Many Christians are taught that God does not rank sins as being better or worse than others. There’s no scale that places certain things like lying or stealing on one side of the spectrum and murder and adultery on the other. Sin is sin, and we all fall short of the standard God has set for us. However, I have found that sexual sin, specifically sex before marriage, causes deepers wounds than other sins. Why would this be the case?

I think about it this way. I’ve lied in my life. I’ve embellished stories and have hidden the truth before. It may not be a common pratice for me, but I can’t deny having done it. But I wouldn’t call myself a liar, and I don’t think other people would either. I’ve also been really angry before, lost my temper, and said rude things in retaliation to people. I wouldn’t call myself an angry person, though. I wouldn’t define myself by those sins.

Sexual sin seemed different to me. The word "virgin", the idea of being "pure," was different. When I had sex for the first time outside of marriage, I could no longer call myself a "virgin"; I was no longer "pure." Committing that sin made me feel like I had become someone else, someone less worthy. Premarital sex was not something I simply experienced: it defined me.And for a long time I believed that purity, once lost, was lost forever.

As a young teen, I was clueless and pretty innocent when it came to sex; it was all uncharted waters for me. Unfortunately, when I was 17, I was sexually assaulted — this crime abruptly introduced me to sex in a very unhealthy manner. It started with a verbal assault that soon turned physical and violent. As a result, the first images of sex that were imprinted on my mind were ones of dirtiness, fear, suffocation, and violence. Thankfully, I wasn’t badly injured physically, but that abuse had lingering effects that I wouldn’t discover until a couple of years later, when I was in a relationship. My boyfriend pressured me to have sex quite often, and eventually I gave in. All those feelings of fear, powerlessness returned, and now guilt, and unworthiness were added to them. In that moment, not only did I know I had fallen short of God's will, but I figured I must have fallen short of ever deserving a Christian man.

When I met my future husband, I quickly saw how godly and good a man he was! He was spiritual leader and also a virgin. I loved everything about him, but didn’t think I was deserving of anyone like him. So when I told him I wasn’t a virgin, the lies in my head were as loud and heavy as ever: You don’t deserve him, he won’t be able to let it go, sex won’t be holy, he deserves better, sex cannot be good...

That night was enormously painful, as were the days that followed. As a result of what I had shared, he had trouble trusting me, and I know he entertained thoughts that reflected mine. I knew he was thinking that I didn't deserve him. He was fearful that sex wouldn’t be the wonderful gift from God that he always pictured it to be. It was a painful time because those lies and fears came out in our attitudes and words towards each other, and forgiveness came and went like a revolving door. But all the while God was teaching us, refining us, and washing us over and over again, until love was restored. 1 John 4:10-12 says, This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. He doesn’t stop working in us until this is made true in us.

As time passed, we put our pasts behind us. Our love grew stronger and we eventually got engaged. God did some amazing things in us as we prepared for marriage. God started to convince me that purity can be restored. He washes hearts whiter than snow, and no sin is stronger than his grace. Romans 8:38 says that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God. There is nothing we can do that will take away — or even lessen — his love for each of us.

We’re human; we’re not perfect and we never will be perfect in this life, so God will continue to refine us. When we ask for God’s forgiveness and purification, we receive it immediately (1 John 1:9), but feeling forgiven can take time. He is so good in leading us through the healing process and pursuing us if we stray from it.

Over the course of three years, I went from believing I would always feel dirty, to being confident that I am pure and holy in God's sight, redeemed in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1.4). I never thought I would be married to a wonderful man who loves me despite my past and because of who I really am. I have received love that every girl deserves to hope for.

And above all that, I feel pure again, and know that I am worthy of love.

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Hear his story here.

updated September 2019

Photo Credit: Christopher Campbell