Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. Maybe you know a relationship like this. Failures to commit are prevalent and destructivebut I want to speak into excessively committed relationships, unwisely committed relationships — couples that are too fragile and compromised to feel the seriousness of sin and the preciousness of Christ anymore, or to see their relationship with a clear head and balanced heart.
Why are unhealthy dating relationships so hard to end, especially after a couple has compromised morally? And how should Christian couples respond if they sin sexually? As a Christian man, one who failed sexually in dating relationships in the past, I am writing mainly to and for men. I have a word for my sisters in Christ at the end, but I want the weight of this charge to fall most heavily on my brothers.
Physical intimacy and dating: how far is too far?
God gave you the shoulders for it. When a Christian couple sins sexually, God holds the man more responsible than the woman. As John Piper writes. God requires more of men in relation to women than he does women in relation to men. God requires that men feel a peculiar responsibility for protecting and caring for women. God calls men and women to pursue holiness, to guard the marriage bed, to do all things for his glory, including dating, marrying, making love, and pursuing sexual purity.
He calls both men and women to protect and serve one another in complementary ways, but from the beginning, he lays a heavier burden on men. Eve ate first from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she enticed her husband to eat with her — and she received a curse for her sin Genesis God expected the man to obey his voice and lovingly lead his wife to do the same — and for the man to own the greater responsibility for their failure. To his shame, Adam not only did what God had explicitly forbidden, but then blamed Eve and God!
Men, if you fail sexually in a relationship, I am pleading with you not to respond like Adam did, but to own your failure, and grieve it, and do whatever necessary to repent, protect your sister in Christ, and prepare yourself to pursue marriage with complete purity 1 Timothy Any man who wants to think clearly about a relationship after sexual sin needs to think clearly about sexual sin itself.
Sexual sin, like any sin, is first and foremost an offense against God that separates us from him Psalm ; also Genesis ; If we have committed sexual sin, however, our first and deepest response should be. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm —2. We must confess and ask forgiveness from one another, but the first and most important work of genuine repentance is done before the sovereign throne of mercy.
Flesh series: boundaries in dating
If you want to be done with sexual sin, begin with meditating on the grave seriousness of what it says to and about God — and then get to the cross, where the only hope we have, Jesus Christ, hung to save us from our sin, even our sexual sin 1 John ; In s 25, the shameless sexual sin of one couple who was righteously speared to death led to the death of thousands more.
Did God overreact? Was the punishment excessive?
So, if temptation comes, run the other way. Flee as quickly as possible 1 Corinthians The wrath of God is coming against the sexual sin our society excuses and encourages at every turn.
Sexual sin should cause an earthquake in our souls, awakening in us a sober fear of judgment — and a more profound cherishing of what the blood of Jesus purchased for us. Sexual sin should make us stop and ask hard questions about any dating relationship. But it often does exactly the opposite among well-meaning Christians — sealing the commitment, isolating the relationship, and blinding us to glaring concerns.
Sexual sin can make us feel more committed — because sex is meant to have that effect — but in the wrong place and with the wrong person even if we were to eventually marry that person, at which point, and only at that point, they would become the only right person.
God deed sex to avert and reject temptation within a marriage 1 Corinthiansnot to embrace temptation and undermine your future marriage. Sex before marriage numbs us to temptation, hardens us against repentance, and plunders the trust in the relationship, leaving us less ready for marriage and less able to date wisely and with purity. Precisely when we need space to reflect, confess, refocus our hearts, and build healthier boundaries, we often dive further into intimacy, instead, perhaps continuing to sin sexually, and hoping it all works out and we get married.
When a christian couple sins sexually
This kind of intimacy, however, is ultimately an illusion. It may look like genuine intimacy, and even feel like genuine intimacy, but it will expire, and often quickly.
Very often, what we need in the wake of sexual sin in dating is the opposite of intimacy: space. I want to chart a different path for Christian couples, and encourage them to take a meaningful break from each other before pursuing marriage again.
Someone gave me advice like this, in slightly different circumstances, at an important point in my life, and I have only grown to love and appreciate what he encouraged me to do more since. To be absolutely, extravagantly clear, this is not a word from God, but a word of Christian advice that I hope will prove to be wise in your life.
As someone who ly committed sexual sin in dating relationships and who now has counseled couples through sexual sin, I am offering guidance I wish I would have received and heeded sooner:. If you commit sexual sin with your girlfriend, consider taking a meaningful break from the relationship for the sake of your soul and hers, your current relationship, and your future marriage.
Essentially, I am recommending fasting from each other for the sake of honoring God, loving and protecting her, and pursuing greater joy in marriage. What does fasting do for a follower of Jesus? Fasting intentionally forgoes some good for the sake of fixing our hearts on a greater Good.
Appropriate intimacy in dating
By laying aside food, or sex in marriage, or some daily technology, or any other pleasure, we say to our souls: there is something more satisfying than this, more urgent and vital than this, more central to my life than this. We fast to see that God is supreme, to savor that God is supreme, and to say that God is supreme. What if we were willing to do this, when necessary, even in dating? The church in Acts fasted over serious decisions Acts ;and who you marry will be one of the most serious and consequential commitments you make in your life.
And sexual sin makes that decision all the more difficult and complicated. Why not stop, for a season, to regain your spiritual sanity and seek clarity from God? Different things for different people and different relationships. Meaningful will require wisdom including wisdom from outside of your relationship. Some relevant factors to consider, among others, might be: how long you have each been Christians, how old each of you are, how long you have been dating, your individual sexual histories, how often you have failed in this particular relationship, other healthy or unhealthy dynamics in the relationship.
Fasting in dating should do the same. For it to have its full clarifying and purifying effect, it should be difficult, inconvenient, and painful. To be clear, this kind of fasting is not penance — self-punishment to pay or show remorse for sins. The waiting is meant to lay hold of God all the more, intensify our war against sin, and communicate to each other the preciousness of holiness and trust. Prayerfully weigh what kind of break you might need, and then ask a few Christ-loving people who know you well to speak into the timing.
Good friends and counselors will know where you are uniquely weak or tempted, often more than you do, and will be able to help you discern what patient, sacrificial, unselfish love might look like in your situation.
My counsel is that Christian couples take a real break if they fall into sexual sin. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-controlthey should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. That is wise, divinely inspired counsel. Christians who burn with passion — who deeply and persistently long to enjoy sexual intimacy with a spouse — should marry, and not remain single. God has wired sexual longings into most of us to lead us toward the pursuit of marriage.
Our question here, however, is whether dating couples who have just committed sexual sin should consider taking a break and not move more aggressively toward marriage. I do think sexual sin and temptation to sexual sin should lead us, through repentance, to pursue marriage 1 Corinthians —9. I do not think committing sexual sin with someone means we should necessarily marry that particular person and certainly not quickly or rashly. In fact, I think sexual sin should ificantly slow or even halt many relationships. Before you dismiss the idea of fasting from each other too quickly, consider some of the serious potential benefits of practicing this kind of patience and self-control.
A real break will give both of you time and space to weigh the seriousness of sin and its consequences. Newfound love can cloud the eyes of our hearts, making it more difficult to truly discern reality. The infatuation we often feel in dating can blind us to ourselves and to problems in the relationship.
Some intentional distance may blow away the fog long enough to see how sexual sin despises God, cheapens grace, and harms everyone involved. A real break allows both of you to truly and more deeply repent.
Intimacy in dating inevitably muddles repentance, preventing us from feeling the grief we ought to feel before God and each other. And without godly grief, we cannot truly repent. Taking a break from dating may allow you to feel godly grief over your sin more deeply and to strengthen new and durable habits of repentance and purity.
When you start to date each other again if you doyou want to have severed the roots and patterns that led to sin.