Why does God care who I sleep with?

Likely for all of biblical and Christian history, people have disagreed with and/or disobeyed the Bible’s restrictions on sex. A more recent development, though, at least in terms of the questions we receive at GotQuestions.org, is people asking, “Why does God care who I sleep with?” Essentially people are asking, “Why does it matter? Why is sex such a big deal? Doesn’t God have more important things with which to concern Himself than my sex life?”

Some people also complain that Christians overemphasize the biblical restrictions on sex. It typically goes something like, “If only one of the ten commandments is about sex, why does sex seem to be all that Christians want to talk about?” (Technically, sex is addressed in two of the ten commandments: “Do not commit adultery” and “do not covet your neighbor’s wife;” but that is beside the point.)

With all of the above in mind, I suppose there are two issues to address: (1) Why does God care who people sleep with? (2) Is the strong Christian stance against sex outside of marriage warranted?

(1) Why does God care who I sleep with?

The most direct biblical answer is found in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” The immediate context is prostitution, likely the temple prostitution that was common in the city of Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). But, Paul’s statement is not limited to prostitution. Paul is saying that sexual sin is unique. It is uniquely damaging. It degrades a person in a different way from all other sins.

In 1 Corinthians 6:16, Paul points to the statement from Genesis 2:24, “the two will become one flesh.” Sex is the physical act of marriage. Sex is the uniting of two people in an intimate way. Sex is two people coming together physically, spiritually, and emotionally. “It is just sex” is not a biblically valid statement. Sex is never “just sex.” It is never only a physical act. Sex is always a uniting of two people in the entirety of their beings.

In a sense, when you have sex with someone, you are giving a piece of yourself away. Within a loving marriage, this “giving away of yourself” is an amazing and beautiful act. Outside of marriage, it is destructive. No matter how you try to minimize the connection and deactivate your emotions, no matter how casually consensual the sex is, no matter how meaningless you believe it to be—sex changes you. Why would Paul warn so strongly against sexual immorality if you could walk away from it unscathed? The Bible does not specifically identify what the damage is. The Bible is clear, however, that there is damage.

Sex within a committed, harmonious, and loving marriage is powerfully unique—unlike anything else in the human experience. Sex outside of marriage (whether before, during, or after) is not the same. There will always be baggage. There will always be a lack of complete intimacy/unity.

Why does God care who you sleep with? Because He wants us to experience it at its best. God’s restrictions on sex are not designed to rob you of pleasure. Rather, they are designed to enable you to experience the greatest version of that pleasure, intimacy, and unity.

(2) Is the strong Christian stance against sex outside of marriage warranted?

I remember having this thought after I became a Christian in my late teens: “Why does my youth pastor seem to talk about sex so much? I get it, don’t have sex before marriage. Can we talk about something else already?” Now, as an adult, I understand. While I believe we should teach our children far more about sex and relationships than “don’t have sex until you’re married,” that message is crucially important. As Paul said, “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Another reason why Christians speak out against sexual immorality so strongly and frequently is that it is a sin society seems to so readily embrace. People undeniably still steal, lie, murder, etc., but the vast majority of people will at least agree with Christians that it is wrong to steal, lie, and murder. With the commands against sex before marriage (fornication), adultery, homosexuality, etc., much of society outright rejects the biblical message. That is why Christians are seemingly more vocal on sexual immorality than any other issue.

I would expect, and hope, if theft was openly celebrated in the world, that Christians would express vociferous opposition to it. There would be ministries focused on promoting the Bible’s message against stealing. There would be Christian gloves for sale with Exodus 20:15 printed on them. There would be seminars and conferences targeting kleptomaniacs.

The point is that Christians talk about sex so much because it is a crucially important issue. It is also an issue on which Christianity and much of the world do not see eye to eye.

And I haven’t even discussed sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, devastated marriages and broken families, etc., that can result from not following the biblical commands on sex. There are multiple good reasons to submit, and numerous positive results from submitting, to what God says about sex.

Why does God care who you sleep with? It is not because He is a cosmic killjoy. It is because He knows what is best, and He cares for you.

Is the strong Christian stance against sex outside of marriage warranted? Yes, it is. Should our messaging be better? Absolutely. Does more love need to be included with the truth (Ephesians 4:15)? Unequivocally.

It is the antithesis of love, though, to allow people to do permanent harm to themselves without at least a warning.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Why does God care who I sleep with?