Unmarried Sex Is a Social Justice Issue
Sometimes we struggle with why certain sins are sins. It’s easy to see why some are, like murder or theft. They destroy life and trust and community and what people have built over time (whether a life or possessions). But what about others? Why are they so bad? Some sins may seem bad for some people but we can justify why they shouldn’t be sin for us. Is that legit, to make some sins applicable to some people but not others?
Sexual immorality is one of the most justified or dismissed sins, even in the church. Unmarried people have a hard time seeing what could be so wrong about something that can emanate from love and provide so much pleasure. But God is very clear that He wants sex confined only to marriage. I’ve thought about this a lot through the years, and I think one reason He commands this is for social justice.
Social justice attempts to create a level playing field for all in a society and redress systemic unfairness. Adhering to chastity before marriage creates more social justice. Sexual relationships can create complications: pregnancy, children, diseases, economic dependence (usually of the female to the male, especially if children are involved, but also of the poorer partner to the richer), power imbalances, relational difficulties that produce mental health struggles, and even legal action if things go really south.
In any society, the rich, the educated, and the upper classes have far more power and resources to deal with these complications than do the poor, the undereducated, and the lower classes. No matter what your actual income right now, if you are reading this, you are NOT in the poorer strata of our country. Even if you don’t have money, you have resources and connections. The poor have less money for and access to birth control, child care, medical treatment, opportunity to leave a bad partner, mental health treatment, and lawyers.
As a result, the consequences of sexual relationships outside of marriage have made the poor poorer, especially women and children. Women are the ones who get pregnant. Women are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases and have more serious complications from them. Women are more likely to be economically dependent on a partner. Women are more likely to be the victim of a power imbalance. The acceptability and proliferation of sex before marriage has been devastating to the lower levels of society.
This “right” or “freedom” to have sex whenever has ended up ironically denying social justice to the most vulnerable members of the community and widened the gap for true social equality. We can’t push this under the rug and pretend like it’s not a social justice issue, especially if we are active or vocal in supporting other social justice issues.
If the poor, the vulnerable, the disadvantaged benefit so much more from chastity, you can see that this is one reason why God would ask us to practice it. We stand in solidarity with those who don’t have the resources and “escapes” we might have.
I know some of you reading this may be resistant to or defensive about this idea. Nobody wants to practice chastity or even advocate for it. . . talk about taking a truly unpopular stand. But throughout history, this has been true of all social justice issues when they first entered the collective consciousness of the culture. The pioneers always paid a price.
“The righteous care about justice for the poor.” Proverbs 29:7