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A deontological view of sex interprets porneia, aselgeia and akatharsia in terms of whether the couple are married or non-married.

What makes sex moral or immoral is the context of marriage.

For instance, in defining porneia/fornication, Kittel and Friedrich's 1977 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states that "The NT is characterized by an unconditional repudiation of all extra-marital and unnatural intercourse".

He states that, from a Biblical perspective, "physical union should not take place outside a "one flesh" (i.e. In [1 Corinthians] chapter 7 Paul addresses the situation of two unmarried Christians who are burning with passion (7:8–9) who should either exercise self-control or be permitted to marry (cf. The underlying assumptions are the same as those in Deuteronomy 22." However, a minority of theologians have argued in more recent times that premarital sex may not be immoral in some limited circumstances.

An example is John Witte, who argues that the Bible itself is silent on the issue of consensual, premarital sex between an engaged couple.

and prostitution are all explicitly forbidden by name.

Paul is preaching about activities based on sexual prohibitions laid out in Leviticus in the context of achieving holiness.

The betrothal was held to be enough of a marriage that a divorce would be needed if the couple split up between betrothal and contract." New Testament scholar N. Wright asserts that Paul absolutely forbade fornication, irrespective of a new Christian's former cultural practices.

Wright notes "If a Corinthian were to say, 'Because I'm a Corinthian, I have always had a string of girl-friends I sleep with, that's part of our culture,' Paul would respond, 'Not now you're a Christian you don't.'...

In other words, Witte claims that the Bible excludes premarital sex from its list of unlawful sexual relations (Leviticus 18) though Leviticus 18 is not the only such list, nor does Leviticus 18 claim to be exhaustive being devoted largely to forms of incest.

Some of the debate arises from the question of which theological approach is being applied.

He states that "the word 'fornication' has gone out of fashion and is not in common use to describe non-marital sex.

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