Can Single Christians Have Sex?

Tony Evans
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Turn to 1 Corinthians 6 and look at the rest of verse 18: “Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” There it is. When you develop a lifestyle of immorality, it is unlike any other sin in its destructive nature.

Drugs can’t compare to sex in its destructiveness. Crime can’t compare with it. Nothing can compare with it because sexual sin carries its own built-in, self-deteriorating mechanism. Why? Because of what we said above: Sex uniquely combines the physical and the spiritual.

The act of sex means that a spiritual relationship has taken place. So when it is an illegitimate spiritual relationship and you back out of it, you back out with spiritual as well as physical and emotional damage. Many people don’t even know that this is what they are battling in their marriages—the holdover from things that happened earlier but have never been dealt with.

The immoral person is like a man who robs a bank and gets what he wants for the moment, but then has to pay the price for a lifetime once he is caught. However, the morally pure person is like a depositor in the bank who puts his money away where it is securely held as the interest builds up, so that he can really enjoy it when it is time to draw on his account.

Biblical Sexual Ethics and Our Culture

What we are seeing in our world today is the destruction being wrought by men and women who have taken God’s idea of sex and contaminated it. God places a great deal of value on virginity and sexual purity in marriage. Friend, since this is not the message your culture is giving you, you in particular are going to have to be counter-culture. You are going to have to go against the crowd, which as I have suggested may mean being laughed at and called things you don’t want to be called because you hold to a standard that most of your peers don’t buy. But you’re not alone, because that’s true for all of us who belong to Christ.

“Marriage is God’s only method for safe sex.”

Paul did not skip the subject of sexual morality because he couldn’t. He lived in a decrepit world full of incest, debauchery, and prostitution. His world was morally contaminated, and here were these Christians at Corinth, and I’m sure in other places, who had all kinds of questions: How do I control myself in a world like this? What should my attitude toward marriage be?

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What we’re facing is nothing new. Divorce was common in the New Testament world. In fact, in Paul’s day it was not uncommon for someone to have been married twenty times. A man could get rid of his wife for almost any reason—she couldn’t cook, she was getting a little overweight, the wrinkles were starting to come—wrinkles the husband had no doubt caused. Nevertheless, all these ridiculous things became grounds for divorce.

Paul’s Word on the Madness

Paul stepped into this madness to tell Christians they had to go against the culture. As we saw earlier, he argued that God created sexuality and therefore He must define it. Any definition of sexuality that leaves God out is a defective definition of the term—and a destructive one. So the immoral person sins against his own body. That is, when we engage in immorality, we start to self-destruct. There is no area of life that can bring such internal damage, Paul says, as this one.

Paul has a word for single people and for married couples as he transitions in chapter 7 of his first letter to the Corinthians in answering the questions they had written to him. He gets right to the heart of the matter in verse 1: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” That word touch means to light a fire, which was understood as a euphemism for sexual passion and activity. Paul says that it is good if that fire is not lit because, once it’s lit, it is very hard to extinguish. And, once it’s lit, that fire can easily burn out of control.

Since Paul says that it is good not to light the fire of sexual passion, the Bible’s word to singles is that your singleness can never be good unless it is celibate. And to those who are married, your marriage bed is only as good as it is pure. You are not to light anyone else’s fire, so to speak.

If you are single and acting as if you are married— that is, if you are unmarried but are physically involved with another person so that you are functioning as married people—that is not good. Your singleness will never be good under God until it is a celibate singleness. If you are trying to live in two worlds at one time, you will never know the good and God-honoring single life Paul talks about. In fact, Paul speaks so favorably of singleness that he says, “I wish that all men were [unmarried] even as I myself am” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

A Word for Singles

Singles, if you really want to maximize your singleness, you should avoid lighting the fire of sexual passion in order to abstain from immorality. Then God will bless and use your singleness, and you will find the fulfillment and meaning and direction He wants you to have.

So Paul says that to avoid immorality, what men and women must do is save themselves for marriage. The fact is that some people were so sexually active before they got married that they were running on low octane after they got married. Their passions burned too early, and now they had burned low because they did not keep what was special and sacred for the marriage bed. This helps to explain the high sales of Viagra and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Young woman, don’t let any player tell you that because he washed his car, got his hair cut, got all shined up, took you out, and spent all this money on you, that he’s done his job and now it’s time for you to be the party favor. Tell him to forget it. He can’t make sexual advances on you just because he did any of those things. He can take his money and go home. Tell him good-bye.

“Sex was not given for you to release tension or explore a hobby.”

Why? Because you are not for sale. Remember, after the intimacy, when he walks away, he takes part of you with him and leaves part of him imprinted on you. Outside of marriage, you have no sexual obligation just because a guy is nice. Until he is willing to give all of himself to you, he can demand nothing from you. If he says, “If you loved me, you would,” you say, “Because I love you and because I love me, I won’t.”

Biblical Sex

God’s idea is that the sexual relationship is to be preserved for one man and one woman in the context of marriage. Sex is not a way to say thank-you for a nice evening. Sex was not given for you to release tension or explore a hobby. Sex was not given just so that you can feel good. It was given to express your total commitment to another person.

So you wait until God gives you that person. You pray for that person. Then, when God grants you that person, you express your commitment in the intimacy of that relationship to the max.

It is a very serious thing to unleash one’s sexuality outside the safety of a lifelong, one-flesh marriage. Marriage is God’s only method for safe sex.

For Further Reading:

Sacred Sex

by Tony Evans

Sex isn’t everything that the world makes it out to be. It’s more. This book is about sex, for those who think about it—and if...

book cover for Sacred Sex