Hi I’m Erika. I’m a pastor’s wife and I was sexually active before marriage. Whew! Now that we got that out of the way…
In all seriousness, I do want to talk about this not only because I think it’s incredibly important but also because it’s incredibly relevant in our world today. What you’re NOT about to hear me say is that sin is okay and it shouldn’t be taken seriously. If you’ve been here before, you know this ain’t that kinda blog. This year my husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage and I feel like now having been on both sides of this thing I’ve got some thoughts I’d like to share.
I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years repairing, examining and healing from decisions I made before I was married. My decision to be sexually active outside of marriage has impacted me greatly. Sex is such a gift, but when taken out of its rightful context, it can’t help but have major ramifications. The lasting lingering effects is something our culture doesn’t really want to discuss. Not surprisingly. Our “hookup culture” likes to sell the lie that you can sleep with whoever, whenever with a simple click of a button and you’ll be all the better for it. You know, YOLO. (Are people even saying that still? I’ve become that person.) This just simply isn’t true. There are lasting, lingering effects. You just might not know it yet. For some of us, we made these decisions knowing what we were doing wasn’t right. For others, God had not yet opened our minds and hearts to His truth. Either way, there is hope.
What I know now. God’s design is always best. It’s always right. We can rest assured that if His word says it, it’s not only what’s right for us, He also has our best interest in mind. His word promises that He works for the good of those that love Him. Those that love Him. How do we know if we love Him? By our obedience. Notice it doesn’t say for the good of those who treat His word like a suggestion. Anytime we stray outside the boundaries and guidelines He has given us, we experience the consequences of sin. One thing I know for sure about sin, it takes you farther than you ever wanted to go and keeps you longer than you ever wanted to stay. Of this you can be certain.
There came a moment in time where I confessed that I knew what I was doing was wrong, I asked for forgiveness and I made a promise to the Lord that I would practice abstinence until my wedding night. I kept that promise. In the time between that conversation with the Lord and marrying my husband Michael so much healing took place in my life. He began to strip the guilt and shame I was carrying from my decisions. He gave me back my self respect and my dignity. I began to understand that I was NOT damaged goods. That God saw me, He forgave me, He loved me and He still had a purpose for me. Notice though, that the consequences of my decisions didn’t just go away because I got right before the Lord. My heart and soul were still effected by my decisions. I saw multiple counselors over the years and have even struggled in my intimacy with my husband off and on during that time. THIS is what I mean when I say, sin will take you farther than you wanted to go and keep you longer than you wanted to stay. When the enemy whispers in our ear, he knows exactly what he’s doing.
If you’re reading this, there’s about a 100% chance that if you’ve struggled in this area you’ve run into Christians who hear the words “sex before marriage” and gasp at the idea of such a thing. They’re the ones who respond with the underlying tone of, “Well you’ve really done it, there’s no going back now!” The inexcusable screw up. Let’s get real. Those people, are not your people. In fact, if you’re reading this and you are those people, do us all a giant favor and lay off. Would you? There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And if those who are in Christ don’t receive condemnation from Him, what on earth makes you think we have to receive it from you? In fact, if things are so neat and tidy in your world, there’s really no need for Jesus to be a part of it in the first place, is there?
What does this look like in my life today? I set the bar high for my kids, especially my girls. I really do. I expect a lot because I know they’re capable of a lot. I hold myself to an even higher standard. Not only in what they hear me say, but also in my actions. I know they will follow my example. Not my words, my example. I have honest (and appropriate) conversations with them. I want them to be aware of what the world is about to slam them with. I want them to be able to identify the lies and combat them with truth. I want them to love who they are and what they look like not because someone else does or tells them to, but because of what their Creator says about them. I want them to know that the most respectful thing a man can do is keep his hands off them until the right time. I want them to know that they have the right and authority to make those calls. I want them to understand to the bone that affirmation from anyone, but especially from men, does not define them or make them worthy. This is the kind of women empowerment I can get behind.
But you know what? None of this guarantees that my sixteen year old daughter isn’t going to come to me crying because she’s pregnant. I can do all the “right” things, I can have all the “right” conversations, but the reality is, I’m not in control. I’m not in control of anything for that matter, but I’m certainly not in control of the choices my children will ultimately make. Yes I can guide them and point them in the right direction. Yes I can pray over them daily, as I do, for the Lord to protect them, equip them and give them a deep understanding of who He is and what He’s about. I would certainly encourage parents in that. At some point though, we have to understand that we can’t take credit for the good that our children do, and we can’t personalize the bad decisions they will make. It isn’t personal. They are people. And they will act accordingly. We paralyze our kids when we slap a label on them that says, “No mistakes, be perfect.” The truth is, often times we’re more concerned about how our children’s behavior is going to make us look than we are developing and molding young people into adults of substance that will make a difference in this world. It’s been my experience that Christians are sometimes far more concerned with the image than they are remembering that we are all image bearers and every single one of us falls short.
So if you find yourself in a situation like mine today just remember, it’s ok. You’re only one decision away from redemption. You don’t need anyone else’s permission to take a hold of what is yours in Christ.
“If you, GOD, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.”
Psalm 130:3-4 MSG
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10 NIV