Can any man ever forgive my past?
I am a woman in my late-20s who is hoping to be married someday. I love and follow God to the best of my ability. I grew up in a Christian home; however, during high school and college I backslid: partying, drinking and having sex.
After college, I rededicated my life to God, stopped partying, drinking, having sex, and became abstinent until marriage. Since then, I’ve dated Christian guys, some of whom still think premarital sex is OK and then try to guilt trip me into it, saying it’s not fair because I’ve already lost my virginity. We break up.
Others think it’s not OK to have sex, but see my past and don’t like it. Sometimes when the past comes up and I tell them my history, they break up with me, too. Do you think there are any single men who will forgive my past and look at me through new eyes in Christ?
I’ve read all the Boundless articles dealing with sexual pasts, and I believe purity is not about virginity, but about the heart, through which all things flow. Honestly, after my sexual mistakes, I feel I’ve been taken through the heart of the Gospel and am more pure now than ever. Where can I find a man who is like me or who is forgiving?
Thank you for this question. It’s a joy to hear that you are trusting Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and are living for Him. I’m sorry to hear how dating has been going and want to encourage you that, yes, there is hope.
The problem with the guys who break up with you when they find out about your past is that they don’t understand the seriousness of sin. Not really. They would say they do and that’s why they can’t date you. But Scripture says they don’t, or they’d be humbled by the knowledge of how much they’ve been forgiven (Luke 7:47).
We all have pasts to be forgiven. Before trusting Jesus’ finished work on the cross, we all stand condemned before God (Romans 3:10). If you have truly repented and turned from your former sins; if you are “flee[ing] youthful passions and pursu[ing] righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22); if you are abiding in Christ and striving to be like Him in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:16, 1:22), then a man who understands the Gospel will know that you are a sinner like himself, mercifully saved by grace to the praise of God’s glory. Though your past will undoubtedly be a grief to him and the specifics will be painful to hear, for a man who truly understands the Gospel, that you sinned when you were not faithfully following Christ will not be a surprise.
I have a friend who lived a life like yours, whose husband is a man like this. He wrote about their relationship on the eve of their wedding. He was a good, homeschool kid who would never have dared date a party girl with tats. He wouldn’t date her. But he married her. He wrote,
If you would have told me when I was a teenager that my wife would have seven tattoos, a history in drugs, alcohol, and attending heavy metal concerts, I would have laughed at you, given you one of my courtship books, and told you to take a hike. My plans were much different, much more nuanced with careful planning, much more clean-cut, and much more, well, about me.
He’s the sort of man you want to marry — one who knows that Jesus changes everything.
Right in the middle of the mess of life, Taylor met Jesus, and he planted his flag in her life, and she believed in him and he transformed her. The Taylor who spent her life living from one pleasure to the next died, and a new person was born. A new person with new desires, and a new heart that longed to please God, serve people, and treasured Jesus Christ above all other pleasure.
Spencer doesn’t stop with what Christ did for Taylor. He knows she’s not the only one in their relationship who needs rescue.
In reality, Taylor’s story is my story as well.… Nothing about my life cries for blessings; it calls for curses forever. Yet, God has dressed me in white, put my sin upon his Son, and given me a heart that loves him.
This is the picture of marriage between a husband and wife who know they are both great sinners in need of a savior — even if only one is a virgin on their wedding day.
Now about these so-called “Christian guys” who still think sex is OK and are trying to pressure you into it: Don’t fall for their tricks — or the tricks of the one they’re serving in the moment they’re trying to persuade you (John 8:44). First John 2:4-6 says,
Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Thanks be to God for His great salvation! Paul assures the sexually broken that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
If a man says he is a Christian, then tries to persuade, guilt or force you into sex, he is lying. Ephesians 5:5 says, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous that is, an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
It may be hard to hear this, in part because it casts a stark light on how serious sin is. But if it were not so, Christ would not have needed to die. To act like sin is no big deal is to make a mockery of the torture He endured on the cross. The punishment He endures is what we deserve — all of us — apart from God’s mercy and grace.
None are good. Apart from Christ, none of us are worthy of God’s love or fellowship. This is an often misunderstood reality. It’s why some people think that certain sins are worse than others. While it’s true that some sins carry more extreme natural consequences than others, even the smallest sin creates infinite separation from God. The only way such a distance can be bridged is through Christ. Only He never sinned. Only He always obeyed.
I do believe there are godly single men who will forgive your past and look at you for who you really are: “the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” Such a one will be the sort who understands the horror of his own sin — whatever it is — and the infinite mercy he has received in Christ. He must be a man who is truly saved, one who understands the Gospel of grace.
I pray God will lead you to a man who, when he hears the horrors of your past, will in light of the glories of Christ’s saving work, rejoice greatly in God, the God who transforms sinners.
By grace alone,
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.