Is it wise for a guy and a girl in love to allow themselves to go on a trip just the two of them? How to spend the night – in the same hotel or different ones? Similar questions are asked all the time, and today such a question came from a girl named Toni:
"Hello, pastor John. My boyfriend and I want to go on a trip in three weeks, which we have been planning for five months. My mother says that she is worried about us and the temptations that we are at risk of facing on the trip. I tried to convince her that even though we had succumbed to all sorts of temptations before, we now repented and talked to the older Christians. We discussed everything thoroughly and decided that nothing terrible would happen.
And today, my mother brought up the subject again and says that this trip will show disrespect for God, even if we live in different rooms. It's both annoying and bothering me-I don't want to be naughty. So I want to see if it's really disobedient to God to travel together before the wedding."
It's not the first time I've come across this question, and I'll share my thoughts on this topic later, but before that, I'd like to turn to Tony's boyfriend. That is, a girl asks me a question, and I will answer the girl, but since they will read it together, then here is my appeal to him: "Be a man. Show respect to your girlfriend's mother. Cancel your trip." And now to the heart of the matter.
The culture is changing
I will share with You three biblical arguments in defense of your mother's ethical intuition. I believe that it is unwise for an unmarried couple to embark on such a journey – and not only unwise, but also contrary to biblical principles. First, I will reveal my view of this situation from the side of You and Your mother.
Fifty years ago, when I was still in my twenties, traveling together for an unmarried couple for three weeks was considered less acceptable than it is now. For at least two reasons.
Firstly, because sexual relations before marriage are now not condemned by society. It is almost useless to avoid a situation that is not hindered by anything. Society provides us with less support in treating such situations as provocative. Thus, whether to travel or not is not an easy decision, because the very culture of behavior has changed (and not for the better).
Second, for fifty years now, there has been increasing pressure against gender inequality to accept a woman as an equal partner as a man. A different perception of a woman is considered humiliating for her.
I see both of these cultural changes as tragic, because they lead to sin and, consequently, more grief, pain, and all sorts of discord in relationships. To resist this trend, a young girl needs unusual resilience and courage. I hope You are just such a strong and brave warrior, but not only You, but also Your young man. Thus, we have analyzed the current state of society, because it is precisely this state that, in my opinion, creates the conditions for our problem.
Now let's take a look at three biblical principles that I believe you should consider rescheduling your trip until after the wedding.
First, God created the human body and mind in such a way that two people in love are attracted to each other, try to touch each other and do not stop there until complete coitus. This is natural, such an attraction can not fail to arise. But for this attraction, for the joy of each other, God has provided only marriage, and no other forms of coexistence.
You said yourself that you have already realized that when you are together, especially when you are alone, your attraction to each other is very strong. You have already succumbed to the temptation of an intimate life, which you now regret. If you are seeking to please God in purity of mind and body, here is a supporting verse from Romans 13: 14: "put on the clothing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and do not turn the care of the flesh into lust." The phrase "do not turn the care of the flesh" means that while taking care of ourselves, we should be careful not to be too free or caring, which can awaken in us thoughts and desires that we cannot cope with.
You can say, "Yes, we control everything," and I'll answer with two reminders. The first is recorded in Ephesians Chapter 4 verse 22: desires are deceitful. The second is recorded in Hebrews Chapter 3 verse 13: desires are deceitful, and sin is deceitful. This means that our body's desires have considerable power over our body and often cause us to think and act irrationally. Our desires are very strong, and not all of them need to be fought – some need to be avoided in advance.
If Jesus had jumped from the temple roof, God would have saved Him, wouldn't he (Luke 4: 9-12)? It was within His power to do so, and it was not difficult at all. Nor will it be difficult for Him to keep us from fornication. But Jesus did not even consider this possibility, and he informed the tempter about it. His motive was the same understanding that we should have:"do not tempt the Lord your God in vain." If God wills, he will keep us from committing fornication in situations such as during the intended trip, but he also warns us against Self-disrespect. This is the first argument.
A great cloud of witnesses
Let's look at the second biblical argument, based on which the trip should be left for a while after marriage. Most people in our world, religious or non-religious, believe that if you travel together, you also sleep together. Most of those who will know about your trip will not think that you spent on a second hotel room, and the rest will decide that a second room will still not keep you from spending time together in the same room. Moreover, for the lion's share of young people today, sex before the wedding is considered normal – you just try on each other. So that's exactly what they'll think of you.
Your Bible-reading friends will find you careless, and possibly sinful. Your non-Bible-reading friends, for whose salvation (coming to God) you may be most concerned, will not even think about this topic. Because how else would they perceive two people traveling together?
Here is what God says about such third-party observers: "But we beseech you... to strive diligently that... you may walk decently before those without, and need nothing" (1 Thessalonians 4: 10-12). The Greek word "proper" (euschēmonōs) is very succinct and means "true, correct, appropriate, appropriate". Also in defense of the arguments above are the verses: "Repay no one evil for evil, but take care of what is good in the sight of all men" (Romans 12: 17) and "for we take care of what is good not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Corinthians 8: 21).
If Christ is more precious to you than the fun of the trip, and you want to live up to his standards of integrity, then I don't think you should put the trip ahead of your decision to share the beauty of God's Holiness with others. Because this trip will tell others otherwise.
For the sake of the infirm
The third argument is that by going on a trip, or not going, you are undermining or building up the foundations of other Christians – especially if you are being watched by younger and less experienced Christians in order to justify some such actions. The Apostle Paul said, "if food offends my brother, I will never eat meat, lest I offend my brother" (1 Corinthians 8: 13).
If Paul had denied himself meat for the sake of his infirm brothers, how much more resolutely would he have refused the three-week trip that might have been the catalyst for ending abstinence before marriage? To paraphrase Paul's words, " if traveling causes my brother to stumble, I will not travel together until marriage, so as not to provoke my brother, who is weak in abstinence until marriage." Do we have the right to proceed in this situation from our position of freedom in Christ? Paul would say that it is not in this case.
"We do not put a stumbling block to anyone in anything, so that the Ministry may not be blamed..." (2 Corinthians 6: 3). For Paul, the question of eating meat was not a matter of having or not having a right to something. This wasn't about rights at all. The main thing here was the manifestation of love and Holiness, as opposed to yielding to cultural traditions that would eventually lead to the fall.
Based on these Biblical principles, Your mother's intuition seems to me to be a significant factor. I would advise you to leave such a pleasant pastime for the period of married life. Believe me, you won't regret it.