I’ve always believed in God and that He’s our Lord and Savior and pray at night, but I just roll through life not thinking about it all. Recently we had a ministry attend our church and have a conference about what’s happening in the world and how it’s getting very close to the Lord’s return. I had many questions and talked to one of the leaders about being scared of Christ’s return, and she asked if there is something blocking me from a true relationship with Christ. She mentioned living with my boyfriend. I never thought about how big of a sin it really was until I started researching it. And it says the person that commits the same sin knowing over and over with knowing will burn. I’ve always thought as long as you believed that God died to save us of our sins and rose again that you would forever be saved.
My boyfriend and I have been together for a couple of years, and we have a property we care for together. He’s been thinking about marriage and looking at rings but said he hasn’t found the right one yet. He also asked what all our family is going to think if I move back home and what would we tell them? I’m stuck on what to do. I know we’re going to get married someday but could it be too late, and what if one of us dies or the Lord returns?
This is tough and I’m glad you’re taking the time to dig. I hope you’re digging into Scripture—we’re all called to that. I see the Holy Spirit’s fingerprint in your life and that’s very encouraging.
You’re asking such important questions and in this short time I can’t go as in-depth as I would if we were face to face in a discipleship setting, but I’ll do my best to be honest, kind and clear and convey well the message I believe Jesus gives. As Randy says, “the greatest kindness we can offer each other is the truth. Our job is not just to help each other feel good but to help each other be good.”
It sounds like you are aware that living together without a covenant marriage commitment goes against what God tells us is His will for us and you are concerned about the consequences of continuing to live together. Randy writes in The Purity Principle, “The roads of life are sometimes hazardous. But God loves us enough to place warning signs: ‘Don’t commit adultery’ and ‘No sex before marriage.’ We don’t have to obey. We do have to live with the consequences.”
What you may not be aware of is why marriage is so important. Ephesians 5 beautifully lays out the kind of life a Jesus-follower exhibits. I hope you will invest the time to read and ponder the whole chapter. The final verse, 32, says the union of a man and wife is a profound mystery about Christ and the church. There’s something about our covenant relationship to one another in marriage that displays and reflects God’s union with us!
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we are offered a choice. We can choose the gift God offers us (in this case, marriage), or we can choose something like the gift but on our own terms (living together unmarried until we feel like getting married or like splitting up) or we can refuse the gift entirely (not caring what God thinks and living for ourselves always and entirely). The second two options have the same ultimate consequences though they initially play out differently.
The heart of the matter is your heart. When you say that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, are those titles you hear Him referred to at church or do they mean the same thing to you as they do to Him? Paul, in Romans 12:1 wrote, “I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
If He is not the one you live to please and show that desire by your actions, then He is not your Lord. He is merely a bit player in your life, and that is not what He was born human, died, and was resurrected to be. Jesus said, in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
It's all or nothing with Jesus. That’s why choosing anything other than following Him wholeheartedly leads to death. And why choosing to follow Him wholeheartedly leads to abundant life—and not just sometime after you die!
A true Jesus-follower wants to be like Him. So let’s look for a moment at how He interacted with two women whose sexual lifestyles remained outside God’s stated will. The first is someone we call “The Woman at the Well.” That story is found in John chapter 4 verses 4-41. Jesus knew this woman was living with a man who was not her husband, yet she was the first person He openly shared His role as Messiah with! He did not condemn her to Hell; He offered her “living water.” She then had a choice to make. Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Would she take that offer?
She chose Jesus. That she couldn’t wait to share His gift shows her complete change of heart. A woman too ashamed to be seen with the other women at the well at the usual, and much cooler time of day, ran back to town and told everyone about the Messiah.
John 8:2-11 tells of the second interaction Jesus had with a woman who had chosen sexual sin over godly obedience. I love this story because Jesus never told her that what she’d done was okay. It wasn’t. But after all the hypocritical Pharisees left without throwing a stone at her, Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord,” she answered.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
But here’s the most important piece to this story: those were not Jesus’s final words. He ended with, “Now go and sin no more.”
Romans 8:1 says that there is now no condemnation for those who are one with Jesus. Any believer who repents of their sin (someone living a lifestyle of sin turns completely away from it and moves toward following Jesus wholeheartedly instead) has no fear of God’s anger. We tend to think that it’s God who sends us to Hell if we do something wrong when actually we choose Hell by rejecting what Jesus did to bring us back into relationship with Him.
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we see the story of how Adam and Eve chose to live life their own way instead of God’s way. God had been very clear with them about the consequences of that choice before they made it, so the consequences (spiritual separation from God and physical death) were the result of their choice, not God’s punishment.
So, back to the two issues you’re most concerned about. You know that God’s best for you does not include living together outside of marriage. In James 4:17, God tells us, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
You know the right thing to do. Now you have a choice to make. Obey? Delay obedience (which is the same as disobedience, it just feels better)? Disobey? You’re concerned that by not obeying you are destined for Hell. You’re concerned that by obeying, others might think certain things about you and there would be much inconvenience. Put those consequences side by side…which weighs more heavily? Obedience and its temporary consequences? Or disobedience and its eternal consequences?
Let me be clear here. Everyone, Christians included, sins. What I’m talking about here are the consequences of choosing a sinful lifestyle. Since the Bible says the “fruit” of our life shows who we’re rooted in and trusting in, choosing to continue in a lifestyle of sin means Jesus is not your Lord, you are, and you have zero capability to earn your way to Heaven. What’s the alternative? There are only two eternal destinations. And simply saying some words when you were younger does not make you a Jesus follower. Jesus only invites those who have forsaken their own way of life to join Him in Heaven.
I know these are tough decisions and I’m not trying to give you advice, but I do have a suggestion. If you and your boyfriend are truly committed to following Jesus, head for the courthouse or ask your pastor to marry you now. Today. (Remember what I said about delayed obedience?) You can get a ring later. You can have a beautiful ceremony with your friends and family around you later. But can you think of any eternally significant reason to be obedient later?
Randy wrote an article that tells about a couple in a similar situation to yours that you might find encouraging. I pray that you will “know the truth and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32) even if living that truth means making some hard choices. In the long run, making the right choice will always be in your best interest and will open up the doors for God to bless you. And I pray that you do and that He will.
Doreen helps Randy with editing and answering reader questions. She is a certified biblical counselor and also serves other local and national organizations as editor, writer and support staff.