So you trust that God has a plan for your life and seek to honor him with it as much as you reasonably can, right? You may read your bible a few times a week, you know what the church says about sex before marriage so you figure you should probably wait, if your able. But as your getting older and involved in more serious relationships, you may find yourself wondering what the big deal really is. Your other christian friends are likely having sex with their boyfriends, and it doesn’t seem to be seriously impacting anything. Jesus did die to forgive sins right?
So now it’s your turn. There’s this guy. He’s hot. You may be in love with him. You intend to marry but you have to finish school, get your money in order and move out of your parents house. You know you love each other enough to be married tomorrow, but the pressures of the culture won’t allow it just yet so you begin to wonder…
Since you know your going to get married what difference would it really make if you started showing your love like you were married now? You feel married! You may even be planning the wedding! And you’ve never actually read a bible verse that says the church adage of “don’t have sex before you’re married” so maybe it’s not even a real expectation. Maybe the pastors, leaders, and “purity” speakers just don’t understand. This is real life and now you get why your friends weren’t waiting, so maybe God will too.
Fast-forward a few weeks and your having sex. You are sure it’s not a problem because you will be married sooner or late, and there will be forgiveness. Jesus promises to forgive everything we confess. Why not plan on confessing later. Or maybe there’s no confession even required?
By the time I’d met Clint, the man who would be my husband, I had lived a life far outside the Lord’s will for years. The photo on the left is a picture of me at the height of my wild and destructive life. I’d had a string of multiple dysfunctional (and sometimes abusive) relationships with boyfriends in high school and college and the question about waiting had been answered with a resounding “no” years ago. I’d felt the brokenness of heartbreak after heartbreak and seen the disgusting mess that always resulted from my efforts to do it “right” on my own. This, combined with watching the nasty divorce of my parents as I had entered my teen years, motivated me to find a change. I had had enough.
I had recently recommitted my life to the Lord when we met and I went into this new relationship cautious not to be lead by my emotional “heart”, eager for something different then I’d experienced before. By the grace of the Lord I had the wisdom to seek out and soak up all I could learn about having a godly relationship and eventual marriage. Clint had also lived outside the Lord’s will and was motivated to do it right this time (which was an incredible and gracious gift from the Lord). We had come to realize that God’s will and word was relevant, necessary, and life giving and we decided we would honor him and wait until marriage to have sex.
We dated for three years which at the time felt like an eternity, as I am sure anyone who is seeking to live in purity understands. Our journey was not flawless and there were many times that we had to ask the Lord for forgiveness and reevaluate where the boundaries needed to move, but through that journey we picked up some of the greatest wisdom about purity I have ever heard. It was the light house we fixed our eyes on while navigating those waters & this is what I hope to share today.
Before I do, I must address for you, what needed addressed for me.
Did the bible actually say sex before marriage was wrong?
I had a feeling tha it must be in there somewhere but if I was going to really commit to this I needed to know for sure. I, like my friends, could not find the verse that outright said not to have sex before marriage. Hebrews 13:4 does say to keep the marriage bed pure, but I’d heard excusing friends say that that was talking about once you already were married. It also talks about sexual immorality, but again, friends would list what they deemed “immoral” and what they were doing, to them, was not.
I needed a clear word from the Lord.
Then I learned this.
Current versions of the bible use the term “sexual immorality”, in verses like 1 Cor. 6:18
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body”
But if you go to older versions, like the King James you’ll see this:
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. “
That’s a different word & Merriam Webster defines it this way:
fornicationnoun for·ni·ca·tion \ˌfȯr-nə-ˈkā-shən\: consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other — compare adultery
Yikes. Once I read that I knew there was no denying. God had a name for sex outside of marriage, it was fornication, and it was listed in the bible multiple times as sin. With that seed of doubt squashed I had no choice but to move forward in my search for ways to put this purity thing to practice.
& Now I can tell you what changed it for us.
An incredibly gifted Christian counselor spelled it out to my then boyfriend and me like this:
When a couple is dating the passion, affection, and emotions run high and are powerful. It’s the reason Christian couples will allow themselves to have sex even though they know they shouldn’t. They tell themselves that as long as they marry this person, it won’t negatively affect their marriage, because it wasn’t with another partner. They trust that they can transition easily from secretly having sex before marriage to enjoying it once they are married, and if they are willing to acknowledge any guilt they can simply ask for forgiveness, which will always be given, and move on. Therefore why wait?
Because the couple that waits gets to give a gift to each other that is infinitely more valuable then just steamy honeymoon sex. The couple that waits gets to show each other that their love for God is stronger then their love for each other.
Does this sound super unromantic and unattractive? Keep reading.
The partner who waits, who loves God more then their partner, is choosing to honor Him and His will above the immense love and passion they have for their partner. They are choosing to honor Him above their own desires and needs & are seeking his will over the will and preferences of the partner they love so much. This amazing love and commitment to God creates not only a foundation that God is happy to pour blessing out on, but a cornerstone of trust between the couple.
In 3, 10, or 30 years when the marriage is experiencing the inevitable trials that come with living on earth, when the passion that overwhelmed them is looking more like complacency or even resentment, when the spouses don’t feel motivated to do or not do something by their feelings for the other, they have an even greater commitment to God that still leads and guides them. The marriage and each partner has one less thing to worry about. They don’t have to fear that the other may stray.
Yes that’s a hefty thought.
These spouses have seen first hand, not only in words, but in action, that their spouse loves the Lord so much that they would deny themselves, and their partner, the physical satisfaction they desire in each other in order to glorify Him. In this most personal and intimate way, they have proven their faithfulness to The One who is greater then each of them. The passion they felt for each other did not move them to sin the first time and so they can more easily trust that a new passion will not pull them away when times are hard.
This means the wife doesn’t need to fear losing her husband when she can’t drop the baby weight because he’s already proven that her body isn’t an idol he worships. It means the husband doesn’t have to fear that if he loses his job and is unable to provide financially the way he wants that she’ll look elsewhere, because no matter how she may feel about him in the moment, her love for her God wouldn’t ever allow it.
In a world that is constantly trying to seduce and distract us from biblical marriage, this couple doesn’t have to deal with the insecurity that things might “just happen” with another like they did when they were dating because it didn’t “just happen” even then. They had each used self control (a gift from the Lord) to honor him in this most pivotal time in their lives and relationship and would now reap the benefit for the rest of their marriage, and the rest of their lives.
I am not in anyway saying that this task is an easy one, nor was my counselor, but as my then boyfriend and I both prayed over and reflected on this wisdom we both felt the conviction that it was truth and decided that decades of trust and peace were worth so much more then a few years of physical pleasure. By the grace of our Lord who provided this, and so much more great teaching on purity, my husband and I, broken sinners, were able to receive this blessing from the Lord and wait until our wedding night. I am so thankful to say that the confidence and peace we were hoping for, even in only these first 5 years of marriage, has proven true and is one of, if not the, greatest blessings within our marriage.
The fight was hard and the Lord did a lot more speaking and leading in the following years, but the greatest thing about that is how reliable he is to show up and help. He is faithful and good and desires only our best. His grace is sufficient to carry us in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9) and he loves those who love him and those who seek him always find him (Prov 8:17). Even we, weak sinners, can accomplish what others would say was impossible with the Lord’s help.
Will you accept his help as you seek his full blessing and submit in obedience to his Lordship over your life and your relationships? There is only beauty to be had- true and lasting, out of this world, beauty. No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, it is never too late and it is always worth the effort. I hope to write more in the future on the practical wisdom we received that helped us in the day to day, the answers we found to the many questions that come up in this time of waiting, but for now, with the truth of God’s word and the wisdom he shared with us, I believe you have all you need to start and finish this journey in a way that pleases your heavenly father and allows him to rain blessings upon blessings upon your life, relationship, future marriage, and eternity. Be encouraged! It’s possible! & It’s beautiful!
In Christ’s Love,
For the hearts of those reading that have already made a different choice…
For those of you who are dating and are reading this at a point that feels a little too late, please let me encourage you that it is never too late. It is never too late to make the right choice. It is never too late to receive the Lord’s blessing and healing and I encourage you to follow any conviction the Lord is putting on your heart. His timing is beautiful and perfect, his leadership is trustworthy and his blood is redeeming.
& To any married readers who didn’t have the same experiences as the one described here, please hear me when I say I am not in anyway trying to say that your marriage is in danger and I don’t have any intentions to shame or hurt you. Blessings on your marriage and your spouse and your love. I am in no way advocating that sex before marriage equals infidelity in the future, I am only seeking to share a perspective that clarified for me one of the many blessings of following the Lord’s will as described in the scripture. I would also encourage you that if these words brought any pain or discomfort up in your heart that you also bring it to the Lord, for his timing for you is beautiful and perfect, his leadership is trustworthy and his blood is redeeming.
Also, If anyone is interested in getting more information on my amazing counselor please see her Facebook page. The practice is called New Mercies Counseling. She is based out of Somerset, NJ but does Skype & Facetime sessions for those outside of driving distance.