Question:

I am up to my limit and have nowhere else to go for advice. I hope you can help me understand what is right thing for me to do.

My family and I started going to a church less than five years ago. I met my boyfriend while I was there. We began dating and fell into fornication. He was a deacon at the time. He stopped for a while but then continued after we both repented. But once again we failed after that and continued committing fornication. I decided to put a stop to it three months before I was baptized. I was fully committed and decided that I was going to serve God with all my heart. Everything was going perfect but then we slipped again. But this time the guilt is horrible ! Its indescribable. My boyfriend stopped being deacon at our church and speculation as to why started to come up. His parent and mine have had their doubts about us having sex although we denied it before I got baptized. Now I don't know what to do. Our congregation is very judgmental. They will forever put us down as dirt if we confess to them; however, I feel guilt every time the pastor, my boyfriend's dad, preaches about it. They give us the cold shoulder as if already knowing. What should we do to be truly forgiven by God? We have already asked for forgiveness and will never sin again!


Answer:

There are two problems being presented in your note. The fornication is one you are aware of, the other though is that you are attending a church that doesn't follow the Bible accurately. You see, you mentioned that your boyfriend has been a deacon in this church. I assume he is unmarried and likely in his twenties. Yet, the Bible gives the qualifications for a deacon as: "Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. ... Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households" (I Timothy 3:8-10, 12). A man cannot be a deacon until he is married and has demonstrated an ability to raise his children well. Your boyfriend never was qualified to be a deacon. Of course, being involved in fornication and lying definitely makes him unqualified.

While you regret your sins, I don't get a sense of much effort going in to making it less likely for the two of you not to sin. My guess is that you are focused on not having sex and are trusting in your mutual will power not to give in. Unfortunately one or both of you do give in and once started you both have trouble stopping again.

In regards to evil, Solomon warned, "Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on" (Proverbs 4:14-15). The way to not reach a destination, is to not walk its path -- in fact, not even come close to its path.

The main 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.

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.

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.

Rules are needed so that you don't start down a sinful path. No touching each others private areas. No stroking skin to get you or him sexually aroused. 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, or getting naked with 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.

Of course, little of this is going to help if your boyfriend is trying to stir up your desires. You both have to be committed to treating each other with respect.

On last thing to consider: Instead of fighting your instincts, why don't you simply get married? "But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (I Corinthians 7:8-9).

First of thank you so much for your response. God has used you greatly because your advice was truly on the jackpot. We both have been negligent and went about our relationship with no respect. Like you say, we played with fire until we got burned.

However, we have decided to be married but don't have the means to do so. I assume that God has withheld his blessings because of our disobedience. We are both adults that have repented. He has decided to not be a deacon until we marry. Is that appropriate?

As for the church, should we confess and put to rest what they already assume? I fear that by doing so we will condemn them as well because there judgment will be with lack of love and forgiveness. They may even kick us out of the congregation.

We are taking matters into our hands and God's by avoiding seeing each other. When we do to take a chaperone with us of an appropriate age. We are also withholding from each other passionate kissing and dirty talk.

Apart from asking forgiveness from God and seeking His path is there something else we must do ?

I don't know what area of the world you are from, but there are few places where a marriage is expensive. Most people make it artificially expensive by insisting on a fancy wedding. Likely you are able to go down to the local courthouse and get married for a very small sum.

Biblically a man cannot be a deacon until you have had children and show that you are able to raise them well. Partly following God is not really following Him.

There is no requirement for sins to be confessed before the church. James does say, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16). It would be advisable for both of you to find some older Christians who can help you learn how to appropriately behave with each other. If there are people who know you have been having sex, you should talk to them and apologize so that they know that you have changed.