Question:

I am a student and I was in a relationship with my girlfriend. We broke up because there was some cheating from her. Though we broke up, I decided to be friends with her. I knew that I still loved her, but I could not let go of the fact that she cheated, so we kept it with us just being friend.

But when I came home from school, she decided to visit me, which I agreed to. On the day she visited, I could not control myself, and we had sex.

Since that day I see myself distanced from God. I don't even know how to ask for forgiveness. I can't control my feelings again and I don't like being in that situation. All my life I have tried to live in a godly way. I know that I may not be perfect all the time, but since I commuted this shameful sin, I feel isolated from God's presence. I am turning to ungodly things, which I know I don't like.

Please help me. Teach me how to ask for forgiveness, please.


Answer:

As with any sin, you first need to come to terms with what you did, why you did it, and why it was wrong. Paul told us, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). There are three promises here from God:

  • Whatever temptation you face, it is not unique to you. Other people have faced the same thing -- some successfully and others failing. The claim that no one understands what you've gone through would be false.
  • The second promise is that you are able to resist the temptation. Satan cannot overwhelm you with something you cannot handle. The excuse that you could not help yourself or could not control yourself is false.
  • The third promise is that there is always a way out. It might not be obvious at the time, but you always have options that don't including sinning. Satan cannot box you in so that no matter what you choose you will sin. If it seems that way, then look for the third option that isn't obvious.

You did not say how sexually you behaved with this girl before you broke up with her, but you were aware that she was promiscuous. That should have been a clue prior to you having her over. My guess that you had her over when no one else was around, and thus, you removed potential restraint on your behavior. Because of the pleasure that came as she proceeded to seduce you, you offered no resistance and eventually instinct took over. Yet, along the path to fornication you had options that you did not take.

The key to restoring your relationship to two-fold:

  • You have to admit that what you did was wrong. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
  • You have to change both your mind about the acceptableness of your sin and change your behavior. "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). In other words, you have to see yourself as a different person.

Forgiveness is not based on sorrow. Sorrow is a motivation for seeking forgiveness, but there are people who are sorry that they sinned and never actually do something about it. When you decide you are going to change, you won't have any problems telling God you were wrong. As it is, you hint that you've given up on following God. Because you sinned in one manner, you are allowing other sins into your life. This has to stop, and the best time to stop is now.

Thanks for hearing me out. God bless you with the good work that you are doing. But, please, can you help me? How do you control your sexual desires because I wish I never felt such feelings until marriage.

An overweight person wishes he could just turn off his appetite so he would not eat too much. Yet, hunger can't be turned off because the body needs it as a legitimate reminder that food needs to be eaten. Instead it has to be controlled.

In the same way your desire for sex is necessary. Not only does it drive you to look for a wife, but it also reminds you to take care of your physical needs. It can't be turned off, only controlled.

Nor can you erased the memory of your sin or remove any potential consequences, such as a pregnancy. The past is over and done with. What you can do is change the future.

The simplest rule is that if you realize that you must not commit fornication again, then you cannot do the things that lead up to fornication. The sin didn't start with intercourse. It started with a whole series of prior sins.

The first problem is restraint, as you well know. Most young people discount too heavily the strength of their sexual instinct. This is why I constantly get notes from people saying, "I didn't mean for it to go this far," or "I don't know what happened," or "It was an accident." Such aren't lame excuses. They are the responses of someone who didn't have a healthy respect for the strength of his sexual instinct.

Solomon points out the problem when he asked, "Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). You can show a hot coal all the affection you want. You can cuddle it and dote on it and it will still burn you. Your kindness to it doesn't change its nature. How often do you hear someone say, "But I love her!" Solomon's point is that your feelings toward your girlfriend won't change the fact that both of you have built-in desires and capabilities for sex. Trigger them and they follow the instincts built into you.

Solomon also asked, "Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?" (Proverbs 6:28). Using the same example of a hot coal, if you walk on it, it will burn you. You can apologize and say you didn't mean to step on it, but you'll still be hurt because your intentions doesn't change what it is. Thus, the excuse, "But I didn't mean for it to go this far!" becomes an empty one because your intentions doesn't change your body's drive.

That is why Solomon concludes, "So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 6:29). Though he is talking directly about adultery, the same point is true about fornication. When you start stirring up sexual feelings, you are never innocent when thing go further than you wanted.

That is why we are told not to make room for lust and lewdness. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). Lust is those thoughts and desires you keep battling about taking things even further. Lewdness is engaging in sexual foreplay that gets the body ready for intercourse. The Christian must recognize the danger and not start a sequence of events that can't be legitimately completed.

I would not be surprised that you've dreamed about having sex with your ex-girlfriend and at times wondered if there was a way you could get away with it. What is being forgotten is that lust is a sin. It isn't the same as actually committing fornication, but it is no less of a sin than fornication. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Desiring to sin to the point of justifying it in your mind is just as bad actually doing it.

Rules, then, are needed so that you don't go down a sinful path. No touching each other's private areas. No stroking skin to get you or her sexually aroused. No taking off clothing or putting your hands under clothing. No long passionate kisses that leave you out of your mind. You have to treat each other with respect and not as sexual objects. "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (I Corinthians 7:1).

With that comes not talking dirty or showing nude or semi-nude pictures to each other. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:3-7). You don't stay pure by sexually arousing the other person.