Delaying Sex Until Marriage Improves Marriage

I’m blessed to start my work days gathering with my team for a time of devotional reflection. On Tuesdays, we’ve been reading through The Daily Bible, which organizes the Scriptures in chronological order. Last Tuesday, we were reading in Proverbs, and the book’s editors decided to organize the individual proverbs topically, which is a pretty interesting way to read them. I read aloud a long section on sexual purity which included Proverbs 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 22:14. It struck me how much of this book of wisdom warns against the dangers of sexual immorality.

Later that same day, I was reviewing a 2010 research study published in the Journal of Family Psychology that found couples who delay sex until after marriage actually improve their marriages. The study surveyed 2,035 married couples and asked them about their initial sexual experience together (before or after the wedding). Of the 2,035 couples, only 336 couples reported waiting until they got married to have sex. The largest group of couples had sex within a few weeks of dating, and 126 couples had sex prior to dating.

Examining the data, the three researchers concluded that waiting to have sex until after marriage actually improved the relationship — for both men and women — in four key areas:

1. Sexual quality

2. Relationship communication

3. Relationship satisfaction

4. Perceived relationship stability

According to the study, people who waited until marriage rated sexual quality 15 percent higher than people who had premarital sex; rated relationship stability 22 percent higher; and rated satisfaction with their relationships 20 percent higher.

Many young people wrongly believe that premarital sex is a good “test” for whether a relationship has marriage potential. But this research suggests the opposite is true. The researchers observed waiting to have sex until after the wedding (what they called “commitment-based sexuality”) “is more likely to create a sense of security and clarity between partners … about exclusivity and a future.”

This research supports the biblical teaching that sex is a good gift from God, but is designed to be enjoyed within the boundaries of committed marriage. Many think that God’s commands just “take away all their fun,” but the truth is that they preserve real pleasure and take away the pain that inevitably follows disobedience. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to sex. God’s command to wait to have sex until marriage is a gracious one, a providence. Even those who’ve made mistakes in the past can recommit themselves to purity and enjoy the benefits of doing things God’s way. God longs to protect us from the decreased sexual pleasure, communication, satisfaction and stability that these researchers found results from having sex before marriage.

For more wisdom on this important topic, check out these recent Boundless articles:

Sex Series: State of the Sexual Union

Sex Series: Sexy Single Men

Sex Series: Sexy Single Women

About the Author

Andrew Hess

Andrew Hess is the senior editor of ChurchLeaders.com at Outreach Media Group. He teaches Bible and Psychology classes at Colorado Christian University and is a graduate of Denver Seminary. His writing has been featured on The Gospel Coalition, Leadership Journal and Boundless. When not working, Andrew is usually enjoying scenic Colorado, teaching Sunday school, or buying a priceless antique at a local garage sale.

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