Sex and The Bible

Okay, now I’ve lived in a church environment all my life. Obviously, I was taught that pre-marital sex is a sin. However, I have yet to find a verse in the Bible that says not to do it. After extensively searching (software, devotionals, friends and my youth pastor), I have established these rules in the Bible:

  1. If you are married, don’t have sex with someone else.
  2. Do not sleep with a relative.
  3. Do not sleep with someone else’s spouse.
  4. Do not sleep with someone of the same gender.
  5. Do not have sex with an animal.

I’ve checked NIV, KJV, NRS and a couple of others (on the software) and can find no verse other than these, and the verses I found are very clear with no room for other interpretation. All right, Bible-readers of the Teeming Masses, can you help?

In your searches use the term fornication, instead of pre-marital sex, and you’ll get plenty of hits.

After reading all of the terrible things about fornication, read Song of Solomon for a little good ol’ fashion love-making prose.

Uh… I tried that. Could you quote some references for me?

From the King James Version:

Matthew 15
[19] For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
[20] These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

And its twin brother, Mark 7 (too bad they didn’t use the third normal form back then, the book would have been a lot shorter):
[21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
[22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
[23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Acts 15
[29] That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

1st Corinthians 6
[18] Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body.
…and so on…

I’m sticking with my Song of Solomon, as it’s much more fun to read.

If you’re searching the NIV, try replacing the term ‘fornication’ with ‘sexual immorality’ (granted that this is a bit of a vague term).


Leviticus 19:29 Do not profane your daughter, to make her promiscuous…

Deuteronomy 23:18 There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel, nor a male prositute of the sons of Israel.

These translations are my own. The original Hebrew words here do not have the connotations present in English, of whether or not the act was done for free or for pay. Rather, they focus on the immorality of the act.

Like DMC’s quotes, I think all you’re going to find are various synonyms for things that should not be done, and it is left to later commentators to define those terms. In other words, you are not going to find anywhere that “sex is okay within marriage but not before marriage.” Rather, since the only sex that is spoken of approvingly is the sex within marriage, so we understand that all other sex is out.

It’s like challenging the Bible on the meaning of the word “adultery” or “incest”. These words are understood to refer to specific types of forbidden sex, but the precise definitions might not be explicit in the Bible itself.