We're in love - why not go further?
Dear Heather, My girlfriend and I have gotten very close physically lately, even sexual a bit. It's really great. We're in love in a deeper way than I've ever been with other girls. I want to make her happy. I don't understand why people or God think this is wrong - for us to go further physically. The chastity message isn't making sense to me right now.
Thanks again for writing. I am really honored that you trust me with this information and I am praying right now that the Holy Spirit will speak to you through whatever ramblings that I write here.
I commend your love for your girlfriend and your desire to make her happy. I think it's wonderful actually - and not a bad thing at all. It's this type of pure love, I believe, that will help you do what is truly best for her, no matter how difficult it may be. A while ago, I got an email from a young woman who had sex and yet didn't feel regret. I think you both have a similar question - what happens when sexual stuff doesn't feel like it's bad? The truth is that it's meant to be very good. The bonding you're experiencing with your girlfriend by doing some sexual things is very real - it's a consequence of sexual activity. In marriage, this bonding is very positive because the two become one. Outside marriage, it eventually will turn into a negative consequence - sooner or later (usually later in the more loving, serious relationships). Here's the complete response I sent to this girl: I don't regret what I've done
Love and Sex
When it comes to loving your girlfriend, true love for her would care as much about her future (if not more) as her present. In the present, she might be happy to go further with you because you are in a truly loving relationship with her. Because your relationship is more than skin-deep, it's even more important that you value her as a whole person, not just for the moment. Even though she wants to go further with you (it's natural for both of you to want to be more bonded), it's an honorable thing for you to step back from the sexual stuff and show her how much you really care about her future. Such an act would be very difficult, I know. But, all sexual acts say more than you may think about you, sex and relationships.
Sex has its own language. It says to the other - I give myself to you entirely. It wasn't created to be a loan for as long as we date. It's meant to be a gift, which means: no taking back, forever. Because you can break up with this girl at any time, you're not committed to her for life, it's a loan. You can't GIVE all of your heart, mind and soul because, in the back of your mind, you know this may not last. As much as you love each other, there is no binding commitment that you will stay together. So, the loan is all you experience. In sexual acts outside of marriage, you must say, "I'll offer you my body, part of my mind and heart (can't give your soul without God's involvement) while we are together. Then, when we're done, you do not have any rights to my body, heart, mind or soul." To give her eternal privileges, "you'll always have my heart", is a disservice to your wife (and her husband). If you want to give her those privileges for life, marry her. Promise yourself to her entirely - then your body will be in complete union with your mind, heart and soul and you can give her everything.
If you settle for the loan, you can't really shake the loan and trade it in for the gift when you marry (even if you do end up marrying her down the line). You train yourself to treat sex in a certain way. People who view porn learn that sex is a selfish act for my pleasure alone because they're usually masturbating while viewing it and see people and the acts as objects to "get me off". Married sex will stink for these individuals because they train sex to be something so much less than it was meant to be. In a similar way, even with intense feelings of love, you are still training sex to be a loan. And, the loan says that sex isn't that big of a deal - it's not a total gift of heart, mind, body and soul. Some people start down this path with just one serious boyfriend, but then that mentality seeps in as they're just starting to date a guy, "sex isn't that big of a deal". Then they're out at a party and have too much to drink, "it's not that big of a deal!" And the spiritual, emotional and mental aspects of sex become less and less powerful down this road, they get dull. When it's time to marry, whether sex is loaned just once, with just one girl (the same girl you marry) or with many people, you don't even know how to give all of yourself. That's why women complain all the time about married sex these days - they feel like just bodies for their husband, a place "get off". The emotional, spiritual and intellectual bonding is a joke to many. It doesn't exist.
Just Fooling Around Sexually
You might be saying, "Slow down, Heather! We just want to fool around." But, it's a slippery slope when you start down the road of doing sexual stuff. One guy I know, totally committed to chastity (and his story is all-too-common), recently gave up his virginity because they were messing around and things just went too far. He was devastated, because he loves her very much and only wanted to give her the best. He likened all the messing around to waving a burning match around a cotton ball hoping it won't catch on fire. The flame of your physical love, when aroused sexually, is meant to be fulfilled. Fooling around in married life has a new name, "foreplay". Foreplay alludes to something to come. When you have foreplay with your girlfriend, what is to come? Sexual arousal is meant to be fulfilled. You start the bonding process that is meant to be completed in intercourse.
I'm not trying to say that you're crazy or bad to want to go further in this relationship of love - it's not. My fiancé and I are HIGHLY interested in going further physically than just kissing each other. We've recognized this deep attraction - to the person as a whole, not just a body - as a wonderful gift from God. However, there are no guarantees that both of us will make it down the aisle; death or a break-up could lead us to a different spouse. Until the wedding happens, we don't want our bodies to say something that our lives cannot. Since sex is the glue meant to stick us together for life, we don't want to say, "it's just for the moment" and make it less than the total gift. If we enjoy sexual stuff now, what value does it have when we get married? What makes it special then? As much as I love Michael, we are not married yet. For me to be a whole, peaceful and unified person, my body must reflect that reality. The world might think we're crazy, but we want sexual "stuff" to always end in fulfillment, as a complete statement of our total gift to each other.
This is not to say that you can't have a physical relationship with this woman you love. You can be intimate with her in ways that you are not intimate with other girls - holding her hand, kissing, holding her. A physical relationship can remain pure and not become sexual, if you both are completely on board with chastity. This means that she doesn't just respect your choice for chastity, but that she wants it for herself, too. You said that she's supportive of your commitment to chastity. She proves this to you by not encouraging you or arousing to you the point that you really want to do sexual stuff. By the way, your hand up her shirt is very sexual because I am almost certain your sexual organs are aroused as this occurs. A healthy young man should be aroused by the sight and especially touch of womens' breasts. Intentional sexual arousal should be avoided before marriage, since you can't finish what such acts start. In our book, we talk about this - avoiding the sexual arousing, but not feeling bad if pure, unintentional things stimulate you - If not sex, what can I do?
There are so many ways you can show your love for this girl. The first and most important way is to follow through on living chastity. I know it's challenging but it's all about love. You care enough about her future to do what's right in the present. You care about her husband and future kids. The bonding you encourage her to save for him will help their marriage stay together through rough times. Most people live in the moment - what feels right now! But, when the furuter arrives, living in the "now" doesn't feel right at all. Love her entirely. Love her with flowers, making her a CD, taking her to a romantic spot and reading to her from her favorite book. As you might remember from our flier "101 to Make Love Without Doing It", there are dozens of things you can do to show her love - chastity is just one of the many.
The Greatest Gift
As a girl, since you wanted the girl perspective, let me just say that the greatest gift my previous boyfriends gave me was to let me experience powerful love and sex in the most important relationship of my life. They were great guys and I learned from all of them, but their pure love for me helped me more than anything else. And, the greatest gift my fiancé gives me comes from his decisions to date with pure love. All the chaste decisions made by Michael, his previous girlfriends and my previous boyfriends allows us to share something so amazing on our honeymoon and in our marriage - a totally new and unique adventure together. Chastity isn't easy, but it's more worth it than you can imagine. And, every boyfriend or girlfriend along the way matters. Don't lose hope. It's impossible to live a chaste life without God's grace. But we've got Jesus on our side, so make sure to lean on him and seek him frequently!
I know this is a very long response, but you asked a good question and I wanted to be thorough with you. I know you're a smart guy and this is why you're so conflicted - how could something that feels so right be wrong? I have asked the same question myself and thankfully found the same answer at the end of this question, and most questions I ask of the church teachings...love. And true love is sacrificial - to give up my own wants for the time being because it's best for you. That's Jesus on the Cross. That's you living chastity out of love for your woman, and for your wife. Sometimes chastity will feel good, sometimes it won't - but it's always love!
Keep me posted on how things are going with her and if you have any more questions.