Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Your Sexual Past Doesn’t Make You Damaged Goods

Your Sexual Past Doesn’t Make You Damaged Goods

Talking about sexual history with the person you’re dating can go wrong very quickly. It can turn a healthy dating relationship into a game of manipulation and control in a millisecond. When sexual history is revealed, both parties may feel betrayed for different reasons. Every sentence takes on the cadence of a threat—an ultimatum. Every question can land like a left hook.

“I thought you loved me.” “It’s dealt with in Christ, so why is this so hard for you?” “What grief or concerns am I allowed to express?”

Dealing with sexual history can turn intimacy into a battlefield, and affection into a tangled web of recorded wrongs—of power plays and sharpened blades. I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. I allowed insecurity to take the driving seat. I allowed my ego to become the thing I protected and cherished, rather than the valuable and vulnerable image of God in front of me.

Rarely do two Christians have the proper tools to defuse the conversation. Dating is an unstable kind of relationship—it either ends in a marriage or a breakup. A sexual history only complicates matters. It can make us nervous, cautious, withholding, unsparing, unforgiving and bludgeoning. But, by God’s infinite and mysterious grace, it can also be an event for mending, for excavating, for cherishing, for learning—if we have the courage.

The twin emotions of dating with a sexual history are embarrassment and impatience. Embarrassment, because you feel exposed and judged as you feel the weight of the other person’s purity. Impatience, because you want to let the past be the past, and refuse to be rejected and discarded for a past with which you’ve dealt diligently with the Lord and the church.

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Paul Maxwell (@paulcmaxwell) is a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and philosophy professor at Moody Bible Institute. He writes more at his blog, paulcmaxwell.com, and pretends to like coffee.