My boyfriend of four years was convicted of statutory rape, a one-time incident. This is his only criminal record. In the course of the trial, I discovered that he committed infidelity with several women. Of course, this is devastating. He has repented and promised God that he will never have sex except with his wife. He is sorrowful for the pain he has caused and asked me to forgive him. He wants to start fresh, a chance to restore our relationship. I am working hard to forgive and love like Christ, but feel I'm being gullible and stupid. What scriptural advice can you give me?
My first question is how long ago were these incidences? My second question is have you two been sexually involved? My third question is what has he done, besides apologizing that shows he has made a drastic change in his life?
I am a firm believer that everyone can change. I would want to believe that your boyfriend has changed. But I also know that being sorry doesn't necessarily show a change in life. "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).
Jesus told us: "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16-20). You can't go merely by his words, you need to see actions that show he has changed.
Is he talking with a preacher about overcoming his sin? If so, what does the preacher think about his sincerity? What actions has he taken to remove temptation from his life?
There are other issues that you must consider as well. An unfortunate consequence of our sexually permissive society is to brand convicted sex offenders for many years. That will limit where you could live as a married couple. It means your children can't live near schools. It means neighbors will know about his past and shun you and him. While I think this can be wrong because it gives no consideration to the fact that people can radically change, this is what we must deal with in society today, and you have to weigh whether you want the isolation that comes with it in your life.
Sins have consequences beyond the actual sin itself. Forgiveness is required by God (Matthew 6:14-15). But whether you want to marry this man whom you lost trust in is a separate issue.
My boyfriend (sounds adolescent) and I began dating four years and he saw other women for the first three years. I met him several years after my husband of several decades divorced me. Yes, we were sexually involved. It was a subject we spoke of often because we both knew we weren't obedient to God. Ironic. We've had sex once in the last year and a half. Since the trial last fall he has been incarcerated. He's apologized, is reading the Bible, and I've been sending Bible study material. My concern is that it is easy to make promises when not challenged in the outside world. I can't see evidence of change. I have forgiven him, but wonder if I can ever trust again. He wants to start fresh and a chance to prove himself. I know that God is at work in our lives, and I'm just about the only positive Christian influence. Sometimes I don't know if I'm hearing God or if Satan is putting doubt in my mind.
He is still in the local jail and will receive counseling once relocated to prison. He'll also have access to a chapel. We live in neighboring states, so we usually saw each other every other weekend. When he was accused, we were led to believe it was false accusations. None of us knew the truth until a week before the trial. All these years, we've had an outgoing, positive relationship. Truly, it was the best time of my life. I'm stunned. It's hard to be believe I was so blind, but that's probably because we didn't live close to each other. He is in his fifties with grown children from a previous marriage and I'm in my fifties with no children.
I am concerned about the possibility of him having to register as a sex offender. I've not been able to tell my family. At this point, all they know is that we stopped seeing each other. I'm very concerned that his behavior with other women led him to statutory rape. His family and I believe that he sought those relationships for validation. Sinking to this lowest point in his life, I'm praying constantly that he is truly committed to turning his life around. In every other area of his life, he is well respected. Just a shame that his hidden behavior has devastating affects on us, his family, and most of all his grandchildren.
You are correct that a prison environment is artificial. You cannot tell if he is changed. The problem is that you cannot easily tell if he has changed after he gets out either. He managed to hide his other affairs from you. While you learned of the affairs because of the trial, I'm left to wonder how many others there have been which were not discovered. Prosecutors tend to bring out only the solid evidence; they don't need to document every incident to demonstrate a pattern.
Notice that in all the years you've known him, his behavior has not changed. He has continued to have sex with women right up to when he was caught having sex with an underage girl. If you are the only positive influence in his life, it isn't working.
Another problem that needs to be addressed is the fact that he lied until near the end. "Validation" is a poor excuse for fornication. That would mean that he also has a selfish streak.
I don't see any good coming from this relationship. If I might be so bold, may I suggest that you tell him that it is at an end? Communicate with him, send him study material, but tell him that you are no longer interested in marrying him. If he is going to change, he must do so because it is the right thing to do and because such is pleasing to the Lord. It cannot because he hopes to win your favor -- if that is his motivation, you will always be wondering if he'll relapse once he marries you and no longer feels the need to impress you.
I'm sorry it turned out this way, but it is better to know now than after you married him.
I sincerely appreciate your comments. I have told him that right now I can only be his friend. Deep down, I feel this relationship can't be saved. I needed to hear your candid perspective. My focus needs to be my relationship with Christ.