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Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word

askauntdara@gmail.com


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.


Monday, June 27, 2016

She Had Hoped to Marry a Virgin


 Part One

Dear Aunt Dara,

My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly 6 months.  In the second week of our relationship, he told me that he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to tell me about his past, and also because I had mentioned to him that I trust that he would be honest with me.  He told me that he got into a sexual relationship with one of his ex-girlfriends 7 years ago.  She is about 14 years his senior and is someone he knew from work.  It was his first job and she was nice and showed him the ropes.  I asked if they did it once or twice and he told me “many times.”  I really appreciate his honesty with me and I know that it took him a lot of courage to tell me about his past.  I also appreciate that he told me early in our relationship and did not wait until I sank in deeper before telling me.

I must admit that my heart sank when I heard it.  I told him that what I look for in a boyfriend is that firstly, he must be a Christian, and secondly, a virgin.  To me sex is something that should be enjoyed only between married couples.  After he told me about his past, I felt at a loss.  He told me that if it is really hard for me to accept his past, maybe it isn't God's will that we end up together.  Hearing that made my heart sink because I am really in love with him and I trust that he is the one God led me to.  I understand that even if I were to find a guy who is a virgin, that doesn't guarantee that he will love me and love God as much as my boyfriend does.  I questioned God and asked why He would lead me to someone who is all that I’ve ever wanted and even more but he has given his first sexual experience to someone else.  My boyfriend is someone who has a passion for Christ, who wants to lead me closer to God and is God fearing.  I love that he has a heart for Christ.  He told me that Jesus died for all our sins and not all sins except sexual sins, and I agree with him.  Jesus has forgiven him, so who am I to question that?  Plus, I know that I myself am also a sinner, so who am I to judge him for his past? 

Things went well for the next few months after that, but I sometimes find myself replaying that scene in my mind where he told me about his past.  I find it difficult to forget what I heard.  I also find it difficult to talk about it with him because I don’t want him to think that I am holding his past against him.  I know it is unfair to him, but I can't pretend that everything is fine and that I am not affected.  I find it hard to find someone to talk to about it as I do not want them to judge him based on his past, but I have to admit that the knowledge of his past is slowly eating me up.  I keep myself going by praying and asking God for strength because I know that I can't get past this on my own strength.  My boyfriend told me that men will disappoint us but God will not, so I am trying to keep my focus on God and remember that I should place my hope in God and God should be the centerpiece in my life. 

I also appreciate that he has never asked me for sex and we both plan to do it only when we are married.  I love that he spends time to pray with me and we now attend a Bible study together.  We’ve also been to Marriage Preparation Retreat together and we are planning to get married.  However, I really want to get this resolved before we get married because if I don’t I am afraid that it will affect our marriage.  Will his past sexual experience affect our future sex life?  Will he have certain expectations because he has done it before and I am still a virgin?  I really love him, but I find his past tearing me up.  I feel so lost.  I don't want to give him up and risk missing the love of my life just because he isn't a virgin.  But on the other hand, what I know is haunting me.  Please Aunt Dara, give me some guidance on how I should handle my relationship!  I want to do what pleases God!  Thank you in advance for your advice.  I look forward to hearing from you.

God bless,
Struggling Girlfriend

Dear Struggling Girlfriend,

As I read and reread your letter, I see several positive signs in your boyfriend and your relationship with him.  You indicate that he has a spiritual focus, that he loves God, has a heart for Christ, and that he wishes to help you to grow spiritually and demonstrates this by praying with you and attending Bible study with you.  He also seems to be very dedicated to you and your future together as demonstrated by his desire to marry you and to attend a marriage preparation retreat with you.  From what you have written, it would appear that your boyfriend is an honest, sincere person who truly loves God and loves you.

From the beginning he was honest with you about his past and did not keep his past sexual sins secret, but therein lies the problem.  You say that your expectation for the man that you marry is that he should be a virgin.  You ask why God would lead you to someone who is all you ever wanted but is not a virgin.  Keep in mind that your desire to marry a man who is a virgin is your expectation, not God's.  God never said that entering marriage is for virgins only.  I am not saying that sex outside of marriage is not sin.  It is.  I am saying that God does not forbid marrying someone who has committed sexual sins.  So, why would God lead you to this man despite your desire to marry a virgin?  Because God has forgiven him and no longer holds his sins against him.  Please refer to 1 John 1:9, Psalm 103:8-12, Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12 and Hebrews 10:17.

You ask if your boyfriend will have certain expectations regarding your sex life when you marry because you are a virgin and he is not.  That's highly doubtful.  He knows and understands that you are a virgin, and I am sure that he is very pleased that you are.  I don't predict that he will expect anything from you that would be unrealistic.

You ask if his past sexual experience will affect your future sex life.  Only if you let it!  Remember that the Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, just as if it never happened.  It is possible to have a good marriage with someone who has committed sexual sins, and has repented of his sin and is now living a life pleasing to God.  You said that it was 7 years ago when he was sexually involved with a woman he met on his first job.  That tells me that he was a young man.  Young people make a lot of mistakes and do things they later regret and are ashamed of.  That's the nature of youth.  That's why David wrote, "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; According to Your mercy remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord" (Psalm 25:7).  What if the situation were reversed and you were the one who had given in to temptation and did the things that he did 7 years ago?

Your boyfriend's willingness to be open with you about his sins and his 7 years of abstinence from sexual sin indicate to me that he will be the kind of man that you can trust to be honest with you and faithful to you.  In bringing the two of you together, God has given you a precious gift, a man who will be a blessing in your life.  Cherish God's gift and give your boyfriend the love and mercy that he deserves.  Focus on the present; let go of the past.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part Two

Dear Aunt Dara,

Thank you so much for your advice!  I am very thankful to be able to speak to someone about how I’m feeling.  I think the issue that I am facing now is that I can forgive but can't forget.  I understand that he did not let me down because he committed that sin before he met me.  I realize God has forgiven him and no longer holds his sins against him, but I find it so hard to forget what I know.  Sometimes when I look at him his past automatically comes up in my mind and the thought of what he did with someone else makes me sick.  I must admit that there were times when I’m frustrated with the fact that I saved myself for him but he couldn't do the same for me, plus the fact that he was a Christian when he committed that sin.  (He had been a Christian for about 6 years when he committed that sin.)  I understand that being a Christian doesn't mean that one will not sin, so I know it is wrong of me to think that because he was a Christian then he shouldn't have committed that sin.  I just thought that he should be able to resist temptation more since he was a Christian.  Now that he has given his first time to someone else, we can't enjoy our first time with each other.  Would he compare me to her?

I am really not sure why I find it so important to marry a virgin.  Is it because of my faith, or am I just wired that way?  Could it be that I don't love him enough that I can't look past his past?  I feel so unsure at times.  Would it help if I talk to him about how I’m feeling?  If hesitate to talk to him about it because I’m worried that it would reopen old wounds and he would wonder why I am so caught up with his past.  Just when I thought I had gotten over it and moved on, the monster shows its head again.  I really want to focus on the positive and the present of our relationship, but there are days where it is so difficult.  How do I learn to forget?  It seems that the more I want to forget, the harder it is to do so.  Some days I wake up feeling positive that I can let go of his past, but some days I feel the opposite and it makes me doubt if he really is the one God wants me to spend the rest of my life with.

I’m sorry for taking so much of your time but I feel like I have no one to talk to and I feel so suffocated at times.  I know I should learn to trust and rely on God in everything but sometimes that is really easier said than done.  I hope to hear from you soon Aunt Dara.  I am very, very thankful for all your time and advice!

God bless,
Struggling Girlfriend


Dear Struggling Girlfriend,

I have been praying about what more I can say to you that would be helpful in your situation.  Seven years ago your boyfriend fell into sin.  He was tempted and he gave in.  Yes, he was a Christian when he sinned.  Yes, he knew better.  Yes, he should have resisted temptation, but sexual temptation is very strong and sexual sin is very difficult to stop once it has begun.  You ask what to do to forget about his past.  Then focus on the present.  Focus on the positive; look for the good (Philippians 4:8).  It's there.  This man loves God and loves you...AND he has been celibate for 7 years!  Remember those things each time Satan tries to remind you that this man is not a virgin, and stop thinking that since he did not save himself for you that you have been cheated from your dream of marrying a virgin.  He has been saving himself for you for the last 7 years.

Will he compare you to the other woman?  I don't know, and neither do you, so ask him.  He will understand that you may be feeling insecure in that regard.  Let him reassure you that he loves you and desires you.  Also, realize that as his wife you will be able to give him something that the other woman never did and never could—sexual fulfillment without guilt.  That will make you very, very desirable to him.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part Three

Dear Aunt Dara,

Thank you once again for your reply and support.  They mean a lot to me!  I really don't want to lose my boyfriend just because of that.  I believe God is teaching me to learn to trust in Him.  Perhaps I've placed too much importance on marrying a virgin that I've failed to see the other blessings that God has given me.  I want to truly love the man God led me to.  I think it will take me some time to fully untie the knot in my heart and I will continue to turn to God for strength!  I am considering sharing how I feel with my boyfriend, but I'm worried about how he will take it and if it will do any permanent and serious damage to our relationship.  Thanks again Aunt Dara for all your time and prayers.  I feel less alone.   :)

God bless,
Struggling Girlfriend

Dear Struggling Girlfriend,

Thanks for letting me know how you are doing.  There would be no harm in sharing with him that you have a problem and you need his prayers.  You don't even have to name the problem.  I would suggest that you start with that.  However, if you still feel the need to discuss it directly with him, perhaps it would decrease the chances of causing any permanent or serious damage if you approach it with an attitude of humility, acknowledging that you have a problem and you need his prayers and assistance to overcome it.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Friday, June 17, 2016

Building a Relationship with a Perfectionistic Parent

Dear Aunt Dara,

You have never met anyone like my father.  He is an entrepreneur and is into various business ventures.  He has more LLC's than I have pairs of shoes.  Nobody gets along with him.  You do what he says the way he says to do it.  He has a guy working for him who is just there to smooth over employees and rehire guys he didn't mean to fire.


Growing up with him, we had weekly meetings to discuss my objectives for the week.  These felt like board meetings and I had to send him e-mail updates when he was traveling.  He bought me some exercise equipment, and told me that he wanted me to work out 3-4 times a week.  I wrote him a Fathers' Day essay and he made me correct it.  It was a family crisis if I made a B on my report card.  He said my career plans to major in child psychology and help children are no good.  He said I should just do that as volunteer work and use "my brains" do something more lucrative because he won't bankroll my planned degree.  He says my siblings are idiots and washouts, and I am the only child he has who is worth anything.  There are times when he is just impossible.  How do you please this man and have a relationship with him?

Thanks,
Exasperated Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

From the description that you have given, your dad is an ultra-perfectionist.  The problem with a parent who is a perfectionist is that he has unrealistically high standards that no child would be able to meet all the time.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here it is.  You will never be able to please him in everything all the time.  There will always be things about you of which he will disapprove. 

So, how do you have a relationship with him now that you are an adult?  Stop trying to live your life to please him.  It's your life the decisions that affect you are yours to make.  However, do not argue with him.  In his mind he is trying to be helpful and to shape you into the image of you that only exists in his perfectionistic mind.  When he offers you unsolicited advice or criticism, listen very carefully to what he says (he really does mean well) and then say, "Thanks, I will give that some thought."  If you want to really impress him and build a positive relationship, say, "Thanks for caring about me and wanting me to do the right thing.  I will think about everything you said."

Regarding your college major:  Your father cannot live his life through you.  You have to be happy with your chosen career because you are the one who will be dealing with that line of work, day in and day out for years to come.  While it is true that other careers are more lucrative than child psychology, there are many more rewards to a career than a paycheck.  If he is worried that you want to get a degree that won't be using your brain, tell him that a child psychologist must have a doctorate degree in psychology.  Even a psychotherapist must have a minimum of a master's degree.  Either way, you must have a high degree of intelligence to go into the mental health field.  If your earning potential is his main concern, tell him that child psychiatrists make a lot of money because they are medical doctors.  He might be willing to bankroll your medical school so he can brag about his daughter being a doctor.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Should Distance and Time be Issues in a Relationship?

Dear Aunt Dara,

I am a recent college graduate who has to choose between my dream job across the country or my current relationship.  Although we have only been together for 5 months, I am in love with my boyfriend, and we have talked about getting engaged within a year.  I have also worked extremely hard throughout college to get this position in and have exhausted my job options in my current location close to my boyfriend.  I am torn in this decision.  I do not want to sacrifice my career for a man, but I truly see a future with this guy.  He is a farmer so is unable to move to a city, forcing us to do long-distance for a year.  However, he keeps saying he is “willing to try” but “does not think it can work out long-distance.”  What should I do? This guy is amazing and I can’t stand the thought of being away from him, but if it is meant to be wouldn’t distance not be an issue?

Sincerely,
Love Struck Career Woman
 

Dear Love Struck, 

You asked, "If it is meant to be wouldn't distance not be an issue?"  I would tend to agree with you on that.  If it is meant to be, he would patiently wait a year and distance would not be an issue.  After all, Jacob waited 7 years for Rachel (Genesis 29:20-28).  Best wishes for you in your new job and continued blessings for your relationship.

God Bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Reconcile with Mom

Dear Aunt Dara,

I need some spiritual help to do something that I know I need to do.  Scripture is very clear: forgiveness, honor your parents, etc.  However, I am still so angry after all these years and Ephesians tells parents not to provoke their children to anger and my mom is not blameless.  Still, I am seeking the strength to do what I should do.

Growing up I thought my single parent mom was the best parent my little sister and I could have asked for.  She was nurturing, supportive, high energy, and always had time.  Discipline was rare but fair and consistently applied.  But then, just short of my 10th birthday, I get spanked for supposedly breaking a house rule and not leaving a note saying where I was when I went down the street to watch a movie.  Thinking I was missing, mom was in a panic.  I had left a note, but somehow it ended up in the middle of the garbage.  It was found 5 minutes AFTER I was spanked.  No taking my word, no investigative work, no fact finding, no due diligence.  Just shoot first and ask questions later.  She was so sorry, apologizing, and crying afterwards, but how could I have been so wrong about her?

I mean if a 10-year-old could find the truth and clear her name in 5 minutes, what could a 32-year-old have done if she had been willing to try?  I was innocent but got a bright red butt anyway.  This had to mean that I was nothing to my mom.  I felt worthless and I ended up crying myself to sleep every night.  The happiness of my childhood ended that day with my mom.  I moved in with my dad about a year later.  I think I just wanted to make myself relevant again and to have a fresh start by moving.

I am a 19-year-old college freshman now.  My mom has made contact through my sister about us meeting and trying to work things out and be mother and daughter again.  My mother remarried and had twin boys at 35 and another daughter at 38.  So, the old girl kept cranking them out.  My siblings are pushing me to do this, especially my next youngest sister who blames herself because she was the one who accidentally threw my note away that day.  I don't blame my sister.  How could mom have gotten it right with my brothers and sisters with them just thriving under her care but washed out and been incompetent with me?  How do I move forward and forgive unfit parenting?

Thanks,

Rejected Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

You must have been terribly hurt by your mother's reactions that day and this has been affecting you greatly.  I can tell that you have struggled a lot with feelings of pain regarding your perceived lack of love from your mother.  Your feelings were only natural from the perspective of a child who was unjustly punished.  However, forgiveness is possible for you by looking at the situation from a different perspective—your mothers.

If I may, I would like to suggest what may have been on your mother's mind at the time.  You said that she was in a panic because she thought you were missing.  A parent in that situation would be imagining all sort of terrible things that may have happened to her child.  She may have been thinking perhaps you were abducted and had been raped or murdered.  If she truly did not care for you, if she truly felt that you were nothing to her and she believed that you were worthless, then she would not have been panicking.  A non-caring parent would not have become worried and upset.  Though you did not say so, I am positive that your mother was very angry when she found out where you were and angry that you did not let her know where you were (or so she thought), and that she was very angry when she spanked you.  Her anger was the normal reaction of a person who believed that something terrible may have happened to someone they love dearly, only to find out that their panic was unnecessary because the person (who was safe after all) had failed to notify them of their whereabouts.  The reason that she spanked you so quickly before doing an investigation was because she was very angry and scared (NORMAL emotions for that situation), and nobody makes good decisions when they are overcome with fear and/or anger.  However, as a child, you would have interpreted her anger and a sign that she hated you and her unjust punishment as evidence of that hatred.

At the time, as soon as she realized that she was in the wrong, your mother did the right thing by immediately admitting that she had been wrong and she apologized to you.  She was very remorseful for having treated you unfairly and I am quite sure that she has continued to shed tears for her actions and the consequences of her rash judgment. Parents aren't perfect.  They make mistakes.  Your mother showed humility and maturity when she acknowledged she made a mistake and asked for your forgiveness.  You heard something from her that many people never ever hear their parents say—“I'm sorry."  You are carrying a lot of resentment toward your mother that she does not deserve.  She loved you and loves you still.  Please give her a chance to be in your life again.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part 2 

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I did it.  I just did it!  I just called and accepted my mother's invitation.  I am scared to death.  I am as nervous as I have been.

You could not have been more accurate in describing what happened that day if you been there.  Yes, mom was mad.  I guess it's never a good sign when a parent opens a conversation with a kid with, "Where the hell have you been?" I may have left you with the impression that my mother was heavy handed, but she had only spanked 3 other times.  But those times, I was as guilty as sin and had it coming and was not mad at my mom over it.  Even this last one, in which she "wore my butt out" and really had me crying, if I had done wrong, I would have trusted her judgement and taken it as a tough lesson learned.

Over time, especially now that I have accepted Christ, God has been working on me about this.  I would feel guilty, then I would actually work myself up into getting mad and then guilt wins out again.  Even you seemed to indicate that the blame shifted to me after I refused an apology.  I can be a vicious person.  I accused my mom of being abusive and unfit, have attacked her online, sent back gifts, declined an invitation to her wedding, and even last year, she attended my graduation without getting an invitation. Using myself as a weapon, I hit her with everything I had, and she still tried again with me.

I want to be a part of their family if possible, but I don’t know what to say.  I don't want to replay and dwell on the past, but I don't want to just have small talk about the weather either.  How do you rebuild?  My stepfather called and we had a nice talk.  I was afraid he would hate me.  He adores my mother.  I am just so nervous right now!
 

Thanks,
Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

I am so glad that what I said to you was helpful and that you accepted the invitation to get together with your mother and siblings.  I can tell that you are very worried and scared about what will happen and what will be said when you meet with her.  I would suggest that you not bring up any specifics from the past.  Sincere apologies are the best way to rebuild relationships.  I would suggest that you say something along the line of this:

"Mom, I have been holding resentment toward you for a long time and have treated you badly.  I am sorry for the things that I have said and done to you for the past (X) years.  Please forgive me.  I want to make things right with you now.  Please help me to know what I can do to make it up to you."

I predict that if you say those things to her, it will bring tears to her eyes and make her very, very happy.  She will take it from there and together you can work to heal the wounds between the two of you.  Be sure to pray a lot about this.  God is the one who has the power to reconcile and heal relationships.  Please let me know how it goes.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Friday, April 22, 2016

She has Fallen Out of Love with Her Husband and has Feelings for a Younger Man

Dear Aunt Dara, 

My husband and I got along great and were compatible the first 2 years we were married, but over time he has become unbearable.  He has a brain injury and has issues with his anger.  He gets mad easily and yells at me and the 3 children.  He has never been on same page with me on parenting.  He constantly teaches bad things to the younger children.  He teaches the 2-yr-old to pull hair, yell, and he won't stop him or put him in time out like I do.  The middle child is in treatment for severe emotional and behavioral issues.  My husband lectures this child constantly and tells him to shut up and be quiet.  He even told this child that he hates him.  I have child welfare, 2 parenting teachers, and 2 therapists coming into our home, but my husband acts like he doesn't care.  He will not listen and will not get with the program.  In the meantime, I see my husband flirt with the young girls coming over to teach us parenting, one of the therapists, and even the welfare worker.  I catch him staring at lots of girls and it hurts me.  My husband never treats me like a woman or a wife.  He no longer wants to make love with me and he doesn't even want to touch me.  He treats me like I am just his friend and nothing more.   

Lately I have developed a friendship with a man who is 10 younger than me.  He and I have more in common than my husband and I do.  He shows me attention and he also flirts a bit.  He rubs my arm to get my attention, he jokes with me, he talks to me, and he invites us all (including my husband) to Christian singings everywhere.  When there, he stares at me while my husband sits way away from me.  As soon as I look over at the other man, he looks away quickly.  So now we have become close loyal friends.  I didn't intend to develop close feelings for him and he doesn’t know that I do.  I tell myself I am married, but I can never say I am truly happily married.  So to deny how I feel, I tried to fix this man up with another single friend of mine, but I ended up depressed after they became friends.  This man continues to flirt with me.  I do have feelings for him, but my husband is in my way.  I have fallen out of love with my husband, but financially we cannot get a divorce.  Please help!

Unhappily Ever After
 

Dear Unhappily Ever After,

Unfortunately, you are in a marriage that is toxic to you and your children.  Since the Bible teaches against divorce (Malachi 2:16, Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12), I rarely recommend that a marriage be broken.  Unless your husband begins listening to you and the various social service workers and mental health professionals who are working with your family, I see no hope of anything improving.  If he is not already getting the professional help that he needs, I urge you get him into treatment. If he already is seeing a neurologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, please consult with them regarding his potential to improve.

Please understand that this is not about you and your happiness.  This is not about whether you are happily married.  This is not about whether you and your husband are compatible or whether or not you are “in love” with him anymore.  This is about your health and the health of your children—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—and you are in a spiritual battle right now because you have developed an attraction to another man and the two of you have been flirting with each other.  Satan is tempting you with this man by using him to give you the thing that you crave from your husband—attention.  Satan is using your unhappy marriage to tempt you and your male friend to sin.  You cannot work on improving your marriage as long as you remain infatuated with another man.  If you continue your friendship with him, you are playing with fire and both of you are likely to get burned, destroying your marriage and harming your children in the process.

Love is not something that people fall in and out of.  Physical attraction and the warm, fuzzy feeling that we get when we are around someone is not the type of love that can be the foundation of a relationship or marriage.  Too many marriages fail and too many people are tempted to be unfaithful to their spouse based on their feelings of whether or not they are “in love.”  Feelings come and go, and any long-term marriage will have periods of time when one or both partners think they aren’t “in love” anymore.  Don’t mistake the attraction that you feel for this other man as “love” and jeopardize your marriage by falling into Satan’s trap.

Your husband has many, many problems—including his anger issues, the way he treats you and the children, and his flirting with other women.  That is why I said that you are in a marriage that is toxic to you and your children and I don't see it getting any better if he doesn't change his behavior.  You have some decisions to make regarding your marriage.  To remain in this marriage as it is now will ultimately be harmful to you and your children.  To stay requires that you concentrate on what needs to be done to save the marriage, which means consulting with the professionals who are working with your husband and pulling away from your attraction to the other man who is showing you attention with his flirts.  I'm not saying that you have to tell the other man that you can't be friends.  What I am saying is that you should not be alone with him, not confide your problems to him, and not return his flirts.  Please let me know if this helps.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Having Sex in a Committed Relationship with the Person You Love

Dear Aunt Dara,

I'm a 31-year-old male virgin.  I have kissed a girl, in fact came very close to having sex with one girl.  I just never actually had intercourse.  As a Christian man I once believed that you don't have sex with a woman unless you're married to her, but now I'm not so sure.  I believe now that if you're in a committed relationship and love the woman then sex is okay.  I also once was proud of being a virgin.  I felt I was pleasing God, but now I'm ashamed of it.  I mean in today's society most women my age want a man with experience or are turned off by a 31-year-old man who is a virgin.  As for dating, it has been hard for me.  I respect women so I try to take things slowly, but I'm starting to think maybe I move too slowly.  The girl eventually starts thinking I'm not interested in her.  I don't tell girls I date that I'm a virgin because I think it will scare them off.  I also don't like talking to people about it.  If people ask, I lie.  I know lying is wrong but I just don't want people to know the truth.  What should I do when it comes to dating or even talking to people about it?

Sincerely,
A confused young man

Dear Confused Young Man,

First of all, I would like to express my admiration and praise for your wanting to obey God and keeping yourself pure for your future wife.  Do not underestimate the value of your purity to the woman destined to be your bride.  Any Christian woman who is like-minded would be pleased that you have kept yourself pure.  I believe that God is very pleased with your abstinence and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

Satan tempts us through the desires of our flesh and through lies and deception.  The Bible is full of examples of his tactics, beginning in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.  Satan even tempted Jesus the same way, appealing first to the desire of the flesh and then by lying to Jesus by twisting scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11).  Satan has tricked society into disobeying God by convincing them that sexual purity is undesirable and that God understands, or even approves of sexual sins.  Satan tells us many lies to convince us of this, including but not limited to:

(1) Everyone else is doing it and everyone will make fun of me if I don't.  The Bible says, "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil" (Exodus 23:2) and, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).  There may be some who will make fun of you, but we ought to be seeking to please God rather than men.

(2) Sex is okay in a committed relationship and marriage is just a meaningless piece of paper.  The Bible says, "And He [Jesus] answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).  Without marriage, there is no commitment and nothing prevents either person from leaving the relationship at any time.  Whereas, in marriage a couple is legally bound by the marriage certificate and joined to each other by God.

(3) If you eventually marry the person, then premarital sex with that person is okay.  The Bible says, "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1 Corinthians 7:2) and, "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

(4) Sex with someone you love isn't a sin.  Actually, the opposite is true!  The Bible says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).  If you love someone, you will NOT want them to sin and you will avoid doing anything that would cause them to sin.  Therefore, you will NOT have sex with them unless you are married.

(5) God wants us to be happy.  The Bible says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1) and, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18). God wants us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and happiness will be the result.

It sounds as if you are feeling the pressure of society (which is strong) and that coupled with your own natural desires of the flesh can be a very difficult temptation to resist.  Here are some scriptures that may help: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).  "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

If you give in to society's expectations (Satan's lies), you can never go back to the same level of purity that you once had.  You can repent, you can be forgiven, and you can return to your former pure lifestyle, but you will never be able to erase your memory and the regrets that will inevitably follow.  If you are being rejected by women because you "move too slowly," perhaps it would be helpful to have a conversation about your moral standards and expectations toward the early part of your relationship to assure that you are both on the same page.  If a woman rejects you because you are still a virgin, then she was the wrong woman for you.  Also, you do NOT have to tell anyone that you are a virgin.  That is nobody's business.  If someone asks you if you are still a virgin, don't answer that question.  Instead, just ask them why they would ask you such a personal question, and tell them that it is not appropriate to ask someone such a personal question as that.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

FOOTNOTE TO MY READERS REGARDING SIN

I have counseled many, many people over the years in my professional practice, yet I have never had any Christian with a good and sincere heart say to me, “I’m glad that I sinned,” nor have I ever heard anyone say, “I regret that I obeyed God.”  However, I have had many people in my office who have told me that they regret having disobeyed God.  Many who acknowledge an awareness that God has forgiven them still struggle with guilt and have difficulty forgiving themselves.  Even those who have been able to forgive themselves still carry regret over their sin.  Save yourself the heartache of a tortured memory, guilt and regret (Psalm 51:3, 1 Timothy 1:15).  Obey God.  You won’t regret it.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Parents are Concerned about Teenaged Son’s Online Relationship

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband and I are very concerned about our 17-year-old son.  He is a wonderful young man, does well in school, and has never given us any trouble.   He recently told us, however, that he has fallen in love with a 16-year-old girl that he met online.  The girl lives in another country thousands of miles away.  He has been communicating with her through texts and Skype for over a year, but has kept it a secret from us.  The girl's parents do not know about the relationship and she continues to keep it secret from them (they are also Christian, but are apparently very strict and will not allow her to have a boyfriend until she is 18).   Both the girl and our son say that they are deeply in love and hope to be together forever despite the long distance between them, despite having never met, and despite being from completely different backgrounds and cultures.

We are concerned, first of all, that this could be a scam to somehow get money from our son or our family.  We have tried to investigate this possibility, but the answer is inconclusive and I don't think we will ever know for sure, unless she eventually asks him to send her money (which she has not).  Secondly, even if this is not a scam, we are worried that this will be a distraction to our son, keeping him from meeting someone he could have a real future with.  He is going off to college this fall and has already said that he will never date anyone at college because that would be "cheating" on this girl that he has never even met.  It also bothers us that her parents are not aware of the relationship.  As Christian parents, we do not want our son to be involved in deceiving someone's parents.  If her parents knew, they would most likely not be in favor of this relationship either.  Their culture is one that does not look favorably on dating or marrying an outsider.  We have talked with our son at length about our concerns, but he is adamant that he and this girl are "meant for each other" and that their love will overcome any obstacles.  We don't see this as a typical teen relationship that will just fade away with time.

What should we do as parents?  How can we get him to understand the problems and potential dangers of this relationship?  We have prayed for wisdom in this situation and are really at a loss as to what we can do.  If we ban him from communicating with her, then we feel that he will rebel and will still talk with her behind our backs.  Plus, there is no way we can control his behavior when he goes away to college in a few months. However, if we do nothing we feel like this will continue for years to come, only to end in more heartbreak for everyone involved.  Should we somehow try to tell her parents about the relationship?  If you have any suggestions for us, we would kindly welcome them!

A Concerned Mom and Dad


Dear Concerned Mom and Dad,

Thank you so much for writing to me and trusting me with this situation.  I do not believe that you or your son are in any danger from this situation and I see nothing in your letter that would indicate that this might be a scam.  It's been over a year and the young lady has not asked your son for money.  Most scam artists act very quickly in asking for money so they can move on to their next victim.  I also do not think that your son is participating in deceiving her parents.  It is the girl's responsibility, and her responsibility alone, to tell her parents.  She is likely keeping it secret from them because she knows they would disapprove and she fears the possible consequences of their finding out.  Please do not interfere by contacting her parents, because that would surely make the situation worse for her.

Communicating on Skype is nearly the same as meeting in person because you can SEE and HEAR each other.  It is clear that your son has become very involved with this girl, emotionally.  You have already told your son what you think about this situation and explained the problems involved.  Any further effort that you take to stop your son's communication with this girl will just drive a wedge between you and your son and strengthen his resolve to continue the online relationship.

As I was reading your letter, a passage of scripture in Acts came to my mind.  Please look at Acts 5:17-39, and pay special attention to verses 38 and 39.  Only time will tell the outcome of your son's online relationship.  If God wills it to be, it will be.  If God wills that nothing will come from this online relationship, He will guide your son to meet and develop love for the woman that He has chosen.  So, I suggest that you do nothing and say nothing more about it.  Just sit back and wait for God to work it out.

God bless,
Aunt Dara