Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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When Should You Have Sex?

ImageToday it is typical for couples in a monogamous relationship to engage in sexual activity as a part of that relationship. This has been so for some time, and it has even led to a change in the meaning of words. For example, no longer is a person single until he is married. He is single until he is in a monogamous relationship. Commitment is not seen in the positive answer to the question, “Will you marry me?”, but in the question, “Do you want to live with me?” A person is considered to be a cheater, not if they have had an extramarital affair, but if they have committed fornication with a person other than their “partner.” The list goes on and on.

To illustrate, I recently did an internet search of the question, “When should I have sex?” Though many sites cautioned against quick “hookups”, the reality is that many, especially in their 20’s, have sexual relations within the first couple of dates. In the advice I found online, the idea of limiting sex to a marital relationship was completely absent.

Consider the following quotes:

“If both people are playing by the same dating rules, sex can serve as the gateway to a consensual, committed relationship.” (

“Recent surveys show that most exclusively dating couples wait an average of 3-5 dates before having sex (in terms of the actual length of time, it can span from one to five weeks depending on the pace of the couple).” (Selective Search President & Founder Barbie Adler)

In my search, I found some truly disturbing advice supplied by “Teen Advice Expert” Holly Ashworth, who wrote an article posted at titled, “10 Signs That You’re Ready for Sex.” This article is supposed to be a cautionary article, discouraging kids from engaging in sexual activity too quickly. Among the points made are the following:

“If you’re not ready to deal with having a baby or an abortion, then you’re not ready for sex.”

“Check the age of consent chart to make sure that you and your partner can legally have sex in your state. If you can’t do it legally, then don’t.”

“You should only have sex if you really want to have sex. Not because your partner wants to have sex. Not because everyone at your school has already had sex.”

“It’s your body, and you alone are in charge of what happens to it.”

These are the common views that are being spread to society in general. Young people, especially, are inundated with such advice, as well as graphic depictions of sexual activity in media and entertainment contexts. It is not surprising that even the church in America has been unduly influenced toward sexual sin.

So, what is the Bible answer to when you should have sex? Put positively, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). While the phrase “one flesh” may signify more than simple sexual relations, it is certainly inclusive of sex (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:16). Put negatively, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). The word fornication is particularly useful here, as it describes any sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship. So, the simple answer is that you should have sex when you get married, and not before.

Consider the following applications to these truths revealed in the word of God:

  • Men do not have the right to decide for themselves when and with whom they will have sex. There are limitations that are placed upon men by God. To ignore those limitations is sin.
  • Since God limits sex to the marriage bed, any type of sexual activity outside of that enjoyed by a husband and his wife is sinful. It is God who defined marriage as a relationship between a man and woman. By definition, sexual activity between individuals of the same gender is fornication. It is condemned by scripture.
  • Sexual activity is a marital obligation. One of the points of the “teen expert” aforementioned is that each person always has the right to say “no.” While this may have some merit, the apostle Paul notes the following: “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

The message young people are getting from the world is an “in your face” endorsement of fornication. When a cacophony of voices are saying, “Have sex when you feel you are ready”, there is a need for all to hear, “Have sex when God permits.” Paul wrote of his desire for the Thessalonians, “that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5). Purity, sanctity, honor — found in marriage alone!