Question

I had sex out of wedlock. We both were virgins. He asked me to marry him months before we had sex. I knew it was wrong, but I still did it.

But the other thing is: he is a Jehovah's Witness and I'm Christian.

When we started sexually, and before that even, I never thought it would be wrong for me to be in a relationship with him. In a couple of months after he turns 18. He's going to attend my church for a while and my mother and I will go to his church to study their ways, but we will not participate in the things they do. Everyone, mostly my mother and sister, are telling me that after he attends my church for a while and if he decides not to change, then I'll have to make a choice, but both are telling me that I will leave him.

We're both very committed to our relationship. I barely turned 18 and he'll be 18 soon. Our relationship has been going for over an year and a half. The thing is we love each other so much, plus we're secretly engaged. We've had sex which no one knows about but us.

So I'm asking will it be wrong if I decide to stay with him and marry him, even if he doesn't change? Oh and to clear something up, we don't plan to marry until years from now, but we are engaged.


Answer

Neither one of you are following the teachings of your respective religions, let alone the teachings of Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that fornication (having sex when you are not married) is a sin. "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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Both of you knew you were sinning, but you told yourselves that you had a right to sin -- I think that is the greatest shame.

Intentions doesn't change the fact you sinned. I know you intend to marry, but the fact remains that you are not married. If he decided to date another girl, there would be nothing you could say about it because you are not married. Not that I'm saying he is going to do such a thing, but I want you to realize that you are treating a secret engagement as if it is equivalent to a marriage.

A claim of love doesn't excuse what you did either. "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth" (I Corinthians 13:4-6). Notice that you both thought about having sex for a while and while you knew it was wrong, at the same time you have no regrets that you did it. It isn't what God calls love when you are willing to use another person for sin and personal gratification.

The problem is that this act altered the nature of your relationship. Now that sex has entered the picture, there is a high probability that you will do it again. After a while, it will become the primary reason you get together. It is just the nature of the beast.

Solomon points out the problem when he asked, "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn't change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, as you did, "But I love him!" Solomon's point is that your feelings toward your boyfriend won't change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.

Solomon also asked, "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of a hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn't mean to step on it, but you'll still be hurt because your intentions doesn't change what it is. Thus, the excuse, "But I didn't mean for it to go this far!" becomes an empty one because your intentions don't change your body's drive.

That is why Solomon concludes, "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start intentionally stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when thing go further.

One of the questions I ask when I'm talking to someone who engaged in fornication is: "What did you do to prevent a pregnancy?" The answer is telling whichever way the question is answered. "Oh, he wore a condom," tells me that the sin was intentional, planned in advance. "We didn't think about that. It just happened," tells me that neither of you think ahead. You live for the moment and its passions. You don't consider what happens when you end up pregnant or you are building fantasies about how problems like that will work out in the long run.

Whether you marry this boy or not is up to you two. I can say that you will have troubles in the future if he remains a Jehovah's Witness and you attend somewhere else. Personally, I would encourage both of you to be Christians in truth and follow only the teachings found in the Bible. See: We Are Simply Christians Without Being Members of Any Denomination, You Can be Too! But it cannot be just a following in name only. "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:21-25).

One last point. If you both really love each other and are really committed to marrying in the future, why are you keeping your engagement a secret?

In the Bible it says that we shouldn't be yoked with a non-believer. So right there it says I shouldn't be with him because he doesn't believe in what I believe right? Well, that's how I understood it from my pastor and family.

It also says that if you can't control your sexual tendencies with your fiance that you should just get married that it's better to marry than to burn with lust, then it goes on to say that if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he stays with her she must not leave him that the believing wife brings holiness to the marriage, then says that don't you wives know that your husband might be saved because of you?

But going back does it mean that I should leave him because we're unequally yoked? Does it mean because I should marry him because I had sex with him? I stopped having sex, but is that what it means? And if I marry him, even if he stays a Jehovah's Witness, does it mean he can get saved because I believe?

I'm just looking for advice I don't really have anyone else to talk to about this. I know I didn't and still don't have the right to sin, and as you said it is a shame that I thought I did. I value your advice. Thank you.

It is always best to find the actual verse than trying to quote it from memory. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" (II Corinthians 6:14). "Unequally yoked" refers to farming. You don't yoke two different animals together because one will always be stronger than the other and the result will be mess as things get tangled up. Paul wasn't talking about marriage in this passage, though it has been popularly applied to marriage by many people. What Paul is talking about is not putting yourself, as a Christian, in a situation where you are tied to a non-believer and you don't have equal say in what happens. When you do, more often that not, the unbeliever will end up pulling you into sin.

The problem arises when the bound is not equal between two people and the two people are vastly different in their moral outlook. Marriage, however, is the joining of two equals. I do agree that is foolish to marry someone who doesn't have the same religious beliefs as you, but this verse isn't saying that such a marriage is sinful.

As you noted, there are other verses that do indicate that a Christian can be married to a non-Christian. "But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace" (I Corinthians 7:12-15).

When Paul said the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the Christian, he does not mean a person becomes saved by marrying a Christian. "Sanctification" means being set apart for a holy or God-approved purpose. It can refer to salvation (I Corinthians 1:2; Acts 26:18; I Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26), but it can also be applied to other things: The Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8), holy gifts (Exodus 28:38), or even food (I Timothy 4:4-5) were sanctified by God. Thus Paul is saying that the union created between an unbeliever and a Christian is sanctified, set apart for a God-approved purpose, because of the Christian. This is one reason a marriage to a non-Christian does not have to end. Therefore, no it does not mean you can save your boyfriend merely because you married him.

A second reason Paul says that a marriage between a non-believer and a Christian should continue if it can, is that the Christian has an opportunity to influence his spouse to become a Christian. "For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (I Corinthians 7:16). The danger is that it can go the other direction. But once a marriage is established, it is not ended because of the possibility of being pulled away from Christ.

Earlier when Paul was talking about needing to get married, he was talking in the context of people putting off marriage because of the upcoming persecution. "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9). If a person realizes that the desire for sex is too strong, it is better not to put off marriage. This is not saying that two people who commit fornication must marry. Paul is saying it is better to get married than to commit fornication because you are putting the marriage off.