What If I Don't Regret Having Sex?
Q. Recently I had sex with my boyfriend of over a year. I didn't regret anything because we are so much in love, we had talked about what would happen if anything went wrong, and we're still together. But I can't stop thinking about this: I know in God's eyes sex is meant only for marriage. Since I'm not married, does that mean I'm going to hell? Does God still consider me one of his children, even though I've had sex before marriage?
A. First things first: In God's eyes, sin is sin. Lying to your parents, being mean to your brother, cheating on a math test, they're all just as troubling to God as having sex before you're married. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV). That's a pretty long list, and while a few of those sins are sexual, most of them aren't. Liars, cheaters, gossipers and greedy people are in just as much trouble as those who sin through sex. We're all guilty of these things in some way.
But the amazing, astonishing, extraordinary thing about God is that he washes away our sins. Because of Jesus, we who follow Christ are no longer in danger of spending eternity apart from God. After Paul lists all those sins, he says, "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11, NIV). Paul is telling us that because of Jesus' sacrifice, sin no longer destroys us. We are indeed God's children and there is nothing, not a single thing, we can do to change that.
That said, I'm very concerned that you don't regret having sex with your boyfriend. I'm not saying you need to bury yourself under a blanket of guilt and shame. Even so, I do think that until you recognize the problem with having sex outside of marriage, you're going to keep doing it, not just in this relationship, but in future relationships as well.
Sex creates a powerful connection between two people. And that connection will never be completely broken, even if the relationship ends. You will always carry the memories of having sex with your boyfriend. Ten years from now, you might not remember the details, but you'll remember the emotions, the intimacy, the strength of the feelings you had. And all of that is going to mess with your relationship with your future husband. And that's very regrettable, even though you may not feel any regret.
That leads me to another important point: One of the ways sin affects us is that it sometimes causes our feelings to push us away from what God wants for us. (Jeremiah 17:9 talks about how our hearts can mislead us.) That's why, when our feelings contradict the Bible, we have to trust the Bible. We have to pray that God will bring our very real, very powerful feelings in line with his truth, so that we'll rejoice at good things and learn to hate our sin.
God's grace and forgiveness are gifts that come with no strings attached. But if we've really accepted those gifts, we respond by starting to order our lives around God. That means following God's commands and living in a way that honors the love he has given us. Because you are a child of God, you need to stop having sex with your boyfriend and be the person God wants you to be, a person of honesty, goodness, purity and self-control.
Carla is an editor of the Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan).