Question:

I am writing this due to the guilt that I am having. I am born again and I minister in our church on the altar in one way or another, though I am not a preacher. I am 25 years old and last year I met with my boyfriend and we clicked. We fell in love with each other and have been together ever since. However, I feel that I have been deceiving myself and allowing myself to be deceived by the devil. We have been messing around and making out every time we meet. I know it's wrong, but I do not know what happens when we are together. I repent of my sins but then the next time we meet we find ourselves having "sex." I put the word sex in quotes because we do not go all the way, but sin is sin. My boyfriend is born again too but this is not the way of the righteous.

Lately, we have been having quarrels because of petty issues. I know it is as a result of our wicked ways. I feel that I have cheated myself and let God down so many times. I am very ashamed of myself and what I have been doing. I even lied to my pastor, trying to cover up my ways. I am distressed and am having a bad time. I want to come back to God. I know God forgives and that He will forgive me. I have decided to go back to Him, but I am very guilty. I do not even know what to say to Him or even how to go into His presence.

My question is, do I continue seeing my boyfriend? He says he wants us to get married, and I love him and he too loves me. Is it OK if we continue in the relationship but not seeing each other in secluded places? Is this relationship worth it or healthy? We were planning to get married next year if everything goes well, and when we get financially stable. I have said no to other men who were interested in me and now I am afraid that I might loose out if I do not become serious. Is this love or lust? Do I leave him and marry someone else? I fear hurting him, but I feel like being with him will make me not see the kingdom of heaven.

Please I need your advice urgently. Am I all self-centered, mean and unselfish? I have sinned in all ways possible. I have fornicated and committed adultery, I have lied, and I do not know whether to marry him or someone else. I am confused.


Answer:

I want both you and your boyfriend to return to God. I hear your motivation to do what is right in the tone of your letter, but you said nothing about your boyfriend's motivations.

It isn't fully true that you don't know what is happening when the two of you get together. For the most part you are letting your passions rise to the point that you don't think clearly and lose your self-restraint. I assume you been involved in oral sex and similar sorts of thing. Fornication isn't limited to intercourse. But even before you get to this point you've been involved in sins of lewdness and lust. Lewdness refers to shameless behavior, particularly in regards to sex. It is behavior that is involved in pure self-enjoyment or behavior characteristic of an animal. Lust is thinking about doing something that is wrong and justifying that it would be all right at least in this case. "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). The reason lewdness and lust is forbidden is because they lead up to sex. You don't start something that you can't morally finish. My guess is that one or both of you believe that as long his penis doesn't go into your vagina, what you are doing isn't all that bad.

Solomon points out the problem when he asked, "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn't change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, "But I love her!" Solomon's point is that your feelings toward girl won't change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.

Solomon also asked, "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of a hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn't mean to step on it, but you'll still be hurt because your intentions doesn't change what it is. Thus, the excuse, "But I didn't mean for it to go this far!" becomes an empty one because your intentions doesn't change your body's drive.

That is why Solomon concludes, "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start intentionally stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when thing go further than you wanted. This is also why Paul said, "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1). By that he means touching a woman in a sexual way.

Therefore, the solution lies in not starting improper behavior -- not in avoiding ending in a behavior that you realize is wrong. Right not you have intentions of changing, but you have not made much effort to change your behavior. And it is here where you probably will have difficulty. You want to stop, but clearly he isn't of the same mind. When you get together he quite willingly puts his hands where they don't belong and before you know it you've gone further than you intended, and perhaps not as far as he wants to go. If he doesn't also agree to end the sexual behavior until you get married, then you need to seriously consider whether this is the type of man you want as a husband.

I would also like you to consider that there is no altar in the New Testament church -- this is a denominational innovation. Nor does the Bible permit women to address the congregation during worship (I Corinthians 14:34-37). It sounds to me that the church you are attending isn't fully committed to following God's teachings. I know you mentioned it to show that you aren't totally a "bad girl," but righteousness isn't a balancing act. See We Are Simply Christians Without Being Members of Any Denomination, You Can be Too!