“Marriage must be honored among all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers” (Hebrews 13:4 HCSB).
The Scriptures define an honorable marriage as a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman, who are legally and exclusively committed to one another as husband and wife. But why are sexual expressions in other types of relationships wrong from a Biblical perspective?
To address that question, let’s consider the example of two singles who live and/or sleep together but remain unmarried. If the couple in our scenario is reluctant to commit to one another in marriage, the question becomes, why? One possible answer is that one or both partners are seeking to determine if they are sexually compatible before they commit to one another in marriage.
In this instance, it seems fair to ask how many “tests” will be necessary in order for the couple to reach a conclusion regarding their compatibility. A related question involves the length of time their “research project” will last. And what if one partner finds another person who appears to be sexually preferable during that period? What then?
Of course, those who are engaged in such relationships may like the fact that they are unencumbered by a marriage commitment. They may appreciate the advantage of a sexual relationship without the obligations and responsibilities that go along with a marriage vow. Others many simply enjoy the convenience that accompanies a “friend with benefits.” Unfortunately, those realities unmask a sobering truth that often lies below the surface of such relationships.
Even if one or both partners believe they are in love with one another, those who adopt such attitudes are really engaged in more of a business arrangement. Much like an unwritten understanding between two business entities, the couple may stay together as long as it serves their mutual benefit. At worst, one or both partners may simply be using the other for various reasons.
While many 21st century cultures recognize and accept these types of domestic partnerships, Hebrews 13:4 takes a decidedly different view. This explains why the author of Hebrews reminded his audience that they will be held accountable for their choices in this area. Paul the Apostle issued a similar reminder to the churches of Galatia regarding such behaviors as well: “…Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21 NLT).