How would you respond to someone who’s heartbroken after having sex before marriage?
A friend of the podcast, who wishes to remain anonymous, writes in: “Hello Pastor John, I slept with my girlfriend two days ago, and now we’re both left hurt and feeling dirty, cheap, ashamed—we can’t even look at ourselves. We’re both born-again believers in Christ, but we got lured into temptation. Is there any hope that we might become pure again and be healed from our sin? I know the blood of Jesus covers every sin, but how can we get back our relationship’s purity again? Or is that permanently gone? What do we do now?”
6 Steps for Healing When You Regret Having Sex Before Marriage
I think this listener is beginning in the right place. He is, it seems, appropriately shattered, meaning something has been irrevocably lost. He and his girlfriend will never be able to undo this sexual encounter. By having sex before marriage, they have lost something very precious.
Though that may sound harsh, I begin this way because I feel a tender and jealous concern for people who have not lost their virginity. It’s a very precious thing for men and women. The world views it as weakness, silly in fact. God views it as a very great strength and beauty beyond compare. And I’m just as eager to help listeners maintain their sexual purity and virginity before they lose it as I am to help those who’ve lost it recover the purity that Christ makes possible. So that’s why I’m begin the way I do.
So I think this young man is beginning in the right place. He is broken. He knows that by having sex before marriage, a beautiful thing has been lost. And he knows that the blood of Jesus covers every sin. So this is a good place to begin. Those who take their sins lightly and treat Jesus’ blood as a kind of quick fix have never seen the true costliness of what Jesus did to purchase their purity. So let me make a few observations that might prove redemptive and hope-giving to our friend and his girlfriend.
1. Don’t repeat the mistake.
First, I’d draw attention to what this listener already knows—but put it in biblical words. First Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication.” God’s will for unmarried people is that they abstain from sexual relations. God makes this possible by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in his promises, and he gives sweet and special rewards to single people who honor him this way.
Marriage has its special rewards for faithfulness, and singleness—chaste, holy singleness—has its special rewards for faithfulness. Married people can glorify God in some ways that single people can’t, and single people can glorify God in some ways that married people can’t. This isn’t a matter of inferiority or superiority. Singleness and chastity are a very high calling in God’s mind.
2. Accept God’s forgiveness.
I would remind our friend to hear—again, in the words of Scripture: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness” (Mark 3:28-29). Let’s leave for another time what it means to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
But let all of us with tears of thankfulness, with trembling joy, simply revel in these words: All sins will be forgiven the children of man. That means all sins, even having sex before marriage. That is breathtaking. Can you imagine anything sweeter for a person like the thief on the cross, just nothing but sin, nothing but sin for who knows how many decades? In other words, no specific, single sin or kind of sin is so ugly, so gross, so offensive to God that it cannot be forgiven by the blood of Jesus. As John puts it, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from”—here it comes—“all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
3. Forgive each other.
It will be a huge challenge for the couple now in this situation to forgive each other; not just to receive God’s forgiveness, but to receive each other’s forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” But that’s no easy thing, so they shouldn’t give up too quickly. What makes it difficult to forgive each other in this situation is not only that we’re all proud and selfish and don’t like to humble ourselves before others, but also because there’s a subtle temptation to shift onto the other person blame that belongs at least partly with yourself.