“I’ve been having sex with my bf for a while now, does the bible say I have to get married to him?”
There is no quick and easy answer, and you honestly need to have some intimate counseling with a pastor because there are so many possible variations of this and differing responses that we can’t address. Also this article is written for a christian who is involved in premarital sex and how that christian should correct her/his lifestyle of sin; this article is not intended to bring up guilt for a past life that has been repented of and redeemed by Christ.
EXTRAMARITAL SEX MOCKS GOD’S ORDER
First off let me make something clear, what you are doing is wrong, its sin, and it needs to stop. This is not an attempt to appear holy, or to judge you and declare that you are so horrible compared to me. Everyone is a sinner and a failure besides Jesus.
Yet it is that same Jesus who calls us towards a different standard of living than this world considers normal. Part of the call of Christ is sexual purity in marriage between one man and one woman. Human marriage, which God created, represents the covenant (or agreement) that Jesus has with the church. He loves the church and wont cheat on her, and she, the church, will remain true to him forever. The earthly union of man and wife symbolizes the heavenly union of Jesus and his bride (Eph 5:23-25) That’s what sex is about, it is a representation of marital intimacy and the promise to be faithful. Sex is the symbol of you making the commitment in your heart and mind, before God and man, to join in a mutually submissive covenant called marriage. When you get married you sign a marriage license, and that makes your marriage official in the eyes of man. You have a ceremony which makes your marriage official in the eyes of the church. Then as a married couple when you are intimate with each it makes your agreement for marriage official before God (thought this doesn’t make it a real marriage, see below.) To use that analogy, sex is the signature on your marriage license in heaven. It shows two single people become “one flesh” (This is a biblical idea, in 1 Cor 6:16 Paul says having sex with a prostitute will make you “one flesh” with her, this clearly references Gen 2:31 which shows the symbol of marriage also as “one flesh”).
However, it’s very important that simply having sex does not make a real marriage in Gods eyes, just as signing a marriage license isn’t the same thing as making a real commitment to become married. You cannot just have sex and claim to be truly married (just like marking a marriage license without the commitment to “cling to,” love, and cherish your wife, is only marking a piece of paper). Real marriage involves men making the commitment to love their wife like Jesus loves the church, and the women promising to obey and love their husband like the church does to Jesus.
Once the inward covenant is reached, there is the outward symbol representing it (that symbol is sex.)
So when you have sex outside of marriage this mocks the symbol God has created to represent something holy. It’s as if you go and sign many different marriage licenses just for fun. Then your signature becomes untrustworthy and you make a mockery of the whole legal system. No one would want to trust your signature and everyone would understand you think paperwork is a big joke that means nothing to you. Same with sex, if you do it with someone other than your spouse in a covenant marriage you show you think marriage is a joke and Gods covenant with man is a joke.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
But I realize you have a problem that you know you have and we need to work on restoring your life in the Grace of Christ. Also we need to understand while we can review some general biblical principles for guidance, I can’t fix your problem over the internet. It is imperative and vital that you speak to a pastor, you need someone who can pray and council the both of you more intimately and privately. That said let’s see the ideas the bible gives us.
There are many cases in the bible where sexual sin is displayed, exposed and described, then we see the consequences and punishments awarded to the people involved. Let’s look at the three main variations involving sex outside of marriage from the Hebrew old testament. Some of these instances include young women (the use the word virgins) who are betrothed or engaged. In Hebrew culture a young girl would often be engaged or promised to someone before she was old enough to marry her fiancée. However, different than engagement today, at the time the bible was written, being engaged was as binding as marriage so breaking the engagement agreement was equivalent to breaking a marriage.
1-Not engaged, mutual consent
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.” (Exodus 22:16-17)
This case does not include rape, the Hebrew word for seduce , ‘pathah’ is defined as persuade or convince not ‘force’. This is the only type of extramarital sex in the old testament that does not prescribe a death sentence, because no one is married or engaged, and therefore has not made any covenant yet. If the father didn’t allow the man to marry his daughter, the man is still to pay a ‘bride-price’ (the large sum of money that a man would have to pay a father to marry a virgin) even if the girl was not given in marriage because another man may not want to marry her nor give her father the full bride price.
2-Engaged, mutual consent
“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
In this case we are not told if the man is married or not, and likely it does not matter because either way he participates in breaking a betrothal (which in Hebrew culture was almost equal to marriage as we can see he is accused of violating “his neighbors wife”). In any event where one of the partners is married, both were to carry the full penalty (death) because they agreed to destroy a marriage covenant. Fortunately Jesus took the death penalty upon himself and gave his life to us, formally ending such a punishment.
3-Engaged and raped
“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.” (Deuteronomy 22:25-27)
–A betrothed woman who was raped would never have to worry about not marrying her fiancée but having to remain “one flesh” with the man who raped her as the Hebrew scriptures mandated death by stoning of her rapist. This shows that the bible did not mandate that every single time someone had premarital sex they were to be married.
WHAT THIS MEANS TODAY
The three incidents above are all recorded in the old testament which Christ came to fulfill and perfectly replace, so today no one will be punished with death for one particular sin. In fact Jesus very clearly forgave a woman caught in adultery, changing very dramatically what people thought can be forgiven without punishment. However, while no one will punish you with death today, sin still has its own consequences and harmful effects on everyone involved. Also just like 3000 years ago, examples two and three will still cause much more damage, hurt, and pain today than example one. If there is a marriage involved, the repercussions are severe and there is not always hope of reconciliation but I won’t deal with marriage here.
In the event of Exodus 22:16-17 a young man had sex with a young woman without receiving her father’s blessing and permission to marry her. This young man stole her virginity. Yet instead of mandating that he be killed, Moses, speaking for God, says that in such a case the man must marry her if the father allows it. This is the reason and condition upon which the Old Testament does not prescribe punishment (death) for him. If he or the girl continues sleeping with others, the Old testament does order punishment for this and calls it the sin of harlotry, Deut 22:20. (I want to point this out to illustrate the wickedness of continuing to have sex with other unmarried people.) Nonetheless, if he and she repent and admit to the parents the mistake that they did, they are allowed to be officially married in the eyes of the people without being punished as with all other sexual sins in the old testament.
The distinction is this: if you had sex with someone who is married, you commit one of the gravest sins (adultery) and destroy that marriage covenant. You horrifically mock that which God set up to symbolize his love for the church. An analogy would be that you take someone’s marriage license and you sign your name on top of their spouses name, making both unreadable. You break up a marriage and cause two people, who have become a symbol of Jesus and the church, to distrust each other. Jesus did forgive adultery, however, He also permitted divorce (something He absolutely hates, Mal 2:16) in case of adultery. (Mat 19:9)
On the other hand, if you had sex with someone who is not married, you still commit a sin (fornication) yet this sin can be restored without as much damage and pain to other people. The reason for this is because (I’ll keep using the same analogy) both of you still have a marriage license in heaven that is blank, so when you sign your name on it (illegally,) you don’t cross out another name or break a previous covenant. If you officially marry the person who you slept with you can correct your sin. It’s not that it becomes ok to sin that way, or you ‘undo it’ and pretend it never happened, but instead as if you stole something, and now you bring it back to restore the harm of your sin. But this only works when you admit what you did was wrong and work at correcting your sin by marring your partner. You cannot use this as an excuse to have more sex, because that would be like saying it’s ok to steal if eventually you give it back, or ok to beat someone if you take them to the hospital get restored. These examples are still sin, yet in both of them you take responsibility at correcting some of the repercussions of the sin.
TO THE POINT: DO I HAVE TO MARRY THEM?
Not in every case, but it would be ideal in most cases where a boyfriend and girlfriend are sleeping together before marriage.
In Exodus 22:16-17 the ideal choice is marriage, unless there is a serious reason against it, in which case the father keeps his daughter and sends the man away after taking a hefty fine. If the man you slept with is an abuser and or not willing to repent, go to church, and be teachable don’t marry that kind of man. This works for men also, if the woman refuses to come under God’s authority, repent, and pursue a life of being changed by Gods word, you are not forced to take her as your wife. But at the same time if you and your partner are willing to admit fault and repent, if you’re willing to come under God’s authority and are teachable, it is best that you begin counseling with a local pastor and get married. The marriage may be right away or in some cases it may needs some time apart for repentance and counseling, this depends on your individual situation and should be discussed with your pastor. But overall, by having sex, you have already “signed the agreement“ and symbolically become “one flesh” according to the bible, and you ought to make the inward commitment to be truly married unless there is a serious reason against it.
Serious reasons against it
There are also very real and obvious reasons that a marriage should not happen as it would accelerate or increase sin and suffering. One evident reason is if one you (or both) is/are married; adultery is not an excuse for someone to leave their wedding vows. An equally big reason is rape, you should not marry your rapist, in the Old Testament the rapist would be stoned and the woman spared. If such a marriage happens it would very likely lead to more rape, pain, sin, and marital infidelity. Also if your partner is unchristian and unwilling to repent, the bible says “do not be yoked [tied together] with unbelievers” when referring to such marriages. One more serious issue is a large gap in age or one of the partners being too young to be married or make any decisions. If you are 15 and have sexual relations with someone 10 years older than you it reeks of emotional manipulation and often borders on rape. Some other reasons to refrain from marriage include your partner being involved in substance abuse, being violent or cruel, incarcerated, or merely unrepentant/unwilling to work at loving you.
What if we are merely “uncertain”
You may have an issue where none of the above apply to you and are still confused and doubtful about marriage. I don’t believe that feeling a little doubt is a reason to leave and move on to the next person. If your feelings are “maybe he/she is not the one” or “I don’t know if I love him/her” it doesn’t constitute a final answer. If you are uncertain about how you feel about that person, why did you start having sex with them? You would probably say you loved that person, no? So why the change? And what is to guarantee that you will not have the same change as soon as you marry the next person, who you fall in love with? Will every change in feelings mean you need to change partners? If a married couple has a down period where one or both of the spouses aren’t sure of their feelings for the other, does that constitute a reason for divorce? Never! (More likely it means they may need to undergo some kind of restoration in their marriage.) If I stopped loving my wife today, I would recognize that the problem is not “I need a new wife” but “I need a new mind.” God entrusted me with Inna to love and care for, and any change of mind is a withdrawal from my God-given responsibility. And while I understand you may feel like you’re not married, but you are having sex, which is something that the bible reserves only for married spouses as a sign of being married.
WHY SHOULD I MARRY THEM?
Part of the issue as to why you should marry them has to do with the consequences of your sin and how far reaching they are. The effect of sin your on other people are often smallest when the two of your who sinned agree to repent, get married, and pursue life together in the Grace of God. Other alternatives may cause more sin and grief, let’s look at a few possible scenarios in the instance of a couple who is affectionate to each other and (sinfully) sleeping together (this doesn’t apply to rape and abuse cases):
3 Possible Scenarios
Premarital sex corrected by repentence and marriage
If you have premarital sex, then repent, and get married, your story and trail of sin, pain, lies, and wickedness can end here and you can begin to pursue God as a family, following and enjoying the standard God has made. This is the best scenario.
Granted, in some cases two people who had premarital sex can get married and spend most of their life in hostility and anger towards each other and you can say “isn’t it better that I marry someone I can get along with because I cannot get along with _______, who I had sex with.” The issue isn’t needing new a partner, instead both of you need a new nature in Christ. If both are willing to repent, trust Jesus, and follow his teaching about love, life, marriage, then it doesn’t matter how much you haven’t gotten along in the past, Christ gives new nature, he gives new life, he gives a new way of doing things. That’s the whole point of repentance, a wicked person like Paul, who is a persecutor of the church, becomes the best friend and part-founder of the church. Two people who sinned against each other and may not get along or have abundant sin in their life, can be changed by the supremacy of Christ’s sacrifice and the transformative power of Holy Spirit.
One person wants to repent, the other doesn’t
You sin, become “one flesh,” and then one of you decides he or she doesn’t want to repent and married, that person then leaves the relationship. Most likely they will find another sexual partner or spouse. In this case the person who wanted reconciliation can still hold on to strong and intimate feelings of love (as being united in the flesh will do) and live with the bitter pain of betrayal, being absolutely certain that his/her “true love” is living with someone else.
As far as the person who leaves the repentant partner, they can be plagued with guilt at seeing the suffering of the partner they left. Furthermore, the next person they find is not likely to be a better spouse because the grass is most often “greener on the other side” and the problem is with the mind and an unrepentant heart, not a bad boyfriend/girlfriend. All of this often lead to more disillusionment followed by more sin, pain, and trauma.
Overall, if you are the repentant partner, you can trust Jesus with your life, he will not leave, nor forsake you. However, if you aren’t remorseful but instead leave your partner who is willing to repent, love Jesus, love you, and get married, then breaking their heart and every minute of sorrow they go through is your fault.
Both partners want to leave
Another option is that both of you decide to leave each other. For example, both of you sin, becoming “one flesh” and then both leave to continue in more sexual sin, leaving a ragged trail of wickedness and pain behind you. This is unfortunately the most common thing in our generation, and it almost brings me to tears. It so often causes the girl to feel she is unworthy unless she is having a physical relationship with a guy. I have seen these girls go from one pair of arms to another, being abused and used time and time again by young men who should be circumcised with a pair of garden shears.
It may be true that the above does not happen in every situation, sometimes both partners agree to stop having sex prior to marriage, repent, join a church, and eventually get married to other people without causing more sin and grief, however, in my experience this is much rarer because of the nature of sin, which tends to ensnare and destroy us.
If you are both willing to repent, commit to following Christ, and to learning to love each other, most of this sin and pain can be avoided. I pray and hope you will avoid it.
In a worst case scenario when everything goes wrong, Jesus Christ can forgive, redeem, and restore absolutely anything. He alone has the power to undo every sin that has been committed because it was nailed to his cross. And some people who have had extramarital sex in their youth have repented, become a new creation in Christ and live a life full of joy while being married to someone other than their former partner(s). I know of people who have come from a life filled with severe sexual atrocities and Jesus receives them and makes them absolutely new and clean again. This is absolutely the truth, in Christ there is forgiveness, freedom, and newness from any sin, no matter how dirty it was, is or makes you feel.
However, if you already profess that you believe in God and want his advice on how to act now, I believe He teaches in his word to trust Him with your sin problem and let Him restore it and heal the both of you. If there is not serious reason against it, I prayerfully invite you and your boyfriend/girlfriend to stop everything, seek Jesus together and ask Him to redeem your relationship. Ideally I would hope and pray that both of you repent, get under the authority of bible believing church/pastor and get married.
But I know that sometimes real life doesn’t work like that and people avoid confronting sin, if he refuses anything to do with Jesus or repentance, leave him.