Is there hope after sexual sin?
It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US and I am looking forward to a long restful weekend.
Well, the “restful” part is a stretch because we are also moving houses before the end of the week.
Between packing and hosting dinner on Thursday, I haven’t had the margin to write.
So I want to post this conversation that took place in the Comments section of the blog last week, on the post “The anatomy of sexual impurity in courtship”
But before I share the question and answer, I want to clarify a few things on the subject of purity and marriage.
Purity is tender subject.
It’s not easy to talk about purity because most people have differing interpretations and opinions, especially when you consider cultural contexts.
That said, I believe God’s word is not silent on the matter. It might not be easy to hear and harken to, but it’s simple. It’s clear. There’s a narrow road and a wide road. The narrow road is straight forward and joy-filled.
But it’s filled with tough choices and plenty of opportunities to not go with the flow.
The wider road is more inviting, possibly more exciting (to the flesh), more popular, less taxing and strewn with excuses. It’s also filled with struggles and pain.
Here’s the bottom line, God (or the church/mentors/friends) cannot force us to take any of these paths. They’ll exhort, encourage and warn but ultimately, it’s our decision, our choice.
Purity is not just a matter of physical boundaries
After publishing the post, it came out that a few readers felt the author painted physical boundaries and “rules” in courtship as the only ‘deterrent’ to sexual sin.
Some felt that spiritual and heart boundaries are more important than physical boundaries, thus the church and mentors ought to concentrate on the heart only.
But here’s what I think. As human beings, we are spirit, soul and body. You can’t feed one and neglect the other and still be balanced and healthy. (Tweet please)
So the purity message cannot and should not concentrate on the heart and mind only. You got to talk about the flesh as well; it’s lusts and desires and how they lead to temptation and sin.
Indeed, there’s room for improvement; the church and mentors should be preaching a wholesome message; speak about the heart and mind..not just list physical “rules” for purity.
But that’s a post for another day.
The “anatomy of sexual impurity in courtship” post was a sort of common-sense guide on how impurity starts, how it progresses and how you can nip it in the bud, as far as physical ignite-points go.
So again let me reiterate that purity is not just a physical thing, it’s also a heart and mind thing.
And we must approach it from all those three angles.
Helping your marriage.
Besides singles, most people who read this blog are in their early years of marriage. At least that’s my heart, to equip and encourage wives in their early years of marriage.
I believe it’s important to understand the place and importance of foundations in marriage. The bible talks about the foolish builder who built his house on the sand.
When the winds and rain came and beat against his house, the house collapsed with a mighty crash because it was not been built on the solid rock.
You might have come into marriage with sexual baggage. Hopefully you dealt with the sin (and by sin I mean sexual sin that involved your will, not sin that was committed against you i.e sexual abuse) before you got married, or even after.
But there are some of us who began the process but never really completed the full walk to freedom because the process of restoration turned out to be a little too messy and painful.
So before I share the question and answer, I want to ask if you can keep on open mind and heart as you read through the rest of the post. See if you can locate yourself in any of these steps mentioned.
Maybe you skipped a step (to restoration). And it’s been wrecking havoc in your marriage.
(Or maybe its not wrecking havoc, just creating untold discomfort – like a pebble in a shoe)
The rains and winds of hardship come to both the wise and the foolish builders – challenges come to everyone, not just to those with a sexual past.
But what makes the difference is the kind of foundation that’s been laid.
Dealing with your past, walking out the process of restoration, that’s part of good foundation-building.
If my boyfriend and I fall into sexual sin, is there hope for us?
Here’s the reader question
What happens when a courting couple falls into sexual sin before they get to the wedding? Should the church refuse to marry them? And if the church refuses to marry them, should they separate? Many receive no counseling and therefore end up living together because the church won’t marry them and thus they continue on in sin.)
Answer (by Lawrence Namale, guest writer of the previous post)
You asked ‘if’ couples fall into sexual sin….that has happened and it keeps happening in church all over the world.
I love what one hymn says about the Blood of Jesus…”that it goes as far as the curse is found”. This means that when it happens, the situation is unfortunate yes, but thoroughly redeemable!
-That the couple must acknowledge their sin (in this case, fornication)
-That the couple should repent (1 John 1:8-10)
-That the couple should commit to live a pure life after that (Jesus said, ‘neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’)
-That the couple should publicly acknowledge and renounce their sin. (Ok I know that there is serious debate on this part…it is a requirement that varies from church to church).
If the affected couple chooses not adhere to the standards of restoration that the church has set, then some churches will not want to officiate their marriage.
In essence churches are keen not to seem to condone the sin of fornication by marrying people off who are known to have fallen in that sin.
That being said, there is a very important issue that must be stressed all the way from before courtship, in courtship and through marriage.
That is the issue of accountability.
As much as we do not repent to our church, we are accountable to the spiritual leaders in our church on how we live.
They are ‘under-shepherds’…which means that God has put them in leadership positions of Authority in our lives. We need to recognize their authority as they submit their own lives before God.
On another extreme, some churches would of course refuse to marry such couples off hand. There is however no scriptural basis for this kind of behavior…and if a church does that, then they have missed the mandate that they have been given.
In such cases, it is important to seek counsel and be directed to another Bible believing/teaching church that can help them through their restoration and all the way to a better life.
We need to understand that it is not the church that forgives, neither do we repent to the church. Even before the church knows, it is important that the couple (as individuals) talk to God as in the scripture above.
If a couple finds themselves in this situation, they need to understand the following:
1. That what they did was sinful
2. That there are consequences to their action
3. That their sin could potentially mess up their relationship unless they seek a respite
4. That they are not damaged goods, and that they are redeemable
5. That there is a process of restoration that they must commit themselves to.
6. That God Almighty loves them so much and would not treat them as their sins deserve.
7. That forgiveness of their sin is totally dependent on them seeking it out from God.
Finally, let me emphasize this point that those who slip and fall are not damaged goods.
I happen to know one such a couple who fell into sexual sin before marriage.
They went through the restoration process in their church after acknowledging their sin.
The process was not easy (we should not expect it to be rosy anyway).
In fact, their church is such that it expected them to stand before the congregation on Sunday and tell them about their sin and their commitment to purity from them henceforth.
That was such a tough test but as they went through it, they realized how liberating it was for them.
What happened is that the man (now writing this article and replying to your question) ended up being a minister at the Church’s radio station every weekday at 5:00 am.
He was blessed and the people were blessed too, till the time he moved on to another assignment.
Photo by Mickael Tournier on Unsplash