My problem is that I love a person, well, we both love each other, but he is a year younger than me; I'm 20 and he is 19.

We indulged in sexual touching, but soon we realized that we were sinning. We do not do it anymore. We seriously are repentant about our past actions.

My boyfriend recently was baptized, and I had been baptized long time back. Even though I was baptized, I allowed us to indulged in almost what is called 'foreplay.' We are really sorry for our past actions. We both do love each other, but we are keen to follow God's will when it comes to marriage. We know that what we did was sinful and we got carried away, but we see ourselves as life partners in the near future. Maybe it is too early to decide that, but we cannot do without each other. However, being from different cultural backgrounds we may face opposition from our families for our marriage in future. Besides that, though my boyfriend loves me, I find him incompatible in certain areas. I still love him and would probably never find anyone more suitable for me. We have committed ourselves in God's hands, asking Him for forgiveness.

My questions are: Will God forgive us? How do we know if we are made for each other? If we can get married in future, how do we prepare ourselves for it as young people in a relationship while maintaining our purity as friends for now with a future hope of being united? Is it okay if the guy is a year younger than the girl? We really have strong feelings for each other, but we want to go according to God's will now, since we have already sinned in past and don't want to do that anymore. We even prayed together about it. Please guide us. It's difficult to maintain peace within when there is so much confusion in the head. We would also like to know difference between love, lust and attraction and how do we know if what we have for each other is truly love? We go to same church, and if we do get married we want to make it perfect and work for the Lord in some or the other way.

Do counsel us. We're looking forward to your reply.


So many questions! I really wish you and your boyfriend could spend some talking with me, since I have a feeling that we could address you questions in greater detail, since I suspect that you have more than just the ones you asked.

Yes, what you and your boyfriend did was very wrong on many levels. Paul stated, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman," (I Corinthians 7:1) for very good reasons. And by "touching" Paul here is referring to sexual touching. We call it "foreplay" today. I know you padded what you did by saying it was "almost" foreplay, but you need to be more serious about it -- it was foreplay.

Beyond the fact that you took a risk of becoming pregnant, the fact is that you altered the nature of your relationship. I get the impression that you would like to soften the blow of the sin you committed by thinking you hope to get married anyway. The truth is that the sin made things harder, not easier. Where before you both could use reasoning to determine whether you should get married, now there is that factor that you know each other's bodies too intimately and that knowledge is going to alter how you are going to approach whether you two should marry. Sex ties two people together in many ways, even when sex is started, but not finished. But when there is no solid foundation, as happens in marriage, sex can actually interfere with coming together as a man and wife. "I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, or by the hinds of the field, that you not stir up, nor awaken love, until it so desires" (Song of Solomon 2:7). When love is forcibly rushed, such as in playing around with sex before marriage, it disappears likes a frightened deer. See "Marriage's Glue" for more details.

One of the damages you have done to each other is in the area of trust. You now know that both of you have a weakness in the area of sexual lust. You were willing, at least for a moment, to go against God's teachings just for momentary pleasure. Think of what you were willing to risk for a relationship that you currently describe in terms of "think so," "maybe," "hope to," etc. Those aren't terms of strong commitment. The problem then comes when you are married, how are you going to trust each other to remain faithful to your wedding vows when you weren't faithful to God? It isn't that such trust can't be rebuilt, but you have to recognize that you took a huge step backwards and you have lost ground to regain.

All sins which a sinner is willing to repent of can be forgiven. ""Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"" (Ezekiel 18:23). What I'm seeing far too often are people who are not trusting God to keep His word. I'm also seeing many people who have convinced themselves that they can continue living as they had been and think God doesn't care. To be forgiven, you need to be a child of God, following the requirements that God has laid down (and not some denomination). See: "What Does the Bible Say About Salvation?" If you are a Christian, see: "How do I cleanse my soul and forgive myself?"

In regards to whether you two are right for each other, there is too little information for me to comment on it. The fact that there is a minor age difference has absolutely no bearing on the success of a marriage. I officiated at a marriage, quite a while ago where the husband was ten years younger than his bride, and they remain happily married to this day. The fact that you come from different cultures doesn't determine a successful marriage either. It is sad for your families if they are so prejudice that they cannot accept a fellow Christian as a son or daughter-in-law just because he or she was raised in a different culture.

I'm glad that you realize that there is no perfect spouse. We are all human and we all have our flaws. The questions you should be asking yourself if those incompatibilities are things you are willing to live with for the rest of your life. Since you didn't state what they are, I can't comment on whether you are minimizing major issues or not. How to decide is a broad topic, but take a look at "Choosing a Companion" for a few criteria. I would also suggest that you look at the questions in "Getting to Know Each Other" and discuss each of them with each other.

In regards to remaining pure before marriage, both of you must stop playing games with sexual temptation. You know it is there, so go out of your way to minimize the possibility. Don't allow yourselves to be alone in private. If he wants to come over to your home and there is no one there, just tell him that he can't at the moment because you're alone and then suggest that you meet him at a more public place. If you are driving somewhere, have a friend or a sibling go with you. Keep your hands to neutral locations -- holding hands or brief hugs to keep passion from flaring up. You'll have plenty of time for passion after you are married.

If the temptation is far to strong, then get married. You don't need an elaborate ceremony, though I know they are fun. But as Paul noted, "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).

What is the difference between love, lust, and attraction? Attraction simply means you find another person interesting enough that you want to be with them. Love is when you are strongly committed to a relationship and are willing to work hard to keep it. I Corinthians 13:4-8 is an excellent description. See "Love is ..." for details. I usually ask couples to go through the descriptions and ask themselves if this describes their relationship. If there are missing aspects, then they haven't achieved love yet. Lust is attraction gone amuck. It is when desires, such as sexual desire, takes top priority and a person is willing to even do things they know are wrong to satisfy those strong desires. That is why lust is listed as sinful. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14).