Due to societal changes, casual sex has become a norm. Sexual images are seen on social media, portrayed on television and in music.
From a Christian viewpoint, premarital sex is a forgivable sin as long as people give themselves up to their faith and follow in the footsteps of God. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Shaune Shelby, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, knows people aren’t perfect, but believes premarital sex has taken on a much larger role in people’s lives. He also believes strengthened faith is an answer to this issue.
“From a Christian perspective it’s something we should not do. We’ve engaged in the activity thinking it forms relationships, but in fact it has broken down relationships. People thought you should experience the other person completely in order to create a relationship. In my mind, from a spiritual standpoint, getting to know a person before you engage in sexual activity leads to longer relationships because (sex) will be a new, shared experience,” said Shelby.
He went on to say, most people engage in casual sex and feel as if there is no connection. When he talks on the subject of sex, his goal is to get people to rethink the role of sex—it shouldn’t be used as a way to decide a mate, but as a blessing of the selection you make in a partner.
He said he was a big advocate of practicing abstinence until he attended college. After college he recommitted to abstinence, then met his wife.
“I made a commitment to Christ and my church and decided that’s not who I want to be. I knew I wouldn’t find the right person if (sex) was the drive for the relationship,” said Shelby.
The numbers support the idea that premarital sex has become a cultural trend. According to the “2014 State of Dating in America” report published by Christian Mingle and JDate, 61 percent of Christians said they would have sex before marriage and 56 percent said it’s appropriate to move in with someone after dating between six months and two years.
Lionel Taylor, a 21-year-old college student, believes sex before marriage is wrong but believes the sin of premarital sex doesn’t define a person.
“Premarital sex is wrong—you’re not supposed to have sex before you’re married, and that’s understood by everyone. With that being said, is it a sin? Yes, but the Bible also states any sin is just as bad as the next,” said Lionel Taylor. “There are many interpretations of the Bible and people hold certain values closer than others. If one chooses to indulge in it, you could say they are doing something wrong, but that doesn’t make them bad for it.”
Rev. Shelby also shared his thoughts on how sex has influenced divorce and how he has noticed a large number of people divorcing.
“Divorce is at a higher rate now because we go off of the physical as a test of marriage, versus the old fashioned ‘lets establish a relationship and meet who you are, who your family is, and what are your professional aspirations?’ All of a sudden, the first thought that comes to the head is ‘how good are you in bed?’” said Shelby.
Shelby said it’s not just the younger generation that is struggling with the issue of premarital sex, but there are older people who have never been married and have done everything but commit to a marriage. Maurice Taylor, 52, is a follower of Christ by faith and also believes in the sanctity of sex within a marriage.
“As a Christian I believe (premarital sex) is wrong. It’s stated in Genesis 2:24, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ I’m all about a one-flesh relationship. That’s what I teach my kids and I don’t support premarital sex at all,” said Maurice Taylor.
He said he knows firsthand the difficulties that come along with premarital sex although abstaining prior to marriage was reinforced by his parents. He said sex with various partners is like attaching a sticky note to several different documents —a small amount of the glue stays on the paper each time. Eventually a person has difficulty staying with someone because they have been "stuck" all over the place.
“Those thoughts and feelings from other relationships are hard to move on from. It takes a while to move on with your life and focus on your spouse,” added Maurice Taylor.
Robin Choice, 49, believes you shouldn’t have sex before marriage but if you were to engage in a sexual activity you should repent and try not to do it again.
“The Bible says it’s better to marry than to burn; we are all human and commit flesh sins,” mentioned Choice.
Shelby agrees and said the lure of sex fades away, but the connection you build with a person outside of sex, which is love, will withstand any test of time.
“We should celebrate making love in a marriage atmosphere, but the problem is that we’ve allowed it to take over as this lustful thing where we can’t control ourselves. If you really want to get to know somebody, form a relationship first; sex is about a heightened sense of sensation but that’s not going to sustain no matter how great the person is,” said Shelby.
To learn more info about Pastor Shaune Shelby’s congregation, visit Ebenezerchurchindy.org.