I have been struggling with guilt about my past sexual sin, and I have a particular question that I would really like answered. I am going to have to embarrass myself and get a little graphic in order to have my question answered, so I apologize in advance.
I have not had actual sexual intercourse. However, I have committed sexual sin in my past (I have turned away from it now). The worst of that sexual sin being what I suppose they call "dry sex" (I assume you know what that entails).
My question is: Can I really still call myself a virgin even though I have committed this sin? And does God still consider me a virgin? I know I have not technically had actual sex, and I know I am forgiven. But I guess the fact that what I have done has the actual word sex in it, and is similar to sex, makes me wonder if I can really still say that I am a virgin. I would like to able to say that I am, but I also don't want to lie.
I'm so glad you wrote. It's rotten feeling guilty. (Not to be confused with the godly conviction that leads you to repentance.) Not only because of the yuck factor, but also because of how it leaves us vulnerable to the enemy and (as is his plan for us) to more sin.
Have you ever eaten more Oreos, Häagen Dazs or potato chips than the suggested serving size? If you have, you may have noticed that you get to the point where it's tempting to think, well, I've already blown my diet. I might as well go all the way and really enjoy this binge.
I think sexual sin can be a lot like that. But it doesn't have to be.
Praise God that you recognize your sexual activity as sin. Praise Him that you have repented and turned away from it. He has forgotten it. To His mind it's as far away as east is from west.
That doesn't change the fact that you may have some natural consequences to deal with. As I've written before,
Sex is like super glue. God designed it to hold a husband and wife together as long as they live. Just because you're having it outside of marriage doesn't make it any less sticky. Nor does the fact that you're stopping short of intercourse. Anything you do that leads to orgasm together creates the glue effect.
This is why it's essential that you not only repent, but turn from your sin. It will be difficult at first, but well worth the effort to strain against your sin nature toward holiness. It will restore you morally now and prepare you to bond with your husband someday.
But even as God has forgiven and cast your sin away, the enemy would love for you to dwell on it. He wants you to be guilt-ridden over it; to doubt the truth of God's forgiveness and ultimately, to feel so rotten about your past as to conclude that you've already crossed the line and might as well keep doing so. He wants you to believe that your purity is gone forever and the only response is to accept who you are (an impure woman tainted by sin) and live it out fully (with more and more sin). But that's simply not true. He is the father of all lies. He roams about like a lion, looking for someone to destroy.
That's why is so important that you fill your mind with truth. That you speak aloud the reality that you have been forgiven and cleansed of your sin and that through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can "go and sin no more!"
Did what you do amount to sexual sin? Yes. Are you technically still a virgin? Thankfully, yes! So are all the other folks who've dallied in sexual promiscuity (all things sexual before marriage) but stopped just shy of intercourse. And to all of you, I believe the encouragement is the same: repent and sin no more. You can rejoice that God protected you from going all the way and live from this day forward as a new creation washed white as snow.
To those of you who have had intercourse, you're just as able to repent and be cleansed. It's true you may not be able to claim virgin status on your wedding day, but you can claim forgiveness. And if you start walking in victory over your sin, that's remarkable. And praiseworthy.
I believe that victory requires a combination of "stop and start." Stop sinning and start looking to marriage. Marriage is a big part of the solution to the sexual immorality that plagues our generation. Paul talked about it in 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 and Mark Regnerus talked about it more recently in the cover story of Christianity Today.
God designed marriage in part as an aid to our morality. You were designed a sexual being and filled with sexual desires to motivate you to get married and have babies all for your good and God's glory! Clearly, your actions testify to the fact that you're not specially gifted for celibacy. What would be unhelpful is to spend the decade of your 20s merely striving to run away from sexual sin without also running toward marriage.
You should be intentional about getting married. I realize that as a woman, though, that you aren't in a position to propose to a man. There is waiting that you must do. But there are many things you can do to help the process, to nurture the men, to honor marriage and our God who made it.
The time when I was most tempted sexually overlapped the months leading up to my wedding. It was the hope of marriage that gave me the courage and patience to keep running away from temptation. That's one of the reasons I'm so committed to helping singles get married, and marry well. Without the hope of marriage, the abstinence message is empty.
I talked at length about this in my review of Dawn Eden's "Thrill of the Chaste":
The possibility of marriage, a good and godly marriage, is worthy of sexual restraint until it happens. ... Biblically, most of us are called to marry. It's the norm. Yes, some are gifted for lifelong celibacy as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, but few are called to it. In all of Scripture only one person, Jeremiah, was explicitly told not to marry. Just because the hope for marriage will, for some singles, be disappointed, is no reason to tell all singles to stop looking forward to it.
If you're called to marriage — and most of us are — faith that marriage can happen is essential for living chaste.
And so I end my answer with a few questions: Why just stop having dry-sex? Why not also get married and have real, God-ordained, wonderful, married sex?
You've got a man you like enough to fool around with. Do you like him enough to marry him? If so, sexual abstinence from this moment on will be a powerful incentive. If not, count the opportunity cost of being with him (and other men like him) and shift your focus to men who are good candidates for husband.
I pray God will speak truth to your heart and embolden you to walk purely before Him and in relationship with others.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.