Question:

Hello,

I ran across your web site some time ago and liked your responses to many questions - you tell it like it is.

So now I have run across one of those same situations and I'm probably going to sound exactly like a lot of those other people. I guess sooner or later someone messes up.

So here it is:

I did something I was not supposed to do - and you know what I am talking about. I was on an online dating site for a while, and this woman kept sending me winks and messages. She did not seem to want to get to know me but immediately wanted to jump to talking on the phone. I was pursuing someone else at the time and let it go. Well, the someone else didn't work out, and I was feeling pretty down about it, so I decided to call her and see what she had to say.

We met for dinner, and went for a walk, and she invited herself back to my place. You can guess the rest. We had a "fling" for about three weeks before I wised up and started saying "no." She said her tubes were tied, and I took her word at that. I was worried about her being pregnant, but I do not think that came to pass.ButI have spent the past six weeks worried about HIV. I have no reason to think she had it, and in fact I since asked her about it and she said no, that she'd just gotten a life insurance policy and they tested for everything. But I had an odd flu-like illness that lasted for several weeks and still have a dry burning mouth. I was petrified and went to the doctor and discussed it with him. He said I looked like I had "some kind of virus" and my white tongue was due to dehydration. I got up the nerve to ask him what I was afraid of, and he said he really didn't thinkit was an STD.He advised waiting a few weeks to see if it went away andmyonly prescription was to drink lots of water.I have driven all my friends crazy worrying about this.

Not only am I petrified what I might have caught, the guilt is driving me crazy. I feel like I am just not "pure" anymore. GrantedI am in my forties and had done this once before about ten years ago. I have been going to church for the past year or so and was just starting to get to know people there. Now I feel like I am going to burst into flames just walking in the door. I feel like I have ruined whatever chance I had of having a "good" relationship. I see married couples at church and they seem so happy and well-adjusted. Not only do I feel like I've ruined everything, I wonder what they would think if they knew. A friend of mine once said "God has the perfect woman out there for you." But I now feel like He has tested me and I blew it. How could I ever have a "pure" relationship with this behind me? Ithought about discussing it with my pastor, but I am not sure that's the right thing to do.

All this was something like four months ago.

Italked this over with a Christian friend of mine who is also a retired doctor, and he advised me to drop this woman. I took his advice.

I have another friend who insists it's basically nothing - that's it's "not even registering." I don't think I completely buy that either.

I should add that this woman was divorced, and according to her she'd had only one long-term boyfriend since. So does this make me an adulterer? Is this an unforgivable sin?

I realize I've been going in circles here, but I think you can piece it together. I need to get all this behind me, because I have not been able to function. I am feeling guilty and am worrying about what I might have and it ruined my holidays.

I wish I could write more, and if you're willing to listen, I will. But you probably get a lot of email.


Answer:

I would have thought it obvious that I'm willing to listen since so many people end up writing. You're not an exception.

I keep running across people who insist on feeling guilty even though they haven't done anything wrong. But you have done things wrongly and you should feel guilt over your sins. I would be concerned if did all of this had no remorse over it.

But to think that God will not forgive you of this sin means you really don't understand God. ""Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"" (Ezekiel 18:23). God wants to save people from their foolish sins. If He were out to condemn the world regardless of what they do then none of us would have had a chance, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

You are sorry about your sins, now the question is: are you going to change. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

You went about the matter of finding a wife entirely the wrong way. Instead of looking for a companion, you looked for a sexual partner. You got what you were looking for, along with all the worries and sins which accompany it. Yes, you committed adultery. The woman most likely doesn't have the right to marry. She is probably still bound by the terms of her covenant she made with her original husband. Yet knowing this, you pursued her and had sex with her anyway. She might have invited herself in, but you opened the door. Even after coming to your senses and admitting the sex was wrong, you continued to see her. As Solomon warned, such sins are easy to fall into and hard to get out of. "My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well. She also lies in wait as for a victim, and increases the unfaithful among men" (Proverbs 23:26-28).

So, let's talk about getting your life back on track. The most fundamental thing you need to do is make sure you have really become a child of God. Most people think they are Christians and many denominations tell people they are Christians, but I'm finding that very few actually obeyed God. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

You are not truly a Christian until you have been the terms of the covenant Christ has established. This is something you and I can discuss in greater details, but to give you a brief summary:

To be a child of God, you must:

Hear the Word of God

"It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me" (John 6:45).

You cannot follow Christ when you have no clue as to which way to go. The Bible teaches us how to live righteously, "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:12). It doesn't mean you have to know and understand every detail, but it does mean you cannot become a Christian blindly.

Believe

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).

Knowing what you need to do is useless unless you actually believe that it is true. "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

Repent

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

Claiming to know something is true and acting on that belief can be two separate things. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:14-17). Thus the necessity to do something about your faith -- to make changes in your life. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

Confess

"But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).

Faith is not real faith if you are not willing to admit it exists. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

Be Baptized

"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).

For some reason, this seems to be the hardest thing for people to accept. Yet, baptism serves the same function that circumcision did under the Old Covenant. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).

Once you are a child of God, then you can go to God when you slip up and confess your sins to Him. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8-9). And then change your ways.

This thing is still eating me up. I have driven all my friends crazy. The logic says I have not contracted what I am afraid of -she saysno, Ihavebeen to twodoctors who say they do not think so, and there are several symptoms missing. And yet I worry - I have had something for the past month.

And I am still grappling with the moral implications. Maybe this is the sort of lesson people really have to learn the hard way (I think I said that before). All I can say is "never again" and Igenuinely hope I have the chance to prove it.

I've thought about discussing it with the pastor at my church, but something has held me back. I think the fewer people that know, the better.

But I sometimes think that the Catholics have the right idea with confession. Granted, a priest cannot forgive anyone - only God can do that - but still I think it makes you feel like you have been heard and that you really are forgiven.

But I keep thinking about a passage from the Bible (not sure where) that talks about how God will deal with fornicators and adulterers.

One common mistake people make is assuming that when two events happen in close succession that the first caused the second. But it isn't necessarily true. You're scared that your symptoms came from your fornication, but it is possible that you caught a disease that had nothing to do with a sexually transmitted disease.

It is also possible that your own fears of having a disease is making you take small things out of proper proportions. That is one reason we are told not to spend time worrying -- being concerned over things we cannot control. "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:31-34).

In regards to resisting sin: In one sense you are proving it in that you have stopped this particular sin. That alone is evidence of change. There will come times when the temptation will be greater and you will be called upon to make greater effort not to repeat your sins, but each time will be further evidence that you have changed.

There is nothing wrong with talking about your problems with other people. It is an important aspect of being a Christian. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Discussing problems gives you a chance to work through what happened and get someone else's view on why it happened and how it could be avoided. Problems are also easier to handle knowing someone is sharing the burden with you. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

You might have been thinking of: "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). It might not be as clear in English as it is in Greek, but what is being expressed is that God judges those are in fornication or adultery, not those who once had committed adultery. God looks at who you are, not who you were. Ezekiel expresses this clearly:

"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20-24).

God doesn't hold a past sin that has been repented of against a person. The problem is that some people refuse to leave their sin or they are convinced they had not done wrong so that if the opportunity arises they would do it again. These are the people God judges as wicked.