Indeed, God does pardon adultery, infidelity, and premarital sex. The response to this is a decisive and strong affirmation. However, we shouldn’t take His mercy for granted. Furthermore, His forgiveness doesn’t imply that our deeds won’t have repercussions.
Adultery, infidelity, and sex before marriage are all sinful actions before a Holy God, and they’re actions that can have serious earthly consequences. Let’s look at their nature and why we can trust a gracious God to forgive them.
What is Adultery?
Adultery refers to being unfaithful to your spouse, breaking the promise you made when you got married. Infidelity refers to the same – cheating or being unfaithful to a spouse. Sex before marriage, also known as premarital sex, is when people who aren’t married to each other have sex.
The Bible guides us to wait until we are married before we have sex. It also tells us to stay faithful to our spouse. But sometimes, people might not follow these guidelines.
One note here: sex is technically defined as intercourse. But there are a lot of other sexual acts that can also be sinful outside of a marriage covenant – they just might not be as consequential:
The Nature of Sexual Sin
Before we get into God’s forgiveness, let’s talk about what’s at the heart of sex and sexual immorality. Why do we do it?
The Bible helps us understand why people might behave in ways that are sexually improper or twisted. This is often called sexual brokenness. We find some answers in a part of the Bible called Romans 1:21-26.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.Romans 1:21-26
At the heart of all sexual sin – adultery and sex before marriage – is pride.
Pride is like a dark hole of selfishness that lives inside us. It wants to take and take, only thinking about itself. Pride makes us see others, the world, and even God as things we can use to satisfy our own wants.
You might have felt this. The more we let pride control us, whether it’s through sex, anger, wanting more things, the more it grows. It’s like a hungry beast that’s never satisfied.
Just like eating too much food (gluttony) or too little food (anorexia) is a result of pride messing with our relationship with food, and being too greedy is pride messing with our relationship with money, sexual sins are pride messing with our relationship with sex. It’s like pride makes us turn away from God and use others sexually for our own benefit.
In addition to pride and selfishness, many of us have unique stories and upbringings that wire us especially to desire sexual encounters like this. For example, if you grew up not being cared for in your home, it makes sense that you would seek out situations where you feel wanted and desired. These aren’t excuses, but they’re worth exploring if you feel stuck in sexual addiction.
Can God Forgive Adultery and Sex Before Marriage?
Here’s the big question. Can God forgive actions like adultery and sex before marriage? The answer is a strong yes! God can and does forgive these actions.
You might be asking, “How do we know that?” Well, the Bible tells us. In 1 John 1:7, it says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
The words “all sin” include everything. It means God can forgive any mistake we make, even adultery or sex before marriage while in a dating relationship.
God’s grace is a gift. It is how He forgives us. Even when we do things that aren’t right, God’s grace is always there. It’s like a big, warm blanket that can wrap around us and make us feel safe, even when we’ve made a mistake.
Remember, God’s forgiveness doesn’t mean the things we did were right. And it doesn’t mean the things we did won’t have consequences. It means that He loves us and wants to help us do better.
If you want some help personalizing it, take a look at the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 where Jesus wrote in the sand. How He responds to the woman is His response to you.
The Consequences of Adultery and Sex Before Marriage
Sexual immorality is discussed frequently in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. In 1 Corinthians, Paul refers to it as a sin against our own body.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every sin, whatever a person commits, is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.1 Corinthians 6:18
There’s a lot that could be said about this verse, but in oversimplified terms, Paul is telling us that there are unique consequences for sexual sins. They deeply impact us. Sex is deeply emotional and meaningful. It’s intimate. This means it comes with baggage – it’s nearly impossible to have sex with someone and not feel a connection to them. This means that without the commitment of marriage to accompany it, it can be damaging.
It can also lead to disease and pregnancy – which is a great thing that can be redeemed, but when it’s unplanned for it can be difficult.
Repentance: Turning Back to God After Sexual Sin
Now, there’s one more important thing to know. To receive God’s forgiveness, we need to be sorry for what we did. That’s called repentance. When we repent, it means we understand we did something wrong, and we want to do better.
If we keep doing wrong things and don’t feel sorry, it’s like walking on a slippery slope. It’s hard to climb back up and easy to slide down further. So, we should try our best to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.
How do you repent for sexual sin?
First, confess. Confess it to God, confess it to the people who it affected, confess it to others, but don’t move on so quickly. Take time to consider how God feels about it. It won’t feel good, it will be hard, but it will be worth it. Bring it into the light as fast as possible.
Second, flee temptation as much as you can. Where did/does it happen? When? In what circumstances? Try to eliminate them as best you can. Get help and accountability.
Third, explore the roots. All of us are prone to wander and prone to fleshly desires. But it’s worth exploring your story and timeline to see if there’s anything unique causing you to seek out sexual immorality. Consider seeing a Biblical counselor.
Fourth, don’t move on so quickly. Your sin has been covered and paid for, yes. The punishment was taken by Jesus. But that doesn’t mean you should wipe your hands and sweep it under the rug and forget about. Take the time to consider and process with the Father. How does it make Him feel? How does it make you feel? How does it impact your relationships? Your ministry? Seriously consider these things and use them as fuel.
The Road Ahead: Fighting Against Sexual Immorality
In conclusion, God’s love for us is infinite, and so is His ability to forgive. Adultery and sex before marriage are sins in the eyes of God, but His grace is powerful enough to cleanse us from all sins, even these. Repentance, or feeling genuinely sorry for our wrong actions, plays a significant role in receiving God’s forgiveness.
Remember, it’s not about being perfect, but about trying our best, knowing when we’ve made a mistake, and turning back to God. That’s what matters the most to Him.
And then continuing the fight. Don’t back down. Rely on the Holy Spirit. You (He) can do this.