Often, when people I know in real life talk to me about my writing, they say something like, "I just admire how honest you are about what you're going through! I could never do that!" It makes me very anxious that I am oversharing and what they really mean is "I'm floored that you lack such knowledge of social norms as to share such deep, personal struggles on social media!" So, although I did already have that fear, I am nonetheless about to take my oversharing to new heights in this article.
Ordinarily, I would be reluctant to air out all my personal laundry like this because it's not classy or refined, but I am convinced of the necessity of it because so many single girls will be in the same situation and need to know how to respond with grace and in a way that honors God afterward. Almost all my friends have done the same as I did--or worse--when they were single. I received wise counsel following this sin that I have been able to pass on to my friends, and I only want to teach other single girls how to handle it in a godly way.
I made out with a guy I wasn't dating. It's several months ago now and he's not in my life anymore, so if you know me, please don't try to Nancy-Drew out who it was, because you won't get far. His identity is not important and he is not a bad guy and it was not a situation where I felt I couldn't say no. This article is about me, not him. (If you are not a believer and can't understand why I would think this was in any way a big deal, please read this.)
At this time in my life, I had been making Christ-honoring choices for a while and stumbled over the deception of confidence in my own righteousness instead of that of Christ. I forgot what a treacherous sinner I truly am except by the grace of God, and thus my judgment lapsed and I agreed, unwisely and against my personal rule, to watch a movie with a guy alone at night.
If I'd have had the slightest inkling of what was going to happen, I'd never have agreed to it, but I thought that since he was a Christian and we'd gotten food a couple of times and nothing had happened, it was fine. The lesson has been carved, painfully, into my mind forever: that was a serious error and it was not fine. If you have not sinned in this way, just learn from my mistake now.
It's important to distinguish what was and wasn't a sin here. Inherently, while watching a movie alone at night with anyone you aren't married to reveals poor judgment and leaves the door wide open to temptation, that in itself is not a sin. Kissing is not a sin either unless it leads one party to lust.
That wasn't a problem for me since I had zero emotional connection to this guy and was basically kissing recreationally, but it was still ill-advised. More importantly, the case may not have been the same for him (I didn't ask.) Both he and I later reflected on how thankful we were that we didn't do anything else, because without being graphic, I would certainly say that anything past kissing is unacceptable and wrong except in marriage.
So how can I say with such certainty that I sinned? Because sin is not the same as a list of don'ts. Sin is more than just behavior; it's a heart attitude. This little make-out session was bad for our witnesses, bad for our emotional health, unbecoming of two mature Christians, and a complete distraction that two single people trying to be fully devoted to God didn't need. I did not do my friend any favors by responding positively to his initiation. It was not a loving thing to do.
Immediately afterward, I was hit by a wall of conviction for violating such an important boundary of watching a movie alone, for compromising my witness, for possibly being instrumental in the sin of a brother in Christ, and for acting in a way that was generally displeasing to God.
I am blessed enough to have a friend who loves truth enough to speak it when it might make the hearer mad, and my intention in writing this article is to be such a friend to my reader.
I told this friend what had happened, and my friend said firmly and in no uncertain terms that I had sinned and needed to repent. That much I knew, but it was as much refreshing as it was difficult to hear that my sin really was as bad as I thought. I was inclined to just never talk to the guy that I made out with again, but my friend told me I needed to confront him, apologize for agreeing to watch a movie and for responding positively to his advances, and tell him that he needed to repent and seek accountability. And my friend's final piece of advice was to give the guy a day "to see if he'll man up" and initiate the conversation himself. All of this I did.
The conversation was not a particularly pleasant one, and as I said, the guy and I did not speak anymore afterward, which I think is for the best because clearly, we were not a good combination. Although I certainly don't think it's always necessary to throw the whole friend out, circumstances, in this case, worked out that way and I think that in this case, it was for the best.
So, when you, a good girl, does a bad thing, here are the steps to follow:
1. Don't sin in the first place.
Although I am here to tell you that when you do sin, God gives grace and forgiveness through Jesus, it should never be that we sin more so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1). Don't ever make excuses for violating your personal rules in the way that I did. Sin is a big deal. Sin nailed our best Friend to a crude, splintery cross. Charles Spurgeon put it like this: "Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it."
2. But if you do anyway, you need to repent.
By this, I do not mean that you should feel bad or guilty or like a "slut" or anything else Christian girls say about themselves in situations like this. God doesn't want you to hate yourself or beat yourself up for years on end; He wants you to sin no more. I made a particular study of repentance a few months ago and I understand repentance to be the state of understanding that you have displeased your Creator and the desire to immediately make it right. In Scripture, true repentance is always accompanied by immediately ceasing from the sinful behavior. If you keep sinning, you aren't truly repentant.
3. Move on.
Once you have acknowledged to God that you displeased Him and will not do that anymore, you have the freedom in Christ to live out your forgiveness. You are forgiven through the blood of Jesus. He took your punishment, so you don't need to self-flagellate and wallow. As long as your High Priest stands in heaven, no one can hold your sin against you. You can't call something unclean that God has made clean (Acts 10:15), including yourself.
4. Tell a friend or your mom or your sister what happened.
Secret sins fester and ooze, but the light of accountability heals. It is only because of my friends' transparency and desire for accountability that I can tell you with confidence that most Christian girls I know have done something like this in the past, and it was comforting to know immediately that I was not alone. Almost immediately after the guy left, I was hit with a wall of conviction. I prayed and begged the Lord for repentance, holiness, and forgiveness for a few minutes, and then I told a couple of friends what happened, which was when I was told that I definitely should not ignore the situation like I was initially going to do.
5. Presumably, your sin involved another person, so you do need to make it right with them.
Don't go into this under any pretenses that it will be easy or enjoyable. It's probably going to be in the top five most awkward conversations of your life. If you initiated the sin, you should certainly initiate this conversation as soon as you come to your senses. If they did, you may want to give them a chance to apologize, but if they don't, ask them to meet for coffee. Plan out what you will say and pray over the conversation beforehand. For me personally, I really only had three things to say to him: first, I am so sorry for my unladylike and un-Christian behavior; secondly, what we did was ungodly and disrespectful, and as I have repented, so too should he; and finally, he should seek accountability as I have in treating younger women as sisters, with all purity. No, I did not enjoy this at all, thank you for asking.
6. Remember that you are only responsible for yourself.
There are a lot of possible reactions the other person could have to what you say, and you aren't going to have to answer for anything they do. If they refuse to take any responsibility for what they did, that's not your problem. If they get mad at you, that's not your problem. If they call you names, that's not your problem. You cannot control them, but you can control you.
7. Use that hard-won wisdom for the benefit of others.
I was surprised when not two months later, a friend called me crying because she'd just done the exact same thing, and I was able to tell her that I've been there and that I was thankful for the way I was counseled to handle it. Even these really terrible things we do can be used to glorify God and help others become more holy.
8. Remember it, whenever you feel tempted to judge others for sinning differently.
These memories are powerful tools for humbling us and reminding us of our ever-present need for Christ and His love and mercy. More importantly, the importance of personal boundaries in my interactions with men is cemented into my mind.
Everyone sins. Martin Luther used the Latin phrase "simul justus un peccator" to describe the Christian as at once a saint and sinner. But, praise be to God, we are not condemned to be pulled two ways forever. When expounding on this principle, the late Dr. R.C. Sproul said this: "But at the heart of the gospel is a double-imputation. My sin is imputed to Jesus. His righteousness is imputed to me. And in this two-fold transaction we see that God, Who does not negotiate sin, Who doesn't compromise His own integrity with our salvation, but rather punishes sin fully and really after it has been imputed to Jesus, retains His own righteousness, and so He is both just and the justifier, as the apostle tells us here. So my sin goes to Jesus, His righteousness comes to me in the sight of God."