Anonymous: Hi Lauren, I’ve been wondering how to go about a situation with a guy. I was born and raised Christian but I lost my virginity in my late teens. I am now 20 and I want to honor God and both me and the dude, but how can I overcome my feelings of worthlessness? I can’t help but think that a guy that waited for his wife would want a girl that also waited ‘til marriage for sex.
Lauren: Oh, love. I have felt this. I remember thinking that losing my virginity completely destroyed my chance of marrying the kind of man I dared to hope for. It took me years to truly understand that we are all broken in our own ways, and our worth is held permanently in Jesus even when we act in ways that make us feel we’ve lost it. I promise you that the good man who has your name written on his heart will see you not as you once behaved, but as Jesus says you are. You should read this post that went up on Good Women Project today. You would love it:A Letter To My Future Wife: What I Undeserve. I have also asked my friend Shannon to expand upon this, below, as she is one of many unbelievably beautiful women that I greatly admire and respect who also lost her virginity before marriage.
Shannon: Lady, I commend you for being in a place to want to honor God, yourself, and your man with your body. I cannot tell you how much joy that decision brings! The hard part is, that joy isn’t found until you can forgive yourself and understand your value in Christ with every tiny ounce of your being.
Have you told God how you’re feeling? Have you asked Him for renewal of your body, mind, and spirit? Have you asked Him to show you your immense worth in His eyes?
Because you can. You’re His beloved daughter and you’re absolutely allowed. He’d love nothing more than to hear those things from you and replace the lies you’ve been told with Truth. And once He opens your eyes to how beautifully you were woven together and to the hope that exists despite the past decisions you’ve made, you’ll find a freedom you never could have imagined existed. That’s the freedom in knowing you’ve been forgiven. That’s the freedom in knowing that a man loved you so much that he gave his life for you, all so that you don’t have to live in brokenness.
Please believe this: nothing is beyond redemption with God. He makes all things new. Including the virginity you think has been forever lost.
I know from my own story how delicate the conversation can be when it’s time to discuss your past decisions with your loved one. I know that there can be immense pain both in telling him what you once gave to someone else, and in seeing the way it may wring his heart. But sister, any man who loves you for the woman you are in Christ and who understands the power of forgiveness will still see you as whole. Even more, he’ll encourage you in the decision you’re now making to honor your body and your relationships, and he’ll lead you in setting physical boundaries that you both are comfortable with after you’ve each given it prayer.
It may take some time to walk through this, and I encourage you to discuss the situation with other people you trust. Find older men and women who you and your guy can go to separately to seek out guidance and advice, and be sure to choose wise mentors who have the good of both of your hearts in mind.
Grace is a beautiful gift from God. Don’t forget to give it to yourself as well.
Anonymous: I’m about to get married in a month and I’m a virgin. I am so nervous and really scared about the first time. I am really insecure about my body and I am already awkward and I just get really nervous and have problems NOT having sex. I am terrified that it is going to suck. I just wanted to know if you were nervous too and how you dealt with it. What can I do to stop panicking? Does this mean I don’t love him or trust him enough? Thanks.
Lauren: AW. Okay. First of all, freaking CONGRATULATIONS! I am so excited for you. You found a best friend who is committing to spend the rest of his life with you. He loves you for YOU, and he loves your body. BE excited for this, even if you’re worried about other things.
Secondly, don’t be terrified that your first time is going to suck. Sex is a crazy thing to talk about because we try to “evaluate it” (good sex, bad sex, awesome sex, etc) - and you can’t really do that. Sex is amazing because you get to be with him; being with him isn’t amazing because you get to have sex. Sex is great because you are with someone; being with someone isn’t great simply because you get to have sex. See the order of things? Sex inherently hinges upon the person it’s with, and the relationship you have with that person. Our culture tries really hard to separate it as it’s own finite thing - but you really just can’t.
I was more nervous on my wedding day than I’ve ever been in my entire life, as was my husband. And I hear that from just about everyone. Also? I don’t know a single human being who HASN’T had awkward sex. And I don’t know a single human being who isn’t, to some extent, insecure with some aspect of their body. But that’s the other downside of our culture trying to separate sex from actual relationships between people: we think that an imperfect body affects our sex life negatively, and we think that if we’re not 100% comfortable/sexy/superwoman/lingerie model/sex expert, then the sex is going to suck. But it’s not true.
Sex sucks when your first time is awkward and uncomfortable with someone you don’t love and who doesn’t love you back and who leaves you in the morning and never says another word. That’s when sex sucks. When the relationship sucks. See?
I can’t tell you on a scale of 1-10 how awesome or awkward your first time is going to be, because everyone is SO different! But the amazing thing is that you don’t have to worry about it, half because it’s going to be with someone who truly loves YOU for you, and half because you have the rest of your life to get comfortable and get to know yourself and him. Don’t let yourself be terrified of “bad sex.” Be crazy happy and excited that you get to finally really be intimate, open and spend time alone with your best friend - and that you have friends and family who are happy about it too. :)
As for your last question, about not loving him or not trusting him enough, that is between you and God alone. I can’t tell you what that means for you. Everyone has doubts and panicky moments right before getting married. Spend a lot of time with JUST you and God, and maybe a trusted pastor/counselor (your parents maybe if things are good between you two, but there is SO much value in talking things out with an older, wiser OBJECTIVE person) to find out what specifically you really are panicking about, and what your true fears about love and trust are. If you have specific doubts, this is the time to address them - not a year into a marriage. But if you just have general/freaking out/I’m getting married doubts, then just know you’re exactly like everybody else. :)
Random bits of encouragement: Your fiance is probably just as nervous/freaking out. He is also insecure about his body. He is also worried that sex might suck. You will, at some point in your marriage, have sex “issues” because every single couple has them - so it’s NOTHING to be afraid of. So long as love and your relationship comes first, and sex second, you have nothing to fear. And PRAY. Jesus says that “He Himself is our peace.” If this is good and perfect in the eyes of God, ask him to give you the eyes he has for your marriage. He will.
ANON: If a man is very nice and well-rounded and likes me, even though he does not love Jesus. How do I explain to him why I can’t date him without sounding like a Christian snob?
Lauren: First, I wrote a whole blog post about dating a guy who isn’t a Christian here. If you haven’t read it already, it might be great to skim through (or seriously sit down and study) just to look at things from a broader perspective. You don’t have to tell a guy, “I can’t date you because you’re not a Christian” like you were saying, “I can’t date you because you don’t own a pair of red pants” or “I can’t date you because you’re not of German descent.” You’re right, it can sound harsh and like a very close-minded reason to the guy when it’s presented as an item on a checklist.
But to say, “Hey we just aren’t headed down the same path in life, even though you think we are” or “You don’t see things the same way I do” or “Jesus is a really huge part of my life, and I can’t see a future with someone who doesn’t have him as a big part of their life too” are perfectly acceptable explanations. It isn’t an item on your dating checklist, it’s your entire future, your perspective on life, and who you are. You can’t date someone who doesn’t have a compatible future, a wildly different perspective, and can’t grasp who you are in Christ. So from that point of view, it’s completely reasonable as to why you can’t date him.
At the end of the day, a guy who doesn’t love Jesus honestly might never get why it’s such a big deal to you. His feelings might be hurt, and the chances still are there you may sound uppity or picky or close-minded to him. But, also, it doesn’t really matter. So don’t give yourself too much grief about it. He’s a man, and it’s his responsibility to cope with being turned down, NOT yours.
I’ve turned down WONDERFUL men because they didn’t love Jesus, and to this day, they still don’t get it - even though I’ve spent hours trying to explain carefully and graciously why it means so much to me. Just don’t get pushed into becoming more emotionally or physically involved with a guy simply because he doesn’t understand your reasons for not committing to date him. Set your boundaries, communicate them, and be strong enough to walk away even if he doesn’t understand.
Anonymous: My boyfriend is struggling with an addiction to pornography and online gaming, at what point to I forgive when he fails and at what point to I communicate “make or break” boundaries?
Lauren: I have about 12+ of these questions in my inbox so I’ve decided to do a video series over on my primary blog to answer them. You can view the first video I posted today here, along with some information about the series.
Or, you can just watch it right here. :)
Anonymous: I noticed that you tweeted about marriage counseling. I was wondering what your thoughts on marriage counseling are; as in…. when do you decide to go? How do you make that decision with your spouse? I’ve been in counseling before (not marriage counseling), and it was a great experience, so I don’t doubt that marriage counseling is equally as good. It certainly must be a different dynamic, though, and I’d love to hear your take.
Lauren: Counseling is arguably as beneficial to your marriage as vegetables are to your diet. I’m a firm believer that every human being needs counseling, and when you put two people together in the same house, those two people need it even more. The previous generation viewed counseling as something for extraordinarily broken or weak people, but thankfully, our generation is slowly grasping that we are ALL broken and weak people.
If you’re asking “should we go to marriage counseling?” the answer is probably yes, simply because you’re wondering about it. Max & I have only been married five months, and we are a month into counseling. We wanted to start counseling as part of our commitment to lay a solid foundation for our marriage, instead of as a last resort attempt to resolve/heal bitterness or pain or vital injuries that had we had committed against one another. Even if you’ve “gotten your stuff together” prior to marriage, getting married renews a lot of old things that you thought you’d killed dead months or years ago - and it creates new stressors. Stressors aren’t inherently bad, they just exist because life evolves and changes usually more rapidly than we’re ready for. But they can lead to harmful stressors if they aren’t given the attention they need. And counseling is awesome for that. Counseling also (for us) has brought up things we never saw in ourselves or one another before, and has given us the tools to resolve them before they started manifesting themselves in harmful ways in our relationship with one another.
Max and I weren’t fighting like cats and dogs, there’s no infidelity in any form, neither of us are struggling with addictions, and we’re not miserable, but we are two half-grown kids with messy pasts who really do need to sit in a room together and talk things out with an objective person that is in favor of our marriage. Counseling is kind of like making the decision with your spouse to start working out together before you start gaining too much weight, or committing to taking your vitamins together in the morning before one of you gets a really bad sinus infection.
Talk to your spouse about counseling and start poking around for recommendations for marriage counselors. I know that money seems to be one of the greatest stressors for all of us, and honestly, we don’t have the money for it - but we’re making it work. God will honor your decision to prioritize your marriage over your money. Pray over it, pray for it, and I’d encourage you to move forward in counseling in the faith that God will provide you with exactly what you need to strengthen your relationship with your spouse.
Anonymous: I’ve always been taught that the biggest deal in a girl’s life is how and who she marries. I go to a small Christian college it seems that everyone is marriage focused. students on campus only seem to talk about finding spouses, many professors push it on their students, and it’s even been the topic of chapels. I want to fall in love and get married but I feel so smothered by this mentality. My question is how do we break free from the pressure to “get married” so we can truly fall in love?
Lauren: Is getting married the most important thing in a girl’s entire life? Absolutely not. Her relationship with Jesus is, and living out her purpose is second to that. Your relationship status, whether single or married, comes third. That being said, is marriage the “biggest deal” relationship in a girl’s life? Absolutely. If and when it happens, the person a woman marries will be the most influential person in her life. That’s just the way it works. The person you spend 24/7 with will influence you more than anyone else, so in that regards, it’s a really big deal. But until then, you are neither an incomplete person, or a handicapped woman who is waiting on her relationship status to change in order for her life to become purpose-full.
It’s a shame that small Christian communities seem to breed that type of “marriage is all that matters” mentality. Marriage is absolutely important to discuss, as is learning how to identify men who love Jesus from those who do not, but it certainly shouldn’t be the focus of life. YOUR identity, value, passion, purpose, career, desires, loves, interests…all of that - will remain the day after your wedding. You will still be you. And really, your life will still be your responsibility. So it’s SO important to get comfortable in your own skin first! If you spend all your single time focusing on trying to find a man to marry, as soon as you do, you’ll wake up realizing you don’t really know that much about yourself.
Anonymous: How does a girl act available to a guy without seeming too forward? If I’m interested in a guy, how do I let him know I’m interested without being too forward? I know (and believe) girls should be the pursued and guys the pursuer, but I don’t know how he’s supposed to know I’m interested, and want to spend more time with him! Is it okay to express myself, or is that too forward, too?
Lauren: Yes, you can express yourself! I love when men step up to the plate and pursue women, but we Christians have done a pretty fantastic job of messing up this topic. There are two ways a woman can come off to a guy: interested, or not interested. WAY too often we women feign disinterest because we believe that interest = pursuit. So we make men pursue, pursue, pursue - and most men end up disappearing in frustration or simply because they don’t think we ever gave them a second glance.
SO. What does showing interest look like? Be yourself! Act the same way around this guy you’re interested in as the way you’d act towards a new female friend that you’d really like to get to know better. Smile, ASK QUESTIONS, be friendly. Trust me, all a guy needs from a girl is a big smile and her asking one question that shows she wants to know SOMETHING about him. And while you’re at it, be a flirt. The church has made women feel guilty about flirting, but it’s a perfectly natural (and in my opinion, way fun) part of relationships. Flirting essentially communicates to the other party that they are special. Flirt with common sense, respectable boundaries. Flirt = smile, laugh, make jokes, make (acceptable) physical contact, engage. Flirting does not have to be scandalous, standard-sacrificing, or slutty.
One more thought: expressing yourself is very important in relationships with men. One very bad side effect of this whole “let the man pursue you and don’t pursue him at all” thing has been that we’ve resulted in a massive wave of women in relationships who can’t speak up for themselves, communicate what they’re thinking/feeling, or let the man lead every single minute detail of the relationship. You are 50% of a potential or present relationship. It’s very important to give yourself that value. Men LOVE a woman who knows what she wants. It’s much better to be the woman whose man knows exactly where to take her for her birthday dinner because she’s verbal about what she loves, than for a man to guess and guess and guess and hope that he’s “pursuing” her properly.
Anonymous: My boyfriend has been cheating on me with different women for the last 3 months. It has all been online or texting but still cheating. This is the 3rd time that I have caught him, and every time before he has told me that he still loves me and he wants to prove to me that he will stop, but within the month he is back at it. We are both Christians, and I really do love him, but I can’t decide if it is possible for me to help him as a friend or if we both need space?
Lauren: First off, I am really, really sorry. I know how much that hurts. It’s an excruciating pain. Secondly, you need to break up with him immediately. And you can’t help him as a friend since you were/are romantically involved. He needs to be changed (“helped”) by Jesus and Jesus alone, and as the woman that he is cheating on, you will be more of an inhibition than a help for Jesus to get to his heart. He also needs solid men in his life. Men need to receive relationship counsel from other Godly men, not from a woman he is involved with.
A man who cannot be trusted and is already betraying you, whether it’s emotionally or physically, is not a man you want to pursue a relationship with. Building a relationship without trust is like building a house on sand. There will be no foundation, and you will lose the house. A man that is not willing to commit to you and to you alone does not love you with the love that holds a marriage together. That kind of man is loving you with a selfish love, and one that is putting his desires above yours. He also doesn’t believe that you are enough, or that you are everything he needs.
I know that you are a Christian, and that you love him, but we are to guard our hearts for they are the wellsprings of life. A man who does not honor and protect the heart of the woman he loves does violence to her heart (Malachi 2:16), and I would hate to see you 5 or 10 years down the road, divorced or bitter in a trust-less, broken marriage.
Anonymous: Lauren, please, I need advice. I am 21 years old and have been talking with a man for 10 years over the internet. He’s married, but we’re in love with each other. I understand God’s view on marriage…but, how do I know that this isn’t in His plan for me? If it is, how do I know if I can truly trust this man to not treat me like his wife and cheat on me? I’m so lost and I don’t know what to do or where to turn. Please help me!
Lauren: Oh, babe. I’m so sorry. You have absolutely done the right thing by reaching out and talking to someone about it. It can be SO HARD to talk to someone about something as taboo as this.
First of all, you make a very valid point on your own, by saying that you don’t know how you could trust him to not cheat on you, in the same way he is cheating on his wife with you right now. [Even if you haven’t had sex, he is having an emotional affair, and when you commit your life to someone - you commit your emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy to them and them alone.] The answer is that you CAN’T know. If a man is willing to overlook the promise he made before God to commit his love to his wife and wife alone, then you can honestly never fully trust him, should a real relationship with him ever develop. NEVER continue a relationship with a man that you cannot trust. For this reason alone, I would plead with you to end it entirely, and cut off all communication.
Secondly, I want you to put yourself in the position of this man. If you really have been talking to him online for 10 years, then he is a man who is talking with an 11 year old girl and using her to fulfill some sort of VERY VERY unhealthy desire(s). This is NOT a man you want a relationship with. He has MASSIVE personal issues that he has not worked through, and it is absolutely not good for you to continue a relationship with him. What he was doing was also illegal.
Rest assured that this man is not in God’s plan for your life. This man has pledged his heart and body to another woman, and God’s plan for him is to honor that. No matter how unhappy he is in his current marriage. Therefore, in no way is it in God’s plan for you to play a part in that relationship, or have that man for your future husband.
Have you read Malachi 2? Below is an excerpt from a post I wrote on marriage, relationships and divorce for Relevant Magazine. You can read the rest of the article here if you wish.
“One of the most profound glimpses into the purpose of marriage that God gives us is in Malachi. It paints the picture of a man on his knees, asking why God seems to be ignoring the sacrifices he has made for Him. In reply, God explains: “It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to Him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect” (Malachi 2:14-16).”
By continuing a relationship with you, this man is doing violence to his wife, and violence to you. :(
So, what should you do? You need to find a woman in a healthy relationship with God in person and let her know what is going on. Ask her for her help in keeping you accountable to break off this relationship with this man entirely. Let her know that you’ll need to talk through it with her a little bit, and to ask her advice on handling any rejection, anger, attack, or guilt-tripping that this man WILL put you through. Make sure you have someone in your life to help you stand your ground, and protect your heart through the process of ending things.
I know that you feel like you are in love with him, but he cannot ACT on that love, and you cannot act on it either. His love for you is a self-centered love, even if it seems like he loves you. I PROMISE you that you will get over it, and that you will survive the breakup. I promise.
Praying for you, that God will give you the courage and comfort to fight for your heart.
Anonymous: I am 20 years old and I like this guy who’s 30. Most of my friends don’t think this is a good idea but I’m falling really hard for him. He’s such a nice guy and I’ve never been treated with more respect. I feel so comfortable around him and he makes me so happy. He isn’t a believer though. Should I go for it anyway? Lauren: Is he everything you want? Does he drive you closer to Jesus? Does he make you better? Does he see eye-to-eye with you on the purpose of life, the purpose of YOUR life, of his life, and of a future marriage? Before I got married, I was advised strongly to never date men who weren’t Christians. I dated Christian guys, and non-Christian guys. For similar reasons. They loved me. They treated me well. They respected me. They were affectionate. They made me feel loved in a way I hadn’t felt before. And then someone advised me to never date a man who didn’t have a relationship with Jesus that I respected, looked up to, and had faith in.The decision to invest emotionally and physically with a man is a decision to heavily influence the direction of your life. What direction are you headed? If you’re headed for a life that drips in the passion, purpose, FULLNESS, and awesome-ness that is life-with-Jesus, then you have GOT to invest in a man who is headed in that same direction. Dating is simple. Decide the direction you are going with your life, and consciously choose the man (and friends) who are headed in the same direction, who encourage and push you along, who can carry your burdens with you because they understand them.Those people you choose will make or break your future. So, no. Don’t go for it. And not because he’s 30 and you’re 20. And not because your friends agree or disagree. Not because he treats you with respect, or doesn’t treat you with respect. Not because he makes you feel beautiful and loved, or doesn’t make you feel beautiful or loved. Don’t go for it because this man is walking on a wildly different path than you are, and you cannot love and be loved by a man on another path. You cannot run a race with a partner who is at a different pace with you. You cannot rely on a man who does not first rely on God. You will end up in a place in your life that you never wanted to be, and you are much too valuable to miss out on the life you were created for. I’m 3 months into marriage, and I finally understand, for the very first time, why other people made such a big deal out of not dating men who did not love Jesus. I cannot even comprehend what my life would be like, married to a man who did not see me the way God sees me. Only 3 months in, and our relationship with Christ is the only reason we have made it this far. If you want to read more of my story, dating non-believers, it’s here.
Anonymous: I am 20 years old and I like this guy who’s 30. Most of my friends don’t think this is a good idea but I’m falling really hard for him. He’s such a nice guy and I’ve never been treated with more respect. I feel so comfortable around him and he makes me so happy. He isn’t a believer though. Should I go for it anyway?
Lauren: Is he everything you want? Does he drive you closer to Jesus? Does he make you better? Does he see eye-to-eye with you on the purpose of life, the purpose of YOUR life, of his life, and of a future marriage?
Before I got married, I was advised strongly to never date men who weren’t Christians. I dated Christian guys, and non-Christian guys. For similar reasons. They loved me. They treated me well. They respected me. They were affectionate. They made me feel loved in a way I hadn’t felt before. And then someone advised me to never date a man who didn’t have a relationship with Jesus that I respected, looked up to, and had faith in.The decision to invest emotionally and physically with a man is a decision to heavily influence the direction of your life. What direction are you headed?
If you’re headed for a life that drips in the passion, purpose, FULLNESS, and awesome-ness that is life-with-Jesus, then you have GOT to invest in a man who is headed in that same direction.
Dating is simple. Decide the direction you are going with your life, and consciously choose the man (and friends) who are headed in the same direction, who encourage and push you along, who can carry your burdens with you because they understand them.Those people you choose will make or break your future.
So, no. Don’t go for it. And not because he’s 30 and you’re 20. And not because your friends agree or disagree. Not because he treats you with respect, or doesn’t treat you with respect. Not because he makes you feel beautiful and loved, or doesn’t make you feel beautiful or loved.
Don’t go for it because this man is walking on a wildly different path than you are, and you cannot love and be loved by a man on another path. You cannot run a race with a partner who is at a different pace with you. You cannot rely on a man who does not first rely on God. You will end up in a place in your life that you never wanted to be, and you are much too valuable to miss out on the life you were created for.
I’m 3 months into marriage, and I finally understand, for the very first time, why other people made such a big deal out of not dating men who did not love Jesus. I cannot even comprehend what my life would be like, married to a man who did not see me the way God sees me. Only 3 months in, and our relationship with Christ is the only reason we have made it this far.
If you want to read more of my story, dating non-believers, it’s here.
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