Question:

Hi,

I need advise, please. I had been living as a born again Christian for over a year before I fell into sin and committed fornication. I met the guy a year after my baptism and we were engaged a few months later; we are both in our thirties. He is not baptized and belongs to a different church which he goes to about four times a year.

When I became pregnant we were both very happy, but I soon realized the gravity of what I had done when I was suspended from the church. I have repented of my sin, and we have both agreed that to continue to fornicate is an even bigger sin.

This man and i would like to marry but my pastor says I must:

  1. Return the ring and break off the engagement as a sacrifice and show of my true repentance.
  2. Not marry this man because he is not baptized and even though he loves me it is unbiblical.
  3. Accept being a single parent and sacrifice marriage to this man whom I love in order to secure my salvation.
  4. Obey God by not marrying this man, regardless of how I feel or he feels. Marrying him means I am putting him before Christ.

I love the Lord and cannot express to others how sorry I am for my sin. I believe only God can be the judge of that. I want to move forward, but I want to do what is right. Please advise.


Answer:

The church was correct in withdrawing from you when it learned you were committing fornication and was not ashamed of your sin. Now that you have repented, they are required to accept you back.

While it is not generally advisable to marry someone who is not a Christian, it is not wrong either. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy" (I Corinthians 7:14). Therefore, he is wrong to claim it is unbiblical for a Christian to marry a non-Christian.

His advice concerning breaking off the engagement has no basis in the Scriptures. There is no demand that one sacrifice to show repentance. A person is to repent of his sins, which means to change his attitude toward sin and his behavior, which you tell me that you have done. What God advises is that people who are strongly tempted by sexual sin are to get married. "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). Since this is what is recorded by God, being obedient to God's teachings shows you put Christ ahead of men (the leader of your church). "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

You are attending a church that has an ignorant leader. My best advice to you is to find a church that is teaching the truth. Hopefully you can find one that your fiance will also see as teaching the truth.

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).

Hi Jeffrey,

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my email.

I am glad that you and my pastor agree on three things which I see as being very important and without which my chance of reconciliation with God would not be:

  1. that fornication is a sin and that is what I am guilty of
  2. that by continuing to attend church while living in sin showed my lack of shame in what I was doing. Again this is a sin I am guilty of no matter how much I try to justify it.
  3. That suspending me from church was the right thing for the pastor to do.

I thank you for highlighting I Corinthians 7:14 as I have always wondered if it applied to me and my fiance. I thought it did.

I also agree with your advice to find another church to worship where my fiance will be comfortable to see me go and where I pray he will decide to open his heart and give Christ the chance to have a relationship with him through baptism.

What I have learned so far is that what he sees as Christianity and what I see are different. Without baptism in the name of Jesus and an understanding of how this changes you and why you must change, you are not counted as a true Christian.

I do have another question: The Bible also speaks of not being unequally yolked with unbelievers. My pastor says this is the verse that applies to me and not I Corinthians 7:14. If I marry this man I have disobeyed. It does not matter to God that this man loves me, has wanted to marry me even before the baby and still wants to, wants us to be a family living together so he can care for us and is more than happy for me to pursue my faith with our child and without him hindering this. He says none of this gives me permission to marry mainly because of the fact that I am baptized, born again in Christ. Would you agree?

In terms of sacrifice he gave the example of the adulterous woman. Jesus said to her to go and sin no more. Meaning she stopped her adultery and broke off her relationship. That was an indication of her true repentance. I have found the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector and he returned all his money to those he took from. I have not found a story on pregnancy and fornication but have noted that every verse where adultery is condemned in the Bible, fornication is in the same verse. Does this mean that for a person who fornicates and ceases to do so they also have to give up the relationship with the person the fornicated with?

If my fiance continued to ask for or demand sex with me or even just sleeping with me (the Bible says not to put yourself in situations that would make you come across as a sinner) then I would break off the engagement. It has been four months, and in that time he has not done that. We travelled together to meet my siblings and we slept in separate beds. I find he has a respect for me and my faith and with the little knowledge he has, I find he also has some level of respect for God. Is it foolishness for me to think this?

When I do marry I know I will need God's help to bring my fiance to a point of acceptance and baptism. What advice would you give me for that marriage? My fiance drinks and I don't. He doesn't go to church regularly or read the Bible regularly but I do. He curses and is doing his best to stop that before the baby comes. I don't usually curse and on the occasion that I do I feel terrible and ask God to forgive me. I do not want to show my fiance that I am all righteous and he isn't. I also don't want to condemn him for the drinking and not attending church, etc. I was once in that very place less than two years ago. I had to look around me and ask myself why I drank, why I didn't go to church regularly or read my Bible, why I cursed and in all that called myself a Christian. Was I being honest? That is what got me on the road to change.

From here on, Jeffrey, I want to do what is right before God and what is right for my baby. I also want my fiance, his family, friends, my family, friends to see in me an example of true joyous Christian living. I believe it is that which will bring them to Christ.

As before, I look forward to your response.

God bless.

I would have thought it was clear that I do not agree with your preacher. See: Doesn't the Lord require Christians to marry Christians? and Is it wrong for a Christian to marry a non-believer?

Jesus told the adulterous woman, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11). He did not say never have sex again. He did not tell her to stop sinning as a punishment. Christians are not supposed to sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). This woman could still have sex with her husband (assuming she was married) or she could get married because sex within marriage is not sinful. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

Zacchaeus was not ordered to give up his money as punishment. He volunteered to repay any he might have wronged. "Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Read what Zacchaeus offered again and notice that he did not even give up all his wealth. He gave half of what he accumulated away and offered to return four times any money that he might have taken wrongfully. Again, the idea that sin has to be punished, or a sacrifice made, after repentance is not found in the New Testament.

The description of the man you love is not a good one. He is not someone I would recommend marrying. However, the choice of who you marry is your own. You know where the rough points are going to be and understand that marrying this man is not going to change him. If you insist on signing up for a more difficult life, then that is your choice. I hope and pray that he does become a real Christian for all of your sakes. In the meantime, you have to do this mostly on your own without falling back into your old ways.