My first item is a direct response to Robby's (my pro pre-marital sex pal) charge that being against pre-marital sex is "Christian fundamentalist bullshit". Robby's argument first says that if you think the Bible is against it, you are "100% incorrect", because he says the idea of marriage didn't exist at the time of it's writing. First off, any claim of what was a current idea "when the Bible was written" is problematic. The Hebrew Bible alone was written over hundreds of years, and the New Testament was written in a completely different setting- the "Pax Romana".
Next, the ideas of marriage and divorce are very old in Jewish (and most of human) society, Mosaic law allows divorce- an idea that cannot exist without marriage. Now, it is true that at the time of Christ's birth, one way of marrying a woman in some Jewish societies could be the act of sex (so, I guess it would be technically pre-marital). But, even this was carefully controlled, because a mezner (a child of suspect parentage) in the pre-Diasporic days was any child where even the father was suspect (most people are familiar with how now, "Jewishness" for lack of a better term is passed through the mother). So, even in this case marriage was a known public contract.
Now, in order to tackle the very concept that pre-marital sex is OK I am left to defend the very idea of marriage. Now, I'll agree that in the purely civic sense marriage lacks intrinsic value. However, there is good reason to go through this commitment in public. It shows that both parties are mature enough to be public in there commitment (even though this means little now, when movie stars have million dollar weddings for a three-week marriage). Now, in the Christian sense (correct me if I'm wrong, this is what I learned in church) marriage is the only sacrament that is never performed by the priest/minister/reverend/etc. himself, but by the actual couple being married. So, Robby, you are quite right in saying that marriage is in "God's eye". Now, I see no reason (except in extreme situations, stranded on a desert isle mayhaps?) not to go through the actual public ceremony of matrimony. To say that you're married in "God's eye" just because you were feeling particuarly horny is a terrible mistake. You have not displayed the willingness for commitment inherent in a true marriage.
Now, I must get down to the reasons why pre-marital sex itself is wrong. Now, I won't go into the medical reasons, the pregnancies, and all that. Anyone my age has been so bombarded with such information that repeating it would not accomplish much.
In his address "The Inner Ring", C.S. Lewis said that in a promiscuous society (like our own) the virgin would be left out of that Inner Ring of knowledge, and many would have sex just to enter within that Inner Ring. Now, this is a base motive (and don't even pretend it doesn't affect so-called "nonconformists") and shouldn't enter into our considerations. We deny a little piece of our humanity when we react on pure social motives.
What is a plausible non-moralist motive for abstaining 'till marriage?
The whole of modern life is trying take the beauty, mystery, and specialness out of every act, and to cheapen and degrade it. We have cheapened beauty by believing it lies in the display of flesh. We have cheapened religion in believing it lies in souless "Meet Me at the Flag" meetings (many otherwise good Christians are sucked into this empty FCA and Youth Meeting variant of Christianity). We have cheapened art by believing it's purpose is to shock. We cheapen our very selves by believing ourselves unaccountable for our actions.
And we have cheapened both marriage and sex by seperating the two.
The much repeated statistic of a 50% divorce rate is due in large part to a fundamental misunderstanding- sex is not condition for marriage, but marriage a condition for sex. Sex should be nothing less than the closest intimate contact possible between two members of this race who have made a commitment to love and cherish each other.
Society has lowered it to a mere recreational activity! Something as poetic, nay, as sacred as sex has been lowered to a mere pleasurable activity between two people who may or may not have been dating for a while. The idea of "making out" has already cheapened the kiss as a show of affection- so now we are very close to laying sex out on the table as a nothing.
The very fact that this slightly bothers even people who are involved in the cheapening of everything else shows that there is still hope here. But any amount of "abstinence education" will not turn back the tide. We must once more restore meaning to sex.
One last question, have you seen "A Clockwork Orange"? I would not be suprised if sex will soon become the "old in-out in-out" which you don't have time for if you've just come to read the meter.