I have recently started dating a man that sees nothing wrong with sex before marriage; however, I was taught differently. What does the Bible say about sex before marriage? I want to believe the whole Bible is true, but he says not to take it so literally.
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Those who trust in Jesus as their Savior will want to take seriously everything written in the Bible, for every bit of it is God's Word. That would include what the Bible has to say about sexual relations apart from marriage. Already at the beginning of time the Bible makes it clear that sexual relations were meant to be a part of marriage. The book of Genesis says, "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Notice that it doesn't say, "A man and a woman will become one flesh, and then become united in marriage." It's the other way around: first marriage, then sexual relations.
The Bible calls sexual relations outside of marriage "fornication," or "sexual immorality" and it says that "God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4). In other words, engaging in sexual relations prior to marriage is a sin. Therefore, Christians, who love their Savior and want to do his will, will abstain from sexual relations until after they are married. You will not regret waiting. God's will is always for our good and our joy.
I have been dating a non-Christian for about three years. It seemed like at the beginning of our relationship he showed more interest in religion, but now he says he just went along to church because it seemed important to me. I have been praying about this quite a bit. What can I do to show him the truth about God?
I commend you for your continuing desire to serve the spiritual needs of your boyfriend. And I am also sad because he does not seem at this time to be really open to learning more about the Savior and his Word.
You ask what you can do. There are a number of things that might be recommended:
Keep the matter in your prayers, and ask that the Lord use one or more other Christians to make an impact on your friend's life in addition to you.
Keep treasuring your relationship with Jesus and his Word and do not let your friend's indifference to Christ or despising of the Bible negatively influence you. Three years of dating an unbeliever can bring powerful temptations to compromise God's truth and your faith. I believe concerns are appropriate.
Most of all, continue in a simple, loving, and kind way to testify to your friend's sinfulness and need for a Savior and then tell him what Jesus Christ has done for all of us sinners with his innocent life and death on our behalf. In short, continue to use law and gospel and trust the Holy Spirit to use that to change his heart.
Finally, be prepared to terminate your dating relationship if your spiritual life is negatively impacted. I will grieve with you over the loss of your friend, but will rejoice that you have chosen the more important thing by far.
Why is marriage a better option than living together?
Marriage, like love and procreation, is a life enhancement created by our heavenly Father. He made Eve to complete the creation of man, brought her to Adam, and joined them as husband and wife. The unconditional union of a man and a woman in marriage for as long as they both live is his design (Genesis 2:24). It has his approval and blessing (Genesis 1:27-31).
Among the blessings that our loving Father intends for married couples are companionship, sexual happiness, chastity, and children (Proverbs 18:22, Hebrews 13:4, Psalm 127:3).
In addition, he protects and cares for marriage in a variety of ways—not only by treating it as a lifelong union, but by forbidding sexual activity outside of this bond and by clarifying the role relationships of a husband and his wife.
His design for marriage is that a husband love his wife and sacrifice himself for her, motivated by the love that Christ has shown for both of them (Ephesians 5:25-28, 1 Peter 3:7). His plan also is that a wife love and respect her husband in the same way that she shows her love for Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24, also see Ephesians 5:33). If a marriage relationship is blessed with children, he intends that fathers take a leading role in bringing up their children as Christians (Ephesians 6:4).
Our present marriage laws recognize public, present consent, not cohabitation, as that which establishes marriage. This reflects what Scripture says also. Most cohabitating couples in the United States do not regard or refer to each other as husband and wife and are not legally married no matter how long they live together.
Even though our unbelieving society embraces living together outside of marriage as an acceptable lifestyle, it is still a sinful arrangement. A pastor or congregation will deal patiently with cohabitating people who are seeking spiritual guidance or if they are new Christians who are just beginning to grow in their Christian life of sanctification. This is done by firmly yet gently confronting them with their sin, comforting them with the joy of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ, and then guiding them to change their behavior to show their love for Christ.
I go to gatherings with relatives and don't talk but fight with some of them. If you are the one who often says something improper, how do you change? Or better yet, how do you apologize to the one you disagreed with?
I appreciate your attitude and agree that there is great value in serving as a peacemaker rather than as someone who contributes to unnecessary arguments. The encouragement of Romans 12:18 will never go out of style.
My frustration in trying to answer you is that I am ignorant of the kind of topics that apparently stimulate disagreements and I do not know you or the relatives at all—so I must speak only in very general terms. Here are some broad but helpful principles to keep in mind:
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (see James 1:19-20). Really listening to others is one of the most challenging things, especially if you believe the information is inaccurate or the speaker is less than loving when speaking to you. Concentrate on information that you don't already have. Nod your head to affirm that you are listening. Place your need to understand before your desire to be understood.
- Measure your words, respond softly and courteously, and make your goal to serve other people, not to impose your ideas on them (see Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:18). Bite your tongue if you find yourself tempted to say anything that may be perceived to be condescending or loveless. It is often helpful to use the other person's name and to ask for clarification—we are told that people usually respond in a calmer emotional state if they hear their own names.
- If, as you suggest, there is cause for your apologizing, do it straightforwardly and sincerely. Keep in heart and mind what God has done for you in Jesus Christ—you are a forgiven sinner and citizen of heaven. So while there is a risk (socially, emotionally) in apologizing to others, if it's the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do. Besides, you have Someone who looks out for your best interests. The Lord will take care of your own emotional needs. Ponder the practical advice given in Romans 12:14-21. Love as the Lord has loved you first.
- Talk with your pastor who knows you and with whom you can share specific examples.
My family disagrees with me about the responsibility of taking care of parents, either elderly or sick. Is there a Bible passage or any words that I can give them to help them understand? I'm tired of fighting.
There is no shortage of Bible invitations and instructions for us to care for our parents. This is properly an expression of honor and respect for them as God's representatives in our lives, so the Fourth Commandment may fittingly be used here (see Ephesians 6:1-3). There is no time limit or expiration date for honoring parents; it is a lifelong privilege and responsibility. 1 Timothy 5:4 expresses well the attitude and basis for caring for parents who took care of us when we were young. Proverbs 23:22 and 1 Timothy 5:8 may also be used to highlight duties within family units. 2 Timothy 3:2, while giving examples of bad behavior, also mentions ingratitude and disrespect of parents as noteworthy negative examples.
The way you expressed yourself, however, including your repeated reference to "fighting" with other family members on this issue, probably deserves attention. This leads me to suspect that merely citing Scripture and pointing to God's will may not resolve the issue or end the struggle that prevails in your family. I suspect there are deeper attitudes and issues that also need to be addressed among your siblings. I'd guess they already know within themselves what is basically right or good in these situations. What is more than likely missing is the strength of resolve, the love or respect, and the spiritual maturity to carry through on what the Bible says. There may also be differences of opinion on what precisely your parents need or how best their needs may be met. So I recommend your working with your pastor or another qualified counselor to sort out bigger issues and identify potential remedies.
How far is it acceptable to go, sexually, with a Christian partner? I have been dating my boyfriend several years, and though we are not officially engaged, we plan on getting married. We both believe strongly that sex should be reserved until marriage, but what about more physical acts, if done purely out of love for each other and not just for physical gratification?
Competent pastoral counsel normally requires that the person offering counsel knows personally the people being counseled. In a question like yours, this is especially true. You and your boyfriend should be speaking with your pastor. Here I can only share general information that should be of some help to you, but cannot take the place of face-to-face pastoral counseling.
Attitude is everything, as they say, and aside from your shared reliance on Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord (the highest attitude), you do yourselves a favor by pondering passages like these very seriously and discussing them very straightforwardly: Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5,6; Hebrews 13:4,5; and 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5. God has high standards for his dearly loved people, quite different from the standards of our culture.
Here are additional observations to consider:
The Bible does not explicitly answer your "How far is it acceptable to go?" kind of question largely because our culture's style of courtship was not prevalent in Bible times. Back then, the normal marriage age, parental involvement in spouse selection, more consistent mores in society, and more firm civil penalties helped to safeguard young people from inappropriate external behavior to a greater degree than the customs that prevail today. So don't expect the Bible to give you an explicit answer in so many words.
There are so many dividends to premarital chastity. These include (1) maintaining a clear conscience before God, (2) fostering a mutual respect with each other, (3) developing a stronger relationship, and (4) avoiding or minimizing potential spiritual offense to others. All of these inevitably point to being content and seeing the wisdom of less sexual activity rather than more. A Christian conscience should be actively testifying to this as well.
To maintain an appropriate level of ethical premarital activity, the following points may be useful:
- Consciously and openly discuss and express the degree of commitment/propriety.
- Communicate and maintain agreed on limits that reflect a high view of love, respect, and responsibility.
- Seek out and plan situations and company to prevent undue difficulties and temptations (Remember the "flee" word in 1 Corinthians 6:18 and 2 Timothy 2:22).
- "Foreplay" is just that, so don't do it. Recall the principle of diminishing returns.
- Upon engagement, set a realistic wedding date. Avoid what will soon be regretted.
- Do not forget the enduring gifts of grace: repentance and forgiveness, prayer and new resolve to a life of holiness, perseverance and character through trials.
- If a moral lapse occurs, repentance and forgiveness remain as divine gifts. Do not assume that marriage must follow for this reason. Do not let the sin fester for years; it will.
I recently found out my boyfriend, who is also a Christian, has been dating me and another girl at the same time. I want to talk to him about it but I don't know how to do so in a Christian manner. Is there a correct way to confront those who are sinning against us? Or should we silently forgive them and move on?
A lot depends on what he—or the two of you together—thought your relationship was and is. You seem to be thinking it was a relationship that should not have involved either of you dating others. Perhaps he did not see the relationship that way. If you had talked about this, and this was your agreement, then your boyfriend's actions most likely indicate that he does not share the same level of commitment to you that you have toward him or the same level of enjoyment with you that you had with him. And it is then your decision whether or not to stay in any kind of relationship with him.
You ask about a Christian way of speaking with him. The words of Ephesians 4:15, "speaking the truth in love," are always a good choice. Speak with him directly, straightforwardly, honestly, and communicate your thoughts, feelings, and honest reaction to what he has done. Explain why you feel the way you do. But in all this communicating, do so lovingly. That is, you are not seeking to punish or shame or hurt him.
Remaining silent is not helpful or healthy. Deal with the issue. Clarify feelings—your own and his. Give thanks that this opportunity has surfaced so that you can learn more about him as he learns more about you. And especially be honest with yourself as you are being honest with him. Treat yourself as the child of God you are in Christ. You are special in God's eyes regardless of how others may feel about you.
What should my response be as a Christian to an invitation to the marriage of an atheist niece and her lesbian partner? I have begun praying daily for her and her family, but I don't know how to respond to this invitation. Should I go? Is this the time to speak up about our belief that it is a sin or do I make an excuse? I don't want to be cruel and turn her further from God.
I am very thankful that you are including your niece and her partner in your prayers and intercessions. Continue to do so as you seek opportunities to share biblical truths and your convictions with her or them.
Whether you accept the invitation to this so-called wedding or marriage event is not the most important thing. To attend or not to attend is not something essentially right or wrong in itself. What is important is WHY you choose to attend or not attend and how you communicate with your niece and her friend your decision and its motives. You want to share your convictions, courteously inform your niece of your disapproval of her lifestyle choice and affirm your love for her as your niece and fellow human being. Let her know (if you attend the event) that you are pleased to be there to remain on communicating terms for the sake of showing love and hoping that future dialog might take place. Or say (if you choose not to attend) you appreciated being invited, wrestled with the best way to exhibit love and defend truth at the same time, and ultimately chose not to attend -- but will continue to intercede and be of help to her if future opportunities arise.
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