I recently met a Christian guy at my church, and we've been out many times. We seem to agree on many issues except the issue of sexual intimacy before marriage. I believe that God wants us to enjoy sex with the person we are married to; however, he believes that God created sex to be enjoyed as a part of the dating relationship because we have such a basic need for it.
He told me that he believes that the verses that discourage sex before marriage in the Bible are not applicable to today's time because people in the Bible were much younger getting married than today and therefore did not experience the challenges of being single at 33 (given the fact that they were likely married around the age of 15 and didn't live as long as we do today).
I don't understand this reasoning and can't seem to find any basis for it. It seems to me that God means what He says regardless. On the other hand, I know this guy is struggling because I am the first girl that has said no to him, and he doesn't know how to handle his sexual feelings.
He told me that he will have to get those needs met apart from me in some other way which doesn't necessarily mean another woman. Could you please offer some advice on how to show him that sex before marriage is in fact a sin no matter the age of the person and also how he can remain pure?
I think this guy might be at least in the top 10 of creative arguments to justify sexual sin, but you are right: "God means what He says regardless."
Your boyfriend makes some partially true statements: God made sex to be enjoyed. People married younger in biblical times than they do now. That's about all he got right.
Here is the critical mistake your boyfriend is making: Rather than interpreting the world through the lens of Spirit-illuminated Scripture, he is attempting to interpret Scripture through the lens of the world. He starts with the trends and fads of modern western culture and moves backwards to what God says. What he should do instead is start with God as his backdrop and from there interpret the world around him. That's the difference between the two of you, and it is a difference the size of the universe.
If one takes his cues from the shifting sand of current culture to determine what God really meant, then one is in for a dizzying rollercoaster ride of ever-changing truths.
Your boyfriend might be surprised, though, to discover that there was plenty of sexual promiscuity in biblical times, and it was the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic that was out of the norm. As Jewish scholar and author Dennis Prager said, in the ancient world, it was Judaism, and then Christianity, that first demanded that all sexuality be channeled into marriage. Prager says that "throughout the ancient world, and up to the recent past in many parts of the world, sexuality infused virtually all of society."
So no, it wasn't "easier" for people in biblical times not to satisfy their "basic" sexual needs outside of marriage. Thus the large volume of Scripture dedicated to the message of sexual purity.
Your boyfriend also makes the "culture" responsible for his problems. Got news for him: "culture" doesn't make people do anything. The culture hasn't made him delay marriage. Your boyfriend acts as if people have no choice in the matter as to when they marry and when they have sex. "It's out of my hands! The delay of marriage in our modern times and my God-given sex drive demand that I have sex before marriage! God understands this and is perfectly fine with my using you and other women to take care of my sexual needs!"
Nice try, but no. As I wrote in a recent column, the sex drive is part of the motivation God uses to get people to marriage! Yes, God completely understands the sexual drive of a 33 year old male, and God uses it — and other things — to move 33-year-old single males to pursue marriage, not make excuses about modern times and extended singleness and his "needs."
If you give in and sleep with him, you are short circuiting God's design to move this guy in the right direction. Girls who sleep with him only continue his delay, making the problem circular. His delay of marriage justifies his having sex before marriage which only causes him to delay marriage longer and on it goes.
You might also point out to him that there is this other thing that sex is for: babies. Ask what his plan would be if he became a father as a result of his satisfying his needs. Would he have the same opinion if no contraception was involved? His theory kind of falls apart without it.
His mental, theological and cultural gymnastics to pressure you into going against one of your core values is a major red flag. You need to let him know it. So what if you are entirely wrong and he is entirely right (which isn't true, but for the sake of argument)? Why wouldn't he still want to honor and respect you and your values?
God's truth is an anchor for you in the changing cultural storms that slam against every generation. Our calling as Christ-followers is to establish the kingdom of God in our hearts and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, let the unchanging truths of that kingdom guide our decisions and actions in a world that is at war with it. Be the girl that turns him down and tell him why. Using pornography and masturbation as a threat is about as gross as it gets. He's a 33-year-old teenager. Pray for him to grow up and send him packing.
P.S. I discussed this further with the folks at Boundless, and they suggested that you tell your small group leader or pastor about this man. This man is damaging members of their congregation, and they need to be aware of it so they can bring him wise counsel or boot him from the fellowship. Ted said that you are involved in this for a purpose: perhaps to help this man escape his ungodly patterns, or perhaps to help other women avoid being damaged by him and other men to be influenced by him. I think Ted has some good insight here, and I couldn't agree more.
Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.