For the most part, when I write, I am coming to you in whispers, from the gentlest place, from the quiet spaces in my heart, because I’m concerned for you or because I remember something so vividly or because I want you to know so desperately that you’re not alone because I remember feeling so very alone.

That is not today. (I mean, my motivation is totally the same, but my approach perhaps, not so much.)

Because if it wouldn’t be completely annoying, I would probably write this entire post in CAPS. I cannot quite pinpoint why I’m so fired up over this issue. So, a warning: this is going to be a tough one, and some of you will be mad at me. I’m preemptively sorry (wait, no I’m not).

Now, before I jump in, I need to be super clear who this post is NOT for, okay?

If you don’t believe in God, this post is not for you. I mean, you can read it and stuff, but I’m not talking to or about you. That would be kinda like me trying to remind you of the rules of the game, except that you’re playing Pictionary and I’m playing Monopoly. Two different games; same rules don’t apply. So, free pass today, peeps.

This also really isn’t for those who believe in God and are totally trying to follow him in every area of their lives. Now, I’m not saying there are perfect people out there. Umm, no. (If we were all perfect people, we wouldn’t need Jesus.) But today’s post is not for the person plugging along, doing her best in her faith walk, reading the Word, obeying the Word, ear to the ground for the Spirit, looking both ways when she crosses the spiritual street. Not for you, darlin’.

Today is for the person who believes in God but knows she’s in a hella sin season right now. You know who you are. (I don’t, but you do.) You love God but you are knowingly and willingly doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing.

Very specifically: I am blown away with utter confusion when I hear people who claim to be followers of the Jesus of the Bible think it’s okay to have sex with someone who isn’t their spouse.

(Now, again, I’m not talking about people who don’t claim to follow God because if they don’t believe he exists, why would they pay attention to his rules let alone play by them? I’m not talking about you. I lay no claim whatsoever on what is best for you or how you should or shouldn’t live your life, I seriously promise.)

I’m talking about people who claim to believe in the very specific God of the very specific Bible who has laid out some very specific things for those who choose to follow him (BECAUSE HE SO TOTALLY LOVES US) and you are having sex with your boyfriend or ex-husband or some random guy you met on Match or an old friend and you both are lonely right now, so…, something that is unhealthy, something that is unholy, something that is a shame that your children and friends are witnessing, while you give Jesus praise for this unhealthy, unholy, shameful thing, and while you act like what you’re doing is totally cool with God, and while sometimes you even do so while in ministry. (For the love of all that is good and pure in this world. I can’t even.)

I don’t want to claim to speak for God, but if I had to guess, he’s not a fan of this either.  He might be thinking, “You go right ahead and live your gift of free-will life I’ve given you but please don’t say I’m on board with your disobedience, or worse yet, that I orchestrated it. I’m amazing and loving and filled with grace, but I’m not your cool laidback uncle buying you beer even though you’re underage.”

You can do whatever you want with your body and your life, if you have chosen a life of not walking with God and pursuing holiness.

But if you do love Jesus, your body and your life are not your own. And for those of us who truly understand that God loves us so crazy deeply, we gladly (though not with always with ease, for sure) surrender over and over and over again, trusting and knowing that he totally knows what he’s talking about.

Now, I am very clearly being judgmental here. I absolutely am. And we hear all the time that we’re not supposed to judge and to show grace and blah blah blah.

Yes, that is super true. But I need to point out that Scripture is clear that Christians ARE supposed to judge other Christians (for the sake of protecting each other from hurting ourselves and each other and in an attempt to accurately portray who Jesus is). And Jesus said things like, “Go and sin no more,” not, “I love you so much and it’s totally okay for you to keep sinning, you cute little independent happy thing, you.”

(Though, to be clear: GOD DOES COMPLETELY LOVE YOU, sin season or obedience season.)

Here’s another reason I can talk this harshly on this topic. I’m about to write something I have NEVER written publicly. And I am about to shock a handful of people in my life. But here goes. I can speak this boldly about this topic not because I’m perfect, not because I’m so high and mighty (because I’m so not) but because of this:

I didn’t wait to have sex before I got married the first time.

(I’m so sorry, Mom, Dad, stepparents, siblings, grandparents, family, youth group leaders, pastors, friends who I gave the other impression to. It’s my biggest failure. And I’m sorry for not being upfront all those years ago. Bottomline, I was just so ashamed of my own lack of…everything, of my own hypocrisy. I’m so, so sorry.

Let me pause right here: there is not one personal benefit to me humiliating myself like this…not one. Not one. Which means my motives are pure and outwardly focused and coming from the deepest places of I LOVE YOU and I WANT YOU WHOLE and PLEASE TRUST ME WHEN I SAY WHAT I’M SAYING BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.)

And – twenty-five years later – with all the bad stuff I’ve done and all the bad stuff that’s been done to me, not waiting for marriage to have sex as a Christian is still, hands-down, my biggest life regret ever. Ever.

And here’s why: because though I love my children with everything in me and I would do my whole life over again the same exact way to get those two again, in the same breath, knowing God is sovereign and life is mysterious, I believe with everything in me that if my heart and body and mind hadn’t been intertwined with my then-boyfriend that I would have had the strength and clarity and wherewithal to see all of the red flags and to not beg him to stay with me and beg him to propose to me and beg him to marry me. Because I was so devastated with myself the entire time, that I basically told myself, well, if I’m not going to be a virgin when I get married, I can at the very least get married to the man I lost my virginity to. (Not, we’re so right together or we’re so good for each other or God has brought us together, I’m sure of it. I did not get married for any of those ‘right’ reasons.)

But here’s why I can also say all of this with such boldness, stepping on toes every which way – that waiting is the best way to go – because I truly DID WAIT to have sex before I got married the second time.

And though it was super difficult, we are both so freaking glad we did. We didn’t Duggar our way to the wedding night or anything but we did totally wait. (And I will go so far as to say that I believe we have a better sex life now because we waited).

(Oh my lands, if my kids are reading this, their eyes are probably bleeding at this point. By the way, yes, my children already knew about this. I shared this with my daughter about a year ago as a life lesson, and I shared it with my son before I was ready to because he was lied to and told that I had “slept with men” before I was married, and it was important to me for him to know it was only one and not several. And again, to my children, I am so deeply sorry for not holding up purity as a legacy for you to follow. I’m ashamed. {Forgiven, but ashamed.})

Anyway, so I come to you with a unique perspective: as a woman who so regretfully didn’t wait until marriage to have sex and then as a woman who so gratefully did wait until marriage to have sex. In other words, I know whereof I speak.

You see, I keep hearing this question being batted around, about people’s opinions on Christians waiting for a second marriage to have sex, when, they already did have sex, so why have to wait this time?

FOR THE LOVE: BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO. Nothing changes because we’re in our 40s or whatever.  There isn’t a little clause that says no fornication, you know, except if you’ve already been married before, then go for it. Pretty sure Paul never wrote anything like that at all. And I don’t want to hear how your situation is different. How you’re so in love and how you’re committed to each other and how you’re going to get married and how it’s financially responsible to just live together now. You are lying to yourself. (Saying that it’s okay to have sex post-divorce because you’ve already had sex is a little like saying it becomes magically okay to lie to people because you’ve been hard-core lying for years, or that because you used to be a bank president it’s totally cool – and not at all stealing – to rob the bank. The rules haven’t changed. You are simply trying to bend them to fit your desires.)

But here’s why I think we struggle with this, besides it’s hard to wait to have sex if you’ve had it before. Because when we’re hurting, or when we’re desperate for our life to be better, or insistent that something change NOW, we can tend to round-hole/square-peg our lives, and we can sometimes manipulate and force situations that are not good because it either makes us feel better (life isn’t about feeling better, sidenote) or it can give us the illusion that we are actually doing better, when we’re so totally not.

In fact, knowingly and willingly being in a season of sin is what Beth Moore calls “sin sick”. And God is pretty clear all throughout Scripture that God blesses obedience (and I have felt that time and time again in my life; I have also felt the withholding of blessing when I have been in seasons of sin sickness).

He’s also pretty clear that when we take matters into our own hands and deliberately do something that is not right or good for us, the wheels will always, always, always fall off at some point. And if we think we’re hot messes now, ooo, girl, watch out! You are playing with fire if you think doing what you’re doing is okay because you feel happy or because it felt right at the time or because he is such a good man and he loves me.Blech.

Also, when you’re in willing sin, your prayers are being blocked. So, unless you’re praying a prayer of confession and repentance and you’re stopping the sin, you might as well stop asking him to help you figure out all the details of your life, to make you happy and such. (Here’s a spiritual pet peeve of mine: when someone is so clearly in sin and claims it is a God-thing. It’s not. It might be a God-you-made-up-in-your-head-to-justify-your-actions-because-you-feel-happy God-thing, but it’s not a God-of-the-Bible God-thing. Quit it.)

God couldn’t give a rat’s ass about your happiness. (Don’t make a meme out of that.) Okay, He does. But seriously, in comparison, he is so much more concerned about your wholeness and holiness. And if in the process of becoming whole and holy, you end up experiencing happiness, bonus. But searching for happiness first will not work. Ever. It’s a Band-Aid at best, but it will not turn your life around. Not as a follower of Christ. Because we are called to live differently.

(You want to know why I waited?? Because I didn’t want to disobey and disappoint God; because I didn’t want to be far away from God in general let alone have my thinking clouded by sin while I was trying to make a life decision about this man and our future; and because I had two children watching my every move and I was not about to have my boyfriend or even fiancé spend the night in my bedroom – or move in! – while telling my children that Jesus loves me and was happy I found a man and though they should wait for marriage to have sex because the Bible says so, that doesn’t really apply to me. It doesn’t work that way.)

So, you who claim to know and love and follow Jesus who are having sex with someone who is not your husband (which obviously includes living with someone who isn’t your husband, or any other manner of thing that you know truly you shouldn’t be doing) – here comes the gentleness after all the CAPS, here comes the soft words after the soapbox – please, baby girl, wake up. You are only hurting yourself. You are hurting the other party involved. You are only keeping yourself stuck. You are only adding to your current pain and your future heartbreak. You are hurting your children. (Trust me, I know.)

Look at your life. Look at your choices. You have a say in the matter. You are not without options.

Ask yourself these questions in the stillness of your heart (and be brave enough to be completely honest):

What am I doing? Really, what am I doing?

Am I truly alright with my temporary happiness overshadowing my long-term wholeness and the preciousness of my walk with God?

Is what I’m doing right now making me more whole?

God, what do you want me to do next?

God will take care of you. It may be hard. You may have to make some hard changes. You may even have to say goodbye to someone that – in your unclarity – you have convinced yourself is a gift. But, I promise you, God will take care of you. And there is grace…you are still loved no matter what…but wouldn’t you rather be living with a free heart than in shame?

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” –John 15:14

If this post encouraged you (or challenged you!), you would benefit from some of my other divorce-related resources:
*my podcast – All That to Say:, specifically this conversation with my husband about divorce:
*grab my book, Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage:
*Lies We Tell Ourselves webcast:
*my 3-month e-course, Heartbreak to Hope (now PAY WHAT YOU CAN):
*Surviving as a Christian Single Mom:
*Are You Ready to Date quiz:

Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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