Question:

Dear minister,

I just want to thank those involved in this work at the La Vista congregation. I am a new Christian and am relieved to be able to find many answers through your web site.

I do, however, come to you with a heavy heart right now. I have some sexual immorality in my life, and I would just like to ask for some prayers first of all and some advice. I know in order to receive forgiveness for our sins we must first confess them, repent, and ask forgiveness for these. What I am ashamed to admit, however, is that getting to the point of repentance has been a strange venture. I know what I have done, and I know that God just wants obedience from us. I feel guilty that I made God a promise to obey Him when I was baptized. I have really been going strong with this whole thing until now, well, as long as someone can go strong.

The young man I am in a relationship with is also the young man who has brought me to the church as well. I know sin is sin, but this is something that is not just affecting me, it is affecting his soul as well. I know it seems ridiculous that now after several pitfalls of the same repeated mistake, but I want to do what is right. So my issue is, as embarrassing as it is to admit. I want to turn away and please God, but when I've asked God for forgiveness over and over and committed the same sin I feel like every prayer was just a slap in God's face. I definitely feel guilty and ashamed of myself. I made God a promise, and I have let myself get caught up in the same mistake repeatedly. Sin is fun though and I feel very trapped by my own desires here.

I know this may sound strange but how do I bring myself to repentance? I keep saying I'm going to stop and let it happen again and again. How do I seek forgiveness and walk in righteousness again after I have failed over and over again? Any recommended reads you would consider as well so that I may be restored and encouraged to live a more God centered lifestyle?

Please pray for me and guide me in the right direction. I thank God for this work.


Answer:

You walked all around the problem without actually coming out and saying what you are struggling with. What l gathered, and might incorrectly assume, is that you have been having sex with the young man who lead you to the church you attend. Despite intentions of changing, you end up repeating the same sins.

It is correct to be upset about sinning, but it should not be because you promised God not to sin. God requires people not to sin, so promising what you are already are required to do is meaningless. So let's just put that aspect of the problem aside.

There are two people involved here. I can tell you want you need to do, but if the young man isn't willing to change, then you are going to find yourself constantly seduced despite your best intentions. Therefore, after reading this note, you need to go over it with your boyfriend. If you both are determined to make this work, then you probably will succeed.

Many young people are focused on not committing fornication. But fornication isn't the only sexual sin mentioned in the Bible. You tell yourself you are all right, well perhaps a little bit wrong, but "Hey! I haven't had intercourse, so I can't be all that bad!" Over time you keep giving yourself permission to more sexual things, and while you know that these things aren't quite right, you tell yourself that at least you haven't gone all the way.

The problem is restraint. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, "I didn't mean for it to go this far," or "I don't know what happened," or "It was an accident." Such aren't lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn't have a healthy respect for the strength of his sexual instinct. I'm gathering this is what happened with you and now that it has happened you excuse it when it happens again.

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 him!" Solomon's point is that your feelings toward your boyfriend 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 stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when thing go further than you wanted. You probably have noticed that your behavior with your boyfriend is getting progressively worse.

That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. "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). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can't be legitimately completed.

For example, you've been sexually lusting after your boyfriend. Because of your behavior, I know you frequently think about having sex with him. I would not be surprised that you've dreamed about it and at times wonder when you can get away with it again. What is being forgotten is that lust is a sin. It isn't the same as actually committing fornication, but it is no less of a sin than fornication. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Desiring to sin to the point of justifying it in your mind is just as bad actually doing it.

Rules, then, are needed so that you don't go down a sinful path. No touching each other's private areas. No stroking skin to get you or him sexually aroused. No taking off clothing or putting your hands under clothing. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. "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).

With that comes not talking dirty or showing nude or semi-nude pictures to each other. "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). You don't stay pure by sexually arousing the other person.

One of the problems is that once sex enters into a relationship, it dominates it. I suspect you are already getting to the point that you two get together as often as you can to make out. You rarely just spend time together talking or doing things together (at least not things which involve sexual feelings).

Thus, the very first step is for both of you to lay down rules for yourselves that both of you are not going to violate. You don't go with to his house or he to your house when no one else is there. You don't go into each others bedrooms or into areas where you two are alone or at least know that someone can walk in on you at any moment. Basically, make it difficult for you to sin while you work at keeping your thoughts and behavior under control.

I don't know if you are serious about this young man, or he you, that the possibility of marriage in the near future has been discussed. I don't want you marrying someone just because you've sinned with him, but if it is your intention to get married and you find waiting for marriage agonizingly too long because of your desire to have sex, then the solution is not to wait for marriage. "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).