I need more wisdom and Spirit-led guidance. Let me start with some background: I was in a relationship in high school from junior to senior year. I was saved, but still fell into sexual sin with my girlfriend repeatedly. I constantly felt sorrow for the sin but kept repeating the same sins over and over.
Finally, after the work of the Holy Spirit and fighting, I broke up with her. The sin didn’t stop, though. After a few months, we started dating again and went on and off. I continued going back to the same sin time and again. I was enslaved by my passions and lusts and felt super convicted every time.
That trend has continued up until my sophomore year of college where I am at right now. I am involved in an amazing campus ministry and local church and receive so much care for my soul. I have been advised to stay away from this girl and to have no contact with her. However, my problem is that I truly love and care about her. I want to marry this girl. I do not want to keep falling into sexual sin. I hate it! I do love this girl though. What do I do?
I realize that you only gave me a snapshot of your relationship, so there could be more to it, but based on what you’ve described, your “relationship” has been built on and sustained by sex, and for all I know has been mostly defined by the act of sex more than anything else. If that is the case, what you have had for the past four years is not a relationship, but a monogamous (I assume) hook-up.
Let’s be honest. What you have loved and cared for these past four years is you. Yes, you’ve felt guilty. Yes, you’ve hated falling back into the same old sin. But in the end, by your own admission, your desires have won the day. (I understand she bears plenty of responsibility as well, but she didn’t write me, and as the man, you’re leading the dance.)
Let’s do a little exercise here. Take this relationship and subtract the sex. What does that leave you with the last four years?
If your answer is “not much,” then you need to realize what it is you really “love and care about.” Is it her, or is it mostly the sex with her? There’s a big difference. Sex is only part of a relationship — a great and critical part; don’t get me wrong — but it has no ability to be the foundation of and sustain a relationship.
You guys started out wrong and have stayed wrong for four years. It’s time to rebuild this whole thing on the right foundation. It will not be easy, but if you do it right it will be worth every effort.
First, feeling sorrowful is not repentance and hasn’t borne the fruit of repentance in either of your lives. I’ve written in more detail about true repentance here. The gist is that true repentance goes beyond personal sorrow and guilt feelings to a revelation of how our sin and self-love grieves the heart of our jealous God, and is in fact, idolatry.
You’ve sinned against God and against your girlfriend. You address the issue with God first, confessing not just the act of your sin, but the heart behind the act. He will forgive the sincerely repentant heart.
Next, you need to seek the forgiveness of your girlfriend. You must confess to her how you’ve not honored her as you should have for the last four years. You’ve not treated her as a child of God, but as your own. You’ve taken the gift of this relationship that God brought to you and used it for your own pleasure. You tell her you’ve acted selfishly, not honorably, and you seek her forgiveness.
You don’t do this by phone or email. You do it in person. I advise that you spend some time alone with God beforehand, seeking His guidance in what you need to say to her. You might even want to write it all down and give it to her when you’re finished.
If God gives you permission to continue the relationship, then here is what you do:
You ask a married male leader from the ministry and church you’re involved in to become your personal mentor and accountability partner in this. Ask him to walk through the rebuilding with you.
Ask him and his wife to mentor the two of you as a couple and to help you rebuild the relationship in a God-glorifying way, from the ground up. Submit to them entirely and do everything they ask you to do. Be honest and open with them about your failures and your desire to do things right.
I can almost guarantee that without a mature, Christ-following mentor couple, your relationship will never get past where it is right now. Don’t make a move with her until you find a couple who will walk with you as God leads the two of you from repentance to redemption to reformation.
Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.