I am a 31 years old, born again and a fool at the same time. I must say I thought I had it all together and abstained from sex and relationships until I was 27 years. One thing led to another. My first date was pure but uneventful and my carnal cravings pushed me to venture out and 'explore' this thing called sex, unfortunately, outside marriage! For a while, it all felt like I was on auto-pilot.
After loosing my virginity to someone I thought I loved and actually discovered it was lust in reality, my heart numbed. I ceased to respond to godly conviction and wise counsel and in the end, like all sin does, I drifted from purity. I detested fornication and yet when that Pandora's box was opened, it was like an unquenchable bush fire. All relationships ended up in the bed with a deaf ear on the statutes of God.
I now met someone (a born again Christian too) after a not so good relationship and decided I will make it this time. Marry her and then sex within marriage. A fool I am! Again, we fell and this time, really bad. She is pregnant now, and I am puzzled. We are sinners, we have sinned. We both lack the strength to abort as it's displeasing to God, murder if I might say. We intend to settle down. We tried in our own strength and have failed. If God forgives us, what do we do to restore our respect and authority as Christians? If we can't have that back, is that we have been cast away from God's presence for eternity, since we have brought shame to the body of Christ? It hurts and is so confusing. Please help. I am so sorry for bringing shame to the body of Christ.
If I might speculate, it appears that you never really learned to date a woman in a godly manner. You remained a virgin more because you were not involved with a woman and so the temptation for sex wasn't there. But once the opportunity arose, you weren't able to exercise restraint. And once you gave into sin, you yielded to it fully.
The result was that you had a series of failed relationships because they primarily focused on sex. Learning about the other person with the intention of eventual marriage was not a strong consideration. Yet, it is the companionship that is reason for marriage. "And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him"" (Genesis 2:18). The desire for sex may drive men and women to find a companion, but sex isn't what the dating game is supposed to be all about. Sex doesn't form a stable bond between two people. See: Marriage's Glue.
Like many people you rated the depth of your sin not by what you did, but by you ability to avoid responsibility for you sins. You knew you were doing wrong, but it wasn't significant until you got your current bed partner pregnant. The sin wasn't that your got a woman pregnant. You sins were having sex outside of marriage (fornication), engaging in sexual foreplay (lewdness), and wanting to have sex even though it meant sinning (lust). "Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14).
I'm glad you two decided not to abort your child. You talk as if that was a weakness. It isn't. Weak people toss aside the inconvenience of children. They put their happiness above the life of another human being. Weak people avoid facing responsibility for the things they have done. It takes strength and courage take responsibility for the consequences of your sin.
"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).
It is true that you sinned, but that doesn't mean it is the end of everything.
"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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
Please take note that the church in Corinth had former fornicators as members. These people had given up their sins to become Christians and it wasn't counted against them. Further, I Corinthians 5 Paul commands the Corinthians to withdraw from a man who was having sex with his step-mother. This was done and it is mentioned in the second letter, "This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow" (II Corinthian 2:6-7). The punishment accomplished the goal of bringing the man back to Christ. He repented of his sins, so the church was to accept him back into their number. Sins are not permanent exclusions; they only become permanent if the person never repents.
Thus, this is what is required of you as well. You have to change your attitude about sex before marriage and you have to change your behavior. If you feel you can't stay away from fornication, then you need to get married, but until you say wed your wife, you must keep your pants on. You also must stop the sinful behaviors that lead up to fornication. "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 this Paul is talking about sexually touching a woman. That would also include not getting involved in lewd sexual acts or daydreaming about having sex with her before marriage. "Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). In other words, you don't start something that you cannot legitimately finish.
That also includes how you talk to each other. You cannot talk about having sex or sending erotic images to each other. You words have to match your behavior. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:3-7). Save all aspects of a sexual relation for marriage.
The goal of repentance is to change so radically that people who meet you in the future would never suspect that you used to be a fornicator. "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).
I just read the article on marriage glue as well. Indeed, I am cut to the heart. I am humbled that you took time to read through my story to the end. Your response and recommendations are deeper than I have had from a brother before on this matter.
The punishment you speak of ("This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow" (II Corinthian 2:6-7)) is already my portion. My family, my friends and fellow believers already hold me out in judgment and I do not blame them for it's my fault. It is already evident I do not belong in most Christian fellowships now, neither does my spouse. The rejection is written all over the church door posts and we are marked like Cain was. It feels so bad that even though God hath shown mercy to us I cannot secure the same in the gathering of brethren. I fear my life will wither away if I cannot commune with other believers. I need them but I now am despised and detestable to them. I can do my best not to crush under the weight of guilt and shame, but I sure will break if I loose fellowship with believers. It is worrying me.
Yes, the damage is done and I have changed my life, but my past sure lingers like a stench and repels those that that once held me close. How I wish I could go to sleep and arise to a new day, or reset the hands of time. I am so confused but thankful, Jeffrey, for your counsel. I will take heed and lead a transformed life of absolute repentance.
If you have turned from your sins, your fellow Christians are required to offer you forgiveness. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness is not mere words, but a release of all obligation created by a person's sins. "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). The idea of covering forgiven sins is to bury them so that they are no longer present.
As you noted, we all need the presence of loving brethren in order to properly live and grow.
But I'm a bit puzzled. In your first note you make it clear that you are not yet married, but in your second note you call her your spouse as if you are married. Which is it. If it is the former, then I can understand the congregation's response. You committed sin, you are living with a woman as if you are married, though you are not. It appears you say you are changed, but you have not yet done anything to correct the situation.
When you have demonstrated repentance, then your fellow Christians will offer full forgiveness if they are committed to following the teachings of Christ.
May be I should add that English is my second language. You are bound to find many errors.
She is my fiance, if that is an acceptable term. We do not live together, she stays with her parents. I live alone. Yes. I have turned from my sin and abhor it just as much. I regret my selfish carnal choices and will not walk in them anymore.
Indeed there is evidence of my sin, the soon coming baby. Since we were already planning to get married, my prayer is that we are able to get wed before the child comes forth. The process is longer here because we have two bigger wedding ceremonies that culminate in a church wedding, which is the third and final step. The shame the pregnancy has brought to the process is already stinging but we cannot abort -- neither the baby nor the preparations for the wedding.
Or would you advise otherwise? I am open to your recommendations because I am so confused now and doubt my very own decisions.
You never fix sin with sin. "And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? -- as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8). Killing an innocent child is not the way out of your hardships.
It appears you are doing the best you can, so continue that path.