Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105


Love, Sex and Real life!

By ITW Staff
Sex is very tempting, and you need a great deal of strength to resist that temptation. You certainly can't do that alone. You'll need God, a strong desire to abstain from sex, and friends who will support your decision. The people who've told you it's OK to sleep around are not that kind of friends, and they're not people you should be listening to.

There's a great life ahead of you if you go in the right direction. And you need to make sure the people around you want to go that direction, too.


Love, Sex and Real life!!!

Taken in part from articles By Tim Stafford


I Want a Boyfriend! Q I'm a junior in high school. All of my teen life I've never had a boyfriend or even a date for dances. I want to wait for the guy God sends me, but it's taking forever. Then when I see other friends of mine who are couples, I cry because I don't have a boyfriend. The guys in my youth group are friends, and they're really nice to me, but I need something more. Please help me!
A I wish I could help, but the truth is, you're in a difficult spot. You feel you're ready to begin dating. That's a natural urge, and it comes to most people at your age. The trouble is that romance involves a lot more than natural urges. It involves the unique combination of two personalities, and the timing of romance is often different from the timing of biology. You can count on your body to feel the urge for love, but you can't count on the right guy to connect with you on schedule.
You have some limited control in attracting guys. You can be friendly. You can look your best. You can involve yourself with activities where you're likely to meet guys. You can take the initiative: asking guys out, planning parties or trips, getting your friends to introduce you to interesting guys. You don't have to just wait around for a guy to notice you. You should do all that you can, if only because it's part of developing your character and building self-confidence.
Results aren't guaranteed, though. You can look terrific and act very outgoing and still not get a boyfriend. Some people are late bloomers. It's not uncommon for girls to go through all of high school without dating, and then find their social calendars filling up fast in college.

What to do? Make sure you don't lose track of yourself. Your character, your relationship with God, your friendliness and service to other people--these are the factors that will decide whether you come out of this stage feeling frustrated and unhappy or satisfied and at peace. These are the factors that will ultimately decide whether you make a good partner or a lousy one. God willing, you'll find the right guy at the right time. The more difficult question is: What kind of person will you have become by then?


Why Can't I Fool Around? Q Everybody says that feeling each other's private parts is wrong until you're married. I don't see why, because I know that I can stop before I have sex with my girlfriend. Can you show me some verses to help me out?
A I feel strongly that touching each other's private parts is wrong outside of marriage. But I can't quote a Bible verse that says exactly that in so many words. To be truthful, in the Jewish culture of the Bible, this question would never have crossed anybody's mind. In those days, an unmarried guy would rarely (if ever) be alone with a girl--let alone touch her private parts. When two people were ready to get that close, they were ready for a commitment--the commitment we call marriage.
Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." It's immoral to "cheat" on this--to try to take the sexual benefits of a marriage relationship but not make the commitment. That's the opposite of "honoring" marriage.

When two people touch each other's private parts, I believe that's a sexual intimacy that can't just be friendly. It's not fun and games. It exposes each person's most vulnerable self. It's a memory that will never disappear. That you can "stop" is irrelevant. (And how do you know you can stop?) This is a pleasure and an intimacy that only married people are meant to enjoy, because when you do something that reaches so near to the soul, you want to be sure the person you share it with will be there forever. Only marriage gives you that assurance.


Too Young for True Love? Q My boyfriend and I have been dating for about six months. He's my best friend in the entire world, and we both feel God calling us towards marriage. I'm a junior in high school, and he's a sophomore. I know we're very young, so I'm wondering, is it too soon to be in a relationship this serious? Right now, we both feel like we've found our soul mates, and the more we grow in our faith, the closer we grow together. Is there any way I can be sure he's the one? At this point in my life, do I even need to be sure?
A No, you don't need to be sure about finding "the one" right now. You don't even need to be thinking about it. At this point, you can just be happy that you've found somebody who means the world to you. Congratulations!
You should know, however, that it's rare for high school romances to last. Some do. The vast majority doesn't. You're both in a period of life when you're changing rapidly. You can become a very different person in a very short time--and so can your boyfriend. So it's the wrong time to think about marriage.

Right now, concentrate on helping each other grow as human beings and as Christians. This relationship can be a wonderful experience even if it doesn't last. Look at it this way--do you wish you were still in the classes you took as a freshman? Probably not, but are you grateful for what you learned there? Relationships, both dating and just friendship, can be similar. You don't have to stay in them to learn a lot from them.

God can use this relationship in both your lives--to make you more sensitive, to deepen your understanding of life, to bring you closer to God, to teach you how to serve other people. These are the questions you ought to be asking right now: How do I help him become a better person? How does he help me? What can I learn from and appreciate in this relationship?


He Wants More Than Friendship Q I've been very good friends with a guy from my church for a few years. In the past few months, things have begun to change. He seems much more physical around me. He likes to sit really close to me and rub my back. This is making me think he may want to be more than friends. He's a great guy, but I really just want to be friends, for now anyway. How should I handle this? Should I ask him how he feels about me or just push it aside?
A I believe in talking. If you think he's sending unspoken messages, and those messages make you uncomfortable, I'd think you'd want to get that out in the open. It may be painful to do so, but more harm will come from the confusion and uncertainty that result from not talking honestly. It's hard to be true friends when you don't know where you stand.
When you have this conversation, make every effort not to embarrass him. Don't talk to him where other people are likely to overhear, and by all means don't share the details of the talk with any of your mutual friends. Also, don't go in with assumptions--it's possible he never had intentions other than friendship. If you go in with, "I think you like me, and it's making me uncomfortable," he's automatically on the defensive. He'll have an easier time talking if you lead off with a simple, "I've been a little confused about our relationship lately. Do you like me as more than friends?" Give him a chance to explain himself, and be sure you make your feelings very clear.

At that point, you will have done all you can. If he starts acting weird around you or avoiding you, that's his problem. Your only choice would be to wait and see if he snaps out of it.


What About Interracial Dating? Q I have a really great friend, and he and I were thinking about dating. There's one problem, though: He's white, and I'm mixed (my mother is white and my father is black). Well, one of my guy's friends told him that interracial relationships are wrong, and he did a 180-degree turn on his feelings. One week he really liked me, and a week later he was like, "You're just my friend, my feelings don't go past that." I think he let what others said influence him. How could I approach him? Should I?
A Let's start with the Bible. God's Word says nothing against interracial relationships. Quite the opposite. Paul wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). All that separates people is swept away by Jesus, who unites all his followers into one family. Racial separatism has no place in the family of God.
However, as you have discovered, we live in a race-minded society. Unfortunately, even some Christians have attitudes that are bigoted and racist.
It sounds to me like your friend is easily influenced. Perhaps he really wasn't sure how he felt about you. But when a little pressure came along, he discovered his loyalty was limited. That's sad, but it's good you discovered it now. To form a lasting relationship, you have to be strong. That's true for everybody, and especially true in interracial relationships. If your friend lacks that strength, you're fortunate to learn it now. It hurts, but it would have hurt a whole lot more later.

So how should you approach your friend? As a friend. For the sake of his own growth, he needs to hear how his weakness affected you. Try to keep him as a friend, but don't beg him to reconsider dating. If romance ever becomes a possibility again, he should be the one to initiate it--and apologize.


Are We Ready for Sex? Q My boyfriend and I have been together a year and seven days today. I love him more than anything in this whole world. But just telling him that I love him is never enough to express how I really feel about him. I know a lot of people express their love for each other by having sex. I used to think I'd wait for sex until I was married, but I really want to show my boyfriend how much he means to me. Should I ask him if he's ready to have sex? It would be the first time for both of us. I know that making love is very special and should be shared with someone you really care about. That's why I want to do it with my boyfriend, but I'm not sure if it's right or not.
A I'm glad to see that you realize how big of a decision this is. But it seems that you have an overly romanticized idea of sex--particularly of "the first time," which is almost never the blissful experience you see in the movies. A lot of people, especially girls, report deep disappointment with their first sexual experience. I mention that because you seem to be focusing on the message the "first time" will send. The real issue should be the message you send by adding sex to your relationship. It's not a one-time thing. When you bring sex into a relationship, you can be sure it will remain sexual as long as you're together--whether you actually keep having sex or just can't get it off your minds.
Some people remember "the first time" as the beginning of a lifetime of wonderful love. Some remember the first time with shame and regret. Others--probably the majority, these days--remember it as an insignificant little fling they had when they were young and naive. For them it's about as meaningful as their first airplane ride.
When the Bible says something positive about sex, it's always talking about sex between married people--people who have publicly vowed before God and before their friends and family that they will never break apart, no matter what. For these couples, the "first time" is incredibly wonderful because it's the beginning of a love affair that never ends. That kind of relationship, and only that kind, is what sex is meant to be a part of.
We know what God intended for sex because he tells us in the Bible. Genesis 2:21-25 talks about the union between Adam and Eve, and verse 24 says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." When marriage comes first, sex is a beautiful way to bond two people for life.
When you get sexually involved outside of marriage, you use sex in a context it's not meant for. You end up dishonoring marriage--your marriage, which could be far in the future and probably won't be with the guy you're now dating.
I read somewhere that the percentage of high school couples who eventually marry each other is less than 1 percent. Of course, everybody thinks they're the special couple that will never part. Their love won't ever die, they say. They might even believe their words, at least until they spend a summer apart, attend different colleges, get preoccupied with their jobs or meet someone else. Whatever happens, 99 percent of these couples never get to the altar.
I can't tell the future, and I won't pretend to know what will happen to you. I do know what happens to most people who get involved "the first time" before they're married. Most of them go on to other partners. They experience extra heartbreak when they lose the partner they thought would be theirs forever. But they carry those memories on to the next partner. They have sex with their second partner, too, and their third partner. Pretty soon it's not quite as special. It's just something to do.
Most of these people get married eventually, though rarely to each other. Some of them have wonderful marriages. Many don't. Either way, by treating sex the way they do, they dishonor marriage.
You're at a crucial point in your life. Will you go for pleasure now and take your chances on the consequences later? Or will you hold out on expressing total commitment until that happy day when you're ready to make a total commitment? I hope you'll wait, because it's much, much better for you--and for your boyfriend.

By the way, waiting doesn't mean you have to be in misery. It's difficult to put your desires on hold, but there's also a certain kind of excitement in it. It's like the excitement of waiting for Christmas and not ripping open the packages early. Something this good, and this important, is well worth waiting for.

Is This Real Love? Q I'm 16 and my girlfriend is 14. We've been together for 11 months now, and we both really believe we're in love. But her father, who is also our youth pastor, has told us that teenagers are more likely to be "in lust" than "in love." We fell in love over time. We tell each other "I love you" on a regular basis. We don't just say it, we really mean it. I love God, I love myself, and I love her. So I guess I'm trying to ask, is it possible for two kids like us to be in love?
A You bet it's possible. When a person feels love, it's very real and very powerful. And if you and your girlfriend continue to date and develop a more mature, deeper relationship, your love will become even more real and more powerful. Yes, it's possible to be very much in love when you're 16 or 14 or even 12.
But don't ignore her father's words. True, his "in lust" comment is maybe a little cynical and probably stems from years of knowing teenagers who "loved" each other one week, then wouldn't speak to each other the next. But most likely he also knows that some people do feel love when they're teenagers. I think her father's real message is, "Take it easy." Think of his words as a reminder to not rush your relationship.
To be honest, I don't think it makes much difference whether your feelings could be called "real love" or not. Your feelings are real to you, and that's what counts. Yes, there are a million kinds of love. Yes, sometimes those feelings change from week to week, even day to day. And yes, maturity has a lot to do with whether those feelings will last.

You and your girlfriend might be developing a love that will last forever, or you might break up a month from now. Don't worry about that right now. Your job isn't to label your feelings or predict the future. The only job for you and your girlfriend is to continue to grow as people and as Christians. Encourage and strengthen each other. Help each other grow closer to God. Care for and respect each other. If you do those things, your feelings will take care of themselves.

How Can I Stop Lusting? Q I was sexually active before I became a Christian. Now I want to wait until I get married before I have sex again. But my thought life is filled with lust and images of past sexual experiences. I'm not dating anyone right now, but I'm afraid I won't be able to control myself when I do go out with a girl, or that I'll get married too fast for all the wrong reasons. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this?
A I do have suggestions, but I want first to say how impressed I am that you're thinking about these issues now. Most of the time I hear from people who have already put themselves in harm's way. They're halfway down the drain before they try to stop!
It's far better to anticipate problems before they appear and to strengthen your defenses. The most powerful aid in resisting sexual temptation is an accountability group made up of your peers and a mature adult leader. Find a handful of Christian guys who will meet with you weekly for prayer, honest sharing, and mutual encouragement. You might start by asking your pastor or another Christian adult you trust to give you some names of guys who have the maturity and commitment to meet with you. Be honest with these people, and they can be a tremendous source of strength for you.
I'd also encourage you to develop the habit of daily personal prayer and Bible study. Pick a time that works for you--first thing in the morning, last thing at night, whatever--and spend 15 minutes or so focusing your mind on God and his will for you. You might even want to memorize some verses that deal specifically with temptation, such as 1 Corinthians 10:13. Many, many people have found that this discipline of daily devotion to God carries them through difficult times.
Finally, if you haven't already found a church, make a commitment to get involved in a church where you can worship God with other Christians. It's amazing to me how often people skip over this crucial aspect of spiritual growth because they can't find the "perfect" church. As somebody has said, if you ever find a perfect church, don't join it--because then it won't be perfect. Church is just a group of ordinary people who want to do their best to love and serve God together. As you grow closer to God and to other Christians, you might find it easier to ward off those lustful thoughts.

There are no guaranteed tricks to keep sexual temptations completely out of your life. Only a connection with Christ that's stronger than your temptation to sin can keep you from giving in.

Why Should We Stop Having Sex? Q I know everyone says sexual relationships are only for married couples. But my boyfriend and I have been dating for three years and are having sex. We are now in college and are very serious about each other. We know we are destined for marriage, and we pray day and night about our future together. People say sex ruins relationships, but it has brought us closer. We have complete trust in each other. We take sex very seriously, and it is something very special to us. Our relationship is not in any way based on sex; it is based on a solid foundation in God. We have dedicated our lives to him and him only. What we want to know is if sex is wrong in our situation. Like I said earlier, we are sure God has marriage in our future plans. Nothing is keeping us from getting married right now. We are ready. But we still want to know if sex is wrong.

A Thank you for writing so honestly. I'd like to be equally honest with you. I believe your sexual involvement outside the bonds of marriage is wrong. The Bible tells you to wait, so you need to wait. It's not just "everyone" who says sexual relationships are only for married couples, it's God.
Maybe you've heard that argument but don't think it applies to you. Let me help you see why it does apply to you. I'll start by simply asking a question: Why aren't you married? You say you are committed and sure that God wants you to marry. You say that nothing is keeping you from marriage. But evidently something is keeping you, or you would be married already. What keeps you from a lifelong commitment? My guess is you think you can't afford to be married, or maybe your parents won't support your education if you're married. Maybe it seems more convenient to get married after you've finished college.
Those are all reasonable answers. But they all make the same basic point: Something is more important to you than your commitment to each other. Your parents, your finances, and your educational schedule--some force is holding you back. You're not ready to be married because the commitment of marriage implies that you have put this one person ahead of everything else in life. Think of the wedding vows: "In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer." Apparently you aren't quite ready to take those vows. And it follows that if you're not quite ready for the vows, you're not quite ready for sex. Sex is the natural and joyful expression of a completely committed married relationship. You go "all the way" with your body because you have gone "all the way" with your life.
This isn't just my theoretical preference--this is reality. You can't be "sort of" committed any more than you can be "sort of" pregnant. You either are or you aren't. And dating, even serious dating, isn't a permanent commitment. Marriage is.
Think about it: What happens to your relationship if something drastically changes? What if you, for example, are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? What if your boyfriend's family suddenly goes bankrupt and he has to drop out of school and get a job? What if one of you experiences a powerful mood change, and suddenly you're not so sure that you're meant for each other? What if you have a terrible fight and realize you are a lot more different than you thought you were?
I don't want to throw fears at you. I truly and sincerely hope that you two move smoothly ahead to marriage, and that your marriage proves to be a very happy and fruitful one. My point, however, is that life is not necessarily smooth. Life offers a lot of bumps, and that's why married couples need to make a deep and absolute commitment, before God, to stay together through thick and thin. You haven't done that yet. There's still a very real possibility you won't marry each other and that you'll someday remember this relationship with shame and regret.
That may seem impossible under current circumstances, but who says that current circumstances will remain the same? Thousands of formerly engaged couples could stand up and cry out as witnesses: It is possible for what seems to be the most perfect relationship to break apart.

There is a better way. And it's much more joyful in the end. It's the way God intended: to make your final and complete commitment before God and all your friends, and to live together as husband and wife from that day on. That's the day you publicly commit your lives to each other. And that's the day your sexual life together should begin.

You're off that track now, but you can get back on it again. You can't undo the past, but you can rethink the future. Stop having sex until you are husband and wife.

Is He Too Young for Me? Q I have a problem. I am almost 17 and my boyfriend is 15. I am exactly one year and eight months older than he is. This is my first relationship with a guy, and everything is going all right with us. But is it wrong for me to be dating a guy so young?
A No, there's nothing wrong. Age differences are relative. Some people seem "older" or "younger" than their chronological age. Besides, as you get older, age differences affect you less and less. (If you were 32 and he was 30, nobody would even notice.)
When you're at different life stages, though, that can be a problem. For example, relationships rarely work if one person is in college or in the working world and the other is still in high school. So keep that in mind. Right now you and your boyfriend are both in high school. After you graduate, things are likely to change. Enjoy your relationship now, but understand that it's going to take a lot of work to maintain it after you graduate. Maybe you'll both decide staying together isn't the best idea at that point, which is OK. You can still enjoy what you have right now.
Where's the Guy For Me? Q I'm so sick of guys! I'm getting to the point in my life where I really want a boyfriend. But not just anyone. I'm looking for someone I can talk with about God, someone who can keep me on track spiritually. I don't know of any quality Christian guys in my school or even my church. I used to have crushes on particular boys all the time, but now the guy I want seems to exist only in my mind. God says that if we delight in him, he will give us the desires of our heart. I've been praying for someone special for a long time, but he's nowhere in sight. Am I not pleasing God or what?
A Let's start at the most basic issue: You aren't aware of any guys your age who meet your most basic criterion of being committed Christians. If that's the case, I think you need to move around a little. If you want proof that there are good Christian guys out there, ask your parents if you can check out some of the other youth groups in town. If there's a Campus Life club or Young Life group at your school, try that. Another plan is to go to a Christian camp or take a summer missions trip. Don't think of these options as matchmaking time. Instead, think of them as chances to make friends with some solid Christians, both guys and girls.
As to your frustration with God, the scriptural promise you're referring to is Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." What that verse is telling us to do is focus our lives on God. And as we grow in our understanding of God's will, the things we want out of life, the desires of our hearts, will be more like the things God wants for us. So does that mean God will send Mr. Right your way someday? Only God knows. But as you concentrate on God and watch him working in your life, you'll be able to trust that no matter what the future holds, it's God's best for you.
You might also want to read the rest of the psalm, which fills out the meaning of "delight in the Lord." For example, the next verse tells you to "Commit your way to the Lord," and verse 7 says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." Get the idea? You can't really delight yourself in God when you're angry and impatient.

I'm sure it's frustrating to want a guy and see none in sight. Most girls have felt the same way. However, you really don't want just any guy. You want the kind of guy who's right for you. But just because he's not staring you in the face doesn't mean he doesn't exist. Relax, trust God, and believe that he has good plans for you. In the meantime, make sure you're living the way God wants you to live. That way you'll have something to offer that "dream guy" if or when he shows up.

Her Parents Are Too Strict? Q I have been dating my girlfriend for seven months now. We're both 15. My problem is that her parents won't let her go out with me alone and are very skeptical of us even dating with groups. I can understand their concern, but we didn't even have our first kiss until two months into our relationship. We are not very physical at all. I know the Bible tells us to honor and obey our parents, but my girlfriend won't even talk to them about it. I think her parents would understand and be more flexible if she would just talk to them. What should I do?
A It could be your girlfriend feels just fine with the way things are. Maybe she doesn't want to go out with you alone. Maybe she's still nervous about dating. At any rate, I think you had better start with an attitude check. Are you really respecting her opinions and feelings? Are you willing to accept that this situation may not change?
If you feel so strongly about resolving this issue with her parents, the logical move is to ask her if you can talk to them yourself. Most parents respect a young person who will come directly to them and express his or her beliefs. If it's OK with your girlfriend, I'd recommend you try this. Be respectful and listen to what they have to say. If you want them to trust and respect you, you need to do the same for them, even if they don't change their minds.
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