An Important Question

Other than the church condemning me for living with my girlfriend, is there a real 1 - ChurchBible prohibition against it? We are going to be married anyway, so what’s the problem?

Thank you for your openness, and your apparent honesty. Let me start with a story.

A man was notified that he would inherit $200,000 and the money would be in his bank account in six months. However, the man wanted to build a house immediately which would cost $150,000. Since he needed the money now and the money would be his anyway, he wrote a hot check to the builder for the full amount. He was going to get the money eventually, so what’s the problem?

It’s called breaking the law. He attempted to take the money before it was legally his, and he was arrested for it.

Back to marriage. That’s the problem here: experiencing the husband-wife intimacy prior to marriage is taking what is not rightfully yours. When men and women (at any age) indulge in sexual activity outside of marriage, they are stealing what is not theirs. It is breaking the law – GOD’s LAW.

It is also gambling on the shaky future. Supposing the expected marriage doesn’t take place? Thousands of times a year we hear the cry, “We were going to be married; but after all I gave him, he left me.”

Once that boundary (of illicit sexual activity) has been crossed, it is rarely re-established. We have often heard people complain, “But he promised that after we were married he would remain faithful to only me.” However, even if they remain physically true to each other, the underlying doubts of continued fidelity often evolve into open suspicion and conflict. “He did this with me outside marriage, I wonder if he will do this with someone else outside OUR marriage.” And often the infidelity continues.

Those who experience the intense joys of the physical union with someone other than their spouse rarely develop true loyalty or a deep-seated relationship with their spouse. Why? There is often a comparison taking place. Therefore, it is difficult to establish loyalty, faithfulness, love, devotion, and trust after you are married.

This is not only a “church” issue: it’s a physical, psychologica,l and mental issue. And yes, it is definitely a spiritual and Biblical issue.IMG_1799B

Starting with Exodus 20:14 and ending with Revelation 2:22, adultery is mentioned 45 times, fornication 44 times, whoremonger 5 times, and the Bible gives a strong admonition against it.

In the Old Testament, the adulterer was to be put to death. In the New Testament, Jesus didn’t merely condemn the adulterer; He went further: Jesus reminded us that to even look on a woman with the wrong intent was equivalent to adultery. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by everyone, and husband and wife should keep their marriage pure. God will judge as guilty those who take part in sexual sins of any kind – heterosexual, homosexual, pornographic, child molestation, and all the rest.”

The issue goes deeper than lust or co-habiting out of wedlock. It is rooted in the comparison between marriage of man and woman, and mankind worshiping God. God created marriage (Genesis 2:18-25) to be holy, special, one man to one woman. Marriage was to be a human reflection of the relationship between humanity and God, and anyone or anything that corrupts this picture is an abomination or repugnance to God. That’s why the Bible equates adultery with idolatry and pagan worship (Jeremiah 3:8-9).

Remember the nagging question that will linger in the back of the mind: “Nothing prevented him/her from having sex with me before marriage; what will prevent him from doing this with someone else after we get married?” Committing adultery, fornication or whoredom creates a fault in the relationship that is almost impossible to repair.

To honor God and protect each other, wait until you’re married.

One last comment: if you have broken God’s law in this area, God will forgive you if you truly repent, and turn from this sin. God is a gracious and loving Father Who wants you3 - Cake to have a wholesome, happy life. If you truly ask for forgiveness and marry your girlfriend, God can help you to have a strong marriage. But it will take extra effort, extra precaution, a purposed devotion and care for each other to verify your faithfulness.

Don’t live life YOUR way. Do it GOD’S way. You’ll be glad you did.

I Am A What?

It was a warm summer morning in 1985. My wife (Carol) and I were on I-40 heading west. We were on vacation and had been visiting our friends, Jim and Frieda Denton in Tulsa, OK, when we got into another disagreement. It wasn’t a bad one – no hollering, yelling, or throwing things. But it was frustrating for both of us … and amusing for the Dentons.

We were long-time personal friends with the Dentons, attended church together, and had the freedom to say anything we wanted to without worrying about feelings. Therefore, as we were getting ready to leave that morning Frieda gave us a bag of audio tapes and said in her fun-loving, playful drawl, “Here. Take these and listen to ‘em. It might do ya some good.”

New MarriedCarol and I were married on my 20th birthday: August 22, 1966. Carol says, “Marriage is made in Heaven; but it comes in a kit, and you have to put it together here on earth.”  She is correct, and with God’s help we did a lot of “putting together” in our marriage.

Oh, you want to know about the bag that Frieda gave us? It contained some of the building blocks for our happy marriage.

When Oklahoma City was about twenty-five miles behind us, Carol pulled out “Tape #1.” Believe it or not, we finished all five tapes before stopping that night (and heard them several times again during the next five years). There were periods of laughing, periods of discussion, but a LOT of: “So THAT’S why you are that way!” After nineteen years of marriage, we were finally learning to really understand each other. The topic?  Florence Littauer’s teaching on Temperaments. This was a fun-loving study about why we act the way we do.

I asked, “I am a what?!” Carol said, “You are a sanguine-choleric.” Where I was impetuous, fun-loving, and slow to finish a project, at a moment’s notice I could be stern, authoritative, and hard to get along with. Where Carol was easy-going, a good listener, and full of ideas, she could quickly become an unbending critic. These were our major points of contention, and are why Frieda gave us the tapes.

There are several systems of explaining the four temperaments. The (over-simplified) traditional Greek concept is: choleric-leader; melancholy-analytical; sanguine-sociable; phlegmatic-quiet; but there are many variations and combinations. Other researchers (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and others) have developed their own systems and use different names; but they all help us to understand why we act the way we do.

Some folk claim that this approach to understanding human nature is pseudo-psychology or part of the occult. Taken to an extreme or studied without an understanding of fallen human nature, I suppose I could agree. But we view life through the lens of Holy Scripture. Here is a brief overview:

Man is born in sin. Jesus came to redeem us. Having accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are to study the Bible and grow in the Character of Jesus Christ. Understanding that we have been forgiven, we now need to break our bad interactional habits and form new ones. This does not happen magically or by accident. It takes time and effort. It takes about 21 days to form a new habit, but about 28 days to break an old habit. But if we mess up in the process, we might just have to start the count over again.

Where was I? Oh yes, learning about temperaments. We have now been married for over 52 years, and we have most the bugs worked out in our marriage. I said MOST bugs; but if you look close enough, I’m sure you can find a few still crawling around. Carol learned that I was not lying when I gave incorrect information at times: I merely forgot some minor details and subconsciously filled in with similar details. (I still doAfter 50 Years that sometimes.) And I learned that Carol was not being a demeaning tyrant who held me over the fires of hell every time I made a mistake. She was merely interested in truth: TOTAL truth.

That summer our understanding and love for each other grew tremendously. We learned to love each other for who we were – not for who we wanted each other to become. And as we both learned to stop pressuring each other, we DID begin to please each more fully. But it’s not over yet: maturing is a life-long process and God will help us if we let Him.

Don’t give up: as you learn about your temperament – not the same as personality – there’s hope for you, too.