Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pre-Marital Sex

Deuteronomy 22:13-21

 “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-17) 

Sometimes a couple find themselves dissatisfied when they come together in marriage, and this is especially likely in situations where the marriage is undertaken without the couple getting to know each other before hand, as in people who met on the internet or arranged marriages.  Accusations of having played around before marriage often arise in such cases.  Even in modern American society where “pre-marital” sex is considered the norm, suspicion causes a lot of conflict.

While it is difficult to prove whether a guy is a virgin or not, it was not hard to prove a about a woman since God provided a seal to protect her from infection during her childhood.  Breaking that seal, the hymen would produce some bleeding and vaginal fluid which would show up on the sheets.  If the guy accused his wife of not being a virgin, her parents could prove it was a lie by simply bringing the spotted sheet as proof of her virginity.

“And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:18-19) 

If it could be proven the man had lied about his wife, he was to be taken out and punished, usually by whipping, then fined a hundred shekels or fifty six ounces of silver.  In 2012 prices that would amount to about a thousand six hundred dollars which wass given to the girl’s parents for damage to her reputation.  The man would be forced to support her as his wife for the rest of his life.

“But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

If it turned out that the girl was not a virgin and they could not produce the proof, then the girl was to be taken out and stoned to death because she had indulged in “pre-marital” sex and the guy’s complaint was valid.  She was guilty of adultery with the man that married her, and involved him in adultery unknowingly.  If the guy already knew that she was not a virgin, he would have no valid claim against her.

Several years ago a Bible college professor told a group of the college girls that if they had indulged in pre marital sex, God would forgive them and they must never let their husband know as he would be unable to forgive them.  It is my opinion, and I think scripture supports it, that it would be better to be upfront and allow him to decide than to lie to him.  Sooner or later the lie, or the resulting guilt will affect the relationship even though God has forgiven the sex act.

Dealing with Adultery
Deuteronomy 22:22-24

“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 22:22)

If a man was found having sex with a woman married to another man it was adultery and both the man and woman were to be executed.  In the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8, the Pharisees were violating God’s command in bringing the woman and not the man to be executed.  Both were guilty and God is no respecter of persons.  Both were to be stoned because both were guilty even though society tends to excuse men.  According to Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  The same rules apply to both.

“If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

In the case of an individual who was engaged but had not yet been married, if they voluntarily had sex with another person, they were to be executed for adultery because of the emotional damage such behavior causes.  Modern day bachelor parties are not a good thing.

Deuteronomy 22:25-27

“But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.”(Deuteronomy 22:25-27)

The determining factor as to whether sex was consensual or not was whether the woman cried out for help.  Ancient cities were very quiet compared to modern ones.  It is amazing how noisy even a quiet car is.  In ancient cities, a woman calling for help was almost certain to be heard, so if no one heard her, it was to be assumed she was a willing participant.  If she was in place where no one would be likely to hear her, it was to be assumed she called for help and no one could hear, and it was to be considered rape.  If the woman was married or engaged, the rapist was to be executed for adultery, but the woman was to be considered just as innocent as the victim in an unprovoked murder.

UnMarried Sex
Deuteronomy 22:28-29

“If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) 

If a man had sex with a girl who wasn’t married or engaged, he had to take her as his wife, whether he raped her or not.  He was required to give her folks fifty shekels or about twenty eight ounces of silver for not having asked their permission and support her as his wife for the rest of his life with no possibility of divorce.  It didn’t matter whether she got pregnant or not.  The parents had the right to refuse to let her live with him if they so chose, according to Exodus 22:16-17.  “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”

Matthew 19:5-6 stresses that marriage is an act of God and man has no authority over it.  “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  I Corinthians 6:16 makes it clear that God uses the mechanism of sex to cause that bonding.  “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.”  

Preachers and churches which refuse to allow couples to get married because of premarital sex are replacing God’s word with man’s tradition, just as Jesus accused the Pharisees in Matthew 15 and Mark 7.


  1. I know a young woman who had this very problem; she was dating a man and had a child with him and her church viewed her entire scenario as sinful, counseled her to leave the father of the child or she would be living in perpetual sin. Not too long after she left that church and her faith. I agree entirely that man's tradition has replaced much of what God has said regarding this and many other things in Scripture.

  2. When we forbid people doing what God commands because it doesn't meet our ideals, we are setting ourselves in God's place. It is not surprising that the world doesn't value marriage very highly when churches use it as a way to manipulate people rather than as a God ordained institution.