Question

Hey,

My boyfriend and I have been dating over a half a year. We live a long ways apart because I'm away at college. He decided to come visit me for a week, so he stayed at my apartment. I have a roommate, so we thought she would be a good chaperon and make us accountable. We have never had sex, but we were quite physical. Near the end of the week, we were sleeping together in the same bed at night. On the last day one thing lead to another, and we had sex. Right after, we didn't feel any regret or remorse, but by the end of the night all that changed. We knew we had crossed a line. We had sex outside marriage.

For the next several days we went through so many emotions: guilt, shame, regret, responsibility, and everything else possible. We have prayed so much and sought the forgiveness of God for what we did. We never would have imagined the emotional consequences we would suffer from it.

We changed our relationship. We want to elope and get married when I'm home for spring break. We wouldn't tell my parents or anyone. We would live separate lives, but we would still be united. We are legal adults. He's 19 and I'll be 19 next month, so we don't have to have consent. We don't want to tell his parents cause they'll disown him. And my parents will probably make him my sole provider, and he's not financially stable for that. We feel we must keep it secret; otherwise, my parents will make the marriage impossible because he lives at home, and I'll be moving home for the summer.

We've sought godly counsel. The reason we believe marriage is our best option is because we originally planned on getting married when I was about to finish school. It's what my parents want. They have said that if we get married sooner, they'll stop supporting me and make him support me. We believe if we don't get married we'll end up falling into temptation yet again, especially now, since we desire this sexual intimacy even more. We experienced something that we can't forget about. My boyfriend doesn't believe he cannot not make a move for two more years.

I love him and do want to marry him, but I'm just nervous we're making a mistake or immature choice. We want to the best and most biblical option, and we feel getting married is it.


Answer

This is a situation where I would really like to talk to both of you. I'm not opposed to you getting married, but I would like to make sure that this isn't just rebound decision. I also want to make sure that decision is not just about sex.

In making this decision, you need to consider what God said from the very beginning: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Essentially, you are trying to avoid the first step: leaving your parents. You got so wrapped up in your sexual desires that you didn't think about the consequences.

For example, how would your decisions change if you had gotten pregnant from your sin? Would you still be wanting to hide everything from your parents? Would you still want to deceive them so that they would pay your finances? "Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel" (Proverbs 20:17). What I see is that you are trying to cover up one sin by committing more sin. One foundation of love is a joy for truth (I Corinthians 13:6). You'll undermine your own relationship if you start it out being dishonest with your own family.

I'm not saying you have to tell them that you had sex, but I do think that you need to be honest that you are getting married, and when asked why, state that you are sure you won't be able to resist committing fornication if you waited another two years before marriage. "But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:9). If they absolutely reject the idea, then go ahead and elope, but then you'll know that you gave both your families a chance to celebrate your union with you. I know you are assuming the worse reception to the news that you are getting married, but it is never fair to decide what another person will do or say. Who knows? You parents might surprise you, especially if you two act like mature adults in going into this marriage.

It is true that marriage is not just about being able to have sex without guilt. It is the start of a new family, which means that you are choosing to take full responsibility for your own lives. Therefore, a part of your discussion about marriage is laying out plans how you are going to live and handle your finances. It means making budgets, figuring out your income sources, and finding a place to live. Perhaps one of your parents will allow you live with them for a few years while you finish off your education, perhaps they might even offer to continue paying for your schooling, but until they offer that gift to you, you'll have to assume that you both are on your own. It will be really rough, but it will be good for you in the long run.

What I strongly object to is the idea that you two can get married and then continue having separate lives punctuated with vacations together. In ancient Israel the rule was: "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken" (Deuteronomy 24:5). The first year of marriage is critical for developing the bond between husband and wife. The time together, working out the small day-to-day problems while motivated strongly by the physical desire to be with each other is important. One of the discussions you need to have is where you will live so that you can live together as husband and wife.

You may be panicking by the time you reach this point. You might decide you need more time to get ready for marriage. That is something I can't decide for you, but until the day that you enter into a covenant with each other, you have to put a halt to the sins you've been engaged in. The sin was not isolated to when you had sex, you were engaged in a series of sins and fornication was merely the last.

Your relationship became defined by lust. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). The idea of have sex without being married was in your minds for a while. You just thought that as long as he didn't put his penis in your vagina that you were being good. But it got harder not to given into the thoughts of having sex.

A rule for all unmarried Christians is: "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:10). By "touch," we are talking about sexual touching -- touches designed to arouse a desire for sex. The reason this is forbidden is that it leads to sex. Perhaps not immediately, but it always progresses.

Eventually passion takes over a relationship that is not properly restrained. You called it being "quite physical." The Bible calls it lewdness or sensuality. It is shameless behavior that is involved in pure self-enjoyment or behavior characteristic of an animal. Unfortunately what drives this is the individual's desires, so while it is done with someone else, the focus is on what you want. "Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14).

Notice how you deceived yourselves in thinking you could control this fire that you lit. It didn't stop with the lewd behavior. You actually convinced yourselves that you could sleep together and fornication would not happen -- yet, it did in the end. Anyone could have told you that it would have happened. I would say in advance that it was almost 100% guaranteed to have happened. Thus, it wasn't just the fornication but also your pride that lead to your downfall.

I'm detailing this so you understand what happened and to consider how you are going to deal with the impulse to repeat your sin before you get married. You can't go half-way with sin. You can't start down a path which leads to a destination you don't want to reach. Thus, you can't say, you are not going to have sex until after marriage and then do all the things that lead you to having sex.

Thank you for responding. You are absolutely right. We were beyond naive for believing we could stop ourselves, even though we kept tempting ourselves.

We have decided to not elope without telling our parents. We knew it was being immature, plus I didn't like the fact that we would be living separate lives, and no one would know. It was deceitful and wrong. We now plan on getting married a few months later. We will be living together and with a roommate because financially that's what we will be able to afford. He is going to propose, and when he asks my father for permission, he is going to tell him what happened, and why we are getting married sooner than waiting a few years.

My parents still don't know what happened, and I don't feel like I need to tell them. Is that wrong? We are legal adults; therefore, I don't feel like they have to know. I will not lie to them if they ask me though because I don't want to commit yet another sin.

We are expecting no financial help from my parents, so we are budgeting and creating a plan for our marriage. We both have sought godly help from people from our church.

Even though we know what we did was wrong, we are extremely fearful we are going to fall back into it. I'll be home from college during the summer, and we'll be hanging out a lot. We have decided the best way to avoid falling into temptation is to completely cut out physical intimacy, such as no making out, no cuddling, etc. We are also going to try and never be alone. Since we've experienced this deep level of intimacy, we crave it so much more. How can we keep from falling into it? We both don't want it to happen, but because we know how it feels and the intimacy of it, we can't say we don't want it to happen. We know it shouldn't happen. My boyfriend is thinking about getting a condom to put in his wallet, not because we expect to sleep together, but if we end up doing it, then we don't have to risk getting pregnant. I feel like it's a safety net, and we're only asking for trouble having it, but we honestly don't know if we can not slip up again for several months until we get married. Do you think we're asking for trouble by having the condom?

My boyfriend obviously has a higher sex drive than me, so he's already admitted that he's going to struggle immensely cutting out all physical intimacy, and I love cuddling and being intimate, so how do we rely on God and not slip up? We've been praying about it, and I feel like we can do it, but we're also hundreds of miles apart right now. We've tried to put boundaries up before and within a couple days they're gone.

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

When you are faced with making moral choices, you cannot let your emotions dictate your answers. As you've noted several times, the desire is to have sex, and that is understandable, but you are dedicated to God and that must come first.

What bothers me most about your note is the underlying message that you plan on failing. Yes, the risk is there, but the reason you failed before was because you kept pushing the limits until instinct took over. You now know that was foolish, so you should be focused on success in obeying God. I suspect one of the problems is that you aren't fully convinced that having sex before your marriage is all that bad. See: Marriage's Glue.

I understand the desire to have a back up "just in case," but your boyfriend's plan to carry a condom is again a plan to fail. Besides, he doesn't realize that latex breaks down over time when exposed to body heat. That condom he carries in his wallet has a high probability of failing. Plus, by having it with him, it removes the concern of getting you pregnant from his thoughts. The temptation to have sex becomes an impulsive decision. You need every disincentive that you can get to behave yourselves. What will happen is that while he knows he shouldn't touch you sexually, he will tell himself that it is alright because he isn't planning to have sex and besides there is a condom available if things get out of hand. Then it becomes a removal of clothes, but it won't get that far and besides there is a condom in the pants he just removed. Step by step you repeat the same sequence that led to sex the first time.

Remember, "Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on
" (Proverbs 4:14-15). You don't start something that leads to a destination you don't want to reach.

One of the things that helps is knowing there is an end date. It is when things are wide-open and uncertain that you struggle. Have you noticed that people generally succeed at diets that last a few weeks, but when you tell them they have to change the way they eat for the rest of their lives, well, they end up failing and giving up? Thus, one of the things both of you need to keep in mind is that it is only for a few more months. Hard as it is at the moment, you can last that long.

While your boyfriend has a strong sex drive and his physical body demands relief, he knows how to relieve himself to keep himself under control. It isn't as desirable or as fun as sex, but he has survived several years without sex and he can last a few more months. The same is true for you.

Another encouragement is remind yourself that while you are so ashamed that you've sinned that you don't want to tell your parents, consider what it would be like if you have to explain to them why you are pregnant before your wedding.

I'm not saying the next few months will be easy, but I can tell you that it is worth the wait.

"My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.

"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.
Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.
Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil
" (Proverbs 4:20-27).

The heart is where the blood of the body is pumped from and life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). We cannot live without it. So is it with our hearts -- the things we desire – as the heart goes, so goes our life (Matthew 12:35; Mark 7:21-23). We have to guard against wickedness or we will lose our life. In other words, avoiding sin is more than not committing wicked actions. It is a battle of what we desire. If we wait until the action to stop sin, we have already lost because the impulse to sin will constantly be there.

Along with protecting our heart, we must also control our mouths. Lying has to stop (Ephesians 4:25). Not just the outright lies but also the twisting of truth that makes other people make the wrong conclusions. Just as we tread a path that is straight and clear, our speech has to be honest and straightforward as well. As James 1:26 points out if we can't control our tongue, we are not just deceiving others, we are deceiving ourselves.

Next we have to control our eyes. You eyes have to be fixed on where you are going because where you look is the direction you follow (Hebrews 12:1-2). "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23).

Finally, we have to control our behavior. We cannot engage in sinful behavior and think we can easily get back on the path (Romans 12:9; Ephesians 5:15; Hebrews 12:13). We cannot deviate from the straight path (Deuteronomy 5:32; Joshua 1:7). Therefore, we need to think about where we are going. Proverbs 4:26 begins with the Hebrew word palac, which means to make level or even. Following the path of righteousness is hard enough without putting obstacles in our way. Our steps need to be placed on the firm ground of righteousness (Psalms 37:23; II Thessalonians 3:3).