February 6, 2011Category: WritingTags: ,

I was raised as a Methodist Christian, and in that faith all sex outside of marriage is both a sin and wrong/evil. Over time, my beliefs on the issue have evolved, and I’d like to examine the issue here.

First I’d like to say, I differentiate between ‘sin’ and ‘evil’. Sin is a Christian concept; anything that God says not to do is a sin. One sins by breaking any of God’s rules. Evil, on the other hand, is a universal concept and it’s one that is hard to define. Everyone’s definition evil differs slightly. Some things, such as murder, are considered evil by nearly everyone in a society. Others, like homosexuality, are considered evil by only a portion of that society. Evil is distinct from sin because evil is governed by your own conscience while sin is governed by God. There are some things that are evil but not sin, such as offering one’s daughters to be gang-raped, and some things that are sin but not evil, such as gambling and in my opinion, sex outside of marriage.

With that differentiation established, lets first examine whether sex outside of marriage is sin. In the Bible, there are many occasions where “sexual immorality” are condemned, such as Thessalonians 4:3-5 and Mark 7:20-23 (Source). However, it isn’t defined what exactly constitutes “sexual immorality”, which has lead to some confusion. Similarly, Number 7 of the 10 commandments reads: “Thou [You] shall not commit adultery.” It is the same in the King James version, the New International, the New American Standard, as well as all other versions I checked (Source). Again though, adultery isn’t really defined, and interpretations vary. However, most interpretations are pretty well in agreement that adultery means sex outside of marriage, so I feel that we’re on pretty safe ground concluding that adultery is a sin, at least according to Christianity.

We can now move on to the question of whether or not it’s morally wrong. First though, let me define my own personal view of what constitutes evil, or moral wrong. I think evil has to involve harming someone. Harm means anything that hurts or diminishes someone, physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally, without their consent. If an action doesn’t involve harming someone, I don’t consider it to be evil. Sex between two people doesn’t innately harm someone, therefore sex, including extra-marital sex, isn’t innately morally wrong. However, in some cases the circumstances in which it happens can cause a moral wrong to occur.

Rape is the obvious example that most people’s minds immediately jump to. The thing we have to keep in mind though is that’s it’s not the sex itself that is wrong. Rape is morally wrong because of the lack of consensuality. Someone is being forced into doing something they don’t want, which is harming said person. Another example is cheating on one’s significant other. The moral wrong here also doesn’t stem from the sex itself, but instead from the breaking of a vow and from lying.

Conversely, if two people with no other commitments wish to have sex, be it a one night stand or a couple that’s not yet married deciding to play around a little early, it’s not morally wrong and I don’t think they should be condemned for it. I’ll note that if it turns out that Christianity is actually correct then they might end up paying for it later on, but that is between them and God, it’s not our place to judge.