Question:

Hello brother. Thank you for your good web site and for the questions and answers that you have posted.

I have a question and a problem that I want you to help me to solve.

I been dating a girl for three years. She has been really close to me and I love her. She told me that she love me too, but I have some problems with the way she expresses her love.

I am an active member of our congregation. I sinned, and I do not feel good at all. I committed fornication with my girlfriend a number of times because we had talked about getting married in the future. We fell in temptation and had sex together before marriage. My plans are to get marry to fix what I have done.

My problem is that I confessed my sin to the church but did not mentioned the fornication in my confession. I just stated I sinned in general to respect my privacy because I was in the position of taking care of it and because many of the members did not know what I was repenting of, only some. Then I talked to my girlfriend about needing to get married in order not to live in fornication anymore. She agreed and we both decided to wait a couple of years. But my girlfriend’s attitude has changed since I repented. She has twisted my repentance and has held it against me. She is really possessive and she is not showing a Christ-like attitude. She is not showing the submissiveness of a wife that Paul presented in Ephesians 5:26.

I know that the sin of fornication is haunting me. But recently my girlfriend has been talking to many of the church members about our problems and our relationship.

She is telling people (not me) that if she wants, she will not marry me and hook me for life because I have no right to remarry because I have fornicated with her, and that I am doom for life.

Brother, I have made the decision not to marry her because of her actions and attitude, not that I don’t want to marry her, but because I don’t believe that that is true love. Am I hooked for life so that I cannot remarried again like she is saying?

She has been blackmailing me that if I do not submit and surrender to her demands and orders, she will tell the whole congregation about what we did. But according to her she is at no fault because she was not a Christian at that time.

After a few months of having sex together we stopped and we did not do it again. At that time we had some problems and then we broke up. It was then when she decided to be baptized and started talking to some about what had happened.

My question is: Is this true, am I in the right position? Am I not obligated to marry her?

Some members in the congregation are saying that we MUST marry because we had sex and that as soon as we had sex we were married before the eyes of the Lord.

I know marriage is a serious commitment and my girlfriend does not realize this. Now she is telling some that she is too young to get marry and that she wants to wait three to five years.

I am confused please help me to clear all this of my mind.


Answer:

I hope I understood the time order of the events well because a small change would probably alter what I'm about to say. What I understood is:

  1. You and your then non-Christian girlfriend were having sex for several months.
  2. The two of you had some difficulties, you broke up, and the sex stopped.
  3. You realized you had sinned, repented, and confessed before the congregation that you sinned, though you didn't mention what the sin was.
  4. You then approached your former girlfriend about getting married thinking this was necessary because you had committed fornication. She said she would be willing, but she wants to wait three to five years.
  5. Since then, she became a Christian, but she has been gossiping about your and her sin.
  6. She also thinks that you can only marry her or must remain celibate for the rest of your life. So she is using that as a club to make unspecified demands of you.
  7. Now you realize that she would not make a good wife and you no longer want to marry her.

If I misunderstood, let me know because I want to give you sound advice.

First, sex does not create a marriage. It never has and it is easily proven. "If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins" (Exodus 22:16-17). If a man has sex with a woman, he was required to pay the dowry for a bride, but her father had the right to decide if the man could actually marry his daughter. He could refuse. In other words, just because they had sex, they were not yet married.

What the Bible states is that a marriage is made through a covenant -- the vows given in a wedding ceremony. "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14).

When I am told that someone is committing fornication, my first goal is to convince them to stop sinning. If they refuse to stop or have no self-control in the matter, I then try to convince them to marry so that their sexual relationship is no longer sinful. A person cannot repent of sins he continues to commit.

I'm glad that you are owning up to your responsibility in your actions, but there is no requirement stating that you must marry this woman. If you two were actually in love, I would encourage you to marry her, but it is clear to me that neither of you love each other. I know you say you love her, but what followed was not the description of two people in love. Such love might develop but not at rate you are currently going.

There is a general problem in that forgiven sins are being brought up. "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). Sins that are left behind and forgiven are supposed to be buried (covered). Instead, it appears that people's faults are not being left behind when they return to the truth. This is gossip and it will destroy the congregation.

What I also have a strong impression is that you are looking to get married soon, if you can find a companion. I suspect that your sexual desire remains strong and you are concerned that you might sin again if you don't have a proper outlet. "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). You should marry, but don't make a mistake in who you marry by being in a rush. You are right, marriage is a very serious matter. You are making a lifetime commitment. It isn't something to be trifled with, including doing things with women that only belongs in marriage. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

What I urge you to do is concentrate on finding a companion you want to spend the rest of your life with. If it happens to be this woman, that is fine. If it is another woman, that is fine. But regardless of who you are interested in, no more sex until after you get married!