Question from a Site Viewer
I’ve been a Christian my whole life. However, for a short time, I rebelled and had several sexual encounters. Soon after, I met my husband. I told him I was not a virgin and it really upset him but he finally moved past it and we married. Out of worry, I told him it was only once. Now, many years later, happily married with several children, I really feel I should tell him. But I’m afraid that it will devastate him. Should I tell him?
I hear this question often. Should I tell? Should I not tell? If you have been married for a long time and the question has never come up, I would not bring it up now. In my view, the rule of love should apply. One should not do something to hurt another unless it is necessary.
As I have stated in some articles on the site, there are times when we should share our sins with other people and there are times when we should not. I know that we all have two tendencies that are in constant tension. The first tendency is to deny our sins. The second is to confess our sins with the hope of getting the burden of our sins off of our backs. We should always confess our sins to God and account Him to be true to His word that He forgives our sins and restores us to righteousness. But whether we should confess them to another person depends. Love covers a multitude of sins and I see no command nor do I think it is wise to confess our sins to everyone. Our focus should be on Christ, not on our sins.
I know some believers who take the position that we should be completely transparent with our spouses. I generally encourage transparency between spouses. Two together can uphold each other in ongoing struggles. But transparency between spouses is not shown very much in Scripture. Adam and Eve after the fall tried to cover themselves up from one another. I do not see Abraham and Sarah being transparent with one another, or Isaac and Rebecca, or Jacob and Rachel and Leah. I cannot imagine that David was transparent with all of his wives, or Solomon. Perhaps Ezekiel might have been, but we do not know. In fact, the intimate love relationship between spouses that Paul advocates does not have many good examples in scripture among the people of God. Perhaps Zacharias and Elizabeth and Joseph and Mary had such a relationship. We simply are not told. And even in the best of relationships, Scripture says nothing of transparency. Even Paul does not urge transparency, or a tell all approach between spouses and generally he tells those who have lied simply to lie no longer but speak truth one to another (Ephesians 4:25).
And sometimes our transparency can be the cause of another’s fall. I do not see that as love. A strong Christian might be able to handle the confession of another’s sin while a weak one might be destroyed by such confession. Scripture never commands complete transparency with a spouse or with any other human, but it does command us to look out for the weaker believers and not place a stumbling block before them.
Accordingly, from what you have said, I suggest the following. You told a lie many years ago and that was wrong. You do not want to repeat that sin in the future. Therefore, set your heart and mind to be ready to tell the truth to your husband if he ever asks. If he does not ask, I would suggest that you not tell, unless the Spirit impresses on you that You should do so. But I would want make sure that it is the Spirit. If you are not sure, I would suggest taking a period of time to pray and seek God’s direction. He is able to make His will known to those who seek Him. In the meantime, make every effort to be the best wife your husband could ever have. Serve him as you would serve Jesus Himself. And pray constantly that God will bless him, use him, strengthen him, and sustain him. Be his prayer supporter. Pray Paul’s great prayers for your husband that he would be strengthened with God’s power, that he would walk worthy of God, etc.
If he ever asks you, be prepared with what you would say to him. If he asks in the midst of some irritation, I think I might be inclined to say something like, “I am willing to talk about my past life, but only when we are both more calm.” Then do something special for him, maybe make a really nice dinner, and afterwards tell him of your long-ago lie. But I would not tell him more than simply to correct the lie. I might say, “I did it more than once and I apologized for my lie to you and have been long grieved over it but I did not want to hurt you more.” I would not want to go into the details but keep it as general as possible. If he asks you for the details, I might simply suggest telling him that having turned to follow Christ, you would rather not return to those terrible things. I think you want to protect him from details that may take his mind to places that he should not go. If he presses, I would suggest asking him to take a week and pray about whether obtaining the details would be what God wants. If he comes back after the week and still wants the details, then I would be inclined to tell him what he wants, trusting God to guide you both. But I would not tell him if he does not ask or fill in any more details than what you feel is right to share. If he does not ask, I would leave the matter with God and not let the accuser of the saints have any hold in your life. You have been forgiven by God and the only issues that remain are discerning that which is wise and loving towards your husband. My suggestion is not to pollute the atmosphere of your marriage with something that happened more than a decade ago.
These are my suggestions. But I am not God. Thus, as stated above, if you feel that God is telling you something different, then you should search out His will and do what He has made clear to you. If He does not make a path clear to you, I believe the approach I suggest melds wisdom and love together in a way that will honor God and your husband.
I have not repeated the Scriptural passages that have led me to my position, but if you are interested you might read the longer article on the site entitled A Biblical Approach to Confessing Sin.
May the Lord lead you in this matter and guide you with His peace.
My prayer is with you and your husband,