Question:

The primary gist of this email is to simply thank you for your website. I stumbled upon it via Google queries. Ironically I myself attend a church of Christ.

My Google searches centered around a whirlwind of emotion and biblical questions which I ran into recently.

A while ago my mother was talking with a Christian family and, of course, spoke very highly of me. She even mentioned my virginity. This family jokingly said, "He can marry our daughter." My mother knows my virginity is only of a technical nature; I had been seeing a girl for quite some time, and we had done pretty much everything except the one thing that is officially crossing the line.

My mom's recommendations usually fall on deaf ears, but this time I was able to find this girl on Facebook and she seemed too good to be true, so when she commented on a post of mine, my heart was off to the races, and we were quickly chatting incessantly. However, when the time came to go on a date she said she was not ready to date again, which lead me to believe she was not interested in me. That lead me to venture back to looking and find a girl who seemed great. Needless to say after dating this girl for several months and not doing anything improper, I realized that I was still pretty much obsessed with the girl who was not ready to date at the time.

I had written her a letter expressing my feelings, but the idea of "not being ready" was still there. However, later when I was struggling with breaking up the relationship with my current girlfriend because I felt as though I was mentally cheating on her because of my affection and desire for another, I received an email from the original girl which basically said "who knows what the future holds." This fit quite strongly with my current dilemma of wanting to break up with my current girlfriend because of unresolved feelings for another. So I did in fact break off one relationship to explore the one which seemed like a fairy tale in my imagination.

After several months of dating we had fleetingly talked about getting married sooner, rather than later. I then decided there is no one in this world who is better suited for me, and I was truly the luckiest guy on earth to have such a creative, fun, traditional, Christian girl be interested in me. So I picked out a ring and planned a proposal.

However, life has a way of confusing us, or perhaps it Satan, or perhaps those are one in the same. The week before my projected proposal I received a letter stating that she was so glad to have someone in which she could confide every secret and be totally honest with. This letter peaked my curiosity and on the day before I had planned to propose she told me "the secret" was that she had lost her virginity. The situation was very unlike everything in her past and present, which I had observed, and obviously not something her parents would be pleased to hear about. But in any case, the cat was out of the bag, and I had a decision to make. Within 24 hours I was planning on proposing to this person, and now I learned that something which I hadingrainedin my head for years that I would marry a virgin.

After an agonizing 24 hours filled with way too many thoughts, it struck me that if she was the most ideal wife material yesterday, a past week long mistake with some guy should not define who she is to me. So needless to say, without total peace I went through with the proposal.

Since that time I have come to realize just how legalistic my nature is and how devoid of true fellowship with God I have been. I am a weekly church attendee, but never someone who goes above and beyond and definitely not someone who pours themselves out for others. Furthermore, I also think I had inward pride that I had not done what others had done and, therefore, was somehow better. These lessons have been brought to the light in my life, and I see a brighter future ahead -- complete with 100% service to God.

But my question resides in multiple dimensions:

  1. Will I get over the thoughts of her with another man? I assume time is the best healer of this.
  2. Do all my acts, of which oral sex is one, constitute a loss of virginity on my part as well?
  3. What is the biblical viewpoint on marriage? I thought I was convinced that there was more involved than simply sex, but after reading a website of contrary opinion, I am looking for more evidence on how the Bible defines marriage.

In conclusion, I really think this situation will help me in terms of realizing my own sins and subsequent need for God's grace, remove my adherence to legalism in terms of Christian living, place more emphasis on loving others and creating a future family unit in which I take an active role as the spiritual head of the house -- something I may have pridefully claimed before but only now realize what that actually entails. This situation has also led me to better fellowship with believers and counseling, which is something I would never have considered before.

Some of this has been answered in your numerous postings, but for some reason having a personal response goes farther than reading general comments; although, your general comments are wonderful to read, and provide keen insights on areas of concern for me.


Answer:

Marriage is when a man and woman enter into a covenant with each other. "... she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). Sex does not create a marriage; otherwise, there would not be a sin of fornication. See: What constitutes a marriage?

In "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Notice the order:

  1. Leave parents
  2. Joined to spouse
  3. Become one flesh

The marriage, the joining, takes place before sex, becoming one flesh.

To be a virgin is to not have experience with sex. But look at what you have asked. You admit to having done oral sex and much more. However, it is called oral sex because it is a sexual act. True, you did not put your penis in a woman's vagina, but you were engaging in sex. See Am I still a virgin after giving oral sex? for more details. It is one of those ways people excuse their behavior; they make the definition of what they are avoiding as tight as possible and then claim they are doing wrong because it didn't include the artificially narrow definition. You got caught in the trap of being so focused on not having intercourse that you allowed yourself to commit other sexual sins, along with lewdness and lust. "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).

This then puts your first question in perspective. You wonder if you can get over her having been intimate with another man for a week. Will she be able to get over you being intimate with another woman for an extended period of time?

What I strongly recommend is that neither of you give the other details about your prior sexual lives. This is not something that you need to know. You don't want to get caught in another trap of comparing yourself to a phantom. The one thing you need to keep in mind is that despite the sex, they were not able love each other. They broke up. But she loves you and it sounds like you two will end up married -- and without having sex get in your way before marriage. I know she loves you because it must have been really hard to tell you that she sinned, especially knowing how much importance you placed on not committing that one particular type of sin.

The truth is that we all sin. "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. ... If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us" (I John 1:8, 10). Unlike people, God considers all sins equally bad, and really, we should be striving to do that as well. In other words, you are no better and no worse than every other human being, including your fiance.

Legalism is not the right word because all Christians should be wanting to please God by following His law. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). See Legalism: The Un-Sin for more details. What really is missing is mercy for others and the root if this sin is personal pride. "And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted"" (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee's fault wasn't that he didn't cheat, was fair, didn't commit adultery, or gave tithes. His fault was in deciding that because he didn't sin in some ways, that made him better than other people.

In your case, two virgins are not going to get married. So what? Two people who deeply love each other are going to get married. And it is shown in the fact that love, "does not take into account a wrong suffered" (I Corinthians 13:5).

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14-15).

Thanks so much for this excellent response!

I did have a question about I Corinthians 7:28. The verse seems to indicate to me that for a non-virgin to marry is a sin. That is only my implication from taking the inverse of the passage and perhaps the Greek could help explain further. The context seems to be talking back and forth primarily about those who are married, divorced, and single. But the verbiage used is "interesting."

"Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress -- that it is good for a man to remain as he is: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you" (I Corinthians 7:25-28).

Paul had earlier made a recommendation: "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). That recommendation was born from knowing that persecution was looming on the horizon. It isn't that Paul had anything against marriage -- quite the opposite actually -- but life was going to get very rough for Christians in the near future. "But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord -- how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world -- how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world -- how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction" (I Corinthians 7:32-35).

Paul makes it clear that if some decide to get married anyway that it is not a sin. This was not a command that no one should marry, but a recommendation to delay marriage until the worse of the persecution was over. And notice that there is no "only" in this passage. Therefore, reversing this statement is not proper.

Why did Paul talk about virgins? Because he is talking to Christians and it ought to be among Christians that avoiding fornication is a given. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Ephesians 5:3). There were former fornicators in the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 6:9-11), but Paul is talking in terms of expectation. My parents used to do that with us when we were children. It was never "if you go to college," it was "when you go to college." They talked about their expectations as if it were a given fact. Paul is doing the same thing here.

God placed no requirement on marriage that only virgins may marry. As an example, the prophet Hosea was specifically told to marry a prostitute to illustrate several points. "When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD"" (Hosea 1:2). His marital problems that resulted served as illustrations for God's problems with the Israelites. However, his marriage was still a legitimate marriage. If non-virgins could not marry, then the implication is that God told Hosea to sin, which cannot be (James 1:13).