This is a continuation of the topic we started in the posts, “Am I Too Damaged to Have a Godly Marriage?”
I am taking an email vacation through January 6th. You are welcome to comment on posts, but thank you for holding emails for me until January 7th. 🙂
Praise God the blood of Jesus washes us completely of our sin before God. His blood pays our debt in full and we can be completely cleansed in His sight. Christ can give us new hearts, new minds and a new Spirit. He is a God of miracles!
Sin hurts people. It hurts the sinner and other people around them, too. Earthly consequences of sin often remain, even after we are right with God, and are different depending on the sin. These things can impact our future lives, careers, marriages, friends, children and families – here are some examples:
- Someone who robbed a bank or embezzled money from their company would face prison time and have a much more difficult time later to find a job even after he/she repents.
- Drug addiction and alcoholism create permanent tendencies to relapse back into those addictions. Of course, there is victory available over any addiction in Christ! But someone with a past history of drug or alcohol addiction will have to be more cautious about certain temptations for the rest of their lives. They may want to continue going to AA or NA meetings and have accountability partners. Sometimes consequences of alcoholism may also involve cirrhosis of the liver – and a person may end up needing a liver transplant. Or someone may have hepatitis, HIV or other blood borne illnesses if they shared dirty needles. People who used meth will have an altered facial appearance, severe teeth problems, nose problems, skin problems, increased heart rate and blood pressure (and risk of heart attacks/strokes), lung damage, brain damage, memory loss, etc… Some of these things may persist for the rest of a person’s life even after he/she is clean. I have also seen patients of mine who took illegal drugs that were contaminated and ended up causing massive brain damage to themselves that could not be reversed and they had to have someone take care of them for the rest of their lives.
- People who commit murder intentionally may repent and find forgiveness in Christ – but will still have to remain in prison for life or face the death penalty. (The thief on the cross found forgiveness for all of his sin as he was crucified beside Jesus, but Jesus didn’t take him off of his cross.)
- People who have major pornography addictions experience changes in the neuronal pathways of the brain that permanently alter the way they function and think sexually. I am aware of a number of husbands who have no sexual desire for their wives now because of this issue. There is healing and hope. But this will be a struggle and there will need to be extra precautions taken, extra accountability and godly mentoring. And all of these things require the power of God in our lives to give us victory. We can’t live godly lives in our own strength.
- People who smoke continue to have a greater risk of emphysema, asthma and lung cancer even after they stop smoking.
- Gluttony or eating for comfort (idolatry of food) at times can lead to bulimia (which increases risk of heart attacks, strokes and a number of serious health problems), increase in weight above healthy limits, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, an increased level of fat around the abdomen – and this kind of fat leads to all kinds of physiochemical changes that promote disease. Even if a person repents of having food as an idol, they may continue to have Type II Diabetes for the rest of their lives. (There are other causes of Type 2 Diabetes, as well, of course. And sometimes bulemia is more about idolizing thinness than food. The issues can be complex here as well.)
- Those who commit felonies may have a very difficult time finding housing or a job later, even after they finish serving their time in jail. They often can’t leave the county they are in due to probation restrictions. This puts incredible strain on a marriage and family when a person can’t get a place to live or a job.
- People who had a habit of lying and deception may eventually jeopardize their jobs and relationships and lose the trust of other people and may not be able to earn that trust back depending on the severity of the lies they told, even after they repent. They may lose their careers.
- Men and women who were sexually abused as children did not sin. They are suffering the effects of the sins of others that were committed against them. But the trauma, wounds and scars they have do remain with them. How I wish NO ONE ever experienced sexual abuse, but especially children. I have had patients (I am a pharmacist) who developed schizophrenia or other severe mental illness after severe sexual abuse by a parent, step parent or other adult. I have walked with many wives on my other blog who have had deep scars or whose husbands have had deep scars from the abuse they suffered as children that makes normal sexual relationships in marriage very difficult and painful. This requires a spouse who is well aware of the trust issues the abused spouse will have and the memories and fear that may arise during sex in marriage that may be terrifying to a spouse who was a victim of abuse. There will be greater challenges in a marriage where one spouse was abused as a child. This couple will need a lot more support and preparation. Both the formerly abused spouse and the other spouse will need to be prepared for the extra issues and challenges they will face. I know some Christian men and women today who have very healthy marriages and sex lives in their marriages and recovered well from abuse, but I know others for whom there are deep problems and many difficulties. The problems are not insurmountable in Christ! But there can be problems in a marriage because of a one person’s experience of sexual abuse or rape in childhood or adolescence. If there are still any physical scars, those can cause issues, as well as any STDs that may have been transmitted to the victim. BUT – this does not mean that a person who was abused is doomed and “too damaged” to have a godly marriage. Not at all! There will be extra obstacles to overcome but in Christ there is much hope. The couple will need extra mentoring and support. And both spouses will need to be willing to deal with the issues as they come up together as a team – turning to each other instead of away from each other.
- For those who were involved in fornication in the past (sex before marriage) – there are consequences that can’t always be erased. There may be children born out of wedlock, exes to have to co-parent with, possibly a history of abortion and the guilt that can come from that, possibly STDs, spiritual/emotional bonding with past partners, trust issues, fear of abandonment, flashbacks, etc… This is why God commands us to only have sex in marriage. Sex outside of marriage causes great damage to people. BUT, I do know MANY wives who have godly marriages today who sinned in this way in their past. There can be extra issues to deal with because of a person’s sexual history, even after they repent and turn to Christ. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a godly marriage – but there can be complications and extra difficulties. They may need extra mentoring and support and godly encouragement and prayer. There are some Christians who are willing to accept and take on these issues. Some have had a history of fornication themselves, some have not.
The passage in I Corinthians shows that sexual sin is different from other sins in that we “sin against our own bodies” with sexual sin.
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[e] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. I Corinthians 6
But even with the consequences – there is still great reason for hope in Christ!
I am rounding up several wives I am friends with at http://www.peacefulwife.com and ask them to share their stories – several who experienced rape or abuse as children, and several who were involved in fornication – all of whom God is healing now. I think it would be great for us to hear their stories, listen to their wisdom and see how their lives and marriages have been impacted by their pasts and how God is working in their lives today.
I believe it is important for potential spouses to give “full disclosure” about themselves before marriage under all circumstances so that the potential spouse goes into marriage knowing what he/she will be working with.
- I know of people who did not tell someone that they had HIV/AIDS and married them. That is not right. A person needs to know about sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne diseases before marriage.
- I also know of men and women who were taught that sex is “dirty” by Christian parents and who would NEVER consummate the marriage – ever. I know of some marriages that went on for years and were not consummated because one spouse believed that sex is a sin even in marriage. That would have been an important piece of information to the other person before marriage, that they were signing up for forced celibacy in a marriage. This situation causes severe heartache.
- I know of people who had massive debt and didn’t tell their future spouse about that – that is not right, either. Once people are married, one person’s debt belongs to the other person, too. This is something a person has a right to know in advance.
It is important for us to be honest and forthright about ourselves and for the one we are considering marrying to be honest and forthright about himself, too.
All of us have childhood emotional wounds, unique medical issues, certain “baggage” and certain mindsets about certain things that would be important for a potential spouse to know up front. This is why I like to see people really know each other well before they marry, and, ideally, have very godly, biblical counseling that really digs into some of the potential areas for conflict that could come up before a couple marries.
There are resources to help Christians with all of these issues.
- Dave Ramsey has excellent books to help believers be godly stewards with their money and get out of debt.
- The Salvation Army has resources to help those who are struggling with addictions, alcoholism and a host of problems including homelessness, prostitution and resources for abused women. (Please check out Jason’s comment below)
- Celebrate Recovery has Christ-centered programs for people recovering from drug addiction.
- The American Diabetic Association has tons of resources to help educate diabetics and help them live healthy lives.
- The American Lung Association has resources for people to help them stop smoking and to try to help them have the healthiest lives possible.
- There are local Christian missions to those who are homeless and to train people in jobs who have been homeless or in prison.
- There are godly women in the church who have been through almost every imaginable experience who are willing to mentor other women struggling with the issues they have been through – eating disorders, sexual sin, abortion, adultery, abuse, cancer, diseases…
The body of Christ has invaluable resources to offer, sometimes it is just a matter of finding the right mentoring woman or program in your area. If you are aware of Christ-centered programs, please share them!
Thankfully, the God we serve specializes in bringing dead things to life, bringing beauty from ashes, turning mourning into joy and restoring “the years the locusts have eaten.” No one is beyond hope in Christ. He is able to make each of our lives beautiful and fruitful and holy as we submit to Him as LORD. He is able to accomplish His purposes in our lives, and He is able to make us useful in His kingdom.
We will ALL have plenty of opportunities to lavish grace, mercy and forgiveness on our husbands in marriage – and we will all need grace, mercy and forgiveness from our husbands. All people are wretched sinners on our own. All of us are in desperate need of the blood of Christ and His power to enable us to be the people He desires us to be. He can give us the ability to overcome obstacles, challenges and difficulties. And the even more amazing thing is that God, in His sovereignty, is able to use even the most awful things that have happened in our lives ultimately for our good and His glory. PRAISE GOD for that!
God is now using my 14+ years of sin, pride, idolatry, disrespect, rebellion against His commands for me as a wife and believer and my controlling behavior (trusting myself instead of God) to draw thousands of women around the world to Himself. I wish I had seen my sin and repented much earlier. I would have spared myself and Greg much pain. But, God is able to use even my sin and mistakes for His glory. I praise and thank Him for that now and seek to live in full obedience to Him by His Spirit living in me.
I can’t wait to see His plans for you!
FROM JASON (a brother in Christ and a soldier in the Salvation Army):
Sister! Praise God for this post! How inspirational!
If any woman you are counseling needs help in an relationship of physical abuse, I can connect you with resources at The Salvation Army anywhere in the USA. Some divisions have womens shelters and some do not. The one’s that do not can and will connect to other churches that do!
All of of our rehab services and in-residence programs for substance abuse are FREE. There is no cost like all the ones Hollywood people go to. They are staffed with professional Salvationists in the fields of counseling, job training, and pastoral care.
Drug addictions / alcohol problems are the result of a broken spirit. A separation from Christ. All of them. The rehab programs include three good meals a day as well. Our program works, and has been working since the Victorian age!
Nothing is beyond the healing power and redemption of Christ Jesus! There may be consequences for our past behaviors….but these consequences also become a victory in Him when we turn away from our past and start living again.
Me! Glory to Christ, and what a great post for this very special and Holy day!!!