Last updated on October 29, 2020
I’m a 19-year-old girl in a university. I met my boyfriend last year, and we started having sex. I feel guilty every time we have sex and very far from God. I’m actually addicted now because I keep on repeating it, as much as I try never to repeat that again. I go to the extent of putting some strict measures in our relationship like seeing him once in a week or two but all to no avail. I end up breaking the rules. Am I really addicted? If yes, how can I stop and get back to God? This has affected my academics very much. How do I break from fornication and focus on my education only?
I prefer to use biblical terms. Sin is not an addiction. “Addiction” implies there is a compulsion that is nearly out of the addict’s control. All sins involve a strong desire to sin, which the Bible refers to as “lust,” but always the emphasis is that sin is something a person chooses to do or not to do.
Many people don’t appreciate the serious way sex affects their relationship with God. “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5). You cannot continue in sin and truly be a child of God.
One of the problems with sexual sins, beyond the strong desire for sex that is built into all people, is that once it enters a relationship, it almost always dominates. This is part of the reason why limiting your time with your boyfriend doesn’t work. Instead, you make it more likely that when you do get together sex becomes the primary reason for seeing each other.
Another reason you are likely having problems is that while you want to stop the sinning, I suspect your boyfriend doesn’t have the same interest. It is very difficult to remain sexually pure if the other person in your relationship is stirring up sexual desires in you. The problem is when you are sexually aroused, you stop thinking clearly. In such a state, instinct easily takes over.
Related to this, most people focus on the end instead of the beginning. Most understand that sexual intercourse is wrong when you are not married, so they focus on not having the guy enter the vagina with his penis. But the problem is that other sins have been taking place long before that point.
It is a problem of restraint. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, “I didn’t mean for it to go this far,” or “I don’t know what happened,” or “It was an accident.” Such statements aren’t lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn’t have a healthy respect for the strength of his sexual instinct.
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, “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 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 don’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 stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when things go further than you wanted.
That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can’t be legitimately completed.
Rules, then, are needed so that you don’t start down a sinful path. No touching each other’s private areas. No stroking skin to get you or her sexually aroused. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1).
With that comes not talking dirty or showing nude or semi-nude pictures to each other. “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7). You don’t stay pure by sexually arousing the other person.
Yes, you feel close to him when your sexual passion is aroused. Instinct drives you to focus on him and your feelings. But at this point in time, your focus should be on your friendship. The sexual stuff will come after you commit yourself in marriage to him.
Sadly, most relationships that have decayed into sexual orgies rarely survive a return to non-sexual behavior. In part, it is again because sex dominates a relationship. When a couple finally decides to get right with God they may find that they no longer have anything in common because the friendship never developed.