Question:

Hi,

I started dating someone who was not a Christian. Within the first year of the relationship, we fell into habitual fornication. (We were both virgins before this.) There would be months where we would stop and then it would start up again. It was very difficult because he was not Christian and I was, so he didn't completely understand how sinful it was. I often found myself carrying immense guilt all on my own.

A couple of months ago he got saved. It was unexpected. I felt that God had finally answered all of my prayers! We stopped having sex but fell into it again! My guilt was compounded because I was now causing someone to stumble who was new to the faith and being a terrible example.

Still, even with all of that, he has grown tremendously! He still has a ways to go in terms of learning the faith and the Word, but his mind has completely transformed. He was agnostic or atheist before.

However, I cannot escape the conviction of dating someone who isn't as strong as me in the faith. I often panic over how long it will take him to reach my level. On top of that, I cannot keep fornicating, so I have settled on possibly ending the entire thing because I know this is not within God's order at this point. I should be spiritually led and I should be at a point where I am strong enough to withstand the temptation. I am nothing but a hypocrite and I am struggling with guilt and with the decision of breaking up versus trying to be more patient with his growth (salvation is really an individual thing) and cutting off all avenues of sexual immorality. I just don't know if parting ways (at least temporarily) would be the best way to go about this.

To be honest I need to work on myself before I can even think about helping him increase his faith and intimacy with God. If anything, this relationship has become my idol as I chose the relationship and this man over God every time I decided to have sex with him -- that's the plain truth and I cannot be in denial about that. I don't believe that God will honor anything that I am putting above Him in my heart.

I may have answered my own question in the midst of all of this but your insight would be appreciated.

I am not sure if this is worth mentioning, but on top of attending church every Sunday, he now goes an extra day per week on his own and without me for his own growth. Also prayer and reading about God have become regular things in his life. Aside from this, he has every single thing on my list for someone I would like to marry -- I wrote this list as a senior in high school. We have spoken very detailed about marriage and have been saving up for the past six months. However, in order to buy a home we need to wait another year or two to save up and pay for the wedding. I'm devastated by the thought of leaving, but I know at least some time apart might be best to get the focus back on the Lord and grow individually. Part of me would like to stay and work it out though.


Answer:

I'm shaking my head in wonder at the situations people put themselves into -- too often due to their pride. I'm going to say some things that you won't enjoy hearing, but if this situation is to get straightened out, then you need to see what you are doing to yourself accurately.

While you see yourself and your boyfriend as Christians, you have let sin dominate your lives. It doesn't sound like you realize the seriousness of sin. "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). You and he are committing fornication -- having sex without being married. As a result, if this sin continues, neither of you are going to make it to heaven. You used the right word when you referred to yourself as a hypocrite. A hypocrite refers to someone who is putting on an act. In this case both you and your boyfriend are acting like Christians while living a life contrary to the teachings of Christ.

It disturbs me that you see yourself as superior to your boyfriend simply because you have been calling yourself a Christian longer than he. It reminds me of Paul's warnings to the Jews who saw themselves as superior to the Gentiles. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:1-4).

The problem is that you are both sinning and you both need to get out of 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). All sins, including yours, can be forgiven, but you first have to leave it.

A part of the problem is that you placed artificial obstacles in the way of doing what is right. You put off marriage because you want to buy a house before you get married. You delay your wedding because you want to spend a huge amount of money on the event. Neither of these are requirements of God. You imposed them on yourself because of your pride. There is no reason you and he can't go down to the county courthouse and get married. You both are living somewhere. There is no reason one of you can't move in with the other once you are married -- or if you are both at home, you can rent a small apartment while you are saving for a home. Stop making your personal objectives reasons to sin against God.

Because you leave the wedding time open-ended, you put additional pressure on your self-control. Most people can hold out doing the right thing if they know there is an endpoint that isn't too far off. But when you leave a vague point that is a long way off, the temptation is to give in to sex now.

Paul said, "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). Yet, your inclination is to dump him because you have no self-restraint. If this were a matter of having sex with a man who would be a horrible husband, my answer would be different. But you clearly state that you want to marry this man. Breaking up with him, temporary or not, isn't going to lead to a marriage with him. It is time for you to grow up and stop running from problems; or ignoring them, hoping they will go away; and instead work on overcoming them.