Bible Question:

What does the Bible say about casual sex?

Bible Answer:

An important passage about casual sex in the Bible is Deuteronomy 22:22-24. It teaches God’s view about  casual, sexual behaviors. Casual sex is referred to by a variety of slang terms. In short, it can include kissing, a variety of techniques that stimulate sexual feelings, and intercourse outside of marriage. But in this passage of Scripture the casual sex ends with sexual intercourse. So, what does the Bible say about casual sex? This passage of Scripture has two sections about various sexual situations (v. 22; 23-24).

What does the Bible say about causal sex?

Married woman and casual sex

Deuteronomy 22:22 is the first situation about consensual sex between a male and a married woman. The verse describes a man who finds a married woman and has sex with her.

If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 22:22 (NASB)

In order to properly understand this verse, there are two important facts that we must notice. The first is that we are not told the woman objects to having sex with this man. The second fact is that God refers to rape in verses 25 and 28. For example, in verse 25 rape is described with the phrase “man forces her and lies with her.” In verse 28 the phrase “seizes her and lies with her ” describes rape. It is significant that verse 22 does not use either phrase. That is, God wants us to know that rape is not described in verse 22. The sex in this verse is consensual.

The verse describes a situation where the male and female decided to have sex. Since she is married, she commits adultery, and so does he. The seventh command of the Ten Commandments prohibits adultery (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). Leviticus 20:10 helps us understand adultery. It says,

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10 (NASB)

That is, a married or unmarried man commits adultery when he has sex with a married woman other than his wife. These passages explain why both the man and the married woman were to be put to death. However, when Christ arrived, He changed the law (John 7:55-8:11). Death is no longer mandated for this sin. However, that does not mean the couple is not guilty. Each person is guilty before God of the sin of adultery. They must seek God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Engaged woman and casual sex

The second situation regarding casual sex is given in Deuteronomy 22:23-24.

If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 (NASB)

This situation does not describe rape. It describes consensual sex between a man and an engaged virgin. The penalty for having sex in this situation is the same as in the first situation. Both of them will die so that they will “purge the evil from among you.” This situation is very common today in western cultures. It is described by many different slang terms. Since those terms are dynamically changing year-to-year, there is no point in describing them.

But there are three differences between the first situation and this one.  First, the woman is a virgin and not married. Second, this event occurred “in the city.” Third, the virgin could have cried out for help if she did not want to have sex. But she did not cry out. The assumption is that if she had cried out in the city, someone would have heard her since the city would be a highly populated area. Some women claim they are traumatized and do not cry out. But the point of the passage is that she should struggle to defend herself in some way. She did not.

So, the message is that the sex was consensual. Today, this occurs after couples connect via an online dating service, a dating app, meeting each other at a bar, or some similar situation. They want to have sex and so they do. Deuteronomy 28:30 refers to the woman as an engaged virgin or a betrothed woman as a “wife.” In the Old Testament era, an engaged woman was considered a wife at the moment of engagement, even though they were not yet living together. Thus Leviticus 20:10 explains the reason both were to be put to death. He committed adultery with a woman who was regarded as married, even though she was not legally married yet.


In the New Testament, casual sex between non-engaged individuals is called fornication. That is, sex between individuals who are not married to each other is either adultery or fornication. Casual sex by anyone with another individual who is married is called adultery. In the New Testament, God does not call for the death of couples having sex before marriage, but He does give this warning,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 (NASB)

Here we are told that individuals who habitually engage in these sins are not Christians. James 2:26 warns that true faith will result in a change of behavior. Hebrews 13:4 states that even a one-time sin of adultery or fornication will be judged.

. . . for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4 (NASB)

God designed sexual relations for marriage. It is designed to draw a male and a female together physically and emotionally. It is not possible to have sexual relations and avoid the emotional attachment, unless one or both individuals are very cold-hearted.

God does not give these warnings because He is a cosmic-kill-joy, but because it violates His design for marriage. Sex in marriage is part of the sparkle of marriage!

Suggested Links:

What is the correct meaning of fornication in the Bible?
How can I stop committing fornication? — I really feel guilty!
Does God allow ex-spouses to engage in sexual intercourse after divorce?
Threesomes — What does the Bible say about threesomes?
Is sex before marriage a sin? What does the Bible say?
Sex, Seduction, and Saints