As I speak around the country and talk to young people, one thing that really disturbs me is the cavalier attitude so many Christians have about living together before marriage. And I think of a few young men that I know in various geographical areas right now who are in this type of relationship.
Today I’d like to write an open letter to these young Christian guys–guys who may be involved in relationships that are heading down the wrong path. It is not that I think the girls have no part to play in the destructive relationship that they’ve developed, or that the girls shouldn’t make better choices. I’ve written to girls many times before about not sleeping together before they’re married, too. I would simply like to say something to the guys, because in several specific cases I’m thinking about, the guys are the stronger Christians, yet they’re still choosing to cohabitate. And here is what I’d like to say:
You guys know God.
I know that the church hasn’t always been kind and accepting of you the way you would want, and I know that people like me, who seem to have it all together, are part of the problem. I’m sorry for that.
I also know that you really love your girlfriends.
You’ve been searching for love, and you think you’ve found it. You’re with someone who makes you feel alive. You’re with someone who looks up to you, and that’s special, because you’ve often felt like everyone else wanted you to get your life together, but you’ve never really been able to do that.
I don’t doubt your love. I don’t doubt your sincerity.
But love is not only feelings.
And if you REALLY loved your girlfriend, then perhaps you’d consider these things:
She’s still young. She desperately, desperately yearns to be loved, probably even more than you do. Girls are like that, you know. They dream of their weddings. They dream of their Prince Charmings. And you come along and you make her feel loved.
But do you know what girls need even more?
They want to feel safe.
It is a scary world out there for a girl. And most girls will never really grow emotionally, and will never really mature, until they do feel safe. When they’re safe, they can look seriously at their options and decide what to do with their careers, or with kids, or with where they want to live. But when they’re not entirely safe, their emotional energy is spent trying to get safe.
And for them, you seem like the safest option.
But are you?
Safety means that you’re cherished. That you know that you’re loved for a lifetime. That you’re loved for who you are, not just for what you can give someone.
You may have given her those words, and she may have eaten them up.
But have you given her your actions?
If you truly love her, you will love her like a man does. And what does a man do? A man accepts responsibility. A man makes commitments. A man exercises self-control.
To me, that means that if you truly love her, you should be ready to commit to her. Marry the girl, for pity’s sake! And if you’re not in a position to marry her, then don’t say, “well, we can’t get married now, but that’s not our fault. So we’re married in our hearts, and we can act like we’re married anyway.”
No, you can’t. You’re taking the short cut. What kind of a man takes a short cut? If you’re not ready to get married right now, then you’re not married. Instead of just moving in with her and sleeping with her and treating her as if you’re married without actually promising her anything THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS (and not just your words), why don’t you put your energy into making yourself ready for marriage? Look for a good job. Upgrade your education. Work your hardest to be able to support her. That’s what she needs–safety. She needs to feel as if she has a safety net. Right now she’s clinging to you, because you’re living with her and you’re promising everything. But you’re not acting on those promises.
If you’re not married, then make yourself ready to get married.
And a man exercises self-control, too. I know it’s hard to wait for marriage to have sex, and I know you likely feel there’s no point now, since you’ve already slept with her anyway. But here’s what you’ve told her through your actions:
I like being with you, and I like sleeping with you.
That’s really it. How have you shown her that you love her? Moving in with her simply shows her that you like being with her, and that you enjoy sleeping with her on a regular basis, and you’d like to make that more convenient. So once again, you’re showing her that you love her for what she can do for you, not just for her.
If you really loved her, you would move out. You would stop sleeping with her and show her that you love her just for her. So many girls are broken inside because of what has been done to them in the past. Their fathers have walked out. They haven’t had stable childhoods. They haven’t had unconditional love. And so they’ll grasp at anything that looks like love. If you really love her, demonstrate real love.
Stop sleeping with her and get yourself ready to support her.
Because if you love her, and you want to be with her forever, then you should also want to get that relationship off on the right foot. And if you live with her first, you’re 70% more likely to divorce after you marry. Get yourself sorted out first, and the relationship is far more likely to succeed.
I know you feel all kinds of things for her. But please, step outside of yourself for a moment and ask yourself this,
“what is best for her?”
If you really love her, you’ll be honest. And you know that what is best for her is if she is in a stable relationship with someone who can show that he loves her unconditionally and is prepared to look after her. With the way you are acting right now, you are really showing the exact opposite, no matter what she may say.
She’s afraid of losing you. You’re afraid of losing her. You want to feel close and cement the relationship, which is why you chose to sleep together in the first place. But you’re not assuaging any fears; you’re just clinging to the relationship without building it up.
Can you imagine what a transformational thing it would be in her life if you were to say to her,
“I love you so much. In fact, I love you so much that I am going to treat you like a lady. I’m going to get myself ready to support you. I’m going to aim to commit to you for life. I’m going to not demand that you fulfill my sexual needs, but I’m going to wait for that until we’re both more mature and ready to handle it.”
She may not take that well, because she’s likely afraid, at heart, that if she stops sleeping with you she’ll lose the hold she has over you. And she probably enjoys sleeping with you, too! But honestly, if you keep with her over the next few months, spending time with her, talking with her, showing her that you’re interested in HER and not just her body, you’ll see a change in her. She’ll become more confident. She’ll become less self-destructive. She’ll become a better person. Isn’t that what you want for her?
There is a reason God tells us to wait for marriage. God wants the best for us, and God wants us to experience real love, not conditional love.
You want this relationship to work? You love her?
Then step up to the plate and love her like a man.
UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that I missed a huge point: how about REPENT BEFORE GOD? So true. The reason I left it out is because that’s ALL many of these guys have heard: what you’re doing is wrong, and you need to turn away from it because it’s sin. I completely agree, but that message hasn’t touched their hearts. So I’m trying this one instead. But I still should have mentioned it, because it absolutely is true!