Ideally, a Christian relationship or marriage will start with both people as virgins, because in God's eyes, marriage is the only place for sex. But this world is far from ideal, isn't it? You may have been raised in a godly home, got saved at a young age, and you were able to maintain your physical purity as a virgin. But then you meet and fall in love with someone who was saved later in life, after having lived according to worldly standards. Or maybe you're the one who made a mistake in your past and your virginity is gone. Maybe you're wondering, "Will any Christian still want to marry me?"
It hurts God deeply when we sin, though sexual sins are especially damaging because not only do they hurt God, they also hurt us and those we love (like potential spouses). Even though God puts our sins as far from us as the east is from the west when we have repented of our sin and put our lives in Christ's hands (Psalm 103:12), people still have long memories and hold grudges. If one person has a hard time forgiving the other person of his or her past, the relationship is definitely going to suffer.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." When we truly understand what it means to be forgiven, we start seeing how much God loves us, and that helps us forgive other people by extending the same kind of grace. That means that we let go of their past, we don't hold it against them, and try to see them as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ died for that person's sin too, and we must to decide if we are willing to accept them as they are, knowing that those sinful memories are a part of them.
Yet none of us is without sin, so who are we to judge someone else (Ephesians 2:1-5)? Take a look at your own past through God's eyes. Think of the things that He has forgiven you for. The question is: Can I forgive others as Christ forgave me? Can I forgive completely and totally, from deep in my heart?
Jesus said if we don't forgive, God won't forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15). That doesn't mean that forgiving others is a way of getting God to forgive us, which we know is by grace alone, but instead it means that a forgiving heart is a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit working inside a true believer. Refusal to forgive is a sign of a hard and sinful heart. Can you forgive the other person for their past sexual sin? Can you forgive yourself for yours?
Before dating or marrying someone who is not a virgin, a lot of discussion, thought, prayer, and reflection should happen. James 1:5 says that if you ask for wisdom, God will give it to you. Speaking with a godly friend or pastor and being involved in a Bible-teaching church will help a lot. Some churches have great pre-engagement classes that could be helpful. In some cases, before considering marriage, it might be a good idea for the person who was sexually active to get checked medically for STDs.
Most importantly, talking and praying freely and openly about these things with the person you love may reveal issues from both your pasts and give you an opportunity to deepen your relationship.
Everybody needs and deserves to be loved unconditionally—just like God loves us! That means not holding the past against someone or bringing up old sins to hurt them. That means not getting into the same sexual sin with them—even if you're sure you're going to marry the person someday.
You can read more about the roles of husbands and wives in Ephesians 5, but it comes down to just putting the other person before yourself, just as Christ did when He died for us. If you want the best for that person, then forgive them, love them unconditionally, and help them avoid future sexual sins.
A successful relationship takes two people who are willing to sacrifice for each other and the strength to love selflessly. Being smart in choosing a potential spouse based upon biblical qualities is really important, but it's also extremely important to make sure that we are growing spiritually too and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our lives.
Think about it: a guy who is seeking to be the man God wants him to be will be able to help his wife become the woman God desires her to be—and vice versa. Despite their pasts, they will be able to build their marriage into a God-honoring relationship that will make their lives awesome.
It is not ideal to have sexual sin in your or your potential spouse's life, but that is how it is sometimes. Past sexual sin doesn't make a Christian "bad" or unforgivable. None of us is without sin, so we shouldn't judge (Ephesians 2:1-5). Being able to fully forgive someone is a mark of a true Christian (Matthew 6:14-15). That goes for forgiving yourself too. Before dating or marrying someone who is not a virgin, a lot of discussion, thought, prayer, and reflection should happen (James 1:5). Talking and praying freely and openly with the person you love may reveal issues from both your pasts and give you an opportunity to deepen your relationship.
Lona is a 20-something Christian author from Tennessee whose first book, Continuer in Christ, was published in 2012. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Professional Christian Counseling. Lona has a colorful background as a journalist, youth minister, professional actress, tour guide, and currently a college tutor. She loves to spend time with her husband and dogs.