How do we hold out until marriage when we’ve already been sexual?

Last updated on October 28, 2020


My boyfriend and I are 14. We’ve done things we shouldn’t. Fornication was one of them. We’ve both decided to stop the things we shouldn’t be doing. He tells me he has every intention of marrying me when we get older. We’ve been through a lot. I was depressed, anorexic, and bulimic. I self-harmed. He managed to get me to stop all of that, and I’m now happy. But I’m not happy that I’ve lost my relationship with God. How do we hold out on things until we get married? Is it wrong for us to be together? What are some definite things we should not do?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Please help.


Having sex without marriage is the word porneia in the original Greek of the New Testament. It is translated as fornication, but many of the newer translations use “sexual immorality” or just plain “immorality” because the translators think “fornication” is too old of a word and not often used. Unfortunately, “sexual immorality” and “immorality” are too vague. They don’t capture the meaning of the word well. For a list of sexual terms in the Bible and their meaning, see Sex. Dictionaries include homosexuality and lesbianism under the category of porneia. That is because when anal sex is involved with homosexual men, the penis is entering the anus. If oral sex is involved, then the penis is entering the mouth or the tongue is entering the vagina. That is why in English “sex” is included in the description of oral and anal sex. But because another person is bringing a person to orgasm and ejaculation, both oral sex and mutual masturbation would be properly included under the term “fornication.”

Now that we understand the meaning of the term, we can see whether it is bad. In this, we’ll let God answer:

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).

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

The word “bed” in Hebrews 13:4 is translating the Greek word koite. It literally means “bed” and it is where we get our English word “cot” from, but the Greeks used the word the same we say “Jack was sleeping was Jane.” You know that Jack and Jane weren’t just sleeping, they were having sex. By the way, we get our word “coitus” from this same word. “Coitus” is the act of the penis entering the vagina.

Now, this should lead to the question of why God said it is wrong. God doesn’t make arbitrary rules. The laws He gives are there to make life better. Therefore, there are things about having sex without marriage that makes life worse. For an answer see:

One of the problems, when sex enters a relationship, is that it dominates it. Everything revolves around sex and the relationship stops developing. Ultimately the relationship falls apart because sex is not enough to hold it together.

If you understand that you may not have intercourse before marriage, the next question is what about the things done prior to intercourse. Can you do anything so long as his penis doesn’t enter your vagina?

The first problem is 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 things aren’t just lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn’t have a healthy respect for the strength of her 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 and his penis slides into you.

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).

Lusts are those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lust is a strong desire to do what is not lawful to do — to the point you are making excuse why it is alright to sin in some cases.

Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. It is acting like an animal with little or no restraint on behavior. The Christian must recognize the danger of lewdness 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 him 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.

You don’t have to break up with this boy unless you continue to find yourself tempted to sin. Understand also that both of you are only 14. A lot can happen between now and when you do decide you are ready to get married. There is no guarantee that you will end up deciding to marry this boy, which is yet another reason you two need to stay away from the sexual acts until the day of your marriage.

Your relationship with God is based on you following God’s commands. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I John 2:3-6). You’ve gone your own way in the past, but God looks at who you are and not who you used to be (Ezekiel 18:21-23). If you have seriously repented, then you are on the way to getting back to God. For more, see What Must I Do to be Saved?