“Does Fornication Ruin Your Life Forever?”

I recently had a child outside of marriage. Upon being brought up inside the church with a family who have strong Christian beliefs, I found pregnancy to be the most unhappy time of my life, with family sicknesses making me more stressed.

I knew what to expect from my family, with feelings of disappointment all round, but they have grown to be supportive and love my daughter. Although they seem to have accepted the new lifestyle I will lead, I myself cannot come to terms with things.

I constantly go over my mistakes, wishing I could rewind time. I would have done so many things differently. I’ve been going out with my boyfriend for a long time but I feel we have made so many mistakes. I love my boyfriend to bits and couldn’t lose him after nearly four years of going out and don’t want to make things sound like he is a mistake. Even more so, when I say I wish this situation had never happened, I feel like I am saying that I wish my daughter wasn’t here, which isn’t true because I love her to bits too!

I can’t rid the shame I feel and felt throughout pregnancy. I read so many magazines that talked about happy expectant mothers-to-be and how to enjoy pregnancy and the blooming process. I cannot say I felt the same way. Right now I hate everything I have done and feel I have let my family down. I feel all the respect I built up over the years has amounted to nothing.

Not only that but my personal dreams have been affected. By now, I always imagined I’d have a big house, be well into my career and be married with a good Christian man. Instead everything is the total opposite and I feel I no longer have a purpose to serve or way to enjoy life. I feel I’ve ruined everything. I’d never have thought I’d have ever been in this situation. I saw it happen to friends of mine also in church previously and had deep sympathy for them. But going through it yourself is 100 times worse.

I feel alone, hopeless, depressed, and unloved. My boyfriend wants us to get married, go back to church and get our lives back on track but I don’t know how to because all I feel is constant pain and reminders of what I’ve done. After all, the baby has to be a reminder and I can’t forget her. I feel like my mistakes will affect my life forever.

I also feel a slight anger in all of this with myself, my boyfriend and certain friends. I can’t understand why I had to be made to be everyone’s gossip and selected out of all the girls in the world to be made an example of. I feel so hard done by, especially more so as I was trying ever so hard to change and that was when I was hit with the news. I still hear a couple of my friends talking of their fornication and can’t help but feel angry that they are not being frowned upon by the church as people are none the wiser of their goings on, which I know is bad for me to feel, but I am full of all kinds of emotions right now.

When will the sun shine for me? I can’t take much more of these cloudy days?!

Very unhappy.

You have touched my heart with your letter. I am so sorry for the pain you are going through, but I have such good news of comfort and HOPE for you! I have a dear friend in our church who was in your exact shoes. God is using Ellen so mightily now, and blessing her life so much, that when people make a list of who is most used by God in our church, she’s right up near the top—and that is no exaggeration. I asked her to write a response to your letter, which follows my remarks.

One thing I want to share is that a mark of maturity is the ability to distinguish between a bad choice you have repented of, and the grace of God giving us good things even as a result of that bad choice—like your precious daughter and your boyfriend. You can say that you sinned, that you made a bad choice, and still embrace the goodness of God in giving you two wonderful people who love you, and they don’t cancel out each other. That’s what grace looks like: God continues to bless us even though we don’t deserve it. He’s such a good and loving God! He is inviting you to enjoy His blessings with a smile on His face—all you have to do is decide to “turn your cup right side up” to receive the joy of those blessings.

Also, I strongly encourage you to forgive yourself. That’s really about embracing God’s forgiveness, which He has already given you if you have trusted Christ, but 1 John 1:9 says God not only forgives us, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Make a decision to “turn your cup right side up” to receive His cleansing, which will wash away the guilt and, in time, the shame you carry.

Enjoy the letter that follows from someone who is praying for you and absolutely understands you.

In His grip,

Sue Bohlin

Dear friend,

When I read your email today I could truly sense the sadness and hurt in your heart. I have prayed for you many times today already. I am deeply sorry for your heartache. But I have a message of hope for you: God loves you desperately and He is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. His arms are outstretched to you, just waiting for you to accept His love and forgiveness.

I could understand your pain because my story is similar to yours. I, too, grew up in a strong Christian home. I trusted Jesus as my Savior when I was five years old. I remember that night clearly, my Mom and Dad had shared with me in God’s word that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That included me. I was a sinner. But, God loved me so much that He provided a way for me to spend eternity in Heaven. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to be born of the virgin Mary, live a sinless life and then die on the cross for all the sins I had (and ever will) commit. Then He was raised from the dead on the third day! The Bible says in Ephesian 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, it is a gift of God, not of man, so that no man can boast.” By placing my faith in Jesus alone, not counting on anything that I could do, I could spend eternity in Heaven. If you have never made the decision to trust Jesus as your Savior, you can do that right now. It is not enough to know the information, you must receive it as your own.

I did that when I was young, but as I got older, I began to drift away from the Lord.

I, too, got pregnant outside of marriage. I, too, felt like it was unfair that all the other girls who I knew were sleeping with their boyfriends didn’t get “caught.” I felt the course of my life was altered forever. It wasn’t the way I had planned my life. But, I can tell you, I know now that it was a situation that God allowed for my life so that He could be glorified.

I say that because what I came to understand was that I was living my life according to how I thought it should go and doing whatever I wanted. I know now that getting pregnant was God’s way of shaking me by the shoulders and saying, “OK, you did it your way, but I have a better plan for your life. Follow Me now.” I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my precious daughter was a gift from God, not a punishment, to gently push my life back on track. All children are special, but I feel that she saved me from even more potential bad choices had I not become a mother when I did.

I now want to fast forward my life for you eight years. I did marry my boyfriend and we will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary next month. Our daughter is 7 1/2, and our son is 2 1/2. We are very involved in our church where we serve in the High School ministry. I have shared my testimony several times with many girls. My story, by the grace of God, has been beneficial to many people. I have girls who ask me to keep them accountable for their behavior with their boyfriends. They ask me advice, and God speaks to them through me. Not everyone knows my story, not everyone remembers how my husband and I started out, but, for some, it is a blessing. Maybe God allowed this in my life so I could share my story with you. Maybe there is another girl who you will be able to bless with your story some day.

Satan is the father of all lies and would have loved for me to think that I messed up, so why bother with church, God, or anything like that. He wants you to believe that as well. All your negative thoughts about yourself and situation come from Satan, not God.

God, on the other hand, is the Father in Heaven who loves you so much and wants to pour out blessings on you. Choose to accept His love. Choose to live in His forgiveness. He wants the absolute best for your life. His plan for your life is perfect. While it is hard to understand why He allowed this in your life, focus your attention on Him. Get to know Him. Listen to praise music and praise God. Allow Him to fill you up. Let God fill the void in your heart. After all, He is the only one who can. Although my husband is a wonderful, fun, sweet, caring man who loves the Lord, if I look to my husband to fulfill all of my needs I will be disappointed. Only God can fulfill my deepest needs and desires. He made us that way.

My story did not turn out great because I married the father of my baby, my story turned out great because I let God lead me and love me. Not all girls in our situations end up marrying their boyfriends, and they can still have a wonderful life and relationship with God.

Some women who have had sex outside of marriage end up with so much guilt that they can’t enjoy a sexual relationship when they do get married. That is not what God intends. Sex is a gift to married couples, and God meant for it to be enjoyed, guilt-free. Pray that when you do marry, you will let God take away your guilty feelings so that you can enjoy an intimate relationship with your husband as God intended. I would encourage you to abstain from sex until you do marry. You can start over.

I would also encourage you to go back to church. Hold your head up high when you walk in the door. God loves you. The creator of the universe cherishes you! He is proud to be your Heavenly Father.

While changing your thinking will not be easy, it can be done. Trust God, pray that you can believe the wonderful things about yourself that He thinks about you. Pray with your boyfriend. Thank God for your precious daughter. Thank God that he shook your shoulders, too! This can be a turning point in your life. Choose to let yourself be loved by God and His people.

I will continue to pray for you, your boyfriend, and your daughter. May the Lord bless you abundantly. If you would like to correspond further, I would be happy to.

By His Grace Alone,

Ellen




“I Need Resources for My Porn Addiction”

I need help with a problem. I need a number I can call–to a ministry that doesn’t exist–from what I have been able to research. It might also be that I am, well, a little crazy to expect a match for myself. Is there a ministry that you all are aware of for people to get, like a prayer partner, when you are basically a sex(porn)addict? I can not deny my Lord, but I can’t seem to control myself with this sin, without compounding it into a greater sin. I hope that doesn’t sound too odd. Any help would be appreciated.

I do have some suggestions for you, and bless you for asking. Praise God, there IS help!!

Online, may I suggest these sites:

My favorite is Setting Captives Free, which has a blow-your-socks-off excellent online 60-day Bible study course (that is FREE!!) called “The Way of Purity.” This Christ-centered course not only addresses the core issues that contribute to a porn addiction, but they provide online mentors for every student:
www.settingcaptivesfree.com

Every Man’s Battle has a great book, a great seminar to attend, and online support: www.everymansbattle.com

Help in Breaking Pornography Addiction:
www.porn-free.org

Also, Focus on the Family has a great site called Pure Intimacy (www.pureintimacy.org), which is divided into two sections. One for those struggling with sex addiction, and the other for those who love the strugglers.

One other resource: Neil Anderson has helped MANY men with sex addictions through his book A Way of Escape.

I pray for you, _____, that God will show you the way of escape through the glorious truth that your “old man” was crucified with Christ and the new you was raised with Him. . . and that the way out of this addiction is to stop trying harder (which I’m sure you are an expert at) and depend fully on Jesus to live HIS powerful, holy life through you. The way out of sexual addiction is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)

I do hope this helps.

In His grip,

Sue Bohlin




“How Do I Handle My Husband’s Porn Addiction?”

For the past year or so, I have been recording and watching where my husband visits hardcore porn sites. This has been extremely painful for me. What is wrong with me? He never seems interested in me, I have provided a good sexual relationship for us. He tries to hide this, I have confronted him twice, each time to be told “they aren’t real people” — YES they are! He stays up until 3 or 4 a.m. each night and views this stuff. He sleeps until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. We have a daughter who is four, I wish he would spend more time with us. I have also viewed conversations he has had with coworkers regarding women he works with. I have viewed emails he has sent to online “whores” including pics and descriptions on what he wold like to do with them. I am tired and starting to feel a little numb to all this. My doctors have told me to “learn to accept it or just leave”. This is a little more complicated than that. I have asked for counselling once — he is TOTALLY against it. I am about to give up and ask him to leave, do you think this is too excessive and that I should give him another chance? I am tired and don’t want to deal with it anymore. I hate that porn has ruined our marriage. Thank God for my closest friends and for the occassional comment from other men. Help me, please.

I am so very, very sorry that you have to deal with your husband’s addiction. PLEASE KNOW–this is not about you. There is nothing wrong with you. This is about him. You could be as gorgeous as a supermodel with the world’s most perfect body and he would still have the addiction, because it’s doing something for him that is completely separate from you.

I want to suggest some excellent resources for you to help you cope with a situation you can’t change AND to bring glory to God in the process.

Focus on the Family has a website divided into two sections: one for the strugglers, the other for the wives. www.pureintimacy.org

Porn-Free.org has a helpful essay, “Help for Christian Spouses of Sex Addicts” at www.porn-free.org/spousehelp_christian.htm

The Covenant Eyes blog has a helpful article, 7 Questions Wives of Porn Addicts Often Ask.

Recovery For Spouses article from the Sex Addiction Lifeline Foundation.

The very wise, very experienced Renee Dallas has an excellent website called “Wifeboat” with a section for wives of men with porn addiction.

There is an online support group for wives of porn addicts: www.cafemom.com/group/1872.

Henry Rogers, a dear friend of Probe, has written a wonderful book on this called The Silent War. Having researched this difficult topic thoroughly, he says the first thing wives need to know is that IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

In fact, in a chapter called “The Wounded Wife,” he reprints “Emily’s Story”:

“I write this out of love. Love for the porn addict, love for his wife, and most of all for the children. I pray this chapter is used for God’s glory and honor, that it might somehow prevent families from being destroyed.

“I remember listening to a panel of women James Dobson had on his radio program. They talked about being married for over 20 years and discovering their husbands were involved in pornography. It seemed so unfathomable to me that someone could be deceived for so long. I remember thinking how stupid those women were. Little did I realize I would be one of those women less than a month later.

“It was like a birth process. Pain, agony, sweat, tears, hours of intense hurt, and finally truth. My husband is a porn addict. I heard it. I reacted. For two weeks I was numb. Numb to after 20+ years knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what. A relief to finally know the truth. A relief to now live in reality in light and truth rather than the unreality of darkness and deception. My husband would never tell me the secrets of his past before our marriage. I always thought if I loved him enough some day he would tell me. If I loved him enough. . . .

“We always had a difficult marriage. My husband was always withdrawn and quiet. I thought I could help him. I was outgoing, attractive, and spontaneous. In our marriage I could never do anything good enough. I was constantly criticized and put down. I thought it was me so I started a self-improvement program, more counseling, more semi nars. I learned more was never enough. My world stopped, knowing something had died in me.

“My husband always seemed to be “tuned out” in another world. He worked long hours and often fell into bed at 2 a.m. I missed him. I begged him to come home. I raised the kids as he pursued his career. I told myself I needed to help him. I poured my heart and soul into his endeavor supporting and encouraging. There were still problems. When he was home he would go into his office and read his books, newspapers, and reports, and again I would cry myself to sleep. I had others confront him. I gave this man every chance to tell me about his pornography addiction. Lies weave other lies. Secrets kill. Comparisons kill. I feel every time he looked at an image and masturbated he took away a part of me that God intended to be mine. I remember seeing him masturbate and he was in his own world, set on his own pleasure, stimulated and excited by images of women he didn’t know. It was a feeling of betrayal and heart-wrenching emptiness that a woman feels when she learns that her husband is living a lie.

“Pornography tears at the very thread of a woman and her femininity. My heart was ripped and uprooted thrown somewhere into a desert with no place to find refuge. It’s as if I wasn’t enough. Not sexy enough. Not beautiful enough. Not thin enough. Not exciting enough. Women get significance from their relationships with their husbands and when he turns to another for satisfaction it cuts her deeply at the core.

“I started buying sexy nighties, acting sexier, and suddenly I realized I was bowing down to an idol. It hurt that he chose not to tell me … to not allow me to come alongside him as his helper. To this day he refuses to see the pain that he caused. It amazes me as a wife how we are involved in every other area of a man’s life his profit margin, his ability to manage, everything but when it comes to pornography, it’s hidden in deception. A man’s way seems right to a man. Porn addiction is very selfish. It takes and takes and doesn’t give back. It’s all for the user’s pleasure.

“Another lie is that porn does not hurt anyone. Such a web of deception. ‘And they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness’ (Eph. 4:19). There are consequences and the stakes get higher. It takes one lie to cover another. It saddens me how men can compartmentalize this sin. He has the little wife over here with precious children and this nasty sin over here for his private time, justifying it because he still loves his wife and children. You can’t walk simultaneously in the darkness and the light.

“I’m a wife. I’m a wife of a porn addict. I’m relieved to know what it is, though I always knew something was wrong. Tears. Pain. Disgust. Betrayal. To face the death of a husband would be better than this. A widow has the support of the church. A porn addict leaves shame and divorce. It would be easier if he were dead. We wouldn’t have to face the public humiliation and shame.

“Today is a new day. It’s early morning and I must get breakfast for my children. I take each day as it comes now. Just for today. My husband still chooses his sin and refuses to take responsibility for it. I have to let him go and let the Lord deal with him. I can no longer be his excuse, his enabler. It’s a new day and I’m moving on and my Deliverer is by my side. He is faithful. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He will never break His promise. To a woman who has been betrayed, this is my comfort. Hear my cry.”

The Lord bless you as you seek Him on this. Again, I am so sorry.

Sue Bohlin




“My Boyfriend and I Are Committed to Each Other, So Why is Sex Sinful?”

My boyfriend and I have both have been faithfully committed to each other for 4 years. He is now questioning the issue of fornication and is having a hard time in dealing with this issue. He believes that it is a sin to have sex out of marriage.

I agree, but I believe that we are committed to each other, and in God’s eyes I am committed 100%. The only difference is that we are not legally married. We do plan to marry, maybe in a few more years. We do not live together. Please help me understand why do I see it OK??

Dear ______,

I would gently take issue with your choice of words. If you and your boyfriend are not married, you may like each other and even love each other, but you are not in a committed relationship. A committed relationship is marriage. Right now all you have is strong feelings and good intentions. God’s standard for what makes sex holy and right and not sinful is a marriage relationship, which means you have gone through a wedding, a public declaration of commitment that makes you a new social unit in the eyes of the community.

I’m glad you care about this issue. But how can you say you are committed in God’s eyes when He has already told us what He thinks? In God’s eyes you are committing fornication, because you are not married. It really is that black and white.

Hope this helps!

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries




“Is There A Verse About Casting One’s Seed in the Belly of a Whore?”

All my life I’ve heard that somewhere in the Bible there was a statement to the effect, “It is better to cast your seed in the belly of a whore than spill it on the ground.” This alleged statement was a topic of discussion with some of my friends today, including one unbeliever who adamantly stated a preacher had told him that such a statement was contained in the Bible. I have previously attempted to research the existence of this very statement through computer searches to no avail (which was really no surprise to me). Can you comment?

There is no such verse in the Bible, although it seems to be a biblical “urban legend.” The reference to spilling one’s seed on the ground comes from Genesis 38:9:

Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother.

I like the way David Guzik explains this passage in his commentary:

When Onan’s brother died, the levirate custom of that time (which was codified into law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10), was that if a man died before providing sons to his wife, it was the duty of his unmarried brothers to “marry” her and to give her sons. The child would be considered the son of the brother who had died, because really the living brother was acting in his place. This was done so that the dead brother’s name would be carried on; but also, so that the widow would have children who could support her. Apart from this, she would likely live the rest of her life as a destitute widow. Onan refused to take this responsibility seriously; he was more than happy to use Tamar for his own sexual gratification, but he did not want to give Tamar a son that he would have to support, but would be considered to be the son of Tamar’s late husband Er. Onan pursued sex as only a pleasurable experience; if he really didn’t want to father a child by Tamar, why did he have sex with her at all? He refused to fulfill his obligation to his dead brother and Tamar. Many Christians have used this passage as a proof-text against masturbation; indeed, masturbation has been called “onanism.” However, this does not seem to be the case here; whatever Onan was doing, he was not masturbating! This was not a sin of masturbation, but a sin of refusing to care for his brother’s widow by giving her offspring, and of a selfish use of sex.

(From www.blueletterbible.org)

Hope this helps!

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries




“What Does the Bible Say About Donating Eggs for In Vitro Fertilization?”

 

A friend is considering giving some of her eggs to another woman to have a baby. Is this a moral issue? What does the Bible say about such a thing?

There is indeed a moral concern with donated gametes. Though some have expressed concern as to whether this can be constituted as adultery, I believe this term is best left for the physical act itself.

The relevant biblical passages are first Genesis 2:24, which introduces the concept of “one flesh.” Many scholars describe children as an expression of a couple becoming one flesh. Even if this specific connection is not accepted, it is clear that a third flesh has been introduced into the marriage relationship with donated gametes, either eggs or sperm. In my mind this is the most pressing moral issue.

A second related passage is Genesis 16 and the story of Hagar and Ishmael. In a sense, Sarai “borrows” Hagar’s eggs to give Abram an heir when she has failed to do so herself. Though God respects and saves Hagar and Ishmael, the union is not blessed by God and Abram’s promised heir is still to come through Sarai later. Also note the emotional trauma this arrangement causes Sarai, Hagar and Abraham. The emotional issues cannot be overlooked. The egg donor will understandably feel a special kinship with the resulting child; after all, she is the genetic mother. This could easily put a strain on the marriage in which the child is raised that can be difficult to anticipate.

I would not counsel the acceptance or donation of either sperm or egg.

A helpful resource on these questions is a series of booklets put out by the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity called the BioBasic Series. They have three additional booklets covering suicide, end of life issues, and alternative medicine. Each is offered in a question and answer format. You can purchase them through the Center at www.cbhd.org. I am co-authoring a booklet in the next round of four on genetic engineering. I hope the next four will be released within 2002.

Respectfully,

Ray Bohlin
Probe Ministries




“Is It OK to Look Down My Girlfriend’s Top?”

Im a 17 year old male and have been going out with my girlfriend, who I truly love, for almost two and a half years. We are both Christians and have set boundaries that will ensure that sex will only happen after marriage (which could be a possibility for us in a few years). She is a modest girl, unlike the many around who have no problem showing too much skin. I know it is wrong to look at females dressed like this and do my best to keep my eyes off (which I have become pretty good at). I have been trying to determine whether it is OK by God, for me to look at my girlfriend when she wears a top that can be seen down. She is OK with it and appreciates that I don’t look at other girls that way. Is it OK for me to look at the one girl I love in this way as long at it is not lustful and I don’t get addicted to looking at her. I don’t want to be sinning. But, if it’s OK by God I want to be able to enjoy looking at the wonderful girl he has sent to me (God gave her to me after I stopped masturbating). Looking at her helps me to not look at other females when they pass by which is great, but is it OK to look at her this way before marriage.

Dear ______,

The real question is, “Does looking down my girlfriend’s top so I can help myself visually to her breasts, help me or hinder me in my walk with God?” Another important question is, “Does it honor her?”

I would suggest that helping yourself to the breasts of a girl you are not married to is 1) outside the boundaries of marriage, which is the only place where you have a right to gaze at a woman’s breasts, and 2) very effectively pulling your attention off God and holy thoughts, and thus is NOT helping your walk with God.

You may intend to marry your girlfriend, but nothing can guarantee that it will happen until you’ve said “I do.” Couples often break up before marriage despite their hopes and intentions. Furthermore, it is VERY unusual for 17-year-old couples to end up marrying each other, which means that the chances are, you’ve been looking down the top of another man’s future wife, and there is some girl out there that you WILL marry, hoping that you will keep your eyes and all other body parts to yourself as you wait for her.

I know I’ve been very blunt here, but in the interest of giving you direction that will best help everyone involved, both now and in the future, I want to encourage you to exercise self-control in where you look, and don’t deliberately put yourself in a position where you are able to look down anyone’s top.

Hope this helps!

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries