If you grew up in church, you probably heard lots of people talk about saving sex for marriage. In the Bible, we learn that sex was created to be saved for and enjoyed in a marriage relationship. But what if you’ve already had sex? How do you “start over”? That’s what we’re going to talk about today, with these seven tips.
Tip #1: Receive God’s forgiveness.
My dad once told me, “It’s good to feel sad for a little while about what you did wrong, but don’t wallow in that. Don’t stay there. You have to move on.”
The Bible tells us that any time we mess up, God removes our mistakes from us as far as the east is from the west. That means that in His eyes, we are already made new. We can’t earn his forgiveness, and there’s no need for penance to prove our remorse. We are already forgiven. He doesn’t see us as defined by our mistakes; He sees us as clean and pure, covered in the blood of Jesus.
So the first step toward a changed life is to receive God’s forgiveness. Rest in His love; soak it up and let it cover you. (More on this in tip #7.)
Tip #2: Write down your reasons for waiting until marriage.
Let’s be real: It’s HARD to start waiting once you’ve had sex! Once you get into a new relationship, it’s really easy to pick back up where you left off in the last relationship. So take a few days or weeks and begin to write down why you want to save sex for marriage. That way, the next time you’re in a relationship, you can look back at your written list and remind yourself of why you made this decision.
Tip #3: Take some time off from dating.
If you just broke up with someone, I would recommend taking some “you” time—to just get to know God a little more, build great friendships and embrace being single. If you jump right into another dating relationship, it makes it even easier to fall back into old habits. Give yourself some time off from dating, and spend that time healing from the last relationship and growing in God.
Tip #4: Only date people who share your conviction.
If you’re saving sex for marriage, I would highly recommend that you only date someone who shares that conviction. Even if your boyfriend says, “I respect your decision, and I’m okay with waiting,” it’s still going to be hard to stay true to your decision. Why? Because as soon as you say, “Hmmm, maybe I do want to push the boundaries here,” he’s probably going to agree.
One of the things I loved most about my husband, James, is that he wanted to save sex for marriage just as much as I did. He was often the one saying, “No, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to call it a night. I want to treat you like a daughter of the King and respect your body, but even more, I want to honor God in our actions.”
And I loved him for that.
It actually helps me trust him even now that we’re married, knowing that if he treated me with so much purity and respect when we were dating, he will treat the other women around him with purity and respect, staying faithful to me now that we’re married.
Tip #5: Surround yourself with accountability.
When we keep this decision (saving sex for marriage) a secret, it’s really easy to back out of it, but when we tell other people, that helps hold us to it. So share your decision with some trusted friends and ask them to hold you accountable.
What does it mean to hold you accountable? It means that if they see you getting too physical with a guy, they’ll remind you of why you decided to wait and they’ll ask you what’s going on.
Letting people know of your decision also helps you build a new reputation. I’m not saying you have to broadcast your decision, but if you let some people know that you’re now waiting until marriage—even if they don’t share that belief—then you start to build a reputation for yourself as someone who’s waiting. That can be uncomfortable, and some people won’t understand, but it’ll help hold you accountable to that decision.
Tip #6: Be up front with potential boyfriends.
Before getting deep into a relationship, let the guy know where you stand on this issue. Don’t wait until you’re in the heat of the moment; talk about it ahead of time. Talk about how far each of you wants to go physically before marriage. (Here’s an article about how to set boundaries in a dating relationship.)
Tip #7: Remember that God redeems everything.
When I broke up with my first boyfriend, we’d gone way farther than I ever wanted to physically. I’d decided at a young age that I wanted to save sex for marriage, and although I hadn’t lost my virginity, I had done a lot more than I wanted to do physically with a guy. I remember feeling shame, guilt and regret. Honestly, I felt like a second-class Christian, like I had thwarted the plan God had for my life and He could never work through me again.
One day as I was driving along, I felt like God reminded me of the story of David. David was this famous king in Israel who actually wrote most of the book of Psalms in the Bible. In fact, the Bible calls him “a man after God’s own heart.” But the surprising thing is, he’s not the kind of person you’d picture being a man after God’s heart. He certainly didn’t get everything right! In fact, David saw this married woman from afar, made her sleep with him, got her pregnant and then (to try to cover up the affair) he arranged to have her husband killed! Let’s just say if David was a modern-day youth pastor, he would have been fired and arrested.
So how on earth was David a man after God’s own heart? Because every time he made a mistake, he came running back to God. He realized that he had sinned, and he came asking for forgiveness and wanted to learn from his mistakes. His heart was set on loving God and being loved by God.
That day in the car, I felt like God put this thought in my heart: “God knew that David was going to make those mistakes, but God chose him anyway. Just like God knew I was going to make the mistakes I made, and yet He chose to love me anyway, and He chose to put a calling on my life anyway. My mistakes surprised me, but they didn’t surprise God. He already knew, and He loved and called me, even knowing the decisions I would make.”
As the years passed, I actually began to see God turn my mistakes into something beautiful. He began to use my story to encourage and help other young women around the world! I was in awe as I learned that God takes our brokenness and turns it into beauty—if we’ll let Him.
So if you too are feeling a deep sense of shame, I want to remind you that God can redeem everything. That means that He can turn any kind of brokenness you’ve experienced, and any mistake you’ve made, into a beautiful story that can encourage other people. You are never too far gone or too broken for God to heal and redeem. All you have to do is give Him your past and watch what He’ll do. The process of redemption may take longer that you’d like, but you’ll be amazed!
Girls, I hope this can encourage you. As always, please do share your thoughts in the comments down below. What helps YOU save sex for marriage?