Q: I want to get married but I’ve already had sex. I feel guilty. What can I do?
A: Whether this was in the past or with your current boyfriend/girlfriend, you can change your ways and make a commitment to abstain from sex from now on. Many people like you (and couples who are planning to get married but have already had sex) are abstaining from sex until marriage in order to recapture the feeling of virginity on their wedding night. Read what one person wrote to us:
“I am 23 and engaged to be married. My fiancé and I have been intimate in our relationship, but in the last few months I have set boundaries as to what we can and can‘t do (he has agreed and has the same conviction). During this time he has commented numerous times about how he feels unloved and detached from me. What can I do for the next six months to still make him feel loved without compromising our boundaries?”
Why does this matter? As you’ve already discovered, sex is extremely powerful. Once you had sex, you probably continued to have sex. Your relationship stopped growing in other ways. Less time to talk; less concern about working through differences—let’s just have sex! Suddenly you’ve lost much of the time and work needed to prepare for a healthy marriage.
By deciding to abstain from sex, you give future relationships a much better chance. You allow yourself the opportunity to truly get to know someone without the sexual aspect clouding your thinking. You must learn to have fun together in other ways. You have to find activities that you both enjoy doing. You create a friendship first, which is the basic foundation for any successful marriage. Most important, you save sex to be the sacred bond between you and your spouse—just as God intended it to be.
To make this commitment of abstinence, you’ll need to:
Confess. Admit your sin before God and to your boyfriend/girlfriend if applicable. Completely direct your focus to God before entering into a relationship with someone else.
Seek forgiveness from God. The Lord wants to restore relationships and hearts. Receive forgiveness in order to purge your memories and feelings of guilt.
Reclaim your virginity. Some call this “secondary virginity.” Obviously, if the other person refuses to do this, you have your answer about this person as a potential spouse.
Set boundaries with a battle plan. You will have to guard your heart. This is going to be an extremely difficult commitment to keep. When you get together, plan activities to do together. Flee from sexual TV programming and movies that you know are questionable. Put up the wall so you don’t entertain these sights and memories. Guard your eyes and minds from anything that makes you focus on sex. Every time you’re tempted, you’ll both have to agree that you will separate from each other for a time.
Pray over your marriage bed. As you pray over your future home, pray over your bed. You don’t want anything to defile your marriage bed and your sexual intimacy. When you do this, you will experience great reward. Your wedding night will have the sweetness you had hoped.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!