First of all, I want to applaud you for grappling with this issue, and for trying to do the right thing. I think the fact that you recognize that you are ‘living in sin’ intentionally and that it bothers you is a step in the right direction. God judges the heart- so keep in mind, even if someone tells you they think something is OK and not a sin, if YOU still believe it’s a sin and do it anyway, you’re rebelling against God in your heart.
I think that on some level you do believe that what you’re doing is a sin, or you wouldn’t be struggling with this issue in your conscience. This means that something needs to change.
“I was wondering if as Christians anyone can see our point of view? We have lived this way and been “Sunday only” Christians who went to church but pretty much lived every other part of our lives doing whatever we wanted, however we wanted without much regard to what the Bible said. We want to stop that and start making the right moves.”
It seems to me like you are STILL kind of wanting to do things on your terms. You don’t want to try to abstain, even though deep down you think that it might be the right thing to do, so instead you either plan to just have a secret wedding so that you don’t have to abstain, or you plan to ignore your conscience so that you don’t have to abstain. Either way, you are getting what YOU want- it’s still about YOU.
Going to the courthouse and getting married in secret is not in the right spirit of marriage. Marriage is a public commitment between the couple, God, and their community.
Now, if you felt that you could not possibly abstain, I think the right thing to do would be to have your wedding at the courthouse, but PUBLICLY. You really don’t want to start your marriage around secrecy and deceit- that is just as much a sin as having sexual relations before marriage.
I completely understand how difficult it is to abstain, but it can be done. Even if you mess up a few times, as PP pointed out, God forgives and he is interested in the intentions of your heart. If you insist on doing things YOUR way instead of HIS way, that doesn’t honor him. It’s better to do the best that you can with a humble and apologetic heart, even if it means screwing up a few times, than to continue to do what YOU want to do in defiance with a rebellious heart.
Whatever you decide to do, I really do pray the best for the three of you as a family. In addition to the advice that you’re going to get here, I recommend that you and your FI both pray for clarity and guidance, and that God will reveal to you what HIS will is; not your own. <3