It is well known that Jewish Law forbids sexual relations outside of marriage, a view limited not only to Orthodox Rabbis.
In his 1992 bestseller, “Does God Belong in the Bedroom”, Rabbi Gold quotes conservative Rabbi David Feldman: “Marriage prevents the ultimate human relationship from being trivialized.” Elsewhere, Gold quotes noted Reform theologian Eugene Borowitz: “Marriage is the appropriate social and religious structure for sexual intercourse.”
The rabbinical consensus then becomes that, only in marriage, can true meaning and value spring forth in sexual relationship, transforming sex from an act of love (devar mitzvah) into a spiritual act of holiness.
Unfortunately, the theoretical consensus is not a representative map of reality. Young and old alike, Jews continue to engage in pre-marital sexual relationships. Even with the specter of the worldwide AIDS epidemic, little evidence indicates that a shift towards traditional sexual values or behavior has occurred.