Intercourse Outside Marriage Is Sinful
By Reno Omokri
Recently, a celebrity couple broke up and one of the parties involved decided to kiss and tell, or more precisely, to tell about the lack of kisses while the relationship lasted.
And her revelations have set off a storm, with many pundits opining about the propriety of sexual abstinence until marriage.
Ordinarily, I would not want to write about this, but for the fact that some decidedly non-scriptural views have been projected to the public and labelled as the view of the Jewish and Christian faiths.
To start with, let me clarify that there are huge differences amongst the following: a marriage, a betrothal, and an engagement.
And all three are also different from concubinage and extra-marital affairs.
A marriage is a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all other persons. It is an institution that is the foundation of family law, and you can only end a marriage either with death, or divorce.
A betrothal on the other hand, is an incomplete marriage. In Jewish and Occidental culture, a betrothal is a contract to enter into a marriage between a man and a woman. It is seen as an incomplete marriage, because everything that entails in a marriage also entails in a betrothal, except for the consummation of the marriage through sexual intercourse.
Just in case the definition above is a bit complicated, let me simplify it further. A betrothal is a ceremony of legal union and fidelity between a man and a woman, with the date for a ceremonial wedding pushed backward. It is seen as a marriage without a wedding. And to break a troth (troth refers to the contract that gives rise to a betrothal) you need to do a divorce in Jewish cultures and in medieval European legal systems.
The classic example is in Matthew 1:18-19. Those verses read as follows:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. And Joseph, her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly.”-Amplified Version.
Now, from the above, it is clear that Joseph was betrothed to Mary. And when he found that she was pregnant, he elected to end the betrothal contract, and the only way to do that was by divorce.
If you read 2 Samuel 3:14, David referred to Michal, Saul’s daughter, as his ‘wife’, on the strength of a troth contract. That verse says:
“Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”-NIV.
The only thing that differentiates a betrothal from a marriage is the postponement of the consummation of the marriage. The reason is that most Hebrew girls of the Scriptural era were betrothed before their bat mitzvah.
A bat mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony, where a child is declared an adult (according to Jewish tradition, not according to modern laws) and has come of age.
Before their bat mitzvah, girls are not considered ready for marital sexual relations. After their bat mitzvah, they are seen as ripe for marital consummation.
So, a betrothal is usually made before their bat mitzvah, while marital consummation comes after their bat mitzvah.
The age of bat mitzvah is 12. For males, they have a bar mitzvah instead, and the age for that is 13.
However, an engagement is very different. It is a fairly modern construct, and refers to a formal or informal agreement to marry that does not involve a contract.
In other words, it is a mere promise that is not actionable, except a consideration has been made by one party to the other in exchange for that promise.
For example, if a wealthy girl invests in the business of a man because he promised to marry her, she has a legal case for breach of promise to marry. But even at that, the man (or the party being sued) has a defence if he can prove that the lady (or the other party) withheld material information that would have affected the promise made had the other party been aware of it.
However, most countries have now abolished the tort and you can only sue for breach of promise to marry in very few jurisdictions.
Scripture is silent on intercourse between betrothed persons, but in my opinion, I think it is permitted, subject to the legal age of consent in any jurisdiction. And once there has been a consummation, the betrothal is ended and has automatically become a full-blown marriage,
Now, this opinion of mine is not from the Holy Spirit. This is my personal opinion, that I believe the Spirit will agree with, but I am not certain. And because I am not certain, I will reiterate that Scripture is silent on intercourse between betrothed persons.
However, intercourse between engaged couples is not supported by Scripture, and is seen as fornication, whereas, in a betrothed, it is seen as adultery. For those who would want Scriptural authority for this, I cite Matthew 1:18-19.
So, it is very right and very commendable when couples are able to abstain from sexual intercourse even though they are engaged. That some in the society would laugh at anybody who observes this discipline shows how wicked a generation we have become. Our morals are twisted.
Such exemplary conduct should be celebrated.
Some people have said that some prophets of the Jewish Torah slept with prostitutes and even had concubines, and that there is nothing wrong with it.
What they forget to mention is that some of those same prophets lied, committed murder, and also partook in idolatry. Should we also engage in lies, murder and idolatry?
Of course not. Scripture does not tell us to model our lives after our prophets. We are told to model our lives after Yeshua Hamashiach, whom some people erroneously call Jesus Christ.
For those who do not know, a prophet is one who hears from God, and speaks what God says to man.
We see the classification clearly in Acts 15:32, which reads in the Amplified Version thus:
“Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets (divinely inspired spokesmen), encouraged and strengthened the [g]believers with many words.”
In other words, a prophet is God’s ‘divinely inspired spokesman.’
A prophet is not someone who foretells the future. The right Scriptural term for someone who sees the future is seer.
We see this in 2 Samuel 24:11:
“Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer:”
Gad was a prophet, in that he heard from God. He was also a seer, in that he could see the future by the gift of God.
However, when you read 2 Samuel 15:27, you get a deeper insight. That verse says:
“The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.”
Zadok was not a prophet. He did not hear the ‘thus says the Lord’. However, he has the gift of seeing the future.
In fact, God has used animals to speak prophetically to people. We see this in Numbers 22:28:
“Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
Should we then start behaving like donkeys, because this donkey spoke for God?
Or course not!
Scripture says “solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”-Hebrews 5:14.
A person who abstains from sexual intercourse out of fear of God is a person who has “trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
I am not referring to persons who abstain from such due to other reasons. And the public has not been provided with proof of such reasons. And until proof of such reasons is provided, let us work with only what is established.
And finally, on this score, let me say this, without speaking to anyone in particular. When you are hurt in a relationship, try as much as possible to relate privately with those you think are the problem and those you think can be the solution. Bringing private hurts to the public hardly ends well. You are not seeking solutions. Rather, you are providing entertainment and drama!
And it is worse for you when the other party is not responding to your public revelations. Because, while they may feel shame and devastation in the present, brought on by your public washing of dirty linens, ten years from the time, they can look back and heal. But every time you look back, you will be like Lot’s wife and turn to salt because of the shame you brought upon yourself.
When money comes your way, look after you and your family’s needs first, then invest the rest. If it is too small to invest, then save it until it is big enough. Don’t be over generous when you are not yet financially strong. There will be time for that. But you are not there yet. Kindness without wisdom is destructive! And never borrow money in anticipation of money you are expecting, and never spend money before it has come in. That is how people are ruined financially. Always wait for money. Don’t expect money to wait for you. Money plays hard to get, when you play quick to spend!