Question:

I am 21 years old. I have been dating a girl my same age for about 6 months. We are both baptized Christians, but have made serious mistakes. About a month ago, she gave me a hand-job. This happened three times but after the third time I felt awful about it and have told her we cannot do that anymore. She agreed.

She had done this sexual act with her previous boyfriend, but I had never done anything sexual with anyone before her.

My question comes from Matthew 5:32. "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." My concern is in the last part. I know that she wasn't "married" in the world's view, but many people say that the first person you have sex with is the person you are forever married to in God's eyes. Is this true?

And my girlfriend did not have total sex with her previous boyfriend, but it was still the sexual experience, as was ours. I find myself in between a rock and a hard place. Since the girl I lost my virginity (any intentional sexual act resulting in climax and the loss of innocence) to had lost her virginity to another man before me, am I an adulterer according to Matt 5:32? Are she and her previous boyfriend still married in God's eyes? And if so, if I marry this girl am I committing adultery every time we have sex?

The other option is for me to marry a virgin, but then I would be committing adultery if the same principles were applied to me. The only option seems to be a life of celibacy, to avoid being an adulterer. Am I to remain single for the rest of my life? Will it be a lasting "lifestyle sin" if I marry my current girlfriend or someone else? Please help me understand God's view of marriage and adultery.

Best regards,


Answer:

Your question is covered in Is a marriage only bound after sex?

Sex does not create a marriage. If it did, then there would be no fornication, only adultery.

What you two did was fornication, even though you didn't put your penis into her. It was still an act of sex. It was proceeded by lewdness and lust as well. I'm glad you stopped, but don't make compromises and think that as long as you don't go all the way, that part way isn't so bad.

Thank you so much for the quick reply. However, I am still a bit cautious. You stated that if sex equaled marriage, then there would be no fornication. But doesn't fornication mean any sexual sin, such as incest, homosexuality, or bestiality? Those are sexual sins that wouldn't be adultery.

I am not saying you're wrong, if I thought you had no credibility I wouldn't be asking. But I am still concerned by I Corinthians 6:16."Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh.'” I am so confused by this. It seems that if we have sex (of any kind) with a prostitute (or anyone that is not a virgin) we are "one flesh" with them. Does one flesh not mean the same thing as marriage? I just don't know what else it could mean.

I understand that "one flesh" could mean literally one flesh, they are physically connected at the waist. But it refers to Genesis 2:24 in the verse. And in Genesis, I think God was specifically referring to how marriage ought to be. So what is Paul saying here? Why is he saying we become one flesh with a prostitute or non-virgin?

I am also confused by the woman at the well. "He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true”" (John 4:16-18). Surely this woman was not married and divorced five times. I think that to be impossible for a woman to do in that time without being stoned or put to death. Is Jesus saying that everyone she has had sexual relations with is one of her husbands? I can't seem to comprehend what these verses tell us.

Fornication means sex without being married. It includes homosexuality, but it is not limited to it as you are trying to claim. For definitions with documentation, see: Sex.

Sex is a mechanism that helps create a bond between individuals, but the act of sexual intercourse is not the marriage. Married couples have sex, which facilitates the two becoming one, but sex does not create the marriage. This is one reason why God restricted sex to married couples. You don't want people forming intimate bonds without a prior commitment to remain with each other.

We can see this throughout the Bible. In the story of Shechem and Dinah we find that Shechem went about finding a wife the wrong way. "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, "Get me this young woman as a wife." And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing which ought not to be done" (Genesis 34:1-7). Shechem had sex with Dinah and by doing so violated her. In the Hebrew, the word is 'anah which means to lower or to humble. In other words, his action reduced Dinah's position in society, yet it did not create a marriage. In fact, notice that Shechem didn't even feel love toward Dinah until afterwards (here is an example of sex creating a bond). He wanted his father to negotiate a marriage but did not realize why Dinah's father and brothers were so upset with what he had done. It was a thing that ought not to be done. Sex was to come after a marriage, not before. But for our point, it demonstrates that sex did not create a marriage.

The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah is another example, "Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death" (Genesis 34:67). We are not told the full marriage ceremony -- there is no reason to assume that all of it was recorded for us -- but it appears that a part of their marriage customs was the bringing of the bride into the chambers of a man's mother. (In fact, it is from this that we get the custom of a man carrying his bride across the threshold.) But notice the order: Rebekah became Isaac's wife and then he loved her. This particular Hebrew word has the similar broad meaning for love that our English word has. It is both a general love between two individuals, but when used between married couples it can include the idea of lovemaking, or sex.

Judah gives us another example, "And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her and went in to her" (Genesis 38:2). There is a distinct timeline being given: 1) Judah met Shua, 2) Judah married Shua, 3) Judah had sex with Shua. The function of the word "and" is to show the sequence of action and not to indicate simultaneous action.

If sex created a marriage and all subsequent attempts at marriage are adultery, then you end up with God commanding Hosea to commit adultery. "When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD"" (Hosea 1:2). Gomer was not a virgin when Hosea married her. Yet, you are claiming that this makes it an adulterous relationship. But "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13). What God commanded Hosea to do was not wrong.

You also end up with a contradiction since Joseph married Mary before they had sex. "Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son" (Matthew 1:24-25). Joseph and Mary were married and sex did not come until after Jesus was born.

In I Corinthians 6:16, Paul proves that sex binds the participants. It is not a permanent or stable bond, but it is a bond nonetheless. Those who engage in sexual sins are physically coupled during the act. They become for the moment one body (the Greek word soma). This is different from sex in marriage where the two become on flesh (the Greek word sarx). Illicit sex is just a joining of bodies, which is unstable. Marital sex is the joining of two human beings into one life. And our joining to the Lord is an even greater bond, being a spiritual fellowship. Marital sex is compatible with our spiritual bond because the Lord blesses it (Hebrews 13:4). Illicit sex is not compatible with our spiritual bond with Christ.

Why should we take what God has freed from sin (Romans 6:1-7) and then bind ourselves to sinners, even on a temporary basis? We are a part of Christ (Ephesians 5:30) and when we sin, we are attempting to force sin to join with Christ through us. It won’t work because what is flawed is cast off. Our reaction to sins, such as fornication ought to be run away from it as far and as fast as we can.

In "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24), the steps are:

  1. Leave parents
  2. Join to spouse (get married in other words)
  3. Become one flesh (move toward being a single person form of two people, which includes sex). This last step is an on-going process, not a moment in time.

Fornication does make you one body while you are coupled, but it doesn't lead you to becoming one flesh.

The woman at the well had five husbands and she was currently living with a man whom she had not married. That is why she said, "I have no husband" and Jesus agreed. The fact that she was having sex with someone did not make her married.

Before I go, I would like to point out that you already knew this. You said that you sinned three times by doing sexual acts with your girlfriend. If a sexual act made you married, then you did not sin because sex is supposed to take place in a marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Yet, you recognized that you and she had no rights to sex and still have no rights to sex. In addition you aren't certain that you married. You question the possibility. But marriage is a covenant (Malachi 2:14). You can't accidentally enter into a covenant. There has to be witnessed vows before God with records and a reminder of the covenant. You did not enter into a marriage covenant and deep down you know it.