Christian dating is often such a challenge because you are supposed to be growing in your relationship but you are also supposed to be guarding your heart before marriage. You are supposed to be attracted to the person you are dating, but as Christians you are also supposed to resist sexual interactions with each other before marriage.
So what should a Christian dating couple do if they are struggling with sexual sin? Should they breakup if they have premarital sex? Should they stay together if they fall to “lesser” sexual sins other than premarital sex? What does repentance look like for a Christian dating couple who has fallen to sexual temptation?
Here are three Christian tips if sexual sin has occurred in a dating relationship.
There’s Two Ways to Repent from Sexual Sin in a Christian Dating Relationship
The way to handle sexual sin in a dating relationship is the same way you handle all sin in any Christian’s life – repent. Repentance means you turn from the sin and walk the other direction. Repentances means you turn from the sin and walk in obedience to the Lord.
When it comes to sex, there are only two biblical options – abstinence when you are single and sex with your spouse when you are married. Sexual immorality is defined as any sexual encounter outside the bonds of covenant marriage. With that said, there are two ways to express biblical repentance when sexual sin has occurred in a dating relationship. The first way to repent is to move towards marriage:
1 Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
1 Corinthians 7:36, “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.”
No one should get married just so they can have sex. However, when a man and woman have a strong desire to have sex together, this could be a sign they love each other and should get married. Obviously many people want to have sex who do not love each other and do not want to get married. If this is the case, then the second expression of repentance should take place, which is breaking up:
1 Corinthians 6:15-18, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
The Bible says that we should “Flee from sexual immorality.” In the context of dating, this means you flee by progressing towards marriage or you flee by breaking up. The unbiblical option is to keep everything the same by not moving towards marriage and not breaking up and thus staying in the environment that led to sin. This is not repentance and a Christian dating couple should not do this.
So how do you know which form of repentance you should choose if you have committed sexual sin in a dating relationship?
You Should Repent By Progressing Towards Marriage If You Know You Want to Be Married. If You Do Not Know You Want to Be Married, You Should Breakup If You Continue to Commit Sexual Sin
In my view of Christian dating, I believe the most biblical approach to Christian dating is to use it as a season of figuring out if a man and woman want to become a husband and a wife. Christian dating should not be considered a healthy entity unto itself. In other words, Christian dating should always be moving and never stagnant. You should not date to date. Rather, you want to act as soon as you know you do or do not want to get married. Dating should only continue when you are unclear of what you want.
With this in mind, when sexual sin occurs I believe you need to make a faster decision. Dating should only occur when it is helping you rather than hurting you. When people wait too long to get married and just keep dating, they hurt themselves. When sexual sin occurs, you are hurting yourself.
So if you have accomplished the purpose of Christian dating by deciding that yes, the two of you do want to marry one another, sexual sin is a sign you need to move faster towards marriage than you currently are, which is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:9 and 1 Corinthians 7:36.
However, if you are not prepared to get married and you are still unsure if the two of you are meant to be, I believe you should breakup. If you are unable to make a greater commitment to this person, remaining in a season where sexual sin is occurring is a lack of repentance and should not be the response of a Christian.
The third scenario that might be a healthy option for a Christian dating couple who wants to repent of sexual sin but is not prepared to get married is to breakup for a season of time and then to get back together when the two of you are mature enough to handle a dating relationship.
The main goal is that you do not remain in the same season that led to sexual sin.
If Sexual Sin Occurs in a Christian Dating Relationship, Something Has to Change. Do Not Keep Doing the Same Thing and Hoping You Get a Different Result
There’s tons of helpful tips that might help you resist sexual sin in a dating relationship. You can be accountable to a mature Christian couple, you can put boundaries around where and when you will spend time together, you can avoid certain conversations that often lead you towards sexual temptation – the main thing is that you keep fighting this sin and you do not get comfortable with failure.
Don’t just give up and keep doing the same thing over and over again. Change what is not helping and do what works for you. The heart of repentance is always the same. The meaning of repentance is always to turn away from sin and back to God. But the expression of repentance on a practical level will look different in each situation.
Again, the main advice I have for a Christian couple who is struggling with sexual sin is to not remain stuck. Move one way or the other. Move towards marriage or breakup. But don’t ever get comfortable with sin by not repenting.
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