I saw that people posted questions about their lives on your website, so I decided to do the same because I don't know what to do.
I have been with my boyfriend for two years. We are happy and seemingly perfect together. But with one major flaw. We can't stop the sex. He studies overseas, so when he's away we are motivated to stop, but when he comes back home we fall again, and we live practically like a married couple. And we are happy. This cycle has been repeating itself over and over! That is: we keep trying to stop, but we can't. And now we're both discouraged - although he's not saying it and I'm not saying it, there's this sense that we are sort of giving up - tired of the cycle - even though he's overseas now, we're not coming back to God because - for me at least - I don't want to come back only to fall again. Right now we're both not even going to church. I know this has got to stop, so do you think I should break up with him?
It seems such a pity, to give up a good relationship (in all other aspects) just for one - unstoppable - flaw. I've tried asking God, but I can't discern - I can't tell - whether I'm hearing selectively or not, or whether I actually know what I should do, but I don't want to and so keep asking (that's what my friends say, which doesn't really make sense because how do I know if I actually do know? How can I say I actually know if I am still plagued by uncertainty and doubt?) And the Bible - it's general and so very ambiguous, open to interpretation and to different modes of application. Feelings, too - my mother and my youth leader would ask what feels right, but things have felt right before that weren't right, and feelings just seem a pretty shaky thing to base such an important decision on. I wish God would speak to me clearly and audibly, in a way that cannot be doubted - cannot be explained away by science or anything. But now you can't even tell when dreams are God-sent or just, you know, remnants of the previous day, wish-fulfillments, the stuff of your unconscious or whatever. (I dreamt that I broke up with my boyfriend - but how am I supposed to tell if that was God or just because that was what I was thinking of before I fell asleep last night? I've dreamt of other things before, after all - stuff that was definitely not from God, that I was thinking of before I fell asleep.) I'm so incredibly frustrated with the uncertainty of hearing from God!
So what you are saying is that you want to follow God without having to have faith and trust Him. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (I Corinthians 5:7).
It isn't that hard. You are making it complex, and I suspect that is because you don't want to face a simple truth. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith is believing in the truth. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). It doesn't come from trusting your feelings. Feelings change and can be manipulated. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Nowhere do you find God guiding people by feelings. He tells people what they are to do or not to do. We are to walk wisely, but wisdom comes from God and His instructions. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil" (Proverbs 3:5-7).
If each of us is not to lean on our own understanding, then that means there is an understanding separate from individual men which we are to lean on. "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). Here is a requirement by God that must be doable. We each can understand God's will. And that understanding is cannot be subject to each person's individual interpretation. "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21). In other words, God speaks, He knows what He is saying, and He is able to express Himself in a perfectly understandable way.
The problem is that you talk about wanting to know God's will for you, but you don't go to the truth -- the Bible -- to learn it. Instead, you turn to other people's opinions, which vary from person to person. You turn to your dreams, but those are your dreams. "I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!' How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart" (Jeremiah 23:25-26). Yes, God at times talked to a few people through dreams to tell them of His will. It is a mistake to assume that God did this for everyone or did it often. Most of the time, the people of Israel had to rely on the written word of prior prophets.
But people so badly want to feel special, or, as with you, want to shortcut learning that they want God to tell them directly how to make each decision. Do you realize that by doing so, you are seeking to escape being responsible? After all, if God told you to do something and it turned out bad, then it would have to be God's responsibility. However, God wants people to choose to follow Him. That means He told us what to do, and then the responsibility is up to us whether to listen to God or not.
God no longer chooses to speak directly to people. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2). It isn't that He can't directly speak, He simply has chosen to speak indirectly through Jesus. Jesus revealed his will through the writings of the apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:10-13). This revelation was not ongoing. It had an end. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). That perfect will is now complete. "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:25). Through it we have everything we need for this life and to reach the one to come. "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). The complete revelation doesn't need to be repeated. It is perfect as it is. So it is "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
So let us consult God's word about your situation. You are having sex with a man to whom you are not married. You live with him in a pretense of being married, but you are not. The word for what you are doing is called "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" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). That is why you have stopped going to worship God. You know you are only lying to yourself doing so. But you never really trying to change. Oh, you talk about it, you know you should change, but you just never quite manage to do it. But that is because you are trying to stay as you are. You are two people standing at the edge of a cliff with the dirt crumbling away underneath your feet, wondering why you keep falling in.
If you are the perfect couple and love each other, then the obvious solution is to make your life together legitimate and righteous. "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). Don't bother with the long list of excuses as to why you can't get married. I've probably heard them all and they are all lame. Whatever the obstacles, if you two truly love each other you'll overcome them -- after all, that is what marriage is about, partners facing the world together for the rest of your life.
If you start in with the "I don't know if he is the right one," then my response is, "Why are you having sex with a guy you don't love?" Isn't that being hypocritical? Isn't that putting personal pleasure before serving God? If you are spending all your time having sex with a guy you aren't certain you love, then you are wasting the time you could have spent finding a real man to be your husband. Real men commit themselves wholly to the women they love, willingly binding themselves in a lifelong covenant of marriage before taking them to bed.
The answer isn't difficult. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Either you get married or you go your separate ways. What isn't an option is playing around in bed while you pretend that you can't make up your mind.
Wow! Thanks for the time and effort you put into your reply! The problem is we're still studying. How can we get married? Our parents will never allow it, not yet. (We've talked about it before - we thought, how much easier it is to just get married - and we do want to get married - but it seems quite impossible, right now)
So, to clarify, the 'revelation' you speak of, that's now complete, refers to the Holy Spirit and God's word through the Bible? And that's why He doesn't talk to us directly? Doesn't that seem right? It seems rather ambiguous still to me. What the Spirit says most often feels like a 'feeling,' doesn't it? For instance, there was once a youth leader who led all of us into prayer for a friend, who had cancer. We were all pretty certain he was going to live - lots of Bible verses were quoted and some probably felt that this certainty (or 'faith) was from the Spirit, but he died. Which means we interpreted the Bible wrongly. We seem to be so susceptible to interpreting the Bible wrongly and recognizing the Spirit wrongly. i.e. That 'sense of peace' that people speak of, that 'still small voice', can so easily be doubted, mistaken for our own imagination.
But anyway, that's a separate issue; regarding my boyfriend, it seems I have no choice but to go our separate ways, as you say since marriage is practically impossible right now.
By the way, you are absolutely right about me wanting to push away the responsibility. I'm afraid of making the wrong decision. I'm afraid I'll regret it, but I see now that that's just a lack of faith.
As I said, the excuses are lame.
I know many people who are married and going to school. There are some here in this congregation. It is not an either/or choice.
So you are saying that your parents are perfectly fine with you two committing fornication while in school, but would forbid you from marrying? Doesn't sound like great Christians to me, so I assume that what you are saying is that if you get married, your parents will rightly stop financing your schooling and you will be on your own. Actually, as soon as you started committing fornication I would have told your parents to stop supporting your sinful lifestyle. Therefore, what we really have is that you value money over godliness. You also value money more than each other, so I guess you are right, you aren't ready for marriage because clearly, you don't love each other as you have been pretending.
Since people are to leave their parents to form a new family (Genesis 2:24), the permission of parents is not necessary to get married. It is nice to have the support of your family, but it is not a requirement.
You managed to contradict yourself. You understood what I said and what the verses in the Bible stated quite clearly. It wasn't ambiguous. You are only using the label of "ambiguous" to cover the fact that you personally don't agree with what the Bible says because it doesn't match what you think it ought to be. You even provided evidence when your feelings about a matter were wrong, but then blamed not understanding the Bible. People quote the Bible all the time. Even Satan quoted the Bible when tempting Jesus (Matthew 4). Anyone can pull passages out of context, but it doesn't mean the Bible can't be understood or that it doesn't mean what it actually says.
I gave evidence that the Spirit speaks through the Word that he delivered to mankind through the Apostles. Yes, people do claim that their own feelings are from the Spirit, but claims don't make it true. The fact that people often get things wrong should be evidence that it isn't true. Start learning from God by reading His Word instead of listening to your own imagination or the imaginations of others.
OK, understood. It's scary, but I'll bring it up. Thanks.