Pastor Rob’s sermon struck a lot of chords for me this past Sunday, as I’m sure it did many of you as well. There were many statements he said that I have found to be true in my own life. There were also many statements he said that hit home for unfortunate reasons. I want to share my story of sexual sin and redemption with you today, and then offer some of my thoughts and reflections from the sermon as encouragements.
This is not an easy topic to open up about. From time to time, I still battle shame and guilt from my actions and the decisions made during this period of my life. But, at the end of the day, God brought us through it and has blessed us with a healthy marriage and a beautiful, growing family and I want to use this story to encourage others.
Take a few moments to watch our story that was showed during our Sexual Healing series, which is a great series for anyone in any stage of life to go back and walk through.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way
There were many lessons I learned through these experiences. But I often go back to two particular things that made it easier to slip into sin and keep it hidden from others.
Too Many Late Nights
The first thing that allowed our physical relationship to go south was not setting, and holding to, boundaries of a curfew. At the time it didn’t seem necessary. When we first started hanging out, not even dating yet, we spent many nights talking way into the night. It was fun. It was new. And, at the time, there truly was no harm as we were just friends getting to know one another. But, as we progressed into a dating relationship, those late night conversations quickly and easily turned into late night cuddling, which led to staying over at each other’s apartments, which led to a lot of mistakes and regret. I can honestly attest to the saying that nothing good happens after midnight, and it’s not worth the risk to find out.
Too Little Accountability
As we began to spend more and more time with one another, we began to spend less and less time with others. This is fairly natural in the beginning of a dating relationship. But the danger in this is that you tend to shut others out. You probably don’t even notice, or even think of it this way. I know I didn’t. It wasn’t purposeful. But the danger is that when you’re caught in sin (of any type), if you’ve cut out close friendships, you have zero accountability with others and it’s much easier to hide your sin.
Discovering the Difference
One thing that Pastor Rob said in his sermon really hit home with me. It is something my wife and I have talked a lot about throughout our marriage.
Now, I can tell you firsthand that every time we had sex while dating, it was definitely enjoyable. As Pastor Rob mentioned, God created us and sex, and he made sex to feel good. But, that enjoyment only lasted for a moment before the guilt and shame set in.
Sex inside of marriage, which is God’s design, has no consequences, while sex outside of marriage always has consequences. These consequences may not always be pregnancy, STDs, etc. They may just be shame and guilt.
Before marriage, sex was full of shame, guilt, pain. In marriage, all of that was immediately gone. Sure, the effects of our actions—the pregnancy, the pain we put ourselves through, the pain we put our family and friends through—were still there, but there was no more pain, no more guilt, no more shame attached to our sexual life. There was freedom. There was a greater sense of intimacy. There was pleasure that was never there before. And it lasted. It continues to last. It continues to draw us closer together. And, yes, it continues to get better!
What makes sex inside of marriage so different? First off, it’s because sex outside of marriage is sin. Plain and simple. Secondly, it’s sharing a part of yourself with someone that was only meant for your spouse. I’ve heard this compared with gluing two pieces of cardboard together. If you try to take them apart there will always be remnants of each piece left on the other…the cardboard will never be whole again. This relates to Pastor Rob’s point of sex being a satisfaction to protect. Sex is such an intimate act; it goes much deeper than just the physical. And sharing that part of yourself with someone else is something you can never take back. It’s never “just sex.”
Redemption Through Pain
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it has not always been an easy road. There are still moments where shame and guilt show up. There are still moments where I look back with a lot of regret. There are moments when I wish I could change the past. But that’s not the answer. The answer is grace. The answer is forgiveness. The answer is seeking redemption in the only place it can be found…in Christ alone. Had it not been for the grace of God in our lives, we would not be where we are today. Our marriage would look different. Our family would look different. But, by the grace of God, we have a healthy marriage. We have three awesome boys.
We have also been shown grace and forgiveness by so many people. Our family, friends, and our church family. I never imagined I would be able to have a leadership opportunity within the church after everything that happened, but here I sit at my desk in the Vintage Church office in the middle of my fourth year as a full-time staff member and continuing to lead a Community Group.
When I step back to look at where we are and how far we’ve come in just a short time, I know it’s only through the grace of God and his forgiveness that this is possible. If you’ve been through, or are in the middle of, similar experiences, I hope and pray that you turn to Christ to seek him for grace, forgiveness, and restoration because it can only be found in him. And if you need someone to talk to, someone to listen, someone to pray with and for you, my wife and I are here for you.