Pre-marital sex has always been an exciting topic for discussions… never finished, only abandoned. Sex, pre-marital or otherwise, ‘is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon; if words or movements oppose the magic of caresses, the spell is broken’ (Simone De Beauvoir)… and it is difficult not to agree to this existentialist from France. So if this spell pervades a person’s senses when he or she is unmarried, we call it pre-marital. The beauty of a magic spell is that its effect is never finished, just abandoned. Now if you ask for reasons for a sexual encounter, they could range from an inability to cope with the peaks of pleasure to the ability to simulate it all in an action that doesn’t conform to the conventional definition of sex at all.

‘Don’t confuse me,’ is what I now hear.

Well, when I talk of simulating sex in some action, it could mean anything from the poet writing a poem to a painter painting or even an accountant gazing lovingly at numbers! Sex is a very strange word. It isn’t always about the clashing of bodies or the sounds of fornication… it is all about a deep-seated involvement.

Deep-seated involvement?

Yes, almost like manhood driven up to the hilt into the orgasmic epicentre of moments peaking with sensual pleasure! It is all about ‘Do you have it in you?’ and not just ‘Did you have to do it?’ There is no application of coercion in sublime pleasure. I believe it is the same with pre-marital, marital, and extra-marital… not much of a difference here, except for the staid and stifling definitions concocted by society. These societal definitions can be flung out of the window any time by anyone… but we don’t and choose to live our lives in cages that make us feel safe. Let me clearly say that incest and adultery are different from an involved relationship that evolves to go revolving into the sexual vortex. Thus, tasting the ‘forbidden fruit’ isn’t always a punishable action is what I am saying.

Look at the birth of Bharat, the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala. Shakuntala conceived during her pre-marital dalliance with the king and had it not been for this little pleasure romp, we would not have had our great mythological story called ‘Mahabharata’. Karan would not have given us all the wonderful stories had Kunti not agreed to a pre-marital relationship with the sun God. We have a lot of examples from Indian mythology where sex came in much before marriage did… and marriage wasn’t with the partner in sex every time. So the questions that most ask are:

Do sex and marriage necessarily go together?
Does sex need an emotional bond?
Is pre-marital sex an offence?

Let us talk about each of these one by one. Do sex and marriage necessarily go together? Well, they do… unless we are talking about someone who often says: ‘I am married to my job!’ Orgasmic highs are not so connected to jobs as more often than not they have a root in compulsions other than sensuality. Moreover, a peaked level of involvement with a mere job before the job is taken up sounds unreal. But a peaked level of involvement with a human partner much before marriage enters is certainly a very real thing.

There are innumerable instances where pre-marital sex did not follow the expected course of a marriage… and I’m not talking of those who have a compulsive urge for having sex with multiple partners for whatever reason they have in their mind before they finally tie the knot. I am talking of instances where it was religion or age or sudden distancing of two people or family objections that threw marriage out of the window despite the knowledge that pre-marital sex has taken place. Such cases write their own specific tragic tales and of the mute helplessness of people who watch it happen. They result in emotions being shattered and scars remaining for a lifetime.

However, there are instances where two people find solace in embraces and beyond without making marriage a mandatory rider.

So I think pre-marital sex needs only emotional bonding because in its absence, it would be either a foolish impulsive action of immaturity which makes it sound ridiculous or have one unwilling partner which makes it a cognizable offence. Obviously then, any meeting to mate does need emotional bonds to meander through the two willing partners unless impulsiveness has been their driving force. The third alternative where pre-marital sex takes place because of one partner leading the other into it through coercion, on the sly, or by using means that stupefy the senses can only be dealt by legal remedies. So yes, there can be instances where pre-marital sex becomes an offence.

How seriously must we take pre-marital sex?

Come on, we don’t want to convert or transform our entire social matrix into one massive khap, do we? Like any other facet of life, we must find our own way around each complexity… discover new routes… reach to conclusions by our own thoughtful actions or experiences.

Joycelyn Elders has said in an essay that ‘people say we want to teach children how to have sex. God taught us how to have sex. All anybody needs to do, is think about their first time. Nobody needs to teach you how to have sex.’ So even pre-marital sex is like a friend that we need to stumble upon and an enemy that we need to investigate and be careful about. For this, we need to have a childhood that encourages us to imagine well and think well. Even the Bible in Proverbs 23:7 says: ‘Sex is not just penetration, sex is consideration, sex is imagination. As a man thinks in his heart so is he.’

So yes, we cannot just overlook pre-marital sex and say, ‘Ha! Ha! This is just a phenomenon that we have no control over.’ We do have a duty to make our kids ‘think’ for themselves, analyse situations, and reach reasonable conclusions. This is what I mean when I recommended that we need to encourage kids to think well and to imagine well. The urge to think well and imagine well can never be finished by us, only abandoned… because it is then picked by the kids and the teenagers around us who continue to nurture and nourish it for the generations that follow.

My verdict

I don’t have a verdict as I have already taught my son to think well and to imagine well… so all that I can say is that there is nothing immoral about pre-marital sex if it includes thought and imagination and excludes any action that may require a legal remedy.

However, I’d like to conclude with a sentence from Matthew 5:28: ‘A man that looks at a woman lustfully has already slept with her.’ Now if this is done before you’re married, you’ve already had pre-marital sex, haven’t you? But then, let’s get our definitions of sex, pre-marital sex, marriage, and relationships in place first.


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Arvind Passey
21 December 2014