He Said-She Said: Should the Past Stay in the Past?
- Thursday, August 26, 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I'm dating a man for less than two months. He seems interested about my past—especially he wanted to know whether I'm a virgin or not. In fact, I'd rather answer his question. However, this devoted Christian man wanted to get married to me within this year. I was wondering if I have to tell everything about my past. Such as whom I have dated before and so on.
HE SAID: Relationships are difficult, especially during the transition from a "dating" into a "serious" one. Individual desires, the speed at which the relationship grows and the transparency of each person can often vary a great deal during this period.
Two months of seeing each other is a relatively short amount of time to begin discussing marriage within the year. Unless you have known this man for awhile and have been around him in a variety of situations, neither of you probably knows each other very well.
Marriages today don't have the best success rate and many of those failures could be attributed to rushing into it. Couples may be listening to an arbitrary societal "dating to marriage" timeline, to their family and friends, or to their own body clocks and decide to go ahead even though they are not ready or mature in the relationship.
Other marriages may fail due to "undisclosed" indiscretions that are discovered—some shameful past incident or embarrassing struggle that comes to light. Some of those may not have any bearing or be imperative to a relationship and some are. This may be part of what your boyfriend is trying to find out.
So, how much of your past should you "disclose" to your boyfriend at this point?
In an ideal committed relationship between two believers, neither should feel there are things they can't tell or be afraid of the response of their partner. As long as there is remorse, confession and repentance on the part of the perpetrator, there "should" be no condemnation from others.
My question for you is, "What in your past are you afraid to divulge—a relationship, an incident or an addiction?" If you truly care for this man and he loves you, you should be able to share your past (although not every detail of every relationship is always necessary) with him (at some point), which may actually bring you closer than drive him away.
We all have things for which we are truly repentant for and have sought forgiveness. God forgives us and so should we. If your boyfriend condemns you or holds what you have done against you, he may not be at a point where he loves you unconditionally and he may not be the one for you.
Just from what you have shared, it sounds like your boyfriend wants to "fast track" the relationship and you seem to be a little hesitant, which is perfectly normal. It is not uncommon for one person to want to move a relationship along faster than the other; however, that alone is a reason to be cautious.
Marriage is a sacred bond between two people and God. Today, too many people take the sanctity of marriage too lightly and don't consider it as a holy bond.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Mark 10:7-8).
If God has joined a couple together, no man (including themselves) should separate it. It is not God who breaks marriages up, but rather our (man's) own doing. It is our inability to commit, be loyal, be steadfast, love through all things, and live up to our promise that marriages don't succeed.
What I have shared with many young couples is, if you are meant to be married today, you are meant to be married a month, two months or a year from now. I have never met a couple who has told me, "We made a mistake; we should have gotten married sooner."
I cannot tell you when or what details of your past to reveal to your boyfriend. Nevertheless, you may consider what the reasons are why you may not want to, whether you are fully repentant for all past incidences, if you have asked God for forgiveness, whether you have forgiven yourself (or someone else) for what may have happened and the response you expect from your boyfriend.
Only through prayer and seeking the Lord you will know, from the Spirit's leading, what and when to share, and whether this is the man God has chosen for you.
SHE SAID: When you are in the initial stages of getting to know someone, what do you do? You take baby steps: exchange light pleasantries about who you are, where you're from, perhaps what you do for a living or what types of hobbies fill up your free time and so forth.
What you don't do ( and is not appropriate, in my opinion) is to hit someone you barely know with a long laundry list of your past regrets, your mistakes, your wounds from prior relationships or any other information that you would probably not post on a billboard on the street where you live (and that goes for Facebook, too—the new, sometimes annoying, virtual billboard of our time!).
When communicating with someone who you don't know very well, you are a little more guarded with what you share (well, with a curious exception being air travel as somehow that seems to help people tell you their entire life story in just short of a two-hour flight!). After all, this is someone you haven't spent a great deal of time around or haven't shared a lot of life with. In fact, you probably don't know the half of who he or she really is (yet).
It makes me think of an example of a new mother. Does she automatically, and without hesitation or background check, hand over her five-week-old baby to someone she's only just met on the street? Hey, lady! Let me hold that cute baby. Sure! Here you go. Not likely. She will wait until she's spent some time with this individual and built a bridge of trust before she walks across and hands over her precious goods.
In dating, when you reach a point in a relationship when you know that you are heading down the road to "Serious-ville" (marriage), then it is time to prepare for two becoming one. And if you are contemplating this kind of commitment, I'm of the camp that you will need to open the door to whatever you are holding close, protecting or keeping in a safe place. Your future spouse is getting ready to join his or her life to yours and vice versa, so you need to know who and what you are going to be investing your life in—in this type of a lifelong union.
Now, let's get real. Everyone is carrying something (baggage), whether they will admit it or not. Remember, we have all sinned and fallen short (lest anyone try and pull a Pharisee: "Oh, I would NEVER do that" or "I never committed THAT kind of sin."). But not everyone can handle what someone else is carrying (we all have deal-breakers, yes?). That's why the dating process is so helpful in getting to know someone and if he or she is the right one to whom you will open up your life's suitcase and show its contents.
I'm a firm believer that God knows what he's doing when he destines two people to meet and be attracted to one another and take the next step toward matrimony—no matter what either is carrying. If he has ordained it, then he is able and will work it out (Isaiah 55:8, Jeremiah 32:27, Matthew 19:26).
I love the encouraging example of Rahab (Joshua 2). What a past she had, right? But this one-time "prostitute" ended up marrying Salmon and then gave birth to Boaz who then married Ruth who then begot so-and-so and so-and-so, etc. And before you know it, the Messiah is born of this lineage (Matthew 1:5)!
Yes, Rahab made some bad choices in her life. But she turned away from her former ways, made an about-face and gave her heart to the Lord. In fact, in Hebrews 11:31, she is cited for her faith and her actions:
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And then in James 2:25, we read:
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
What we don't read anywhere in Scripture is this:
Rahab, because of her past mistakes and poor choices, could not be used for God's purposes. Her baggage was incredibly unsightly and heavy and always arrived ahead of her. Therefore, she was not considered worthy of being a member of the body of Christ and was restricted from all fellowship with other believers She was forced to live the rest of her life on the outskirts of town as a lonely, bitter woman.
Can you imagine if the above were truly so? What hope would any of us have in light of any of our trespasses? Praise God that he does not hold our sins against us! He has redeemed us. He transforms us and molds us and makes us into his own. Thanks be to God! (Psalms 103:10-12).
Regarding your situation, though, two months of dating is not a very long time for a couple to have gotten to know one another very well. And if it has been more of a speed-dating type of situation, then why? What's the rush? Slow down, pray about the matter and see what happens. This will tell you a lot about the man you are dating and perhaps why he apparently wants to take the express lane to marriage.
And if you are uncomfortable sharing this level of personal information with him so soon, then wait until you are ready and feel a peace about doing so. Either this is the right guy for you, and you just need some time to feel more comfortable with him and to establish trust, or you may have just seen a relationship warning sign that is prompting you to stop the proceedings altogether or to proceed with extreme caution.
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on August 26, 2010.
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