Q: My fiancé says we should start sleeping together now that we're engaged so we will have an established relationship when we get married. What does the Bible say?

A: In the Ten Commandments given by God to His people is this: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Since your marriage has not taken place, having sex together is adultery.

The request your fiancé has made of you raises two questions about him. First, does he really love you or is he confusing love with lust? Second, is he being honest in promising that he will marry you? In spite of all this new emphasis on sex, the divorce courts continue to grind out their monotonous story of the tragedy of modern marriage in ever-increasing numbers. I think it is time that God is heard. I feel that the pulpit is long overdue in presenting what God has to say on this subject.

In the very beginning it was God who created them male and female. It was God who brought the woman to the man. God blessed them, and marriage became sacred and holy and pure. And, my friend, it is the only relationship among men and women that God does bless down here. He promises to bless no other. He says that if marriage is made according to His plan, He will bless it.

Christian marriage is an adumbration of that wonderful relationship between Christ and the believer. Christian marriage and the relationship of Christ and the church are sacred.

Listen to me very carefully. The physical act of marriage is sacred, a sacrament made by God Himself and one which He sanctifies. He says that this relationship is to reveal to you the love of Christ for your soul. Therefore, the woman is to see in a man one to whom she can yield herself in a glorious abandonment. She can give herself wholly and completely. She can find perfect fulfillment and satisfaction in this man, because this is the man for her and because he has committed himself to her in marriage.

You can have a bargain-basement, second-hand, hand-me-down marriage if you want. If you take the cheap way you will have a home that in no respect will represent Christ and the church. It can be a hell down here; take it from one who has counseled with many couples who are Christians. But, my young person, you can ask God for the best. You can tell Him that you will not accept anything short of the best, and He will give you a life in living color. In marriage, sex is a holy relationship. And if it is not, it is no more than an animal act. When a man and a woman give themselves to each other in an act of marital love, they can know the love of Christ as no one else can know it. That is exactly what is said in the Word of God: "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32).

When a man and woman come to that place, then they can know Christ who gave Himself in love for us. They can know then what it is to offer themselves in total dedication to Him. God wants His children to be happily married. He has a plan and purpose for every one of us if we would only listen to Him.