I was checking out your web site, and La Vista Church of Christ seems like a legitimate, non-liberal church of Christ. I am a 20-year-old Christian. I know it may seem strange to get an email from a random individual, but I had a question regarding pre-marital sex that I guess I'm embarrassed to ask someone I know, and as a preacher, I was hoping you would maybe have more knowledge and experience and be able to help me out.
I have dated several non-Christian girls, and sex is a major weakness for me. I've tried to turn away, but I have trouble avoiding it and put myself in bad situations, such as dating these girls who aren't Christians. However, recently I began to wonder about verses such as I Corinthians 6:15-19 whether I will ever be able to marry now. I'm worried that in the "joining of the two bodies" that I'm already married in God's eyes to the people I've sinned with. I also struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so I am beginning to worry about it a lot. If you have insight or an answer for me in this, whether good or bad, I would appreciate it greatly.
I'm glad you wrote. No, I don't mind getting mail from people I haven't met. Because of La Vista's web site. I generally get 25 to 30 emails each week from complete strangers. Many people find it easier to discuss personal issues with someone who won't see them from day-to-day.
Let's hit your primary question first: No, sex with a girl doesn't make you married to her. Sex isn't what creates a marriage. If sex was required then people who have medical problems or physical damage could never get married. Marriage is created by making a covenant with the person you want to be your spouse. "Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14).
What Paul is warning us about is the fact that sex binds a person, whether they intend for it to happen or not. When we bind ourselves to someone we don't stay with, we damage ourselves. I want you to read an article that I wrote a while back trying to explain this concept. It's called "Marriage's Glue." It is important that you read it because your past has caused you damage that you might not realize exists. Understanding the problem is the first step in correcting it.
The damage is mostly in your ability to form and keep a stable relationship. Your past sexual encounters make it far too easy for you to walk away when you have problems with someone rather than to stay and work them out. Such will not only hurt your future marriage, but Paul warns that it will also make it harder for you in following and staying with Christ.
The binding of yourself with non-Christians is also undermining your faithfulness to God. That is why Solomon included so many warnings about avoiding women who willingly have sex with men. "For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:23-29).
Being obsessive or compulsive is very common for young men; it usually fades as you move into adulthood. However, it is something Satan uses against you. You are concerned about obsessive worry about whether you can marry, but you need to also realize that same compulsiveness is what sets you up to fall for sexual traps. You need to be wary of those traps so that bad habits and burdens of guilt won't bring you down the rest of your life.