[The following is an extended quote from Andy Stanley’s Irresistible.]
“If it’s not good for him, it’s a sin. If it’s not good for her, defer. Serial sexual experiences aren’t good for anybody.”
“Doing anything that might diminish someone’s potential for intimacy with a future spouse is not good for them or their future spouse. Intimacy is fueled by exclusivity, not experience. Sex before marriage robs the other person of their potential for exclusivity. It robs your future partner of the comfort that comes in knowing you are exclusively theirs sexually. Not only are you undermining the future of the person you have sex with along with their future spouse, you are undermining the joy and security of your own future spouse. Nobody wins. It’s a lose, lose, lose, lose. It’s not best for anybody.
It’s sin. It’s sin because it harms people made in the image of God for whom Christ died.
Besides, what do people have to show for their sexual misadventures? Nothing. What do they gain? Nothing. What have they taken from the other person? Perhaps a great deal. What have they lost personally? The opportunity to honor a future spouse with a history of self-control for their sake. It’s a terrible trade. Everybody involved loses. Under the new covenant, you are responsible for how your behavior impacts the you beside you. Consensual or not.
I always ask students: If you sleep with a variety of folks between now and graduation and then you meet someone you think might be the “one,” will you be tempted to lie about your sexual past? The answer is always yes. Then I say, “Think about that. If your sexual behavior with people you hope you never see again sets you up to lie to the person you hope to see every day, what does that imply about sex before marriage?” Anything that makes us liars for life is a sin because lying dishonors the people to whom we lied. Beginning a relationship with a lie isn’t good for either party. Two divine image-bearers are hurt in the process. Okay, enough about sex.
The behavioral standard for new covenanters is straightforward: If it’s not good for them, it’s sin. We don’t need chapter and verse. We have something better. Namely, Jesus’ new, all-encompassing, inescapably simple command. We are to do unto others as our heavenly Father through Christ has done unto us. He did what was best for us when he sent his Son for us. We, in turn, are to do what’s best for others. Even when less than what’s best is embraced as acceptable by the others. Consensual is still sinful.
How do we know what’s best? How do we know what love requires?
According to the apostle Paul, God’s Spirit will always nudge us in the direction of kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.3 When in doubt, max those out. That’s what love requires. That’s what following Jesus looks like. That’s what’s best. Again, it’s less complicated. But more demanding.”
Excerpt From: Andy Stanley’s Irresistible