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?

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  • Blue nosed hun

    I don’t think your wrong. I would add though that if full disclosure is felt necessary, there should be discretion as to details. This is especially pertinent if one party has been promiscuous and the other hasn’t. Full detailed disclosure can set up a scenario where the other spouse can feel sexually inadequate. Especially if he/she has a low self esteem.

  • David Qaoud

    This is a great piece, David, and a discussion the church needs. I agree with everything you said, and I would also add “a clear conscience” as good reason for confession. This post reminds me of a conversation I had with a single Christian guy. “I could never marry a girl who’s not a virgin,” he said. “That’s my one stipulation.” This is hypocritical and ridiculous for obvious reasons. So we need to prepare Christians not just for having these conversations (if they even do), but also prepare hearts to give grace when they do.

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  • Homeschool on the Croft

    Definitely NOT wrong!

    As you say, if couples wish to talk about these things, they’re (obviously) free to do so. But, personally, I wish to forget the ‘sins of my youth’ (my unconverted days), and am thankful that I wasn’t obligated to speak of them to anyone ….

    Given that my husband knew me through all my teen years, there’s not much about me he doesn’t know, but I’m thankful he didn’t feel any need to bring up sins that were, by then, covered by the righteousness of Christ. Our sins of youth cause us anguish enough – more as I get older. I wish to speak of them, though, to no one, but the One who knows anyway.

    • Organic Beast

      Looks like some Christians have carved themselves a “Sexy” pathway to Heaven. First, commit all the sexual sins, and live a wild life. Reach half way through life, kinda seems boring at this point. That’s when they turn to the church, a few tears and wallah! They are born again virgins again!