Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost posts an interesting article on what he calls ‘premarital adultery.’
His main premise is that we are obligated to maintain sexual purity prior to marriage in order to save ourselves for ‘the one’ in marriage. Therefore, he considers it an obligation.
Carter’s comments are good, but they are insufficient. The problem is that most treatments of premarital sexuality are not rooted in the fact that chastity is a gospel issue. If we want to rightly understand the call to chastity in dating, then we must allow the Bible to reshape our view of sexuality.
Sexuality is a gospel issue. What we do with our body betrays what we believe about the gospel. We reveal who we are with what we do with our bodies. This is best seen in 1 Corinthians 6-7. Sexual immorality is a sin against the body (6:18-20). It is using the body in a way that violates the gospel by destroying the picture of one flesh union between man and woman which is supposed to point to our one flesh union with Christ. So, how we pursue chastity in dating displays the way we view our relationship with Christ.
Until arguments like Carter’s root themselves in the gospel issue of sexuality, they will continue to fail. Sexual purity is about more than just not breaking the 7th commandment. It’s about pointing to the Christ-church relationship God is seeking to display. When this is embraced, premarital sexuality will shift from an obligation to a joy.