Sexual relationships have consequences. For the girl, she has changed from a virgin to a sexual active person. The same is true for the male in the relationship. However, without the bond of marriage, there is great danger for the girl. If she marries another, her future husband would want to know about her past sexual relationship(s). Since the sexual act is such an intimate one, it is not unreasonable to assume that her prior behavior may actually put something "between" them. If she has a child without being married, this says a great deal about her morality. Then there is the physical reality of the situation. How is the child to be supported; will she go on welfare or will her family bear this burden. Is this fair to those who brought her into the world? What if she contracts a sexually transmitted disease, say AIDS for instance, what then? And lastly, what about her family? Those who have loved and tried to raise her the best they could? All these concerns would weigh heavily on them for sure!!! I like what the Bible teaches on this; it just makes sense to me...
Exodus, Chapter 22
16, "If a man entices a virgin who isn't pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.
17, If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
Adam Clark says on this passage:"If a man entice a maid - This was an exceedingly wise and humane law, and must have operated powerfully against seduction and fornication; because the person who might feel inclined to take the advantage of a young woman knew that he must marry her, and give her a dowry, if her parents consented; and if they did not consent that their daughter should wed her seducer, in this case he was obliged to give her the full dowry which could have been demanded had she been still a virgin. According to the Targumist here, and to Deu 22:29, the dowry was fifty shekels of silver, which the seducer was to pay to her father, and he was obliged to take her to wife; nor had he authority, according to the Jewish canons, ever to put her away by a bill of divorce. This one consideration was a powerful curb on disorderly passions, and must tend greatly to render marriages respectable, and prevent all crimes of this nature."
As a father of three very attractive daughters (yes, I am very prejudiced about this) I can tell you that I worried greatly about all three of them until they were married. In the graphic at the top, the focus is on the girl and her boyfriend, but the other element here is the father. I wonder what must have been going through his mind at the dinner table? After the prayer (and hopefully the meal) was finally over, I feel certain that they all had a lot to discuss!!! Hopefully, it happened peacefully!!!