A Christian understanding of WTM

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I've done some writing on WTM for different audiences but I got to thinking that some of you might find what I've written helpful.  So here are some of my thoughts on WTM from a Christian perspective. 


The Biblical understanding of marriage is very confusing because, as people often point out, marriage in the Biblical world was very different than in our world. We see polygamy all throughout the Old Testament. We have levirate marriage (where if a man dies childless his brother is required to marry his wife) and the law where a rape victim is forced to marry the rapist. Predominantly marriage in the Bible seems to be more about property and producing offspring than it is about love and affection.

Although the definition of marriage in the Bible may be unclear, one of the principles that is expressed throughout the whole Biblical story is the idea of sex connecting two individuals. This is the concept which is referred to as "one flesh." It appears in Genesis, in the words of Jesus and in the teachings of Paul. I believe that regardless of the intentions of the individuals involved, sex creates a bond between two people. As the character Julie says in the movie Vanilla Sky “When you have sex with a person, your body makes a promise, whether you recognize it or not.â€


Interestingly enough, when I was a student, I went to a seminar about sex put on by the Jewish Students Association. The Rabbi who was giving the seminar told us that the Jewish worldview doesn't have an understanding of premarital sex because by having sex they believed two individuals were married. 

One of the passages in the Bible that speaks of one flesh is 1 Corinthians 6. In this passage Paul warns that a Christian shouldn't unite his body with a prostitute because his body belongs to God. He then quotes the Genesis 1 passage saying that the two will become one flesh. Having sex with a prostitute is probably the most noncommittal sex one can have. Yet even in this case Paul says that the two become one flesh.


Since sex creates a bond between two people, I believe the best context for sex is within the confines of a marriage relationship, a context that will last and support the bond created.

Relationships are really hard and I think they are more likely to last if they have support from one's community. For that reason I think it's important to declare your decision publicly. I compare a wedding to a baptism. It's a public declaration of a private decision. You may have decided in private that you are going to commit to this person for life, but in a wedding ceremony you make that commitment public. The community acknowledges the promises that are being made and commits to supporting the couple.

However, I should point out that this doesn't mean that I believe every couple who has had sex should get married. One of the passages where Jesus uses the idea of one flesh is in Matthew 19:1-12. In this passage Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about divorce. Jesus answers their question with the words: "Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.†Jesus says that divorce should not be entered into in a cavalier manner because the couple is bonded together. However in the next few verses he gives the example of adultery as a possible reason for divorce. (I personally believe there are other reasons for divorce as well but that's a whole other discussion.) The point I want to make is that although Jesus says the couple has bonded as one flesh it doesn't mean that there aren't situations where it is best that that bond be broken. To me one of the key ideas of this discussion is that we shouldn't be cavalier in breaking the bond and thus we should also be careful not to create that bond in a situation where we can't continue to nurture it.

Obviously my beliefs about sex are very much influenced by my understanding of Scripture. However my experience in life so far has reinforced my understanding. When I have sex with my husband I must admit that I feel very deeply connected with him. My husband and I were married for 2.5 months and then due to immigration issues we ended up living apart for the next 6 months. Our relationship started long distance so we were used to distance but once we were married and had had sex it was much, much harder for us to be apart.

I also know from other friends' experience that break-ups with partners where sex had been involved were much more difficult.

The last thing I want to comment on is the fact that sex sometimes does happen between individuals who believe in waiting.  Does it ruin them forever? No. The church's emphasis on virginity is often unhelpful. Sex happens sometimes even when we didn't intend for it to. However we are not limited by our pasts. That is definitely an idea that I believe comes through clear in the gospel. God is always offering us a fresh start.  We can always choose from this point on to save sex for marriage.

Waiting to have sex until marriage is possible. Don't let anyone tell you that it isn't. I know it's rare in our world, but there are some of us who are waiting or have waited until marriage. My husband and I did manage to wait and so far things are going good. I encourage each of you to venture out in faith trusting that God knows what's best for us.

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incredibly well articulated and grounded in both modern context and biblical/faith-based understanding :-)

I know there are many among us who will read into this differently - who don't necessarily come from a faith or specifically christian background, and yet I think your comments have relevancy to almost all ears, Shane.


as most of you know, there are indeed some of us who have waited successfully until marriage.  it was never "easy" LOL - but we managed to wait - and 25yrs later, I think we're doing ok :-).   The fact that we waited did not ensure we would make it 25yrs, nor did it get in the way of us building our sexual relationship...  but FOR US > it was an especially meaningful choice and commitment about who we wanted to be to each other and before God - even if no one other than we know that!   (of course all of you do too LOL).


thanks shane.

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