Question:

I am in need of your advice.

I am 23 years of age. I have been in a relationship for two years. Prior to meeting him, I had very strict standards. It changed a bit as I matured. He was my first kiss, first love, etc. Our relationship started off slow. After spending months without seeing each other and then finally meeting up, our relationship took off quite quickly. We engaged in sinful physical activity (though remaining virgins).

I fell into a bad state with my relationship with Christ. I turned my back on Him. Instead of living a life of sin and putting a facade over it, it was evident I did not want God in my life. I stopped going to church. I stopped praying.

I continued a life of sin. I started drinking with my new friends I had met at college. My boyfriend wanted to remain a virgin, but we were okay flirting with the idea of coming close to sex. I was the instigator. I did not care what God thought of my relationship. I didn't even want him part of it.

One night, I thought I was ready for sex. (I regret going into detail at this point; please bear with me.) In the process, I felt guilt. It was so unusual because I had never felt it throughout my time of being distanced from God. I guess I had a "freak out" moment. I stopped my boyfriend and I just started crying. I felt so ashamed and angry with myself for compromising. I told my boyfriend I wanted to go back to Christ. We separated ways that night. I could not stop thinking about what happened.

For the first time in seven months, I prayed. I asked God I wanted to rededicate my life to him. I repented of my sin. My boyfriend and I had a discussion. We considered breaking up, going on a break, or working through the ordeal. He had been in the same boat as I had been with God. He felt guilty about not being a spiritual leader and leaving God out of the relationship. We decided to cut off physical activity and work through the situation. For the first time in my life, I had no urge to break boundaries. I knew that strength was from God as I am so weak. It made me happy.

Now for the questions: I had spoken with someone who was in a similar situation as I had been in. Because she and her boyfriend had no intent of getting married soon, they broke off their relationship. She thought it was a better idea and suggested I consider the same. My boyfriend and I plan on getting married in the near future. We are working on rebuilding purity (is there such a thing?) but I wanted your opinion on this. I love him with all my heart; I think I will not find anyone out there like him. Do we have to break up because of our past? Can we continue rebuilding ourselves and eventually get married?

Next question: I am questioning my virginity. We did not go though the "whole act" of sex. There was no full penetration. I had stopped it before anything could go further. Would this constitute me losing my virginity? I do not want to live in denial. The problem is that I feel like I am still a virgin.

Does God forgive Christians who commit fornication and sexual immorality? I have repented to him, but I feel unworthy of His forgiveness. I feel un forgiven. I hate myself. I hate that I compromised my situation and my boyfriend's. I hate that I turned my back on God. It has been sometime now, but I have not gotten over it. Should I get counseling?

Your recommendation is greatly appreciated. Please help me.


Answer:

I hope you will bear with me because I need to say several things which come across strongly.

You stated that you had strict standards, but that you dropped them in recent years. I would expect that this coincided with your leaving home for college. So a more honest evaluation of your situation is that your parents had strict standards, but you never made them your own. Rather you let people around you decide what should and shouldn't be done. Once your parents were not there to keep you in check, you let your peers talk you into various sins. The only fortunate thing is that you are starting to realize the problems sinful living causes.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish" (Psalm 1).

Your leaving the church is a typical reaction to sin. Deep down you knew you were living sinfully, but you did not want constant reminders of how poorly you were doing. You did put on a facade, but it was toward reality. You convinced yourself that your sins didn't really matter. That is why after discussing the nature of the slippery slope of sin, James said, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (James 1:16). But you were. It is the nature of sin to pile one deception on top of another. "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13).

A part of the problem comes from the fact that you have allowed your feelings to be your guide instead of the intellect that God has given you. "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3). I'm so glad you came to your senses, though I wish you had done so before you had walked so far down the path of sin. But at the same time, if you are going to keep yourself out of trouble you need to let God rule your life through His word and not let your feelings rule you.

It appears you continue to let your feelings dominate. You feel that you are a virgin, even though you were engaged in sexual play. You feel that you haven't been forgiven, even though you did what God asked of you and He promises to forgive us. John stated, "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). God told us what to do and when we do it, we know it is true. Feelings are not a part of the equation. Feelings come as a result of knowing that we did as we ought. Feelings don't direct what we do or indicate our status before God.

Can your sins be forgiven? Of course! That is what Christianity is about. Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians and realize as you read through this that some at Corinth were guilty of the same sin you and your boyfriend committed (fornication). "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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). If we leave our past sins behind, having repented of them, asking God's forgiveness (assuming that you have already become a Christian through baptism -- Galatians 3:26-29), then we forget about them and press on to the goal.

"Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don't regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:8-14).

Must you break up? No. If the two of you are serious about getting married, then there is much you can do to repair the breach of trust that you have created.

First, as a woman you need to face the fact that you do not see the world the way your boyfriend does. If I had the opportunity to talk to both of you face-to-face, I would have a long talk with him about his responsibility in the relationship. As a male, he has the ability to think despite his emotions, but he allowed himself to be in a situation where he became sexually aroused, and men are not able to think rationally in such a state. But for you, I would talk about your own control in the situation. Women don't give credence to effect their flirtatious behavior has on men. Think for a moment how you managed to break down his standards against sin. He knew better, but yet was willing to condemn himself for you.

So, if you both are serious about marriage, the first rule is that both of you will dress modestly in the presence of each other. For you, that means no tight outfits, no revealing shorts, no low cut blouses. You know you can turn him on sexually, but you need him to think clearly for both of you. You can flirt with him after your married, but not before. "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases" (Song of Solomon 2:7).

Second, your rooms are off-limits to each other. Sin is tempting when we are comfortable and have our guard down. So keep your interactions with each other in public where the knowledge that others will see you will keep you acting properly with each other.

Third, both of you commit to keeping your hands where they belong. You can hold hands, give a quick hug or a kiss, but nothing that arouses passion. This will be the hardest because you have gone so far beyond where you should have stopped.

Finally, start seriously talking about getting married. If temptation is too strong, then get married. "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). Just realize that you not marrying someone to warm your bed. You are making a commitment to be a companion to him, and he to you, for the rest of your lives.

In regards to whether you are a virgin still, I'm going to ask you to read the answer to another question, "Am I no longer a virgin if my boyfriend touched certain areas?" I take it from your statement that there wasn't "full" penetration that your boyfriend did begin to put his penis into your vagina, so you went even further that the woman who wrote this question, but the answer basically remains the same.

If you are willing, I would be happy to help both of you get ready for marriage.

I appreciate your recommendations and for such a quick reply.

My boyfriend and I have been keeping our relationship more public. It makes it much easier to steer clear of sin. However, you are right -- it is very hard. On a lighter note, God has really been helping me with keeping boundaries intact. It amazes me how it's been working because I was never able to in the past.

I have not been baptized yet. Well, technically yes -- I was a Catholic. My parents have accepted the fact that I am now going to an evangelical church. I was baptized as an infant, but I do not feel it is sufficient in regards to my current state. I am glad you brought that up. I knew in my heart I was missing something. I want to be baptized as a Christian, not a Catholic. I just need to make that step..

I am almost finished with school. We have the intent on being married sometime after. It has brought a few questions to mind though. My boyfriend is Baptist. We have different outlooks on theology. I would say we do share some similar ideas. Would that be problematic in a marriage?

We both have the intentions of graduate school. Do you think it is a poor choice if we both went into school and had full-time jobs while being married? My boyfriend suggested pre-marital counseling upon engagement.

Thank you for the kind words, I'm glad things are improving.

Just about all the denominations only teach a portion of what God teaches about salvation. Not that what God asks of us is hard, but people are always "fiddling" with God's word. What I would like you to do is go through a large list of verses in "Things that Accompany Salvation." What I did was assemble verses in which salvation is mentioned either directly or indirectly and organized by what was required and the effect that it produced. It will take a while to find and read all those verses, but it is important that you see for yourself what God asks of us.

Yes, marriages of mixed religions can cause problems. Generally there isn't a lot of problems early on. What often happens is that religion quickly becomes a taboo subject in the home. Come worship, he goes his way and she goes her way. But then children come along and chaos reigns. Do the kids go with mom or dad? Which faith will they be taught? Then there is the problem that mom says this but dad say that on various topics, who is the child to believe? The sad result is that the majority of children growing up in such a household end up not having any faith at all.

I, of course, would rather everyone be simple Christians like those you read about in the New Testament. And I hope you and your boyfriend do learn about the beauty of religion as God designed it -- without any denomination involved. But even if you can't come to terms with that, the two of you need to come to an agreement as to where you both will be going to worship. It doesn't mean that you can't learn and change things in the future, but a marriage is action by the family and not by the individual. If the two of you can't approach religion, in general, in the same way, it will always be a sore point in your marriage.

Yes, you can get married, work, and finish your schooling. What I strongly suggest, though, is that you don't bring children into your relationship until you decide that you can spend the time with them. Children need at least one parent home with them at all times. Daycare is not a good option. So until you get to the point that you can step out of the work and school to focus on raising your children, you need to put having children. If you do marry and children do accidentally come when you didn't plan, then you need to have it in mind that all other plans are set aside. You can get by with fewer things and a smaller house, but babies can't get along without mom.