Is it wrong for a Christian to engage in sexual contact or intimacy before marriage, specifically with someone you plan to marry in the near future?
The Bible teaches that sexual intimacy before marriage is sinful behavior, and Christians are instructed in clear terms to avoid such sin. The Bible warns repeatedly that sex before marriage (i.e., fornication) is a violation of the marriage covenant. For example, the writer to Hebrews says:
Heb. 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
The Greek word for fornication literally means sex outside of marriage, while adultery is sex with a married person other than the spouse. Both types of sexual relations are sinful. Jesus also taught this truth:
Matt. 15:19 “ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
Notice Jesus list fornication in the same list as murder, theft and liars. Clearly, sex before marriage is a serious sin, according to our Lord.
Therefore, a Christian's dating behaviors must be in accordance with scripture at all times. We cannot court a person with the intent to seduce them into sexual behavior of any kind prior to marriage. Even lessor forms of intimacy like kissing or petting can be lustful preludes to fornication, tempting even the strongest Christians to seccumb to more serious sin. In short, all sexual behavior must wait until marriage, and once married these behaviors must remain confined to the marriage bed, as Hebrews 13:4 makes clear.