Sunday, February 6, 2011


I was raised as a Methodist Christian, and in that faith, all sex outside of marriage is both a sin, and wrong/evil. Over time, my beliefs on the issue have evolved, and I'd like to examine the issue here.

First I'd like to say, I differentiate between 'sin' and 'evil'. Sin is a Christian concept; anything that God says not to do is a sin. One sins by breaking any of God's rules. Evil on the other hand, is a universal concept, and it's one that is hard to define. Everyone's definition of what is wrong is slightly off. Some things are considered evil by nearly everyone in a society, such as murder. Some things are considered evil by only small portions, such as homosexuality. Evil is distinct from sin because evil is governed by your own conscience, sin is governed by God. Also, there are some things that are evil but not sin, such as offering one's daughters to be gangraped, and some things that are sin but not evil, such as gambling and in my opinion, sex outside of marriage.

Lets first examine whether sex outside of marriage is sin. In the Bible, there are many occasions where "sexual immorality" are condemned, such as Thessalonians 4:3-5 and Mark 7:20-23. Source However, it isn't defined what exactly constitutes "sexual immorality", which has lead to some confusion. Similarly, Number 7 of the 10 commandments reads: "Thou [You] shall not commit adultery." It is the same in the King James version, the New International, the New American Standard, as well as all other versions I checked. Source Again though, adultery isn't really defined, and interpretations vary widely. Whether it's a sin or not is difficult to say with certainty, which is why I fall to the other issue of whether it's evil or not.

So is extramarital sex morally wrong? I personally don't think so, and the reason lies in my definition of evil. I think evil has to involve harming someone. Harm means anything that hurts or diminishes someone, physically, mentally, or emotionally, without their consent. If an action doesn't involve harming someone, I don't think it's evil. And sex between two people doesn't innately harm someone.

Many situations that involve sex DO harm people:

Rape, Forced prostitution, Women with low self esteem going out and having sex with random strangers, a man cheating on his wife.

However, it's not the sex in these situations that is the problem. With rape, the problem is lack of consensuality, similar to force prostitution. With the 3rd, the problem is the lack of self esteem. With the cheating, the problem is the lying and the breaking of vows, which can cause severe emotional harm. In all cases, there is a specific reason that sex isn't a good idea. Sex itself isn't the harmful agent.

If two people with no other commitments wish to have sex, be it a one night stand, or a couple that's not yet married deciding to play around a little early, I don't think that it's morally wrong and I don't think they should be condemned for it. I'll note that if it IS a sin, then they might end up paying for it later on, but that is between that person and God, it's not our place to judge.

That said, would I consider having extramarital sex? My answer depends on the type. I absolutely want to avoid one night stands, because while I don't think it's wrong, I DO think that sex has a large emotional aspect, and I want the person that I just had sex with to be there in the morning. If I was in a long term committed relationship, and my partner wanted to play around a little early, I might consider it, but I'd want to be sure that there is a Very good chance that this person is the one I'd end up marrying. To me, marriage the final step in a commitment, it's built on previous commitments, realization of love. We don't go from casual dating to being married all of the sudden, and so I can see lots of situations where you know that you are going to end up with someone and are both fully committed to each other, before you hold that marriage license. I therefore don't really see any problem with starting early.

However, all of the above is just conjecture. It's what I hope I'd do. The real answer is that I don't know. Many people like to talk about what they would do, but the reality is, it's almost impossible to know what one would do without having been in that situation. The longest romantic relationship I've had lasted all of 4 weeks, I've never had the opportunity to have sex, so I can't say what I'd do. What I hope though, if physical sensations don't overwhelm me, is that I'd resist.

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