I just recently stumbled upon your questions and answers on your web site and I have found them to be very biblically based, direct, and insightful. I have a few questions that I would like to pose to you.
My fiance and I have been dating from high school and through college and have grown inseparable which is why, Lord willing, we intend to be married after I graduate from college. Our relationship started as silly infatuation but has grown into a very full and beneficial relationship. During this time I studied the Bible with her, attended her congregation's assemblies, and I eventually obeyed the Gospel. Thus, we're even linked spiritually together, having built each other up so much in the faith.
However, we started off with me not being a member of the household of faith and not having been instructed in righteousness, and with her as one who had only fairly recently obeyed the Gospel as well. Thus, we drew the line far too far over the safe limit and did what you call "sexual touching." As we mutually grew in the faith, we put that behind us and decided that we would no longer do such stupid and sinful things. For her, this has been fairly easy and effective -- she does a very good job of resisting impure activities and resisting my advances. In fact, she's even put parental controls on all of my internet-enabled electronics so that I cannot view any pornographic material. Obviously, it has not been easy for me.
Before deciding to be pure from this sexual sin, I had been caught in masturbation and, to a far lesser extent, pornography. Now, having tried to rid myself of it for several years, I still find that I cannot escape its grasp. Honestly, I just have an overwhelming desire to fornicate with my fiance. I may fantasize about it and lead to sinful masturbation or I may actually try to initiate sexual touching, which, to her credit, she almost never lets happen. I know all of this is wrong, and I know what the consequences are. I want to control these desires and I pray for wisdom and strength every day to fight them. I know I need to pray more, and I know I need to study more that my mind will always be focused upon His Word and His will. I have been noticing a change in myself for the better recently, but I still mess up with some frequency. That desire manifests itself when I am bored or tired and ensnares my brain! Only frequently am I able to get away from the idea and put Satan behind me and it is so frustrating to me.
I have this desire which must be filled, but the second it is, I feel immediate remorse and I wonder why I didn't obey the Lord, and why I didn't heed the warnings I knew I was bypassing. I know from David's example that sin is a process and that it requires you to run a whole lot of red lights (he continued to look at Bathsheba after he lusted for her, he then had her come over, he then laid with her, etc.--it's a process with deliberate sinful activity at every step). Knowing this has been helpful, but as I said, I still continue to mess up. It's gotten to the point where I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and there are two entirely opposite desires in me waging war constantly. It's so frustrating, this cycle of sin and then sorrow and repentance. I know that's not the way it's supposed to be! Because of Ephesians 5:3 I know I need to have no such fornication! It's ridiculous! I can see this behavior in others and know it's wrong. I can strongly stand firm against so many other sins and temptations which overrun people my age, yet I have not been able to fight this sin off within myself.
Because of my struggles, I look forward to my wedding date with prayerful anticipation, knowing that finally I'll be able to have my desire for sex fulfilled, and not only fulfilled, but fulfilled according to God's will! However, some of my married friends have pointed out that this may not be the end of my struggles. I've always sort of looked at marriage as the end of my struggle as I'll finally get sexual fulfillment with the only girl whom I love so much, who has been such a rich blessing in my life, and has led me to have the hope of eternal life. They say, however, that I'll still have my personal issues to confront. What do you think about this? Will marriage be the fulfillment of this sexual desire (as Paul teaches that it should be) or will it bring its own new set of problems for me and my personal walk with purity? Also, do you have any advice or guidance for me to help encourage me to remain pure until our wedding?
Finally, I ask for your prayers regarding me and my struggle and also regarding my pending marriage. I want to have a strong family which serves the Lord! I want to be able to get over this sinful behavior so that if I ever have a son who has to deal with it, I can help him instead of admitting I never could have enough self control!
Again, thank you for your web site and (in advance) for your time reading and responding to my email. I know it's long, but I hope that through our correspondence we may both be built up in the faith and that I may be exhorted to do better!
"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good" (Romans 7:14-16).
The struggles with sin is as ancient as the human race. Sometimes we mess up because we don't know any better, but even when we do know better, Satan still finds our weak points. Fortunately we have God helping us from being overwhelmed. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). You are able to make it to your wedding day (and beyond) to not fall into sexual sins. I know that because I can see how far you've come and your abilities so far to resist. But, like all of us, there are some things you and I need to discuss to further strengthen your defenses.
In some ways, your friends are right that getting married isn't going to solve all your problems; after all, look at how many fall to various sexual sins despite being married. What it will do is give you a positive outlet for you sexual desire and that ought to be enough to make controlling yourself seem easier.
The pressure between now and when you get married will appear to get greater, mostly because you find yourself more comfortable with her (and she with you) as well as feeding yourself more excuses, such as it only a little while before the wedding so what difference does it make if we jump the gun. They are all lies, but it is best to face the fact that they exist and you have to deal with them.
In regards to pornography, that has to stop immediately. It warps your desires, but it also gives you false ideas about what sex ought to be like. Those false ideas have a strong potential of ruining your sex life because you end up focusing on your desires and treating your wife as outlet for those desires, instead of focusing on her desires and doing all you can to please her. No woman wants to be seen as just an object her husband has sex with. So first off, I want you to read A Look at Pornography in regards to why pornography is wrong and how you are being manipulated by pornography.
Second, I suspect that you are causing yourself extra difficulties. More often than not, I find young men picking up the idea that ejaculating is somehow sinful. The Bible never defines this as a sin. Rather it is the trash -- the pornography and lustful thoughts -- that young men use to encourage ejaculation that is sinful. It is important not to confuse the two. The male body is designed with the need to get rid of excess semen periodically. To attempt to not do it is doomed to fail because it eventually has to happen. It is just like a young woman who has convinced herself that she should not eat. She tries hard, but eventually she has to give in, then she feels guilty for doing what the body was designed to do. What a perfect trap of Satan to lock people into guilt for being normal. So I want you to read Is masturbation sinful or not?
Finally, permitting yourself lustful thoughts regarding your fiancee is not right. "And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 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 7:20-23). To think about having sex now makes you less resistant to temptation. It is a primary reason why you end up giving in and your fiancee must stop you. It is one thing to think about how great sex will be after you are married, but you should not allow yourself to imagine committing sexual sins. Even imagining sex after marriage can be dangerous because you'll set up expectations for yourself that you cannot fulfill. You can see this in the Song of Solomon. The heroine struggles with her thoughts straying toward thinking about sex and each times she stops and says, "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). If you try to rush love, you'll lose it.