Should you share your sexual past with the person you plan to marry? Paul Maxwell explores the “How to?” of this in You Are Not Damaged Goods: On Dating with a Sexual History, but he doesn’t deal with the “Should you?” He gives good advice for couples who decide to have this conversation, but simply assumes that they will have it.
But should they?
Personally, I’ve never been convinced that this is always necessary or wise for a dating or an engaged couple. When I’ve counseled Christian couples getting married, I’ve always offered to talk with them about this subject if they wish, but I’ve never insisted on it (usually much to their relief!). I’ve suggested that they chat with one another about it if one or other feels it necessary, but again, I have never pressurized them.
Maybe it’s my more conservative Scottish background because although it seems to be a common practice in American pre-marital counseling, I had never heard of such a thing in Scotland. As Paul’s article makes clear, and I have heard of from others forced into having these conversations, serious long-term relational damage can result (more than just the consequences mentioned by Paul).
I can conceive of some circumstances where one’s sexual past should be disclosed and discussed. For example it would be wise to consider this:
- If there’s been an STD in the past.
- If there has been some abuse that might make it difficult for one or other to view or experience sex positively.
- If there’s been habitual sexual immorality, especially if it’s been something close to a sex addiction.
- If there’s the likelihood that someone from one’s sexual past could resurface to threaten the marriage.
- If one party is sexually experienced and the other is a virgin.
- If the immorality occurred after coming to faith and therefore may affect a Christian’s public witness.
- If there has been an abortion.
But, outside of these (and similar) circumstances, if it’s two Christians getting married I simply encourage them to let the blood of Christ cover their sexual pasts just as it has every other sin in their pasts, and to seek the purging of their consciences and bodies through faith in the perfect Bridegroom.
Am I wrong?