My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 10 months. We are both sophomores at a Christian university and met here at the beginning of our freshman year. In our relationship though, we have been having trouble with sexual sin. We have never "gone all the way" and had sex, we've just messed around a few times. Every time after this has happened though we've felt horrible. We then would ask God for his forgiveness together and apart. We would be good for a little while then seem to fall back into it again. We tried to set some boundaries but they never really stayed.
However, the last time that this happened, it really hit me, and right after everything I just started to cry. I felt horrible for letting God down again and causing my boyfriend and me to sin again. The two of us talked it over and decided that we need to make sure that this will not happen again. We decided that we would be more careful and to just give light kisses and hold hands. I felt really good about all this and we even prayed together to God asking for his help. We also decided to start to look for a devotional book that the two of us could work together on periodically. This all happened this past weekend and since then everything has been really good.
Yesterday, after one of my boyfriend's classes, he shared with me that his teacher told the class that if a couple came to him telling him that they had had sex that he would tell them to break up. And if they claimed that they didn't want to and that they loved each other then he would ask them if they loved each other or if they loved God. My boyfriend then asked me what I thought about it, if we should stay together and try to make this work or if we should just break up. We both love each other very much and do not want to break up, we plan to get married someday and talk about it all the time. I really could see myself marrying him and spending my whole life with him, but I'm worried that it's just me being selfish and I want to do what God would want for my life. My boyfriend and I have broken up twice already because of these problems and worrying that we're taking ourselves away from God. However, each time we are unable to let go and continue to talk and eventually get back together. At the moment my boyfriend decided that it would be best for us to spend a week apart, not talking or speaking to each other and to really focus on what God is trying to tell us.
I just don't know what to do. I really do think that we can make it work with God's help this time, but I don't want my boyfriend to feel like he's picking me over God.
Please help, I just feel so lost.
"Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23).
Frequently people think that giving up something they want makes them more holy, but often these things have nothing to do with holiness. Holiness is yielding to what God wants. For instance, when it comes to sexual sins God says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). What God requires is self-control and good behavior. If you lack self-control, God suggests getting married, not breaking up. "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).
Though the teacher is well-meaning, he isn't teaching as God has taught. Nor are you two. This idea of "really focus on what God is trying to tell us" merely shows me that you value your personal feelings over God's teachings. God has told you what to do. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 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, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:2-4). Your statements basically says that what God has said isn't enough, that you need more than His revealed knowledge, and that you think He hasn't given us all things pertaining to life and godliness.
So let's turn this around. Most likely the problem is that you are focused on not having sex. Committing fornication is a sin, but we sometimes get trapped into thinking that if we avoid one sin, then other things that lead up to it are not so bad. What you two need to come to realize is that the sins leading up to fornication are just as bad. All sins are equal in this regard; they all lead to dead (Romans 6:23).
Thus, the "messing around," the heavy petting of each others bodies and the touching of private areas are the sin of lewdness. Paul said, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1) and by that he is talking about sexual touching. You can't stir up the body's instinctive desires for sex and think you can resist.
Even thinking about doing things you should not do is a sin. I'm not talking about passing temptation, but the acceptance of doing something sinful if you got the chance. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23). Jesus' point is that sin begins in the mind and the place to first battle sin is there. You can't let yourself daydream of having sex or committing acts of lewdness. The Song of Solomon illustrates this well. Each time the heroine starts to daydream of sex, she stops and issues the warning: "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). Stirring up passion is a poor attempt at rushing love. Love isn't the physical acts. Love is how you treat each other, even at the worse of times (I Corinthians 13:4-8). Yes, married couples who are in love get involved in physical acts that demonstrate their love, but you can't get the cart before the horse. Doing the physical acts doesn't mean you are in love; yet, too many couples think they are making love happen by engaging in acts of sex.
Logically, if you aren't supposed to do or dream about doing the things that lead up to fornication, then it is just as wrong to talk about sex. "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). Personal phones and the ability to send private pictures has caused this to become a major stumbling block in our society. Because the other person is not present, we fool ourselves into thinking it is acceptable to discuss things we would never say or do in public. But the sin of uncleanness (dirty talk) is just as bad as any other sin. Perhaps people have gotten numb to it because uncleanness is present in our movies, songs, and books. We are so use to its presence that we become numb to the fact that it is wrong and a danger.
Thus, you are right that you need ground rules, but the limits not where you've been placing them. The only time I suggest ending a relationship is when one person in a couple is constantly breaking the limits and encouraging the other person into sin. That person is demonstrating his or her lack of respect for God and a lack of self-control. It shows a character flaw that means that person would not make a good husband or wife as they currently are. And you look at marrying who a person is, not who they might become.