In the beginning stages of a relationship, everything seems perfect. Just catching a glimpse of the man or woman of your affections brings a smile to your face and fluttery little butterflies to your stomach. Holding hands sends a tingle up your arm. Everything is new. Everything is exciting. And it is far too easy to let your guard down.
But there comes that moment when you and your partner who are not married to each other falls into the temptation of having sex before marriage.
In an anonymous letter a man wrote, “I slept with my girlfriend two days ago, and now we are both left hurt and feeling dirty, cheap, ashamed — we cannot even look at ourselves. We are both born-again believers in Christ, but we got lured into temptation. Is there any hope that we might become pure again and be healed from our sin? I know the blood of Jesus covers every sin. But how can we get back our relationship’s purity again?”
This is the remedy given him by a pastor, John Piper.
- Resolve to abstain.
The couple had sex once, but they should not repeat the pattern. Piper says 1 Corinthians 6:18 has a direct command: “Flee from sexual immorality.”
He writes, “Chaste, holy singleness — has its special rewards for faithfulness… Singleness and chastity are a very high calling in God’s mind. That is the first thing.”
- Ask God for forgiveness.
There is no sin that is so offensive to God that it cannot be forgiven. Jesus paid the price of all sins through his death on the cross. Come to God in repentance and you will be washed clean.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter” (Mark 3:28).
- Forgive your partner.
Do not blame your partner for the actions taken. And accept their forgiveness as well. Piper warns that this is not a simple task. “Mutual forgiveness is no simple matter because for forgiveness to be full and complete and real, there needs to be confession and repentance that is authentic and lasting. Both need to own completely their own fault in this and both, indeed, are at fault in this,” he writes.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
- Pursue forbearance. This goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Forbearance is patiently enduring your partner, instead of casting blame. Scripture commands that as followers of Christ we must have “compassionate hearts… forbearing one another” (Colossians 3:12-13).
Piper writes, “So you can either walk away from that relationship — that has destroyed a million marriages — or you can forebear.”
- Rebuild trust. Breaking a vow to God and each other has shattered the trust that was once between you. And unlike forgiveness, it will have to be earned, not given.
Piper advises patience while trust is slowly rebuilt. “When we have broken trust, which they have, both of them, it will take time to establish confidence in our character. So be patient with one another and be honest about this,” he says.
- Find hope in the gospel. Walking this road will be painful, but Scripture tells us that healing is possible.
“…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Crosswalk.com contributing writer Eric Giesow offers further advice on pursuing a pure lifestyle while dating. He writes, “Don’t be afraid to call a “timeout.” What I mean by “timeout” is that once a boundary has been crossed, you must verbalize it right away to one another and call it what it was: wrong and dishonoring… After a mess up, silence is the greatest enemy to future victory.”
Don’t be silent. Take your concerns to your partner and to God.
“God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 MSG)