Christian Relationship Advice: When, Why, and How to Talk About Your Past Sexual Sins with Your Christian Partner

When should you talk about your past relationships

christian past sexual sin

Ephesians 5:11-17

One of the trickiest parts of Christian dating can be when you have past sexual sins. When should you tell your boyfriend or girlfriend about the sexual sins in your past relationships? What details should you share and not share with your boyfriend or girlfriend about your past mistakes in relationships? Should you talk about this early in the relationship or later on?

While I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to this topic, I will share with you my best advice when you feel you need to talk about your past sexual sins because you are now in a new Christian relationship.

When Should You Talk About Your Past Sexual Sins in a Relationship?

There is no law about when you should or should not talk about past sexual sins when you enter into a Christian relationship. However, the Bible does give us some principles that we can apply to this question about dealing with our past in a new relationship.

One way to know if you should talk about something or not is by looking at the fruit of this decision. If you do not talk about it, will you feel deceitful and would the other person feel betrayed if they found out? Or would talking about this subject only bring up things in the past that you feel have already been dealt with? We should talk about things that need to be talked about to make a relationship as healthy as can be. And whenever we speak, we should do so in love, hoping to build up rather than tear down. For example, Ephesians 4:15-16, 29, and 31 states:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. . . .

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. . . .

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave.

With all this in mind, my best advice about when to talk about past sexual sin in your new Christian relationship is when you need to. I don’t think you need to share this information early on in the relationship. I also don’t think you should wait until you are actually married before confessing your sexual past. Therefore I believe it is the wisest approach to have this conversation about past relationships when you are in a new relationship that is getting moderately serious.

If a proposal could happen at any moment, you probably waited too long. If you just went on your first few dates, you probably said something too soon. When you feel the relationship is starting to get serious and you might want to marry this person one day, I believe that’s the best time to have this conversation about past sexual sin.

Why Should You Talk About Your Past Sexual Sins When You Are in a Christian Relationship?

It’s important to talk about the motives we have when sharing our past sexual sins because oftentimes we can share this information for the wrong reasons.

Do not share this information to feel forgiven. Your new boyfriend or girlfriend is not God. Only God can truly forgive you because your sin was ultimately against him (Psalm 51:4). Do not share your sexual failures so your boyfriend or girlfriend can counsel you on what to do now. Christian relationships and marriages are great places to find encouragement and counsel, but you do not want to start going to the other person in a teacher-to-student or in a counselor-to-counselee type of way. A romantic relationship will not survive that type of arrangement.

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Rather, the reason you should talk about this topic is so this person knows who you really are and what you’ve been through. Jesus can heal and transform us from all past sexual sins. But our good and bad experiences in our past still shape us in some way or the other. To deny that things actually happened in a former part of our lives is not redemptive.

Secondly, if you have had premarital sex, have a long history of porn addiction, or have had some other significant sin in your past, it is this person’s right to know if they want to marry you or not. When you are married you become one. We inherit each other’s struggles when we get married so it is only fair that people know what they are signing up for by marrying you. If you have struggled with something that could reemerge, your spouse should know this is a possibility.

Lastly, I don’t believe a boyfriend or girlfriend needs to forgive you for past sexual sins. I do, however, believe that your spouse needs to forgive you for past sexual sins. Why? Because when you are married your bodies belong to each other (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). Even though it happened in the past, this sin was still against your spouse to some degree. Therefore if you get married I don’t believe you need to rehash everything again but I do believe your spouse should be able to forgive you in their heart for your past sexual sins.

What Specific Past Sexual Sins Should You and Should You Not Talk About?

Again, I think the biblical principle we need to consider here is, “You shall know them by their fruit.” What’s the fruit of talking about this past sexual sin? If there is no point to mention it, don’t mention it. If there is a valid reason to bring it up, then bring it up.

The obvious problem here is that people will interpret the above logic differently. So what is helpful and was is not helpful to share about your past when you are a new relationship? I’m not sure. This will be different for everyone. My opinion is that you should only talk about significant past sexual failures.

For example, if you have had premarital sex in your past, then I believe your spouse should know this. If you’ve struggled with homosexual desires in a strong way, then I think this is something your spouse should know. If you had a significant struggle with porn use, this is something you should mention. The list could go on. These are just some of the types of things I believe are helpful to talk about.  You should not, however, feel the need to list every single sexual sin you ever committed.

I know this section is vague. You just have to do your best to gauge what is necessary to share and what is not.

How Should You Talk About Your Past Sexual Sins When You Are in a Christian Relationship?

In my opinion, this is the most important section of this article. The way you talk about your past sexual sins will be what determines if this conversation was helpful or hurtful.

My biggest tip is that you should keep things true but general. You definitely want to stay away from specifics when talking about past sexual sins. You should say that you had premarital sex, that you committed sexual sins but did not have full intercourse, or that you have struggled with a porn addiction in the past. Those are important types details to share.

You don’t, however, want to talk about times, dates, details, or anything else that will give your partner unnecessary details that will affect their mind later. I don’t believe you should talk about how many times these sins happened. I don’t think you need to list all the past relationships where sexual sin occurred. You don’t need to mention what type of porn sites you would visit or what type of specific lustful thoughts you were struggling with. Too much detail is worse than too little detail when talking about past sexual sins in my opinion.

Lastly, once you talk about these things the two of you need to move on. Have the conversation, offer forgiveness if you two are getting married, and then don’t bring it up again. This is not a conversation that needs to be revisited after forgiveness has been granted and the two of you have decided to continue your relationship together.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:11-17)

The focus here is moving on from the past and moving into the future. Christians are called to walk out of darkness and into the light. Once we are in the light, we should keep looking forward and not look back. Christ paid for our sins and we died to our old lives through the gospel. Let the past stay dead. Move on in freedom through Jesus Christ.