1. Does God approve of Premarital or Extramarital Sex? Despite our promiscuous society that encourages sexual activity, God considers premarital and extramarital sex to be sinful. In the Bible, the word “fornication” (Greek PORNIEA) is used to describe sexual activity outside of marriage as being impure.
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
2. Is it Acceptable to Live Together Without Being Married? This is a common practice of many couples today. However, this is not considered to be an acceptable Christian life-style for the following reasons:
- The tendency towards sexual impurity – Unmarried couples who live together usually have a sexual relationship. As already mentioned, premarital sex is sin and condemned by God’s Word.
“For this is the will of God, and your sanctification: that you should abstain from fornication” (I Thessalonians 4:3).
- The Appearance of Evil - Not only does the Bible teach that believers are not to live a life-style of sin, but they are even to avoid the “appearance” of sin (1 Thess. 5:22). Even if a couple does not have sexual relations while living together, sleeping in the same dwelling gives every appearance that they do. This sets a bad example to other believers. We all have an obligation to our brethren, not to put a stumbling block to their faith.
- Exposure to Temptation -- Even if an unmarried couple plan to refrain from premarital sex, living together could allow temptation to compromise those standards. The Bible teaches us to flee lusts and other temptations which could cause us to sin (2 Tim. 2:22). When we give our desires over to lust and temptation, it leads to sin, and the Bible says that sin leads to death.
"But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
3. Should a Christian Marry an Unbeliever? The Bible teaches that Christian believers should not enter into any type of permanent partnership with unbelievers.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).
The yoke that is referred to means the “wooden yoke” that was used to place on the necks of a team of oxen, to bind them together. Since marriage is a type of yoke which bonds two people together as one team, a marriage between a believer and unbeliever would place them in an “unequal yoke.”
The Bible teaches that a house divided cannot stand. The success of any marriage depends on the unity and harmony of the two people. If one spouse is committed to the Lord Jesus, but the other isn’t, it will create division.
4. How Should a Believer Choose a Marriage Companion? Next to your salvation, your choice of a wife or husband is the most important decision you will ever make in your life. Marriage can be one of life’s most wonderful blessings, but it can be an endless nightmare to those who have chosen carelessly.
- A believer should seek to marry another believer, not merely one who professes to be a Christian, but whose life also demonstrates long-term stable, Christian behavior.
- Do not be led by your emotions. Infatuation is often mistaken for love. Real love is not something you “fall” into. It’s something you commit yourself to, and sacrifice yourself for.
- Never marry anyone on the mere basis of their appearance, sexual appeal, or material things. Only shallow, foolish people do that. Choose a marriage companion on the basis of what’s inside their heart, not what’s on the outside.
- A good marriage requires that Christ be the center. If He is not the center of your relationship with your companion prior to marriage, He’ll not likely be the center of your marriage later.
- Never marry anyone on the basis that they’ll change after marriage. Bad habits often become worse, not better. People are usually “already” on their “best” behavior before marriage.