Engaging in sexual intercourse prior to marriage. The Song of Songs is an extended poem extolling the virtue of sexual fidelity between a king and his chosen bride. Sexual desire runs strong throughout the song as the king and his beloved anticipate their union together. At intervals the poet repeats a refrain counseling sexual restraint: “Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you, by the gazelles and the wild does of the field; do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (Song 2:7 HCSB; 3:5; 8:4). To the church in Corinth, a city well-known for

profligate sexual activity, Paul wrote that Christians must control their sexual desires and that those who cannot do so ought to marry (1 Cor 7:2,8-9,36-37). Paul counseled Timothy to flee youthful passions and pursue instead things that make for pure living (2 Tim 2:22). Although the temptation to gratify one’s passions can be strong, Paul taught that God promises strength to overcome greater than the temptation (1 Cor 10:12-13).

God chose the marriage relationship as a means to express to people the intimacy He shares with believers (Hos 1-3; 2 Cor 11:2; Rev 21:2). Anything that cheapens or lessens the union of a husband and wife in marriage, such as pre or extramarital sex, also tarnishes God’s relationship with His people.

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