4) And that leads to the point about your friends making you feel guilty. How do they even know? Do the two of you talk about it? This isn’t a spectator sport.

5) I’m not surprised that the two of you enjoy being intimate. “Being intimate” makes fornication sound romantic. Words mean something. “Being intimate” seems a lot more acceptable than “fornication."

6) There is a great deal of biblical support for regarding sex as a gracious gift from God, meant for procreation and as part of what it means to become “one flesh." God designed sex for our enjoyment—but only within marriage (Genesis 2:24-25; Hebrews 13:4). Fire in the fireplace is a good thing. Outside the fireplace, that same fire will burn down the house. It’s not wrong to have sex and it’s certainly not wrong to enjoy it. And of course, if you have sex with someone you care about, you’ll enjoy it and feel good about it. That’s how God wired up the situation.

7) But your feelings don’t matter in this case. They just don’t matter because they will always lead you back to the bedroom.

8) I gather that your real issue is, “Why don’t we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit?” But I think you do or else why would you write me? And why would you take the time to justify yourself? You don’t write and say, “I am convicted that I spent too much time cheering for the US team to win the women’s water polo gold medal.” No, the very fact that you write is more or less the answer to your question.

9) Here’s something you may not have thought about. You say the Holy Spirit hasn’t convicted you but maybe he has. God often speaks to us through the witness of the church. And it sounds as if the church—the great Christian church—has spoken through your friends who have made you feel guilty. God often uses others to speak to us when we can’t clearly hear his voice any other way.

10) If you are truly in love, then get married and make it legal. Those are basically the rules we all have to follow. Not just the Bible rules, but the common rules of the Christian faith. To be sure, lots of people break the rules but they remain in force.

11) Don’t say, “Hey, I’ve got money issues so I can’t get married now but I still want to have sex.” It doesn’t work that way. You can’t rewrite the rulebook to satisfy your own desires.

No Time to Mess Around

But there is a deeper issue at work here. When I read your note, I was reminded of a book I read 25 years ago. It was a story about how many Jews in Romania were saved from the Holocaust by some Romanian friends who spirited them out of the country at great personal risk. Here is the part I recall most vividly. The heroine of the book was a beautiful young woman, well placed in the country, a friend of powerful people, who took up the cause of the Jews as her own. Time and again she risked everything to save them. Somewhere along the way she met and fell in love with a gallant young man who joined her in her mission. They were nearly caught and captured again and again. It was clear that they were falling in love with each other. And on some level, you kept thinking they would sleep together. But they never did. Not once. And the reason given was something like this. “Our work in saving the Jews is so important that our own desires must never interfere.” And it never did. They never slept together. Not even one time. The cause they served captured all their attention, and they knew that they had no time to have sex. And that’s why they didn’t. It wasn’t biblical at all—their reasoning, I mean. Yet it was immensely biblical.

I thought of that book for the first time in many years when I read your note. I think the meaning is, “As long as you and your friend have time to think about sleeping together, you aren’t serving the right cause.” I dare to venture that Christ and his Kingdom simply have not captured your heart. When Christ’s global cause and serving others in his name becomes your priority, you won’t have time or energy to think about sleeping together. Or you may think about it, but the higher calling will overrule your desires.

There is a huge truth for you to consider. I can say, “Don’t sleep together,” and you either will or you won’t. I don’t have the power to compel obedience. You and your lady friend have some important decisions to make. As I said, I have spoken to you this way as if we were lifetime friends because among friends you can be blunt. When I said, it doesn’t matter, I meant it. Who’s  going to know if you sleep with her tonight? Not me. I don’t know and don’t want to know. The world rolls on, assumes that two people in love will sleep together, and the church sometimes looks the other way and too often shrugs its shoulders. I simply say, find a higher cause and give your energies to that cause so unreservedly that you will prize that cause above your own earthly desires.