‘No Sex Before Marriage’. Why This Can’t Be A Belief! Pt.2


By building on Part 1 of this blog, Part 2 continues to explore the practice of no sex before marriage, and the deeper beliefs this practice is rooted in. As we date, the issue of intimacy and attraction will arise. So it’s worth thinking about what we believe and what God, who designed sex and relationships, would say about it all. 

(The following extract is taken from page 163-165 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Where Does The Belief Come From? 

When confronted by angry Pharisees wanting to catch him out, Jesus takes them back to the Creator’s plan for sex: that two become one (Matthew 19:4–5). The practice of waiting for marriage before having sex is rooted in the belief that sex unites a couple in a powerful way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Breaking this bond is damaging (1 Corinthians 6:12–17). That’s why we protect ourselves –  and each other – by waiting for marriage. If sex is about giving ourselves completely to the one person we’re committed to for life, then waiting for them becomes part of our act of loving them.

We are to be tender, loving and compassionate towards each other, just as God is tender, loving and compassionate towards us. We are to be passionate, protective and loyal to each other, just as God is passionate, protective and loyal to us. We are responsible to God for how we use our sexuality, just as we are responsible to God for how we use our time, money and talents.

Selfish Sex

Instead, what we see in society, and sometimes in the church, is that people engage in sex as if it is an act of entitlement and for personal gratification: nothing to do with God. 

We use the word ‘protection’ to refer to not getting pregnant or not catching an STI, rather than to avoid the emotional impact sexual activity might have on someone.

Selfishness weakens us and limits our vision for sex

Can you see that being sexual and wanting to have sex is not the issue? Being selfish with our sexuality is.

Selfishness weakens us and limits our vision for sex. Our problem is not that our sexual desires are too strong, but that they’re too small. We settle for making sex just physical, instead of everything God intended it to be: intimate, emotional, powerful and uniting.

New Identity

Whenever we talk about this issue, especially in church, there needs to be grace. There’s so much guilt and condemnation around it

The main reason Paul gives Christians for not having sex outside of marriage is that we have a new identity. We are one with God. Wherever we go, God goes, and whatever we do, we involve God in it. So it matters what we think and what we do. It’s a difficult idea to get our heads round. But for Paul, this idea was so vivid that he told the early Christians:

Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept in Christ with God 
(Colossians 3:3 NCV).

. . . Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:16–20 The Message)

Not For ‘Virgins Only’

Paul wasn’t writing his letter to a bunch of virgins who had grown up in Christian families. The ancient Roman world worshipped many of its idols through cultic prostitution. Pornographic images found on pottery and walls reveal the range of promiscuity people were involved in. 

Before many of the new converts became Christians, they may well have been involved in orgies and prostitution in temples.

You might not have been sexually intimate… or you may have already had sex. In one way, it’s irrelevant

So Paul is clear to tell them that their new identity as Christ’s followers means a complete rethinking about everything, especially sex. For Paul, the only sexual intimacy that doesn’t fall under the category of sexual immorality is sex between people who are made one flesh by God. In a loving marriage, sex leads to increased intimacy. Outside of marriage, with no commitment, it can lead to alienation and loneliness.

You might not have been sexually intimate with someone because you’re waiting for marriage, or you may have already had sex. In one way, it’s irrelevant. For Paul, what is relevant is the fact that being one with God means you are free to do things differently, whatever your past. 

New Belief

Whenever we confess our mistakes to God, we can be assured of his total and utter forgiveness: ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). (Read The Four Words Spoken By Jesus You Need To Hear)

It’s important to see that a balanced and healthy attitude to sex begins way before you decide what sexual activity you will or won’t do when you’re dating. It starts with exploring God’s purpose for sexuality, appreciating your own sexual appetite and embracing who God says you are. 

When we are one in Christ, we are no longer bound by our desires; we are no longer slaves to them. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t tempted. That’s why we need God’s boundless grace in our lives and real honesty in our churches.

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

Sex is best when commitment, selflessness and our new identity in Christ is involved

Whenever we talk about this issue, especially in church, there needs to be grace. There’s so much guilt and condemnation around it. Sex is good, God created it (Read God created sex and sexual desire, honest!) but he also created the best context for it, because it is powerful and can potentially do damage. 

Imagine if we remembered that the practice of no sex before marriage is rooted in the belief that sex is best when commitment, selflessness and our new identity in Christ is involved, no matter what our past may be. 

Do you think deeper beliefs about sex are talked about enough? Comment welcomed below. 

Originally posted 6/5/2019

‘No Sex Before Marriage’. Why This Can’t Be A Belief! Pt.1


Many people in church say ‘I don’t believe in sex before marriage’. But that’s a mistake because this is a practice. Practising no sex before marriage is an outworking of a deeper belief, it can’t be a belief in itself. So what do you believe? Why do you do what you do? Why do Christians often say wait until marriage? Part 1 of this blog begins to explore these questions. 

(The following extract is taken from page 161-163 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

The Bible’s teaching about sex isn’t summed up in the phrase: ‘Thou shalt not have any sexy-time before marriage.’ Thinking that just getting the right ‘dos and don’ts’ list will help us see sex God’s way is missing the point by a mile. 

It makes out that God is more concerned with our genitalia than with our motives and desires.

Olly And Jenna

Olly and Jenna felt trapped in this kind of thinking. They had been secretly dating for a few months and no-one knew they were struggling. Their sexual attraction to each other was so powerful that they felt totally unable to take control of what was happening. 

They left the relationship feeling cut up spiritually and emotionally

Their relationship broke down in a haze of confusion and guilt, leaving them both convinced that they were failures in God’s eyes. 

Had they talked with people they trusted about their struggles and conducted their relationship more publicly, they would have found it easier to think clearly about setting boundaries and being accountable. Instead, they left the relationship feeling cut up spiritually and emotionally, with warped ideas about God and sex.

Where’s The Line? 

We would all agree that sexual abuse, coercion, prostitution, sexual manipulation, rape, using sex to get back at someone else, and pornography are practices that go against everything God stands for. 

But using sex appeal to get what you want, persuading someone to surrender their well-thought through boundaries so that you can get more of what you want, or assuming you have the right to sex in a relationship, are also damaging in God’s eyes. 

Selfish attitudes and actions that go undetected

For many of us, our dis-ease with our morals around sex won’t express itself in deliberately hurting someone else. But it might show itself in more complex selfish attitudes and actions that go undetected, or are easier to justify.

Higher Standards 

Like the Christian who persuades their boy/girlfriend to sleep with them to help them stop masturbating over internet porn: they are demonstrating a warped view of his sexuality that is just about what they want, and stands against everything God stands for.

Or the dating couple involved in Christian youth work who regularly sleep together, but keep it a secret from their leaders, who they know will challenge them. They refuse to entertain the thought that this will impact on the young people who look to them as role models: they are demonstrating a warped view of their sexuality that is just about what they want, and stands against everything God stands for.

Or the Christian who, longing to be sexually pure, tells their boy/girlfriend that, because they are too much of a temptation, God has told them to end their relationship in order to seek holiness – and then does the same to the next partner that comes along . . .

Or the person who chooses to download albums from artists that glorify violence through music videos depicting virile men abusing their authority over scantily clad women . . .
(Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)


It’s a sobering thought to realise that we may be inadvertently causing damage to people in whom God delights. Wouldn’t he have something to say about what we’re getting up to? Shouldn’t we have something to say about what we’re getting up to?

So here’s a question for you: what do you believe about sex? We ask Christians this question all the time, and their answer is always the same: don’t have sex before marriage. Is this what your answer would be too?

You would be wrong!

Not having sex before marriage isn’t a belief; it’s a practice

Well, not wrong in saying that you want to save sex for marriage, but you’re wrong in thinking that it’s a belief. Not having sex before marriage isn’t a belief; it’s a practice. 

What we do comes out of what we believe. If the practice of Christians is to save sex for marriage, then we need to ask ourselves why. So what do we believe about sex that means we protect it by saving it for marriage?

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

Part 2 of this post continues to look at why many Christians choose to practice no sex before marriage. 

For now, imagine if we took a step back, and thought through what we believed about God, sex, and our boundaries, and why we have those beliefs. (Read How Important Is Physical Attraction?)

Do you think what we hear in society, and/or church, always aligns with God’s view of sex? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 29/4/2019

God Created Sex and Sexual Desire, Honest!

Sex, What The Bible Says

Often in Christian circles, sex and sexual desire are viewed as a problem, or viewed as wrong or sinful. When we talk about healthy God-centred romantic relationships, we need to remember God invented sex. The answer isn’t to try and get rid of it somehow, but rather, line it up with God’s plan and purposes.

At Naked Truth, we come across people who are struggling and hurting. They feel like they have become dependent on pornography and don’t know how to stop. (See the Naked Truth website.)

Those who are Christian sometimes feel like they want God to take away their sexual desires. That the problem is that God ‘accidentally’ made them with it.

Some even get angry or upset when they ask God to take it away and he doesn’t

At Naked Truth Relationships, we also come across people who are trying to build a godly relationship but feel like their sexual desire is stopping that. They feel God isn’t interested in that part, and they need to overcome it somehow on their own.

Some even get angry or upset when they ask God to take it away and he doesn’t.

But God’s word seems to offer something different.

God Created Our Bodies

Genesis 1 – 2 tells us the story of creation. Importantly, it was written before sin entered the world in chapter 3. It shows us what God’s desires are for his creation and humanity.

Lots could be said about these chapters, but importantly, God didn’t create a realm full of spirits and spiritual things. He created the world, including all the physical elements. He created the human body and everything physical too. He said all of this was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

God Even Created Sex

Sex, our bodies, and all the physical stuff are part of God’s original plan

In Genesis 2, before sin came into the world remember, it says that Adam and Eve have sex. They become ‘one flesh’.

‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ Genesis 2:24.

This act is seen as being part of God’s good creation. It even says that they felt no shame, it was meant to bless them (Genesis 2:25). God tells them to multiply (Genesis 1:28). Sex, our bodies, and all the physical stuff are part of God’s original plan and intentions.

Our Bodies Are Here To Stay 

Importantly, we will always have a body too. When Jesus was resurrected, he wasn’t a spirit or ghost just flying around. He had a body. He could be touched (Luke 24:39; John 20:17, 27) and could eat food (Luke 24:42-43).

When heaven comes down to earth, Christians will not just be spirits floating around either. We will get a body, and we will always have a physical body (1 Corinthians 15:35-52).

Our Response 

There are things that God doesn’t want us to do when it comes to our sexual desires. Like committing adultery (Exodus 20:14), lusting after others (Matthew 5:27-28) and sleeping with prostitutes (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). And I, like many argue, that the ‘one flesh’ happens after the wedding ceremony and deep commitments being made (Genesis 2:23-24).

But the answer isn’t to treat sexual desire or sex itself as sinful, but to align it with God’s plan and purpose.

We’re meant to re-align them with God’s original design.

Lots more could be said about what that looks like. What that looks like for the church as a whole, and different groups of people (e.g. people who are married, people who are single, etc). However, the point of this post is to remind us to resist the temptation to think sex, our bodies, or our desires are the enemy.

They’re part of God’s creation, and we’re meant to re-align them with God’s original design. (Read I’m Getting Married, I’ll Be Having Sex Soon….Help!)

Imagine If…

Imagine if, instead of seeing our bodies as something that hinders us getting close to God, or something that should control all of our choices, we realise it’s something God made and wants to redeem in his grace for his plan and purpose.

The next time you, or someone you know, is struggling in this area, let’s remind each other that God cares. He isn’t embarrassed by this stuff. He wants to show us his way, bring freedom and transformation to this area, and not just take the physical stuff away.

Do you think God cares about sex? Comments welcomed below 

Originally posted 19/4/2017

I’m Getting Married, I’ll Be Having Sex Soon…Help!

Marriage, Sex

Often, soon-to-be-married couples in church worry about sex. They’ve waited ’til marriage or re-committed to waiting, and then worry they won’t be good enough or believe sex needs to be a certain way. The wedding night is then feared. But actually, approaching sex thinking it just needs to be fun means it will be, despite what actually happens. 

I remember chatting with a close group of friends, and one of the girls who was getting married soon starting talking about sex. She said she was very worried and scared about the wedding night. She liked to talk and share her problems a lot, as you can tell. But we all started discussing the topic. It was clear there was a real concern there.

This is something that lots of people I know have struggled with or are worried about

This woman and her future husband were Christians, and he had never had sex before. She had become a Christian and eventually decided not to have sex again until marriage. She was now nervous and worried because he had never had an experience of it and she hadn’t had it for a very long time.

Fearing The Worst 

She was scared because:

  • She wouldn’t be good enough
  • It would be bad
  • They would do it wrong.

This is something that lots of people I know have struggled with or are worried about. They have navigated the tough dating stages (Read I Wasn’t Sure When We Were An ‘Official Couple’), and are now faced with another worry.

People worry because they either have never had sex, or had it but decided to wait ’til marriage for the next time. Then the fear builds towards this specific event; Is it going to be good? Will it live up to expectations? Will I be good enough?

Sometimes people think ‘I’ve waited all of this time so God owes me a fantastic wedding night’ (Yes, people have actually said this). But then worry after hearing a few horror stories and are fearful it isn’t that easy after all.

Our culture tells us that it’s crazy to wait until marriage to have sex, for many reasons. One reason is because sex is an important part of marriage, so you need to know you are compatible in that way. You need to know you can have good sex before you commit. (Read How Important Is Physical Attraction)

This belief has caused many Christians who do wait to feel like they are taking a risk, and/or worry that they may end up having a bad sex life. This is a real concern among couples soon to be married in the church.

We Need to Talk About Enjoying Sex 

There are Christian couples really struggling with this and no one is talking about it.

Similarly, the newly married couple may find out that sex is not what they expected, not as easy so initially not as fun, and feel let down. This is understandable if they had a different expectation in their head.

Our perception of sex is more important than the actual reality.

However, new research can show us how to make sure sex is fun, and not something to fear. It suggests one simple truth that can transform the fear and worry into excitement: Our perception of sex is more important than the actual reality.

What this means is, if couples approach sex thinking it will be fun and enjoyable, then they will enjoy it no matter what actually happens. Whereas if they approach it thinking it may be bad, hard or a let down then it will be, no matter what actually happens.

We Can Give Good Advice 

This is important because if newly-married couples and soon-to-be-married couples approach sex with worry, angst, and fear, then it will be a let down. But if they approach sex knowing that it may take a bit of work, it may not be simple but it’s meant to be fun, and sex is a journey and not a destination, it’s more likely to be enjoyed.

The advice I gave my friend who brought this up was simple, sex isn’t something that has to happen ‘one way only’ with both participants ‘following these steps’ otherwise it’s rubbish. People learn together and grow together. Even if the first time is a bit awkward, you can still improve together.

We need to see sex as fun rather than a test

I think God has a lot of things to say about sex. Ultimately he created it to be a blessing. This research seems to say that our approach to it is more important that the act itself.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we, and everyone in the church, reminded each other and dating/engaged couples that the perception of sex is more important than the act. That fear and struggles really don’t need to dominate our thinking.

The next time a newly engaged couple is approaching the subject of sex with fear, we need to remind them that God wants sex to be a blessing and a gift in marriage, no matter what our sexual history is. And they need to remember to see sex as fun rather than a test.

How easy do you think it is for people in church to believe sex is meant to be fun rather than something to fear? Comments welcome below 

Originally posted 18/1/2017

How Important Is Physical Attraction?

Finding A Date, Sex

In a world that says sex is everything, the church often reacts by saying sex isn’t everything. People in the pews can be left asking if physical attraction is something they need to prioritise. Physical attraction is important, but it needs to be seen in the context of the wider relationship, rather than a separate question. 

I have had many people ask me how important physical attraction is. They ask how attracted they need to be to their potential girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife. Some think it needs to be given little or no attention, while others make it the top priority.

I have heard church leaders say things like ‘You need to treat them like a sister or brother’, or ‘Focus on the friendship and the rest will follow’, or ‘Only date friends’ (Read The ‘Only Dating Friends’ Rule Is Complicated).

But I heard of a couple who followed this type of advice and got married to ‘a friend’, then said sex felt strange. They actually really struggled in marriage because they were just ‘friends’ and nothing more. I know another couple who said dating each other was hard because there was no deeper attraction physically.

I think it needs to be seen in the wider context of relationships, and we need to stop treating it as an add-on question

On the other hand, I know people who believe physical attraction is everything. They rush into very intense relationships without knowing someone’s personality, values, or beliefs, and get hurt. A friend of mine went out with someone he liked because he found them attractive, then said they argued every day because they just clashed in every other area.

Now we could just look at the extremes and say ‘Avoid doing that’. But we need to think about where we should actually position ourselves on the scale. How to view the importance of physical attraction in the right context.

I think it needs to be seen in the wider context of relationships, and we need to stop treating it as an add-on question that we can either ignore or dedicate all of our attention to. I think this because of a variety of factors, which can all help us treat physical attraction in the right way.

The Physical World Is Good

God created the physical world. He created the physical bodies of Adam and Eve and said it was very good (Gen 1:31). This happened before sin entered the world. Furthermore, when we get to heaven, we will not just be spirits but have physical bodies (1 Cor 15:35-58). The physical world is not something to be shunned or ignored.

Sex Is Good

In the Genesis story, Adam and Eve have sex when they become ‘One Flesh’ after they get married (Genesis 2:23-24). So sex is part of a good creation before sin. In Song of Songs, the two characters talk about sex a lot. It’s not just about the act, but about the desire, attraction and the intimacy it brings (e.g. Songs 7).

So physical desire is celebrated too, and shouldn’t be ignored.

But A Relationship Thrives On More Than One Thing 

A relationship needs more than one thing to make it work. There needs to be a healthy emotional connection, physical attraction, spiritual connection, shared values, and goals. So acting as if the physical attraction is the make or break is unhelpful. All the other things can’t be ignored either.

We need to see physical attraction in connection with other areas of the relationship instead of an added extra. We need to focus on building good communication, growing spiritually, growing in trust. If you date someone you just connect with in one area but all the others are weak, then it will not be a relationship that can thrive.

Friendship Is Important

Being friends is important. The person you date and/or marry should be someone you can trust, enjoy spending time with, relax with, and be yourself around.

However, being ‘just friends’ means we miss out on something we’re meant to enjoy in romantic relationships. However, just focusing on the physical side means we can end up with someone we aren’t suited to in other areas, which can hurt us and them.

What Does All This Mean? 

Physical attraction is something that is celebrated and is seen as good. There is no need to ignore it or downplay it in romantic relationships. But physical attraction doesn’t equal a good relationship. We need many other things like friendship, trust, and shared values, to build something worth having.

So yes, you can look for someone you are attracted to, but let’s not place that above, or below, an emotional connection or enjoying each other’s company. It’s part of a good enjoyable relationship, but it will not equal happiness all on its own.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we stopped focusing on the physical attraction or stopped ignoring it completely. Then started to think about how to support each other in building healthy and well-rounded relationships by asking about the physical side, as well as the shared values, beliefs, and friendship stuff too.

What do you think are the three most important things needed to make a relationship work? 

Originally posted 28/11/2016