Staying Pure in Engagement
Someone recently asked, Now that we’re engaged, it’s increasingly hard to stay pure. I mean, we’ll be married soon, right? I know it’s wrong, but it doesn’t seem as big a deal now that it’s just a matter of weeks or months. Can you help us think about this the right way?
We’ve been there. The temptation is real and it only grows. You can’t take this lightly. God designed us to have desires that draw us toward marriage. A romantic relationship grows closer and closer until you can hardly stand not to consummate it. Of course you are thinking, ‘Well, what difference does it make? We’re going to be married soon anyway.’ It does make a difference, though. It matters big time. Here’s why.
Recently Melanie asked the moms in a private group on Facebook what they wish they had known about marriage before they were married. She was shocked to see how many women said they wish they’d understood how indulging in sex before marriage, even with the man they would marry, would affect their lives together after marriage. They spoke about how hard it was to trust their husbands. They talked about how the guilt persisted and came between them.
Gentlemen, when it comes to love, your actions speak more loudly than your words. If you decide to go ahead and have sex before marriage, you are in effect saying to her, “I care more about myself than I do you. I care more about satisfying this physical urge than about protecting your conscience and your reputation. I care more about satisfying my lust than I care about our baby being born without clearly being conceived in marriage.” In essence, you are saying, “I do not love you,” because love puts someone else’s needs ahead of your own. That’s not a good message to send to someone you want to marry.
This sin undermines your role in marriage, too, guys. God made you to be the head of your home and the protector of your wife and family, especially spiritually. Having sex before marriage says, ‘As your spiritual leader, I will lead you into sin if I want to sin.’ My friend, that destroys your leadership and her trust in you to be her protector. That can damage your marriage for years.
Ladies, it can be tempting to think that we can trade virtue for security. Sometimes women think that if they have a sexual relationship with a guy, it will tie him to them. Yet if he doesn’t have to wait or commit to have sex with you, what guarantee do you have that he’ll take that formal step? “I’ll respect you in the morning,” is the oldest line in the book. Instead of bonding a husband and wife in a pure and exclusive shared experience, pre-marital sex places a pall of guilt over what should be a relationship full of joy.
There comes a time to be as iron sharpens iron. We are to challenge one another to good works in every friendship, but it’s especially important in marriage. Now is the time to encourage each other to do right, not give in to desire when in just a few weeks or months, those desires can be satisfied rightly.
You both need to embrace it as your personal responsibility. You have to make a commitment here. Are you really a Christian? Do you really love this person? If so, if you want to please God, if you love your mate-to-be, if you want what’s best for them, then you need to set some rules for yourself to make sure you stay out of temptation. You need to make sure you handle this time in a godly and honorable way.
And if you just can’t – if the temptation is becoming too much to handle – Paul gave a very simple instruction: It is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:9) It is better to move up the wedding date, than to let down God’s standard.
Let’s just strip off the enemy’s deceit and highlight the real issue. If the only thing keeping you holy is the fear of getting caught by getting pregnant, then of course you’re wondering, “Why not?” now that any baby conceived would be born after the wedding. If the goal, though, is to obey God, then He is pretty clear.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man… Matthew 19:19-20
Don’t start your marriage by defiling one another! Instead, practice the fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Now, there’s a good way to start out a life together!
You might enjoy reading our book on marriage. It’s called My Beloved and My Friend: How to be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. Read more here. It’s available in audiobook, too, which might be easier in this busy time of life!
Hal & Melanie