A year ago, my boyfriend and I started dating, and we now have plans to get married. I love him a lot, and he has shown me that he loves me too…. We have not been physically intimate, but I have a lot of thoughts about what it will be like after we are married and do have physical relations…. I am a shameful person, and feel very guilty about it! …

My boyfriend doesn’t know about any of this, but… I know that my thoughts do not please God…. I don’t believe that we’ll ever actually get married… because God is just, and wouldn’t allow someone like me, with such bad thoughts, to have a happy marriage.

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for wanting to please God! And we know that God is pleased that you haven’t broken His laws by having sexual relations before being married. Your self-discipline is exemplary and admirable. If more couples shared your values and your concern for pleasing God, our world would have considerably fewer children who have to grow up without a father or a mother. More children would know that they are loved and wanted, and more families would have peaceful homes.

Unfortunately, we fear that well-meaning church leaders or your parents have made you believe that just thinking about marital sexual relations is wrong, and that God is so angry with you that He wants to punish you by not allowing your marriage to take place.

If, because you are a sinner, God does not allow you to be happy, then what about all the rest of us sinners? Will He punish all of us with unhappiness because of our sin? The Bible has an answer for this question. It says that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(1) Instead of God thinking up a way to punish us, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment in our place. When Christ died, He paid the penalty for all our sins, so as long as we ask God for forgiveness in Christ’s name, we will not receive the punishment that we deserve from God. This is called mercy.

You are correct that God is a God of justice. That’s why the penalty for sin had to be paid. When we accept that the penalty was paid by Christ, we no longer expect punishment from God. Sometimes our actions cause natural consequences, but these are not punishments from God. (For example, if someone has sexual relations before marriage and gets pregnant, the baby is not a punishment from God. He or she is a natural consequence of sexual relations.)

If it is sinful to think about the beautiful plan that God designed for physical unity in marriage, how do you explain the book of the Bible called the Song of Solomon? That poetical book is a graphic illustration of God’s love for His people. Read it and then ask yourself why God would plan such a book to be in the Bible if He believes that all sexual thoughts are evil.

When an engaged couple do not think seriously about their life after marriage, they are not ready to get married. They should think about their future housing, finances, relationships with families and friends, number of children they would like to have, goals and ambitions, and yes, even their future physical intimacy.

We wish you the best,

1 Ro 5:8