Question

Hello,

I have been dating my boyfriend for almost three years now. We absolutely love each other and have talked about getting married in the future a good bit. We are in no rush to get engaged yet because we are both still in school and don't have the money for that yet. I am not too proud to say that we have done sexual things before marriage. I am starting to feel very guilty about it all, but I love him so much, and I know that he loves me, so my question is: Why is it so bad to have these sexual interactions if we both love each other and know that we will be married in the near future? Why is it okay to have sex after marriage whenever you want but not at all before marriage when you know that you will be married to them sometime soon? I just don't understand why it is all of a sudden fine to have sex after marriage. I feel as though this is a way for us to show our love and I am confused as to why we shouldn't be doing that just because we can't afford to get married yet. Hope to hear back from you soon, thanks so much.


Answer

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil" (James 4:14-16).

While it is your intention to get married, the fact remains that you are not currently married and there is no guarantee that you will get married. The odds are against you actually getting married. One reason is that once sex enters the picture in an unmarried relationship, it tends to dominate the relationship. Getting together to have sex becomes the focus and as a result the friendship no longer grows; yet, it is the friendship that is the foundation for a future marriage. A second reason is that since sex is freely available, the motivation to get married fades. It is easy to put off marriage, as you are already doing. It seems to never get to be the right time.

Each act of sex carries a risk of pregnancy, despite the precautions that might be taken. It is the nature of sex. Children do best when there is a married couple raising them. It gives stability to their lives. But a child to an unmarried couple is seen as a burden and interference. Most abortions (murder of children) occur to unmarried couples not wanting the child they conceived. But to a married couple, children are a blessing from God. "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalms 127:3).

Sex without marriage results from a selfish attitude -- "I can't wait." But sex within marriage results from a caring attitude -- the spouse is aiming to fulfill the need of the spouse. "Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband" (I Corinthians 7:3). This fundamental attitude spreads to other aspects of the relationship, degrading it. It also means that when problems occur, each person sees it as being against them. Instead of working together to resolve the problem, it becomes a wedge driving them further apart until one leaves. This attitude continues, even if the couple marries because it has become a part of their relationship with each other. Thus, the typical high school romance only lasts about three months. Couples who move in with each other tend to only stay together about five years. Couples who have sex before marriage tend to only remain married about five to ten years.

Deep down, you understand this. Married couples have no feelings of guilt because they are having sex. You are experiencing guilt because you know you are cheating yourself of somethings that a couple who waited will have. You know you are going against God, while a married couple knows they are going with God. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). A willingness to violate God's laws for personal gratitude then becomes a danger to a person's commitment to God. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? or you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Bluntly, you cannot be a Christian while committing sexual sins (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

What you have done is fallen into the trap that if you can label your actions as loving, then it has to be acceptable. Solomon illustrated the fallacy this way: "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). The illustration is that of a coal rolling out from a fire. You pick it up and give it a great big hug and tell it how much you love it, and, of course it won't burn you -- clearly false. Why? Because how you treat something or how you label it doesn't change what it is. It doesn't change its nature. Hot coals burn because they are hot. Sex outside of a marriage covenant causes problems. Your love for the one you are having sex with doesn't change the nature of those problems.

How would I then go about the rest of my life without feeling guilty? I regret what I have done sexually in the past, and I want to essentially start over and not do any of that now until marriage. But what do I do now? I wish I could go back in time and change what I did, but I obviously can't do that. Will God forgive me for what I have done?

First a simple point: you can't change something if you don't make a change in your life. You can't change the past, but you can change your future. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

All sins are forgiveable. But it does require that you change. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11). Repentance means to have a change both in what you do and your attitude toward the acceptability of what you did. The change is radical. If someone meeting you five years from now would never guess that you once committed fornication, then you have successfully changed. It also requires admitting that you were wrong to God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

The hardest part is that while you may be committed to changing, it does not mean your boyfriend agrees. If he is not committed to following God, he will likely pressure you to have sex with him again. If that becomes the situation, you have to be dedicated enough to Christ that follow God becomes more important than having a boyfriend.