Responding to your letter.
I believe the main thing you are dealing with is loss, and an accompanying broken heart. You became emotionally attached to these two women, and that activated all of your longings and yearnings for a life partner you could trust and build a life together.
Your biblical values are right on, yet the loss has been severe enough to cause you to questions them. This exacerbates your “trauma” because it calls into question what you believe about and have trusted in God. Finding out that these two girls had been sexually involved with another man (especially a non-Christian) has hurt you deeply because you have lost several things, such as:
- A sense of identity or sense of self, where you feel knocked over; changes the way you think about yourself.
- A sense of specialness, where you feel disposable or interchangeable because the girls have given their virginity to another person.
- Some self-respect for letting yourself become emotionally involved with someone who has debased themselves in this way.
- Control over your thoughts and actions because your may be obsessed with the revelation so it takes on a life of its own.
- Fundamental sense of order and justice in the world; i.e., the unfairness of it all is elevated.
- Security in your faith because it makes you question why God would do this to you; Be careful that you don’t begin to isolate yourself from God.
- Connection with others, where your anxiety makes it difficult to talk to anyone about this and you become cut-off and alone.
- A sense of purpose because depression weakens the will to live, and it feels like the bottom drops out.
I suggest all this just to help you understand that a major loss—or “trauma” as you call it—can deeply affect us. It certainly appears to be so in your life right now.
I’m going to respond directly to the questions you asked. Does forgiveness mean I have to marry any of the girls there to show God’s love? No, your forgiveness does not mean that at all. What then is forgiveness? Forgiveness is a matter of letting go any desire to punish and hurt the offending person back. Not marrying any of the girls is not punishment, it is a statement of your values to wait for a woman who has kept herself pure throughout her life.
Since you are in ministry, it may be important that you model integrity in living out your values in this way. But, of course, it is worthless if it is done out of self-righteousness. So you are right to be sensitive in this regard.
What is Purity
With respect to purity, I believe purity is really a function of where a person’s heart is now. God’s forgiveness is so wholesale that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. He removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. I think that means that a person who has had sex outside of marriage can become pure through contrite confession, repentance, faith in receiving God’s forgiveness, and walking in newness of life. If either one or both of the girls in question are truly on this side of their moral failure, and recognize it as such with a contrite spirit and resolve to be pure, then in the eyes of God they are pure. When the Bible talk about our walking blamelessly, it does not mean that we never sin, but that we put right what we have done wrong. And, thus, we can be blameless.
It does not mean, as Paul says in Romans 5, that we should go ahead and sin all the more so grace can abound. By no means! God is not a force or energy that pumps out forgiveness. No, He is a Person with whom we are invited to have a relationship with, and that relationship is like any other in that sin hurts Him. And He will not always strive with us. Purity is not an event, it is a lifestyle. And if either of the girls are living their lives in this way, then I believe you could marry one and still have most of what you long for.
Sin does leave a scar, though, and their sexual indiscretion is still in their past. Though forgiven and removed in God’s eyes, it is still a reality of their past. Not until we are all glorified in heaven will that be fully resolved. It is part of reality as God created. There is law and there are consequences for breaking the law. And there is grace, God grace which resolves the consequences of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ.
What are some practical steps I can take?
- You need to be gentle and kind to yourself as you grieve your loss. I would suggest you identify and articulate your losses. And be patient with yourself. The process of recovery can be very slow.
- Get connected with a small group of friends with whom you can share, find understanding and empathy, and be supported in the work you are doing to heal, recover, and learn from this experience.
- Work on changing the need (or dependence) you have for a woman’s love, and develop more health and wholeness in yourself. That way, when you become emotionally involved in a relationship you will be freer to see the person for who they truly are, not what you need them to be. This work may best be done with a pastor, discerning friend, or counselor.
You have the blessing of coming from a strong Christian family with strong moral values, so you have a good heritage to build on. You are in ministry, so your faith have become a blessing to you and through you to others. Wanting a wife who is sexually pure is a good value, and one you do not need to give up.
Finding God’s best in a fallen world requires patience with and trust in God’s way.
Finding God’s best in a fallen world requires patience with and trust in God’s way. He asks us to walk in the light as He is in the light, and then we have fellowship or true, pure, and authentic intimacy with others, especially a spouse. God is not one to give up on this. So don’t you. As you walk in the light others will join to the degree they choose to. We all have been given freedom in this.
Trust God and your own desire to walk in His ways. I believe it is much more difficult than we think to miss the will of God if we really want His will for our life.