weakness. It’s really sad just to think about it.

And that is another question – why would God leave no other option? Trying to overcome such desires can be really difficult for some people. It does work for some but not everyone is that strong. I think God said to be strong in mind and that eventually helps with physical urges but that is something that will take a lot of time for some people.

I guess these are all questions one has to figure out for themselves and solutions for such one has to seek out for themselves with God. I am sure there is an answer, somewhere in the Bible, on how to best deal with this, and the answer may be that it could be a time when God builds people up in strength, faith and maybe trust. But it’s too sad just thinking about it. In the end God knows best and through Him nothing is impossible. And thank you for the recommendation.


Tania August 10, 2013 at 7:06 am

Hi. I recently found this site and it has been tremendously helpful in rebuilding my life. I have been a Christian my whole life, but sadly lukewarm. Now that I am fervent and want to life my life in accordance with God’s will, I am faced with great turmoil. I was married and got divorced at 30. I later met and got involved with a older man. He had a vasectomy and I decided to give up having more kids in order to be with him. He did say he would never marry me, and due to a lack of knowledge of Gods word and my own worth, I was with him for 8 years before he left me. I am now 41 and met someone I could spend the test of my life with, but he already said he will not get married again, being divorced twice before himself. At my age, men seem to be disalusioned and jaded towards marriage. Does this mean I will never again have my sexual desires fulfilled?


Jack Wellman August 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thank you Tania for your question. Many people have fulfilled lives serving the Lord without having their sexual desires fulfilled. It is a matter of serving God with all your heart and putting Him first (Matt 6:33). I would focus on Christ and make Him your first and most passionate desire to pursue Him and be renewed by the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:1-2) and then the desire will be replaced by Him and Him alone for truly nothing on this earth completely satisfies like our God. He brings true joy and not physical pleasure. I am sorry if I didn’t likely satisfy you with this answer but when our heart’s desire is toward Him first, He promises to fulfill the true and satisfying desires of our heart (Psalm 37).


Loveline mantan March 21, 2014 at 7:20 am

papa i love your response to the question of sis Tania. for as u seek GOD faithfully, he will satisfies our almost desires to the fullest.


Conflicted January 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

This has been very interesting reading. Thank you.
I have always struggled with this “sex outside of marriage” thing. I have married three times basically so that I was not sinning…having sex outside of marriage. I have spent a lot of time gone from my family because of the military reserve and because of my job as a firefighter. Consequently, I have been divorced three times. I held on until I was not given a choice in each case. I followed the directions given in the Bible and struggled with divorce and then again with remarriage. I am dating a Christian woman. In a past relationship with each other we had been intimate. We broke up and one of the reasons was that I didn’t really know if it was a good idea. We are back together and are refraining from “sex” but it gets really close sometimes. My dilemma is this: I have been studying remarriage. I have been counseled professionally about not getting remarried. I have struggled all of my adult life with sex. I have always been committed to one woman (at the time) but then find out that the woman was not committed to me. My point is that, even though I know that God tells us to expect favor, the human man inside has been screaming that it will just happen again, don’t get married. So if I don’t get married, I cannot have sex. Do I get remarried to keep from burning??? I am 51, tried it three times already… My girlfriend is a divorcee as well. There is no doubt about love,but ….


Jack Wellman January 2, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Thank you “Conflicted” for your comment here…there are many different views on this. The phrase means to “burn with passion” and not burn (as in hell) as many falsely believe so I hope that gives you peace of mind. Many who are married before they have actually been saved and divorced before this time have remarried. None of us is perfect. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that if you remarry and stay faithful you will not go to hell. Many teach that type of extreme. Have you spoken with your own pastor about this? Are you saying that you have concerns about marrying and it ending up in a divorce again? If you have any doubts my friend, don’t do it. Wait, trust God, counsel with your pastor, pray about…and then make your decision.


Conflicted January 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

Thank you Jack,

Yes I understood the “burn” to be about passion. I appreciate that. I think that in writing my comment, I may have answered the question. I “burn” with passion, but I don’t believe that is the reason to get married. I know that many struggle with addictions and sins that seem like one can never stop doing; hate, anger, gluttony and more. How does one stop doing these things? We have abstained, but the desire is there, really there… I have prayed for years over this subject in one way or another… I truly love my significant other (every one of them…) but the hook is the sex; everyone of them held it over me at some point. Yikes! Is my session over yet? Sorry for the rant… Thank you for your advice.

In Christ’s love,


Jack Wellman January 3, 2015 at 10:34 am

You are so welcome my friend. I am not sure that I really helped you in any way in particular but I see that you are at least concerned about this and that shows me that your desire is to please God and knowing by your signature “In Christ’s love” I feel assured that whatever you do, we will see each other in the kingdom and that is at least some comfort to you I pray. May God richly bless you my friend in whatsoever you decide to do.


Bro Sam May 29, 2016 at 6:02 am

Flooded with goose bumps and tears, i read comments and responses. I wish i could help. Sincere need for help from people drive me crazy. You can use Ephesians 2:20. God can do some thin He loves us great and we are not without him.


Thomas December 12, 2016 at 2:55 am

Hi Jack,I was married and got divorced and then about two years later I met my current Fiancé, to me I feel like we’re already married as we act in this way,I have two wonderful children with her,my question is this my mom says that we are living in sin and that we are not protected by God,which I feel that God loves us unconditionally and he knows that we will get married in his eyes as we have a very strong love between her and II,I just don’t want to disappoint God as I have grown closer to him tremendously


Jack Wellman December 12, 2016 at 8:48 am

I am sorry but the Bible says that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality and those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Why don’t you want to marry? What’s wrong with this? I suggest you read 1 John chapter 3 and see why having a pattern of sin such as this means that person might not even be saved. You better get this right before you see Christ. You say “I feel that God loves us unconditionally and he knows we will get married in his eyes” but the Bible doesn’t teach that. What you feel doesn’t matter because what God says is truth. Why not call your pastor or do you have a church home? Any sex outside of marriage is a great sin and whoever does this cannot have peace knowing they’ll go to heaven.


LULU February 4, 2018 at 6:02 pm

I recently had someone break my heart. We both believe in God and Jesus Christ but she didn’t feel we were equally yoked. I didn.t know what that meant until i started looking into it. I understand that you need to walk with Christ and be the best christian you can and God will do the rest. What she did for me was to cause me to start having a relationship with Jesus and I’m growing and learning more about Christianity every day. I already feel closer to God and Jesus than i have my whole life and i’m the better person for it. i’m doing this for me and nobody else and i’m excited about the journey. i have to admit, we were so good for each other that i hope someday we find our way back to each other.


Nettie R. April 16, 2019 at 11:44 pm

.i have met a man, we are both quite late in age, both single after long term marriages ( mates passed away). He wants to be intimate even though he cant have sex. This is a dilemna for me, though I care deeply for him, I have committed my life to Christ. Don’t know how to handle this. We are too old to consider marriage, too many complications. How do I handle this.


Jack Wellman April 17, 2019 at 9:56 am

Why are you too old for marriage? If there is intimacy, even without sex, it is sin if a couple is not married. Paul said either marry or burn with passion and that is sin. If you have truly committed your life to CHrist, you will desire to live a holy life.


Vera Walker August 27, 2019 at 5:17 am

I am 79; he is 81. We met in HS as sophomores. We’ve both been married & divorced. Just found each other again and find we love one another.
At our age, getting married and the required entanglement of all we have …would set hardships on family when one the other dies.
We have abstained from sex. (Not even sure we want to try…Well, I’m sure about me)
Would sex between 2 single adults be sinful?
I can’t find a Bible answer.


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