I received an email from a man who asked a very particular question. He is a Christian, divorced, and in his forties. He met a Christian woman who seems to be an answer to prayer. Over time they have fallen in love and hope to get married eventually. But they can't marry right now because of financial reasons. Meanwhile they have started having sex together. He used the term "being intimate" to describe it. "We have been intimate and are feeling guilty that we DON’T feel convicted by the Holy Spirit that it has been wrong."

He goes on to say they waited to have sex until they knew they were in love. Here is his question put another way: “Why do we not feel convicted by the Holy Spirit but do feel convicted by people? People make us feel guilty but at the same time, the Lord has blessed us and used us in some truly amazing ways."

He wants to know if there is a different standard for premarital sex for those who are divorced. After all, they aren’t virgins anymore. They’ve both been married before so their sex is not “premarital” in the literal sense of never having had sex before. They don’t want to lose the intimacy they have enjoyed.

So why would God forbid sex before marriage when you’ve been married in the past, had sex, and have children? And why don’t they feel guilty?

The email says (and I do not doubt) that they have struggled with this issue. He says they are not just young adults looking for a free pass to have sex. For the first time they both feel they have found a partner that they love and enjoy in every way.

So why shouldn’t two adult Christians who happen to be divorced and have fallen in love—why shouldn’t they sleep together?

There are many ways to answer that question. My own answer begins in a way that may surprise you, but I hope you will read through all the way to the end. Your comments are most welcome.

My Answer to This Question

Dear Friend,

Thanks for your note. I appreciate your forthrightness in writing so openly. Many people would not be as honest as you are. I thought a great deal about the question you raised and decided that I would answer you the same way I would answer an old friend. I want to shoot straight with you and say exactly what I would say if we were old and dear friends and had gone to high school together. Please know that I am not upset with you nor do I have a frown on my face. You have asked a good question that deserves an honest answer.

If we were lifetime friends, I would say something like this:

1) It doesn’t really matter whether or not you and your lady friend (for lack of a better term) sleep together. In the great cosmic scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter. Compared with the economic crisis, Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a national election coming up, and soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq, on one level, it just doesn’t matter whether or not two people sleep together. It’s not a big deal. The world goes on spinning whether you guys sleep together or whether you don’t. Odd place for me to begin, but it is undoubtedly true.

2) The world certainly expects that if you love each other, you will sleep together. People assume that in some discreet way, having fallen in love, two people in their forties will have sex.

3) And even in the Christian world, there is a great deal of winking at this point. I am not naive about this. I understand that Christian singles sometimes date and then have sex. I don’t approve of this nor do I think it is wise, but I cannot deny the reality. Not that every Christian couple in your situation sleeps together, but it does happen.