The first kiss my husband and I shared was on our wedding day. I was a virgin. He was not.
We came to marriage with two very different sexual pasts. While dating, we made every effort to guard our purity—and it wasn’t easy. We chose to save our first kiss for marriage to set a bold boundary against physical temptation. But beyond the standards we set to honor God with our sexuality, we had to ask a scary question: With such different sexual backgrounds, should we get married at all?
Perhaps you’re in the same place we were. Maybe you’re in a relationship, unsure about moving forward. Or maybe you’re single, anticipating a future relationship. Whatever the case, this discussion is worth having because the sexual perspective we bring to marriage can either strengthen or destroy that precious relationship. Below are three questions to ask yourself on this very vulnerable topic, whether or not you’re on the brink of decision.
1. Where there is sexual sin, is there also repentance?
Sex is an intimate and vulnerable act. The covenant of marriage is designed to guard our sexuality, protecting it from misuse. Our sexuality is meant to be fully expressed in the marriage relationship, where nakedness is not our shame and intimacy is freely enjoyed. God designed sex this way for our glory and protection. When we take sex out of its designated context, it has the power to separate us from God through sin.
But where sexual sin has been committed, God offers hope. No sin—sexual or otherwise—is too far beyond His forgiveness. All we must do is come to Him in repentance, acknowledging that what was done was not in accordance with His expectations for holy living.
God’s redemption rests in His open hand. To be made pure, the only requirement is repentance.
If you are dating someone who has a history of sexual sin, it’s wise to discuss some pivotal questions. Has he repented of it? Does he acknowledge it as sin? And is he walking out the purity God offers through Christ? We must also ask ourselves these questions. God offers hope—a clean slate—to all of us who have sinned sexually. The first step is to turn our backs on the past and accept the pure future He holds out for us.
2. Have I accepted God’s forgiveness for myself and/or my partner?
Repentance is the first step. Forgiveness is the second. When you are dating someone with a history of sexual sin, forgiveness is absolutely essential as the relationship deepens. Because love is built on trust, a relationship cannot safely move forward into marriage if un-forgiveness and doubt are present.
Forgiveness is not always a one-time decision; sometimes it is a daily choice to accept Christ’s sacrifice for sin, whether ours or our partner’s. If your partner has repented of sin, God has forgiven that sin. And if God has forgiven, who are we to withhold forgiveness?
It is important to note that this forgiveness applies to sins of the past. If your partner is still actively sinning or struggling sexually, he needs to acquire counseling and mentorship from someone of the same gender, ideally a pastor or other authoritative figure. If you are struggling together, find a married couple in your church to counsel you and keep you accountable.
3. Can I let go of this sexual history and commit to never resurrecting it?
If I held onto my husband’s past—dwelling on it and holding it over him—I would destroy my marriage. When he confessed his past and confirmed his repentance of past behaviors, I chose to forgive. In a final step, I chose to forget.
Forgetting sin doesn’t mean we no longer recall that it existed; it means we consciously choose not to think about it. We choose to leave it in the past and focus on the current state of our partner’s soul. Our minds are focused on the fact that God has made our partner pure, and what was done in the past no longer has any sway over his identity or the relationship.
All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s holiness (Romans 3:23). Some of us have been preserved from sexual sin by God’s grace. Others have been saved out of sexual sin by that same mercy. It is perfectly possible to have a God-honoring marriage with two people of different sexual testimonies, but it requires repentance, forgiveness and the commitment to always think the best of the other person. It requires a daily dose of God’s amazing grace—which, fortunately for us, never runs out.
This article was first published on Project Inspired.