Question:

To start it off: I am born half Christian, half Jewish, so my parents never really raised me on religion. We celebrate the holidays of both religion, but I never went to church.

I personally do not know what I believe, and honestly speaking, maybe I do believe in God, but I am not certain.

But over the last 24 hours I should say I have been more fearful than believing in religion. I have spent the last 24 hours reading articles and blogs about premarital sex and whether you could still be accepted into heaven. Some have terrified me by saying there is nothing you can do, you are a sinner and God will not forgive you - you are going to hell period. Some have backed that up with the Bible says nothing with premarital sex and it's all in different Testaments, and God will forgive you no matter what you've done. I even went on bogus quiz websites that had are you going to heaven or hell quizzes just to calm my nerves. I mean they all said I'd go to heaven, but I'm still fearful.

To put in more perspective, I am a college student, a virgin,  I only had one boyfriend ever and ended the relationship before anything outside of a quick kiss happened. So one would think I shouldn't worry about something that's never happened yet, right?

I know that I am totally against casual sex, and having sex just because I'm curious or I just do not want to be a virgin anymore. etc. I would never have sex with someone I didn't care for in any spiritual, emotional way-it's just not happening. I will only have sex with a man who I knew 100% with all my might I was going to be committed to forever-spiritually, emotionally, physically- marry, and bear his children with. I don't know if I, if he, or both of us will choose to be abstinent or not because I don't know what the future holds and I've never met a guy yet. If I knew there was a chance the relationship wouldn't last, there would be no way I'd do it with him- not necessarily because of abstinence reasons, but its just common sense that I should have respect for myself like that. And I respect myself entirely, and will make absolute certain he does too and loves me as much as I will him.

Again, I do not know what to believe at the moment religion-wise, but reading upon all these articles that said any kind of premarital sex-no matter how good of a person you are, how good your morals are, how you only had sex with one person alone- will still condemn you to hell. Also, all these articles with people asking questions about the premarital sex they had: they either were not both virgins, did not plan to get married, and almost all ended their relationships, but then everyone who was answering the questions all made it sound like these people wouldn't have had a chance at maintaining a committed relationship anyway, which I found to be quickly judgmental-ish. I know there are people who had sex before marriage and stayed married, so why was it they are making it sound like they know they wouldn't have married at all?

Anyway, I normally don't have anxiety. The only time I had this much anxiety was when I was getting scared about pregnancy, but I am not so nervous if that day comes anymore; plus not to mention I would need to not only have sex first, but more importantly find a boyfriend and marry him first, but this is something that has recently really scared me for two days straight. 

I don't understand religion, I don't know if I want to understand it at the moment or read people's passages from the Bible that say stuff I don't understand, but I do know that if (subconsciously?) I do believe in God, heaven, etc., I would "accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior." 

Again, I'm just not sure what I believe in. But from time to time I've been very sad about situations and before I've solved my situations or made myself happy again, I found myself trying to make a quick prayer. But the past two days I was home, I've gotten on my knees, the first time held my hands together, then today had my hands on the floor, and prayed that I do regret the things I've done, and what I may do in the future, but hope  that I would still be forgiven. This was very foreign to me too just because I don't know what I believe in, and if I even "did it right".

I have stolen, but it was things like a single fake flower off the floor of a craft store, and then money from my family, but it was usually scoops of change from the coin box, or bills from wallets because I really needed money that day and did not want to wake my mom up 6 am in the morning to ask if I could borrow money. I also told white lies, and lies like where I was (like one time my mom didn't want me to go to the beach because it looked like it was going to storm, and I went anyway because I knew it wasn't going to and that I would be fine, but still didn't tell her because I didn't want her to worry).

I still do deeply regret these things and try not to do anymore, because things like that I know had no impact of a better day that day I did it, and when I tried to pray, I asked for forgiveness of those things, but I'm afraid that if there is a God, and if I one day ask for forgiveness about those things, or when I just did, He'd either not forgive me, or just forgive certain things and not things like the possibility that I have premarital sex.

Maybe all I want to hear from a Christian is that I shouldn't be worrying myself to death like this, and I shouldn't be fearful of God because I don't think that's the point. I want to believe God loves everyone, and the things that Christians  said like he forgives all sins are true. But it terrifies me and angers me when I hear Christians say things that make me angry at the religion itself, and I don't want that to be the case in anyone's religion. All of these questions I had and the information I came across -- all of it happened so suddenly, and I am just very scared and now sad too.

I'm just on the verge of tears over things I don't know and I haven't even done yet, and it truly terrifies me. Can you please calm my nerves?


Answer:

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).

Few people like to be afraid, but fear serves a purpose. It can be a motivator, causing a person to make changes before a future problem, or to keep a person from danger. I might be afraid of failing a class, so I get busy working on that last project I really didn't want to do. I really don't want to be sick next winter, so I get an influenza shot. I'm careful with knives because I don't want to cut myself.

Fear often is the initial motivator for people to develop an interest in religion. Somewhere along the line we realize we are going to die and we are concerned about what will happen to us next. Or you might realize that your sins are ruining your life and you want to get off before the train wrecks.

But fear alone isn't enough, it doesn't give you a direction to ahead. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). If you don't know much about religion in general and Christianity in particular, then the best solution is to take some time learning. You can't accidentally of somewhat enter religion. I can't pack everything about Christ in one small note, but I'll try to focus on the moral decisions you are considering.

The laws God gives are not arbitrary. They are for the benefit of the follower because those laws keeps a person out of trouble. "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). God created the world. He knows what works and what fails. He gave mankind laws to guide them.

One of the things difficult for people to grasp is the serious nature of sin. We use a joking phrase regarding a person trying to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. It refers to something that is impossible for a person to do by themselves. The effect of sin on people is like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps -- you can't get out of it by yourself. Worse, other people can't help you either because we are all in the same mess of sin. Knowing this God entered the world He created. He lived a life as a man, but unlike the rest of us, Jesus lived without sin. Having never entered the mess created by sin, he is able to bring us out of sin. The Bible is clear that God doesn't want anyone lost in sin, so salvation is offered to everyone; yet, God also insists that no one will be saved against their will. The individual has to want to be saved. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

Like many people, you have a vague idea that if you do certain "rites" that this will make you acceptable to God. In essence it is an attempt to earn God's respect. It doesn't work because there is nothing a sinful man can do to make up for his sins. God, however, has done the hard part and He offers forgiveness of sins if a person submits to God's laws. The submission doesn't earn the forgiveness, but it allows God to justly grant forgiveness. The requirements are God's to set. Man can't make up his own terms and insist that God accept them.

Because you are earning salvation, it means that all sins are forgivable -- the big sins and the little ones. Anyone who claims a sin can't be forgiven doesn't understand the situation. Now, it is true that sins aren't forgiven, but that is simply due to a person being unwilling to submit to God's will in order to accept His gift of salvation.

We already discussed on basic requirement: faith. Faith simply means trusting in something. For instance, I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, barring the return of Jesus. Because of the trust, I am able to make plans concerning the future. Faith is critical to a Christian. Without faith everything that is asked of us becomes meaningless. That is why learning about Jesus and the teachings of the Bible is critical. You have to know something in order to believe in it. Bogus quiz sites aren't going to give you the truth -- after all, you already acknowledge that they are bogus. You have to go look at the source of truth.

Regarding premarital sex: It is a documented fact that people who have premarital sex tend to have unstable relationships and unstable marriages. (See: The State of Our Unions, The National Marriage Project, search for "cohabitation").There are exceptions because those involved put in extra work to overcome the inherent difficulties caused by premarital sex. To help understand some of the difficulties, see: Marriage's Glue. Pretending those difficulties don't exist doesn't make them less likely to happen.