Marriage Advice

Reasons for Rules on Sex

I had a young person write to me at and complain about my “old fashioned” ideas. This person was letting me know that our society had outgrown old rules about what we should expect from our sexual relationships. They had read my lesson called “No Sex before Marriage” where I taught about the value of the Biblical rules about sexual relationships. This person wanted me to know that everything had changed. The current rules are simple: If you are in a relationship, sex is allowed. If that relationship comes apart and you end up in a relationship with someone else, then sex is allowed with that person as well…and so on and so on.

I wish it were that simple. I wish I could say, “Do what you want to do. What I taught was just one person’s opinion, anyway.” But, I can’t. Why? Because nothing has more potential for harm and damage to people than becoming involved sexually before a relationship has matured and a commitment is made. Something happens between two people who share a physical relationship. The Bible calls it “becoming one flesh” which most people don’t really understand.

The way I explain it is this: Who has the potential to do us more harm that someone who knows us very well? Our truest friends are the ones who know us the very best. They are the ones who know our hearts and minds. They are the ones we have opened up to and with whom we have shared our most personal thoughts and feelings. Our long-term, deep friendships make us vulnerable and yet satisfy our longing for intimacy. We take the risk of letting someone know what might harm us the most; the tender spots we protect the most carefully, because we need to be known and understood by someone we trust. We believe our friend will protect us from others who might want to embarrass or humiliate us and would NEVER think about doing hurtful things to us themselves. We need to trust that this person would never betray the friendship between us.

How do we get to be such trusted friends? It takes TIME. It takes sharing experience after experience, joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams, victories and defeats over long and varied life experiences. Somewhere along the line, shallow relationships fall away. People who are not trustworthy slip away into faded memories of hurt feelings and moments of sorrow. True friends remain true and with each experience of life they become closer.

Let me ask you a question? Why would you welcome someone into a more intimate and personal place in your life without expecting them to earn such a relationship? Even a long-term friend does not have the potential of embarrassment, humiliation, guilt, grief and pain that a sexual partner would have. You have exposed yourself to an even deeper level of exposure with an even less trustworthy relationship to support it. You have become a co-dependent partner (our Non-Biblical name for being “one flesh”) on a sexual level with someone who might not even be worthy of a “short term friend”. Your needs on a sexual level are now linked up with someone else’s needs. It takes no imagination at all to visualize how fragile this kind of relationship is by simply calculating how long your sexual partner would stay connected if there were suddenly no sexual gratification.

It sounds so wonderful to recite “Sex is natural and normal. No one should put limitations and rules on something as important as our biological sexual urges.” Yes, sex is natural. The common cold is “natural and normal”, but you don’t want to catch it! I just came from the doctor’s office having completed my annual physical exam. He gave me a whole list of “normal, natural” foods that are causing my cholesterol levels to rise too high. The warning at the top of the page reads, “Foods to be AVOIDED”. Foods; natural, normal, healthy, wonderfully tasty foods that everyone else gets to enjoy, are on my list of “Foods to be Avoided”. How dare that doctor make rules that spoil my supper!?!

You see my point. If you want to live and be healthy, there are ALWAYS rules and restrictions. We are supposed to exercise, but not too much. We are to eat, but everyone needs to watch for foods that are dangerous for their physical system to ingest. We must follow the rules and guidelines, laws and regulations in every area of our lives. Why would we pretend that somehow our sexual roles would be exempt?

We have been keeping human history for several thousand years. That combined experience, confirmed again in God’s Word, the Bible, tells us that if we follow the rules about our sexual lives, we live longer and we live better. Most of my generation came to sexual maturity in the 1960’s when “free love” was being promoted openly. When I was in my graduate program sexual promiscuity was called the “Open Marriage”. Every one of those experiments in sexual “liberation” has ended in sorrow and regret. Many have even died as a result. You can call it anything you wish but the reality still comes back to the same basic truth. If you ignore the best advice of thousands of years of history, you will suffer greatly.

I don’t want that for you. So I tell you the truth.

Photo by Greg licensed under Creative Commons

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