PCRT Q/A: Dating a Non-Virgin

Rick Phillips
Since the PCRT theme this year was Holiness and Honor: A Reformed View of Sex and Marriage, most of the Q & A was devoted to this theme.  Here is another question we did not get to, but which I will address now:

What should I do if I'm dating someone who didn't wait for marriage before meeting me?

As always, there are different ways of answering.  First, there is a categorical answer: This man or woman you are dating who did not wait for marriage is a sinner.  But then you are a sinner, too.  So you have more in common than you perhaps thought.  A non-virgin is not a moral pariah.  Moreover, anyone we love is going to be someone who has sins, brokenness, and sorrows that will need our loving ministry.

Second, the question is whether or not this person is repentant.  The thing about Christians is not that we don't sin -- since we do -- but that we are able to be forgiven and to repent of them.  So if this person is repentant over this sin, and is committed to biblical obedience, you should be grateful to be involved with a person who has experienced the grace of the gospel.

Third, what about the person's worthiness of your love?  After all, aren't we supposed only to want a virgin, especially if we have remained sexually chaste?  Here is the dark side, I think, of the chastity industry: it creates the sense that anyone who has failed sexually is broken and unclean.  But this is a repudiation of the gospel.  Would it be better if he or she had waited until marriage for sex?  Of course it would, and we should not downplay the value of sexual purity for singles and youths.  But we do believe in forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. Don't we? It is one thing if the person is still practicing sexual sin and folly.  But if the person is genuinely repentant and committed to honor the Lord with his or her body, then we rejoice in the redeeming grace of our Savior.

The issue of whether or not someone has committed a sexual sin is not one of the more important premarital issues, even though it will need some attention.  Far more important is the tenderness of their heart toward the Lord as a result, their commitment to biblical repentance and obedience, and their wisdom in handling temptation in the future.  It will sometimes be that a virgin is a less desirable marriage candidate because he or she knows little of God's grace and has little wisdom for handling repentance and sin.  This is not at all to promote sexual sin as an avenue to a grace-filled life -- it is far better to remain sexually chaste.  But let us not make virginity a form of righteousness before God or a replacement for a grace-filled character.