I was teaching the book of 1 Corinthians at a Bible college. We got into sexual purity in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. A couple in their 30s came up after this session and said, “We’ve never heard this before; we’ve been living together for eight years. We just came to Christ two years ago, and we’re very involved in our church. Are you really saying sex outside of marriage is something Jesus doesn’t want us to do?”
I commended them for wanting to follow Christ wholeheartedly. When we opened Scripture it was clear to them they needed to get married right away, and no longer live together until they did. But they felt confused and even betrayed that no one in their church had talked to them about this.
Many years ago Nanci and I were in a home Bible study in our church. The group had been meeting three months when someone mentioned in passing that one of the couples wasn’t married but was living together. I called the group leader and asked if this was true. He said yes. I asked if he had told the young man—who’d come to Christ at least two years earlier—that this wasn’t honoring to the Lord. He said he hadn’t mentioned it because he didn’t want to hurt them. He hoped eventually they would figure it out, but it was the group’s job to love them, not judge them. I said I agreed we should love them. And when you love someone, you don’t want them to sin, because sin is never in their best interests. Sin brings judgment, and we do not want those we love to fall under the judgment of God, but rather to embrace the forgiving grace He went to the cross to offer them.
I explained that now that I knew about this, I would need to go to the young man and share with him the truth. The leader and another guy from the group came with me that night. We called the young man and invited ourselves over, and while his girlfriend and the baby were with one of the ladies in the group, we sat down with him in his living room. He was super nervous. It wasn’t comfortable for any of us. What’s right often isn’t.
I asked him if he knew how much we loved him and his girlfriend. He said, “Sure.” Our group had helped them out in various ways. He knew.
I told him I wanted to share some Scripture with him. Then he looked at me and said, “Are you going to tell us we should get married?”
I said, “Yes.”
The words poured out from him. He said, “We really want to. We feel so bad we haven’t. We’re trying to read the Bible and we feel like we’re just a couple of losers. When we go to church, we feel like hypocrites. But we don’t have the money to have a decent wedding, and I can’t afford a ring. She’s so ashamed that we’re not married. It’s awkward because of our baby. And to be honest, I wondered if anyone was ever going to talk to us about it.”