Sex First, Then A Wedding

Photo of cross shaped grave stone reading "R.I.P."

“Bible characters didn’t wait until marriage to have sex, why should we?” I was recently faced with that question by a guy who doesn’t like me much. As a girl with a solid opinion about sexual purity, I have a lot of non-fans out there, and they ask very tough questions. One blogger, who calls himself “The Scott”, is a little more eloquent and well-thought out than others. I respect a good debate. The Scott, once posted this: “Sexual Purity” is dead! He then went on to reveal a few “dirty facts” that the “Christian Right” will never tell you about premarital sex in the Bible. I guess they were meant to be stumpers, but they didn’t stump me. In my first blog written specifically for the college women I know, I’m going to address his inquiries. (And let it be noted that this Christian is going to address the “dirty facts.” In fact, I’d like to honor The Scott with inspiration for the name of my new blog: Dirty Secrets Cleaned Up: Unashamed Answers About Sex, Beauty and Girlhood!)

I realize that there are a lot of unanswered questions in Christian theology when it comes to sex. Could I suggest that most of them are a result of feasting more on the sexual content of the world, and failing to become Biblically literate! As we digest sexual messages in pop culture, we come to believe them as truth. But Truth can only be found in one place…and I’m happy to answer any “dirty facts” that tend to go unanswered, by looking at that source: the Bible. Here’s one of “The Scott’s” stumpers:

#1 The Lovers in the Song of Solomon first have sex in chapter 2 and then get married in chapter 3.

It’s a good point. It really is. It could even be argued that this fact debunks the oft-called myth that God means for sex to be reserved for marriage. Fortunately, I’ve just finished writing What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex (January 2011), in which I addressed that very issue.  (Go to this link for a sneak peak.) The Ancient Jewish wedding culture did place the first sexual union just before the lengthy, sometimes week-long wedding feast. The first sexual union was literally the night before, and the young bride and groom were asked to bring out white sheets bloodied by the stretching or tearing of the virgin bride’s hymen as evidence that they’d actually consummated the marriage sexually. (The blood was said to be evidence that this was the first sexual encounter. More on that dirty secret in a later blog. It’s not as gross as you might think!) BUT, this sexual union was after much tradition and ceremony in the engagement period. The young couple was legally and morally bound to one another at the private betrothal ceremony that occurred usually in the home of the bride, but they then delayed sexual contact until the groom had adequately paid the full bride price and prepared a home for her. This may have been days, weeks, months or years! Our modern Christian culture honors the exclusivity of the sexual union by placing it just after a public wedding ceremony, which ends with a shorter wedding feast. I think I know why it’s short: The sexual union—if not already consummated— usually occurs within hours of the traditions that legally and morally bound them to one another. With a more informed view of the scripture, you find that the sexual expression portrayed in passages such as Song of Solomon was exceedingly more restrained, not less so. No doubt, the bright eyed Jewish guy and girl were doing the deed before the wedding feast, but they were no less married than I was after my wedding ceremony. My apologies go to The Scott for having to reveal that this dirty secret is already cleaned up! Come back next month when I take on dirty little secret #2.

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16 Comments

  • Hi Dannah, I am really excited for your new book! It comes at just the right time as I start my college career. I am really thankful that you address the issues of sex with honesty, Biblical truth, and grace. I can’t wait to read it!

  • Dannah,
    This blog is amazing! Thank you so much! I am all about purity and honoring your future spouse. I am going to enjoy reading your blogs and books! Super excited!

  • I’m looking forward to the book, but…..when you say grittier language….I’ve read a best-selling book about “purity” in teen girls, and it was so graphic I felt like I had dragged my mind through the gutter, so to speak. I mean….just how graphic is it, and what is meant by grittier??

    Thanks in advance and thank you for writing excellent books!
    *hugs*
    Myrto

  • This is awesome, thank you for all that you do. Your books help with my explaination to my daughters and people who give me a hard time about me teaching my girls the importance of knowing our Christian values.

    You’re the best! Hugs and kisses

  • Myrto:

    Don’t worry. There won’t be anything terribly graphic in this book in terms of getting a picture in your head of sexual acts or describing details. What I will do is assign moral value to terms that are known and used among the 17-30 age group…the target for this book. Since my other books have targeted (and are used by) girls as young as 12 I wanted to be clear in the public representation that this isn’t a good fit for them. Does that make sense? That’s why I’m clear about it being very “raw and real”. You might want to read the sample chapter, though. Here it is http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/2010/11/30/sneak-peek-what-are-you-waiting-for-by-dannah-gresh/

  • I’m very blessed by the ministry you have to this culture and the message of purity you bring! Thanks for clarifying the Jewish tradition. It makes more sense that they could have such a long celebration if they’ve already experienced the beauty of the “act of marriage” instead of having to wait all those hours in anticipation.

    I think every young lady (and many older) should have a copy of your book, “The Secret Keeper”! I’m doing what I can to make it happen and suggest others do the same ;).

    God bless you!

  • I’m soooo excited to read this book! The media is bombarding our world with messages like sex is good anytime and with anyone. I believe this book is going to firm up my passion to teach the teens at church and my own teens about sex and God’s view on it from the Bible. I appreciate this type of resource. Thanks DANNAH!

  • Dannah-1, The Scott-0
    There is just no argument when God’s word is the mediator!! He brings all the clarity we need, and now its up to us to walk in obedience!! Thank you Dannah, for being YOU!!

  • Dannah, I love your work and I loved reading this blog! Just wondering, will the books be on sale in stores in England?

  • I sure hope so, Megan. Generally, our over-seas friends pick up the book. Watch for it at your favorite place to buy Christian books.

  • Dannah, this is great apologetics on Christian sexuality! I hope the new book gets read by millions. BTW, understanding these Jewish betrothal customs also helps explain Joseph’s predicament with Mary. After discovering that she was pregnant before they had consummated their marriage, he decided to “divorce her quietly” (Mt 1:19). Why “divorce” (some translations inaccurately say “put her away”)? Because they were legally married (betrothed, espoused), but not living together or having sexual relations yet! Marriage came before sex, and the espoused were legally and morally obligated to remain chaste until the “wedding” night.

  • SOOOOO GOOD!
    just found your work through ‘adding zest to your nest’ and it’s AMAZING! thanks!
    when do we get the next “dirty secrets”?

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