“I know God has forgiven him, and I have too… but will he think differently of me? Will I be beautiful enough?”
How to deal with a sexual past is a very relevant question in today’s age. Many of you have read my husband’s testimony in ‘Does God Forgive Sexual Sin?’, where he told his story of God’s grace and redemption over his own sexual past. But as we approached our wedding day, I asked both my Josh and God: “Will that sexual past affect our future?”
Men and women worldwide are fighting a constant sexual barrage. Their histories range from porn addictions to molestation to rape to promiscuity. The good news of God’s redemption has brought hope to ALL trapped in sexual sin and addiction – and that’s something to celebrate! But like any sin, the consequences still exist, and we have a choice when it comes to the aftermath.
My aforementioned post, “Does God Forgive Sexual Sin?” talks about the process by which God redeems us from our pasts and how to walk forward in freedom (if you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so before we delve into this post). But how do we, the spouse or significant other, walk with our man (or woman) into freedom? Will our own sexual past, or the past of our husband, dictate our future happiness? That’s what we are talking about today.
I wasn’t the ‘better person’ of the two when Josh and I married just because I went to my wedding a virgin and he did not. We are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory in our own way (Romans 3:23). But even though I knew he walked in God’s grace, I wondered if past memories would color his perception of our sexual relationship down the road. Now, seven months married, that thought doesn’t even cross my mind – and hasn’t since the first month we’ve been married.
Are you struggling with these same thoughts? Below are five ways you can break through those doubts and walk the ‘freedom road’ with your boyfriend, fiance’ or husband.
1. Accept God’s forgiveness for his sexual past.
I’m assuming that the man in question has repented of his past and is arranging his life consistently with that change of mind (once again, discussed in the ‘Does God Forgive’ post). If he is still struggling, I recommend the Lust Free Living book and resources as well as accountability with a male pastor, mentor or parent to help him begin the restoration process.
If his sexual history is truly behind him and he has made life changes since then, we must accept the forgiveness God extends. God has promised to forgive those who come to Him (John 1:9) and restore them to freedom, like the adulteress of John 8 (“Who condemns you?… Go and sin no more.”). When we refuse to forgive someone God has forgiven, we essentially place our requirement for compensation higher than God’s.
We must accept the forgiveness God extends to our man and allow that forgiveness to dictate our attitudes, thoughts, and actions. This is a principle necessary in every relationship, but especially in marriage. Withholding forgiveness is a form of pride and divides us from one another. As we remember how much grace God has shown us, we will readily extend that same grace to those we love.
2. Stop comparing.
We stand in the checkout line and wonder how, at forty years old, Drew Barrymore looks better than we do at 24. We look in the mirror and stretch out the wrinkles in our foreheads, wondering how expensive Botox is, really. We think about the girls our husbands dated before us and wonder… “Does he ever wish I looked like her?”
These thoughts aren’t from Christ. Christ’s thoughts are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, [and] admirable” (Phil. 4:8). Comparison is the seed of discontent . It is the impetus to insecurity. It benefits no one – especially the person comparing herself to others.
Is it natural to compare? Definitely. I find myself doing it without intention. But just because it is natural does not make it godly, and we have to shoot it down before it takes flight. If you really think about it, comparison is a form of covetousness. It’s not that we want what Drew Barrymore has… but we’re checking to ensure we want what we have.
God gave us these bodies with all their quirks, lumps, bumps, spots and divets. Do I like the wrinkles on my forehead and acne scars on my face? Nope. But somehow in my genetic makeup (…and maybe because I raise my eyebrows and pick at zits) that’s how I ended up. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but our bodies are the literal temples of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). We carry the Spirit of God within us. We are living arks of the covenant. My friend Madison will be writing a post about this concept later this week, but for now, let that sink in.
Why compare to others, especially to the unattainable, stylized covers of magazines, when these bodies have been deemed worthy of a Holy God? Why compare to your husband’s past relationships when YOU are his final choice?
Comparison destroys. Contentment unites.
3. Risk trust.
Following forgiveness, we have a big decision to make. We have to give our trust.
Forgiveness is restoration. If we say we forgive but refuse to extend trust, we haven’t really forgiven. We are asking the person to prove themselves to us in order to be worthy of our full forgiveness. We’re making them work for our grace, which is not the model Christ exemplified.
Love is built on trust. Sometimes trust is not earned, but given. It’s a risk we take when we love. God does this every day when He loves us: He risks the grief of our sin against Him, the pain of our unholiness – and He reaches out to love us anyway. When we risk love by risking trust, we are living out the love of God.
This kind of grace – undeserved trust – is motivating. It’s that feeling you get when someone believes in you no matter what you’ve done. It’s being a cheerleader, not a reminder of past failures. And it’s hard, ladies. I know it’s hard sometimes. But when I risked trust despite all past failings my husband may have made (in ANY area, not just sexually) I watched him rise to my expectation! I believed he was more than a conqueror, and with God, that’s who he became.
Their response to trust does not rest entirely on us by any means, but by extending that vote of confidence we can do much to encourage our men to lives of victory.
4. Believe him when he says you’re beautiful.
Let’s be honest, girls: we’re really hard on ourselves. We can’t take compliments because we don’t always believe what people say about us. We think it is vain to accept admiration for our physical, spiritual, or personal beauty. This, my friends, is insecurity. We can only receive love when we are secure within it.
Insecurity is a lack of trust. Just as we spoke about in the previous section, trust is necessary to relationships, and is very necessary to our relationship with God. As we trust God, our insecurities fade and confidence in His provision takes over our lives. This God-confidence removes all doubts and enables us to receive the love of the man God gave us.
If we can’t trust God and receive His love, we can’t trust our men and receive theirs. And if we refuse to receive love, we will never accept compliments on our beauty. Overcoming our husbands’ sexual past requires a heart change within ourselves. We choose to entrust our hearts to God – who will defend and protect us (Ps. 18:1-3)– and to our men – who are commanded to love and honor us (Eph. 5:25-27) – and are then FREE to believe in that love, thrive in that protection, and forget all that lies behind (Phil. 3:13).
So choose to believe him when he says you are beautiful! Trust his words! When I discussed this with Mr. M, he affirmed to me that past images and relationships were no comparison to the beautiful, holy, God-ordained relationship he has with me now. I am beautiful to him because he knows and loves me. He doesn’t look for flaws or compare me to past images – images and scenarios with which he has no loving relationship.
By rejecting his admiration, all I do is hurt myself and discourage my man. When we keep telling our men, “No, I’m not beautiful.” Or “You’re wrong, I’m fat!” we’re telling them they shouldn’t appreciate us as we are. We are rejecting their efforts to love us! So trust God’s identity for you (1 Peter 2), trust your man’s love for you, and believe him when he says you are beautiful.
5. Support, affirm, and encourage his walk with Christ.
Let your love unite you.
Whether you are dating, engaged, or married, let your mutual love of Christ and your love for each other bring you ever closer. When you are tempted to doubt God’s love or doubt your husband’s – run to Scripture and see what God says about who you are and how you are loved. No man can ever fulfill us because no man was ever meant to – only God can do that.
But as we draw near to God and trust His unwavering love for us, we begin to understand grace a little better. And as we understand grace better, we can give it much more freely.
Grace-based relationships are God’s intention. Be your man’s cheerleader! Give him grace, and by that grace teach him what true trust and love looks like. Believe in the redemption that covers him, and let his story be a testimony to many still trapped in sexual sin.
Let your banner over him be love, because God’s banner over you is the same.