My boyfriend and I both want to wait until marriage to have sex. However, he recently told me that he's probably going to buy condoms soon "just to be safe." Is that OK?
I worry, dear friend, that you are deceiving yourself and being deceived. A man who says he wants to wait till marriage to have sex, but is going to buy condoms "just to be safe," is bent on sinning. He does not truly want to be pure, to save sex for marriage. He wants to have you. He is like the man who designates a driver on Saturday night before heading out to the bars. He may tell himself he's not planning to get drunk, but he knows his desires well enough, and knows the consequences of drunk driving are bad enough, that he thinks he better have a safe way home "just in case." From the start, his heart is deceiving him. Whether he admits it or not, he is planning to get drunk. So, too, an unmarried man who buys a box of condoms is planning to have illicit sex.
What are the consequences of sex that your boyfriend wants a condom to protect you (and himself) from — to stay "safe"? Condoms are designed to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and from pregnancy. In a secular worldview, those are the two great harms to be avoided in the pursuit of sexual gratification. And indeed an STI is a great harm. But the way to stay healthy and avoid a disease that is given sexually is to not have sex with men who aren't your husband. A baby, by contrast, is a wonderful thing — a miraculous new human being made in God's image. Certainly we ought not to fear the fruit of sexual union. And we should never lump it together with STIs as if a baby were some sort of disease. It is only the great trouble that derives from conceiving new life outside the stability and provision of a family that you should try to avoid, again, by saving the sexual union that makes babies (sometimes even in the presence of a condom) for marriage.
What does the Bible say about protection? If this man becomes your husband, it will be his job to protect you — protect you from harm, from hunger, from spiritual decline. But even now, Scripture is clear that if he is trusting Christ for salvation, he is called by God, as your brother in Christ, to protect you. What should your brother be protecting you from? Sexual sin.
First Thessalonians 4:3-8 says,
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
There are many things you can, and should, do "just to be safe." But first you must be clear what it is you need to be saved from. It's not ultimately STIs and certainly not babies. What you and I and all of us need to be saved from is the just wrath of God against our sin. Once you have that in view, it becomes much clearer the sorts of things that will lead to true safety. Obedience is essential (John 14:15); not just obedience of action, but even of thought (Matthew 5:27-28). Purity is necessary to see God (Matthew 5:8). This is not just theoretical; there are very practical things you can do to help you in your efforts to live a 1 Thessalonians 4 life that is pleasing to God.
There is a far better "just in case" than a box of condoms. If you want to be pure, to obey God and flee sin, the "just in case" He has given you is the church, a faithful body of believers who will walk with you in this journey to marriage. Ask your pastor or small group leader or premarital counselor to help you in your desire to stay pure. Make it hard to sin by avoiding situations that give the appearance of sin (e.g., being alone together at your apartment late at night.) Spend time together with other believers who will encourage you in godliness. Spend time together with older married couples, asking them about life as husband and wife. Seek wisdom. "Put to death, therefore, the sin that so easily entangles."
The Bible says flee temptation. Buying a box of condoms is running headlong toward it. People don't buy condoms not to use them. Once he has them, your boyfriend will be motivated to find a way to use them. And I predict you will be filled with nervous excitement knowing he has them. It's the nature of temptation. Our hearts are prone by their fallen nature to move toward sin out of curiosity. We think we can dance on the edge and not fall. Scripture tells us the opposite is true. That's why there are so many warnings to flee, to sprint away. You say you believe in purity. If that is really true, you will sprint away from this man and hold out for one who will not only honor your desire for purity, but share it and lead in purity.
This is not easy. I know! But it is necessary. First Corinthians 6:9 and Galatians 5:21 are clear: The sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. That means those who claim Christ, but who embrace sexual sin — which is any sexual activity outside of marriage — will face God's wrath for eternity. It is one thing to sin sexually, to then come under the Holy Spirit's conviction, and repent and turn away from it. It is quite another to give lip service to purity, saying you want to wait till marriage to have sex, but going ahead and buying a box of condoms "just in case." This is not planning for purity. This is planning for sex. And it is no light matter. It is enough to incur God's righteous wrath for all eternity.
This may sound dramatic, hyperbolic even, but that's because our ears have been tuned to the chorus of sexual license all around us. The only wrong thing when it comes to sex according to our culture is not doing whatever you want to do. But that is not the way of the kingdom of God; that is the ethic of the evil one and of a culture in his grip that awaits God's judgment (see Genesis 6:5; Judges 17:6, 21:25; John 8:39, 8:44; Isaiah 13:9; Revelation 6:15-17, 19:15).
Judgment is an outmoded term that revolts many. But that the idea of a day of reckoning makes people uncomfortable does not change the fact that it is coming. We've been conditioned to live in "the eternal now" — all that matters is this moment, this feeling, this urge I feel right this minute. But that's not reality. And it's hatred, not love, to pretend it is. Christ will return. And we will all give an account for every action, every thought, every word. We should urge one another to think more about the future — tomorrow and the end of time — and ask God, in humility, for the grace to obey Him in the present. Christ died to set us free from sin and freed us to obey:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:1-13).
It is in Christ, and in Him alone, that the power of sin is broken. And once broken, you are free not to sin. Romans 6:22 says, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."
I have prayed that my answer is not too late, entrusting you to the One who is able to keep you from stumbling.
Copyright 2013 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.