Does forgiving someone’s sexual past mean you have to marry the person? This young man’s letter echoes the struggle many are facing. This story shows some effects of premarital sex in a relationship that can be detrimental if not addressed properly.
It’s quite long, so the response is posted separately.
I’m a 25-year old single male from a Christian family with strong moral values and very active in my local community church. I’m not quite sure whether the issue I’m dealing with stems from suppressed anger, giving forgiveness, trauma, or all of the above. But I know when and why it started and I feel that I never completely dealt with it and it has developed into something more complex.
It started when I got closer to a very attractive young woman who seemed to be very devoted to her faith. Such quality is always something I look for in a spouse, and not to mention, of course, she was very beautiful. She and her family were very active in various ministries at our church as well. From what I know and what was communicated by her parents, she wasn’t in a relationship. So her parents encouraged me to date her, to which she responded positively.
On one occasion, I unexpectedly discovered more about this woman and to my shock, she actually lived a double life that was a total opposite of the “good girl” image she was displaying at church. The truth is she had been going out with a non-Christian man behind her parents back for a few years since high school. As expected, she was also sexually involved with her boyfriend.
The discovery felt like a bomb dropped on me. I don’t know how to describe the feeling at that time but I felt so much pain and numb because of the reality that was so different than what I had in mind. I already liked her, but her immoral lifestyle was very difficult for me to accept. There were episodes after the revelation that I broke down in tears, but basically I tried to forget about her, knowing she wasn’t the person that I imagined her to be.
A year later, I met another young woman. Again, as her parents like to match their kids, I was told (from her parents) that this woman had never been in any relationships. She was also spoken well about because her father is a man of faith who led a Bible-study. She seemed to be a modest girl, quiet, and friendly so I found it wasn’t hard to be attracted to her. In short, she seemed to match my criteria for a good spouse, a good Christian from a good family.
Before long, in one of our conversations, she also mentioned that not only she had been in a relationship before, she also lost her virginity to her non-Christian boyfriend. Again, I was crushed by this revelation. The dilemma that I had that time was that I didn’t feel good continuing the relationship because of it, but I also felt like a total jerk to stop the pursuing just because she confessed her mistake to me. I felt that either way I was hurt, and I was aware in the process I was hurting her too. But I was also angry at the time. I didn’t want to take the consequences of sexual sin that I took no part of and brought it in my life.
I don’t believe that virginity in marriage is only for women. My personal stand is this biblical principle applies to both the man and the woman. So since high school I made a commitment to God and myself to remain pure and save my virginity for marriage. My motto is that if I expect a virgin to marry, then I have to remain pure myself. I guess this is why I made it such a big deal now.
In both cases, I felt angry, sad, hopeless, cheated and deceived because I expected them to be good Christian women. They looked pure from the outside, but inside they’re no different than non-believers, must I say even many women I know outside church did better, although not because of spiritual reasons.
I have to say that it’s not the virginity itself that bothers me as much as the act of fornication. Because at this time right now, I rather marry a young widow whom I know is purer than a girl who is so fast to take off her clothes and jump into bed before getting married. Moreover, I was tortured by the mental picture of someone I like with another man in bed. It haunted me continually and I was able to extinguish it only after I successfully killed my feelings for them.
Now, I’m struggling with another issue. I have anger that comes and goes and when that happens, it affects my mood for the entire day and it kills any motivation to do anything, distorted my view of reality, and even weaken my desire to live. After struggling with all these symptoms for quite some time, finally I chose not to pursue any relationships with any of these two women. It was a mess for both sides when I ended the relationships.
I’m aware of my weaknesses and really hate that from time to time I fall into the feeling of self-righteousness of how I kept myself pure. I read the parable of Prodigal Son and I could relate to the older brother who feels discontent when obeying God. I know I need to forgive and to let go. I don’t hate them nor do I want to punish them, but I found it very difficult to respect them and consequently cannot see them as a potential candidate for a spouse. I just wanted to be friends with them because of this reason.
I got scolded by many including the girls themselves that I needed to forgive and accept the fact. But then the second woman told me she still couldn’t forgive her boyfriend. I thought if she who took an active part in the act couldn’t forgive him how could she demand me to accept her? What upset me more was how easy for people (including the two women) to quote Romans 8:28 to justify that what they did was somehow in the end was for the good of me and them too.
Right now I have so many lingering questions that I can’t find a clear answer for although I have dug many Christian books. Does forgiveness mean that I have to marry any of the women to show God’s love? Then what does it mean to truly forgive?
Does forgiveness mean that I have to marry any of the women to show God’s love? Then what does it mean to truly forgive?
I feel if I had to marry either of them, I’d be more vulnerable for the temptation of feeling regret for waiting this long for “nothing.” And it would be possible for me to be unfaithful in the future. Sometimes I think if I knew that nobody was waiting for me like this, I would have lived my life differently when I was younger and took any chance I could. But then I was convicted that this is a sinful thought, I should be doing this for the Lord not because the expected result on my part. But again I have to be honest that thought like this crosses my mind from time to time.
Another question I have in mind is how come I feel so un-rewarded for my waiting? In the end, it’s more like “good if you wait, but it’s ok if you don’t.” I recognize this as one source of my anger, but I don’t know how to deal with it. I guess it’s not an understatement to say that I was disappointed deeply… to God maybe? I know all the theories about waiting until marriage, the rewards, etc. but I fail to see where the joy and happiness if it’s only one partner who waited?
As this happened in the past, I thought I was over with it. What I didn’t realize until recently is that I’m still not able to let go the trauma. I can see how my past experiences are still hampering me to pursue a healthy relationship with any woman. I know certain women who are still pure at church, but that doesn’t mean just because she’s a virgin I can and should be attracted to, just to play it safe. Now when I meet someone, and I don’t know anything about her, I’m just afraid to find out more, because of what happened in the past and I know from experience too when I found out / if she confessed somehow I’d become a jerk who fail to communicate God’s love if I left her and felt guilty about it, but would feel angry and regretful if I stayed.
I hope you can help me solving the problem and give me practical steps to take action to get out from constantly feeling depressed and anxious.
Thanks for reading this far and I hope to hear from you soon.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you think this issue is preventable?
- How difficult or easy is it to accept your spouse’s past and promise God, yourself and him/her not to bring it up, even when you’re in a big fight?
- Can you not entertain any ideas about retaliation in the future?
- Do you think the woman needs to confess to the young man? Try to put yourself in her shoe, or the man’s. Would your answers be the same?
- When do you think is the best time to confess sexual pasts to your potential spouse? If ever.
- When you’re in a relationship, do you want to know your partner’s sexual past?
- Do you think the young man is acting selfishly in this situation?
- How can you know if someone is truly repentant?