A = Dear Anonymous, I am very glad that you have chosen to “repent…and remain sexually pure”! It seems as though you are really asking several sincere questions about a subject that could be very contentious in today’s culture. While striving to avoid the tyranny of legalism I will do my best to give you a loving answer to each of your questions from the more philosophical to the more personal:
- "Are we really responsible for others' assumptions?" Mostly. We of course cannot control with certainty the assumptions that people make regarding our lives. However, our contribution to their conclusions is more manageable than you might think. Our words and our actions should be above reproach. As Christians we no longer are to live for our own agendas, but for that of Christ our Savior. The most common argument against the church in general is that it is a place filled with hypocrites (people who say one thing and do another). Why would we want to give ammunition to that claim? We are called to be different from our culture. It should be obvious to others that we are different. (See→ 1 Peter 3:15-16; Titus 2:7-8; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:15, 22; Matthew 5:13)
- "If we are being true to God and ourselves, will our marriage not be blessed?" Mostly. Being true to God means trusting Him and following Him and there is great blessing that comes with such a lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems, storms, and crises to face. Following Christ doesn’t mean smooth sailing though life, but it does mean that you will get to the other side of the lake! You will never be alone, you will have His love, forgiveness, patience, compassion, and wisdom to draw on which is far better than any of us would do on our own. The part about being true “to ourselves” is really insignificant next to our integrity before God. Marriage is not something I would want to pursue without the active involvement of Jesus Christ! An even better question is, as we surrender our own plans to the greater task of following Christ wholeheartedly wherever He leads, is marriage to each other part of the blessing He offers us? In other words, instead of asking God to bless our plans, are we willing to allow Him to work out his plan for our blessing?
- "Is it wrong to live with the person I plan to marry for financial reasons so that we can afford to have a wedding?" Mostly. Let me re-phrase your question in a more vulgar way to make a point, and then you make the call...“Is it wrong to sacrifice my reputation and my Christian testimony to pay for my dream wedding?” While I am sure that you would not phrase it that way, nor desire for it to be true, I think that it is very likely what is happening. If I were the one meeting with you for pre-marital counseling, I would counsel you to separate until your wedding. Why? I would not want people who attend your wedding to get the idea that you are “just like everyone else” going through the religious motions but really none of what is being said here means anything to them. I would want to be able to perform your marriage ceremony with enthusiasm birthed in the knowledge that you are really serious about your convictions. I would love for your friends to ask you questions like “Why are you guys separating until your wedding?” and for you to have an opportunity to talk about what Jesus has done for you! Ultimately it is about our love for Christ and mission as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 18-20; Ephesians 5:2-4) and about who is really God in our life. It can’t be self, it can’t be our future spouse, and it can’t be money if we claim to serve Jesus. As it is written, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 5:24) But when we honor God in all that we do then we can have an amazing testimony to our friends.