Question:

I have been dating this man for the past three years, and I love him so much. We grew up together in the church but we started dating when I was in my early twenties. He was suppose to pay a dowry (lobola) but he lost his job. This happened again this year, but thank God he's working again.

My question is: For the past three years we have been committing fornication, but now I have made a vow to the Lord that I will never sleep with this man until the day of our honeymoon. This is hard for him, but he is very supportive in this matter. I pray that God must make a way for us to marry, so that we can avoid this sin because marriage is the only solution to staying away from fornication, but the problem is money. He used all his savings for survival while he was unemployed.


Answer:

While the giving of a dowry or lobola is traditional in your culture, it is not a requirement in Christianity nor in any government that I'm aware of. Culture should be respected, but it is not an excuse for sinful behavior. It is because you claim to be a Christian that you should not have been committing fornication, not because you made some vow. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). In doing this, you have stated that your decisions are more important to you than God because you were willing to have sex up until you decided you needed to stop. God never required vows prior to keeping His laws.

You have three choices:

  • Your fiance negotiates a more reasonable dowry that allows you to to get married.
  • You get married without following your local customs.
  • You continue to wait and perhaps help him raise the money.

"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).

Thank you for the advice, will God forgive me after what I did and have mercy on me? What do I say to God after what I did? How do I ask for forgiveness?

All sins that are repented of are forgivable. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). Repentance means changing your mind about your behavior and changing your actions. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11). And when you repent, what God asks of His children is that they admit they were wrong. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1).