Forgiving Your Partner’s Past: The Questions

We collected questions from our previous blog posts in this series: Forgiving Your Partner’s Past: The Perspective and Forgiving Your Partner’s Past: The Tools and answered them below:

Q: A pastor and marriage counselor told me that when the woman is sexually experienced and the man is not, it can happen that she is not sexually satisfied with her husband and eventually finds her way back to her past partners when things go bad. What practical ways can I communicate with her in the future to know where she is at without creating an awkward or tense situation?

A: This is a common fear for couples. I definitely struggled with that during a season in my own process. I want to preface that I am not a counselor, but I can share what helped me. I had to choose to trust. Trust can be a challenging thing to give. Most often it is earned and is more subconscious than we realize. It might be helpful for you to reflect on if you truly trust him/her. If the answer is no, then you have an important conversation to have. Lacking trust leads to jealousy, anger, malice… I think you see where I am going. None of those things are fruit of the spirit or qualities of love. Lack of trust robs our ability to love and be loved. It may be important for you to uncover that.

I can’t directly speak to how common it is for someone to cheat that is sexually experienced, but I would encourage you to focus on trusting God’s hand in your marriage more than you do other people’s situations. Create a healthy stream of communication between the two of you. You have to be able to ask each other questions that may feel offensive. The more open you can be about your feelings throughout your marriage, the more freedom you will both live in. Find a way to express your insecurities to each other and talk in your relationship without it being offensive. Your goal is for your marriage to be the safest place for you to talk about your thoughts and feelings.


Q: I am getting married soon. Both of us are born again and on fire for Jesus. We are mutually madly in love. I have one difficulty. I have saved myself 100% but my fiancé hasn’t. He/she regrets it immensely and we are healing together. How do I go to our honeymoon night when in my head I am insecure about being naked and vulnerable with someone “experienced”? How do I get past feeling like I am just another option/fix when he/she starts becoming sensual (kissing)? Especially if he/she still struggles once in a while with addiction relapses?

A: My personal belief is that sex within God’s design for marriage and love is very different than the experience outside of His design. I have no scientific or even experiential proof of this, but we all need to be able to trust our spouse. The situation that concerns me is that you said they still struggle once in a while. That means there is still internal work that needs to be done in them. Current sin and struggles can be very damaging and marriage DOES NOT fix these things, nor does it fix sexual addiction.

A friend of mine says, “In relationships, two halves don’t make a whole.” I would encourage you guys to seek complete healing from the current struggles. As for you, it’s important for you to be able to trust your spouse. You need to have as many conversations as you can so that your heart knows they will be faithful. Living in fear of failure does not align us with who we are called to be. God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.


Q: For almost 3 years now, I am not able to get over my partner’s past, even though his/her past isn’t that ‘bad’ at all…I have tried almost everything, spoken to a counselor, gone to seminars about emotional healing… Do you think the point is reached where I just need to break up with him/her? It feels like I missed something in my own past and want to have other partners now as well or be sexually active…

A: First of all, I can’t tell you what you should do with your relationships, you need to hear the Holy Spirit on that one. I would say it’s important that you ask yourself if you feel he/she has been fully honest with you. I don’t encourage people to brush over things. If you believe they have been honest and you still can’t forgive him/her then yes, I would say you need to seek God and ask Him to give you a revelation of how He sees him/her.

In regards to you wanting to become sexually active, I can’t speak to the pain it causes because I haven’t experienced that, but I can speak to the freedom it secures. Our marriage has had its fair share of ups and downs, many of them in regards to sex, but the hardest thing has been watching my wife go through pain as she seeks healing from past experiences. Make no mistake, “casually” engaging in sexuality has consequences. My wife has experienced powerful healing but not without significant intentionality. She often says, “What took me moments to get into took me years to get out of.”

On the other side of the coin, my lack of sexual experience before marriage has given me the freedom to give her the space to find her own freedom. I have never once wished I was more sexually active before marriage. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite. We both often find ourselves thankful that God covered me the way He did because it has been a gift to us both. Be careful not to allow broken thinking to begin to define your beliefs. Rely on the Bible and what you know to be true. Be the best, healthiest version of yourself so you can give your spouse the strength they need to find freedom.


QHow do I NOT compare myself to his exes?

A: First of all, this is a common challenge for people regardless of their belief system. When you are marrying someone with a sexual past, it is pretty common to wonder if they compare you to past relationships or even compare ourselves to the other people. I have been guilty of doing this from time to time. I will just give you what worked for me and hopefully it will be helpful. I made the choice to trust what I see and experience. What I mean by this is, I am not going to project problems onto our relationship. It’s so easy to just let our minds run with doubt, fear, comparison and so many other negative thinking patterns.

In our relationship, if I sense or experience something with my wife, I talk about it with her. Then I take her answer at face value. I don’t let my mind add other meanings to things, unless the Holy Spirit highlights something to dig into deeper. This can be a challenging thing to do, but it builds trust.

In regards to you not comparing yourself to their ex, you need to trust you are enough. I would give you this advice in general and it especially applies to your relationship. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your value, talk with your partner about the value you bring to the relationship, try to understand it’s not a competition of who was the better boyfriend or girlfriend. Living your life striving to be better than someone else will crush you because you will lose sight of who you are.


Q: I’ve been struggling with the hurt. I assume that women and men deal differently with this, but I’ve been challenged with haunting images that drive me to tears on a weekly basis. Would you say that I still need some processing to do if that is the case? What would you say is a healthy way of dealing with it and a healthy perspective on what happened? How do we reconcile that this person’s body was supposed to belong to us with everything being made new in Christ and His restoration in our lives?

A: I completely understand where you are coming from. I want to be clear on this: it is totally normal for it to hurt. I fully believe 1 Corinthians 7:4: when we become married, our bodies are not our own but given to each other which is why we feel pain when our spouse didn’t wait. These feelings are valid and need to be addressed, but the conversations need to lead to forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn’t say, “This doesn’t hurt, or it’s okay.” Forgiveness says, “that hurt but I forgive you and choose not to hold it against you.” Take time to process what you are feeling. Don’t brush over how their past makes you feel because then it will come back like a volcano later. Rather, take it to the Lord and your partner. The main key here is to make sure you come to a place of resolution. It’s human nature to experience pain, but I don’t believe we were meant to live in pain for extended periods of time. Talk about it, go to counseling, talk to a pastor, whatever you need to do for as long as it takes but make sure you come to a place of resolution and don’t pick the pain back up again.


Q: I myself had a similar background to you, growing up a Christian and saving myself for marriage. I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and always thought I would marry a pure virgin like myself. In some ways, I feel the emphasis on purity in Christian culture created virginity to be an idol for me. So much so that I also considered if I wanted to marry my wife when I learned during dating that she had been sexually active with multiple people before finding Jesus at 17. I guess my question for you is whether you also linked your struggle with forgiving your spouse to what you were taught growing up as a Christian around pure = virgin?

A: I agree in theory with what you are saying. I think that the way the church teaches purity can turn it into an idol (btw I love the way you put that, I’m going to steal it!) However, the church can never stop teaching the truth, and I believe this truth to be a godly goal. Where we fail is thinking that virginity is purity rather than a fruit of purity. Purity is given by God, not earned. Virginity is a fruit of it, just as not looking at porn is fruit, or taking thoughts captive, etc. I wouldn’t change what was taught to me, but every lesson must be filtered through the Holy Spirit.

Here is the much bigger question you should ask yourself: do you trust your wife? I trust my wife. She has always been open with me. She doesn’t hide her feelings and didn’t try to cover up her past. I chose not to make her relive it. We Christians really struggle with our view of “fairness.”

If you do, in fact, trust your wife because she has been honest with you, then you have to ask yourself if you view yourself as more holy than she is because of your choices. Many Christians might not consciously realize it, but we take too much pride in our personal accomplishments rather than boasting in Christ. Matt 20:1-16 might be of some help to you. You and I are the workers that started in the morning. Our wives are workers that started at lunchtime. We all get paid the same wage: forgiveness, wholeness, purity, joy and ultimately heaven. Our problem as lifelong Christians can be the feeling that we should get paid more even though it’s only by the cross that we even have access to God.

In conclusion, I think you are right as to where the struggle comes from. I would encourage you to ask Jesus to help you really understand the cross because I believe that will help you see your righteousness from the right perspective.


Q: I’m currently in a relationship with someone who has been married before. He married young and his wife left him just a couple of years later. We got together almost 1.5 years ago and I believe we are a great match and we love each other very much. However, sometimes his past just bugs me. The part that is still difficult for me is that he was married to someone else. It was a conscious choice, a promise to another woman. When did you know you truly forgave her (and could move forward)? Do you have extra tips for a situation when your partner has been married before?

A: God’s design for marriage is that it lasts forever, so there are a lot of very real things to process and work through as a result of divorce. I would say that it’s completely normal to need to process through your partner’s past relationship, considering the level of intimacy he has shared with another person. I think it’s important that you not move forward towards marriage until his intimate past (sexual, emotional & spiritual) doesn’t feel threatening, scary, or regrettable to you.

That said, I’d try to keep in mind that inside of marriage, sexual intimacy is not only permissible, it is healthy! The fact that he had a sexual relationship with his first wife is actually good and right because it was in the context of marriage. It might be helpful to keep in mind that neither he nor his ex-wife ever did anything wrong by having sex inside of their marriage, and therefore I don’t think there’s anything to forgive. While it can be painful to think about your partner sharing that level of intimacy with another woman, I do not think that forgiveness is the key to breakthrough. I think the keys to breakthrough here include the following: ensuring that your identity is firmly established in Christ and ensuring that your relationship is firmly established in a foundation of trust.

Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of trust, and over time trust is built through repeated success. As you’re dating someone and considering marriage, you do not want to move the intimacy or commitment beyond your level of shared trust with one another. So it would be great for you to evaluate how much you trust that your boyfriend’s healing journey is complete! If you trust that he has walked through healing with accountability and vulnerability, if you trust that his heart is to love you and choose you above all others, and if you trust that his desire is for you alone, then he’s probably in a good place to consider marriage. If, despite trusting him in all those areas, you still have pain or fear surrounding the fact that he’s been sexually intimate before, I’d be willing to say that the issue is probably on your end and might have something to do with insecurity and fear… both are issues of identity.

Second marriages can be tough because of the intricate dynamics that you seem well aware of! My biggest piece of advice to people navigating the possibility of marriage after divorce is to invite wise counsel into your relationship and get lots of good input from people you trust to help you make great decisions out of love!

FAQ: Giving Him a Chance

Question #1: How can I best handle “getting to know you” stage with a guy if he’s a great person, but more into me than I am into him? I want to give him a chance, but I still want to walk in my integrity and stay heart-centered.


This can be a tricky thing to navigate simply because it’s not always easy to tell how long to wait for attraction to grow, and of course you want to honor the person you’re getting to know. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to give someone a chance:


1. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself

The first thing I would say is to not put any unnecessary pressure on yourself to have everything figured out. You don’t have to know you’re going to marry him. You don’t even have to know if you have feelings for him. The reason you’re getting to know him is to figure these things out. Communicate with him and be honest about where you’re at, but don’t feel like you have to have all the answers yet.


2. Communicate

A lot of times we’re afraid to say yes to a date because we feel like we’re communicating, “Yes, I am absolutely interested in you,” when this isn’t necessarily the case. Instead of being afraid of sending the wrong signal, it’s a good idea to simply tell the other person where you’re at. You can say, “Hey, I’m not sure where my feelings are yet, but I would love to get to know you a little better,” or something along those lines. Be honest about where you’re at and then they will better know where to put their expectations.  


3. Ask yourself good questions

If it’s your first date, don’t ask yourself, “Is this my husband?” That is a lot of pressure and something a lot of people don’t figure out until they’ve been dating for a long while. Ask yourself questions that are appropriate for the level you’re at. For the first few dates, you can ask yourself, “Am I attracted to this person? Can I be friends with them? Do we have fun together? Do we have similar values? Do they love the Lord?” You might even ask, “Am I more attracted to them than I was before we went on this date?” Further down the road, you can start to ask the deeper questions.


4. Stay aware of your feelings

Part of the reason to ask yourself good questions is it helps you to stay aware of your feelings. If your feelings are not progressing after a few dates, then it’s probably time to let things go. Attraction and chemistry with someone else is not something you can force. Sometimes a person can seem like a really great option on paper, but the feelings just aren’t there and that’s okay. Trust that God has designed you to develop strong feelings for the person you’re ultimately going to end up with. He will not ask you to sign up for a marriage you have no desire to be in. In fact, that would be unfair to the other person because they deserve someone who cares deeply for them and wants to be with them.


Question #2: “My problem is I don’t actually know how to stay friends with someone who has feelings for me without it being awkward OR without feeling like I’m leading him on.”

It can definitely be a tough thing to navigate when a friend starts having feelings beyond friendship. I think it’s great you are wanting to find a way to still be friends instead of automatically cutting relationship with that person.

The truth is, you may have some awkward moments. The other truth is, this doesn’t have to be a big deal. Don’t let awkward moments (or the fear of awkward moments) keep you from being a friend or being kind and considerate towards someone. You’re a person and they’re a person, and avoiding them doesn’t make things any less awkward.

As for feeling like you’re leading him on, you can set certain boundaries that will help keep the lines clear between friendship and something more. Start by having a conversation (we call this a DTR- define the relationship) where you clearly communicate where you’re at if you haven’t already. Then you can ask him what he needs from you as a friend to make things easier on him and for him to not feel like you’re leading him on. Depending on the situation, it might actually be best for you to not be close friends anymore, and that is tough, but it’s also okay if that’s what he needs. 

The key is to value your relationships with people enough to communicate with them instead of just avoiding them or cutting them off. Communication calms things down and takes away the fear of leading someone on or giving them the wrong signal. It’s not always easy and there may be some awkward moments, but good communication is a tool that will help you take care of yourself and your relationships now and as you move forward in life.

FAQ: When Do I Let Go?

Question: How/when do you let go (in your heart) of a friendship/relationship that you feel is going nowhere, but you are enjoying the attention from?

The Team’s Answer:

Once you know your relationship is going nowhere and you’re just in it because you’re enjoying the attention, it’s time to let it go. The second your heart is no longer in it and you’re just enjoying the benefits of someone liking you, you’re using them to fill a need that is actually unfair and unkind to ask them to fill. Think about if the roles were switched and you were the one who really liked someone but that person just liked getting attention from you. You would probably want them to end things. It would be unfair of them to keep you around to fill a need.

As far as how to let go, it starts with having a conversation with the other person. Be kind and gracious, but clearly communicate where you’re at and let them know you don’t see the relationship going anywhere. As far as how to let it go in your heart after you’ve ended it, we’ll go into that a little more in-depth in the next question. 

The other thing you want to do is address the deeper need that person was meeting in you. If you’re enjoying attention from them, then how can you get that need met in a healthy way? Do you need to make time to connect deeply with a close friend? Do you need to call a family member who’s close to you? Do you need to spend time with the Lord and ask Him to meet that need in you? God has a lot of great thoughts about us, and it’s important that we go to Him and ask Him to tell us who we are. He gives us our identity and satisfies the deep places in us that man cannot fill.

For more information on how to get your needs met in a healthy way, look at Getting Our Needs Met in a Healthy Way.


Question: How do you break off attachments once you end a relationship?

Once you end a relationship, there are a few things you can do to help you get through the breakup.

First of all, think about what’s going to be easier in the long run. Right now, it would probably be easier to keep in contact with that person, text them regularly, and let them continue to meet emotional needs, but in the long run, that will not be easier and will probably just prolong the pain. What’s going to make things easier six months from now? Or a year from now? Or when this person starts dating someone else? This is why in most cases, like we mentioned above, we are advocates for a clean break.

A clean break allows you to feel the emotions, work through the pain, and heal the hurt so ultimately you can move forward. Surround yourself with good friends and family to offer you the support, comfort, and connection you need as you heal. Journal or talk to God or do whatever you need to do to process the pain. Release that person to God and ask God to release you from them as well as break off any emotional ties or physical ties you may have made with them.

Lastly, remind yourself of who God says you are. It hurts when a relationship ends, and sometimes it can send us down a road of introspection and asking why or what’s wrong with us, but this person and this moment don’t get to define who you are. God is the one who gets to define who you are because He created you and knows you. He loves you, and no matter what it feels like right now, He has beautiful plans for your future.

To read more about moving on, check out How to Move On.

Am I the Only One? Health Talk for Ladies

Medical Mysteries: For Girls Only

Think you’re the only one? The Doctor addresses some common questions women have about their bodies.

1. Sometimes there is pressure in my crotch and it makes it uncomfortable to sit. It usually occurs the day after I have a wet dream. Is this similar to male ejaculation but with women?

Thanks for your courage in asking up. The answer is yes. A wet dream (nocturnal emission, as discussed here regarding men) does involve ejaculation, which simply refers to the discharge of fluid, and that’s what the “wet” part is about. In guys it is semen, and in women it is other normal fluids. Not every woman has wet dreams; and for those that do, the orgasm that comes with it can be dry. The uncomfortable crotch can come from engorgement of the pelvic blood vessels as well as the after effects of the event on the tissues involved – things can get a little swollen and sore for a short time. It’s not anything to be concerned about, unless you have pain that does not go away, and then a visit to your doctor might be a good idea.


2. Does sex hurt the first time?
For men, often not. For women, it usually does, for a short while. This is because a woman’s labia and vagina have some stretching to do, which has generally not occurred to that degree before having sexual intercourse. The same can be true for men and their foreskins, but usually not to the same extent, again, usually.

As husband and wife tenderly grow together in their sexual oneness, these pains often resolve quickly. However, there are also problems of a medical or psychological nature that can be present that would cause pain that is not so mild and doesn’t fade away with further intercourse. Should that occur, it’s time to see your gynecologist or family doctor.


3. Will his penis fit in me? Will I be too small? Should I do anything to stretch myself?

The vaginal opening is made from muscles that contract or relax. When a woman gets aroused, the vagina actually increases in size, both in length and in width, to be able to accept an erect penis. Remember, you are made to be able to have a baby — the baby’s head, which is bigger than a penis, comes through that opening. However, there are women who are smaller and will experience pain the first few times.

When you first have sex, it can feel tight, so use lots of lubrication. But if you can relax and enjoy your arousal, it will not feel as tight. Over time, it won’t bother you at all. There is no need to stretch yourself beforehand.

It is always a good idea to have a gynecological checkup before you get married and have sex for the first time. If you still have questions about whether you are too small, your doctor can physically examine you and set your mind at ease.


4. Is there anything a doctor can do if sex is difficult and/or painful for a couple?

Yes, there are things a doctor can do. Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia, can have many causes other than just vaginal tightness, and the physician can perform a detailed history and careful physical exam to sort things out. Her gynecologist can get her set up with a dilation program to comfortably stretch out the vagina, if that turns out to be the main issue. In the mean time, using ample water-based lubricants (e.g., K-Y Jelly), pre-dosing with anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), gentle but plentiful foreplay, great communication, and lots of patience will help.

If you’re constantly trying new approaches and still have pain, consult your doctor to find out if there’s something happening that you’re not aware of. If you have issues such as sexual guilt, shame or trauma, it could be helpful for you to find healing in order to solve the problem of painful intercourse.


5. What is a pap smear for? When do I need one?

The Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. Cells scraped from the opening of the cervix are examined under a microscope. You can read more about Pap smears here, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The Doctor shares: Cervical cancer usually does not show up as nodules or hard spots or things one can feel, thus the need for regular pap smears once a woman becomes sexually active – precisely to identify pre-cancerous or cancerous changes early on that cannot be felt.


6. My gynecologist recommended that I should get vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus. I am not sure about the nature of HPV, only that it is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. Does the vaccination make sense when two virgins marry and remain faithful to each other?

Excellent question. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is for girls 11-12 years old (but effective for ages 9 through 26) to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. It is given to boys and men ages 9 through 26 as well. Why give this vaccine to children we raise – or adults who have committed – to abstain from intercourse until marriage? Three main reasons: (1) our children/we cannot account for the past of their/our spouses, (2) the chance of sexual violence against our children/us, and (3) despite the best upbringing, our children/we might make bad choices (though we neither predict nor wish that).

If you are already married and both you and your husband came to the bridal chamber as virgins, the only reasons for the HPV vaccine would be protection from the virus in case of sexual  violence (rape) or infidelity. Having put all the cards on the table, the final choice of whether or not to get the vaccine is your own.

Check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s page on HPV.


7. I’ve heard it said that all men have a high sex drive. Is the sex drive of a woman more or less the same?

Your question is a good one, on many levels. Men do standardly have stronger sexual drives than women. Men have the higher testosterone levels propelling stronger impulses for sex and aggression, the latter of which is properly directed toward the protection of wife and family. However, the degree of sex drive varies among men – it occurs across a spectrum from stronger to weaker. It also varies with advancing age. Dudes are not equally “in the mood.”

Women, likewise, have varying strengths of sexual drives across a spectrum – some more robust and others not. Though women as a whole average lower sex drives than men as a whole, that is not the full story. A man with a relatively weak sex drive can be the spouse of a wife with a relatively strong sex drive, thus leaving the man feeling behind the power curve.

Libido is not all about hormones, either. Something as simple as being sleep deprived or not feeling well (like the proverbial headache) can quench the flames of desire with little trouble. Medications can interfere. Past traumas, painful intercourse, and/or negative views of sex can hinder as well. The more satisfied a woman (or man, for that matter) is with her (or his) life, marriage, family, communication, and so forth, the less inhibited the desire for sex. Conversely, when relationships and financial matters are severely challenged, it is hard to feel very animated about sex.

Much goes into the makeup of a sex drive at any given time, but the short answer to your question is that not all women are alike.


8. Can you become pregnant if your hymen hasn’t broken?

Yes. Pregnancy is not really related to having an intact hymen, so a broken hymen will not hinder your ability to become pregnant.


9. I have never had an orgasm during intercourse. Is this normal?

Anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm) can have several causes: medications (certain antidepressants, antihistamines, or blood pressure meds), medical problems, hormonal issues, emotional/relational factors, past trauma, psychological components, and more. The treatment options vary with the underlying causes, but treatments do exist.

Our team would add that there is also the common problem of husbands rushing intercourse and not adequately engaging their wife in enough communication and foreplay (hugging, cuddling, talking, touching, and so forth) for a woman to be ready for sex. This alone, can make it difficult for a woman to achieve orgasm; she’s simply not primed for it. This can generally be corrected by communicating with your husband, guiding him in what you want and need in the bedroom, focusing on foreplay. You may want to consult a sex therapist for insight if the problem persists.


10. What are your thoughts on Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery?

Labia come in various sizes and proportions that are still normal even if not just the way you want them to appear. Part of the problem is the false standards of body image promoted in the media. Even medical publications and web sites can unintentionally give girls and women a false impression, especially if what is being displayed is not quite the same as what you perceive on yourself.

Another concern is young women rushing to cosmetic surgery to “fix” what is likely just fine in the first place. Anatomy changes with the years, often for the better. The risks – what can go wrong and how it might affect sexual function – with what is formally known as Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS) is just not that well worked out yet. [1] FGCS is rarely required and should not be approached lightly.

So if your labia minora do stand out more than most, you are still normal, there is probably nothing wrong with you, and it is not likely to cause problems. It is a natural variation. On the other hand, if your labia often hurt, are easily infected, interfere with urination or menstrual function, are too frequently injured, or pose other recurring problems for you, a visit to a gynecologist is in order.

A final encouragement for you– The man who will marry and love you will also accept you as his own standard of womanly beauty: his wife. The proportions of your labia will not likely be much of a concern to him, despite what you may fear. Likewise, your future husband is probably sweating it out about some genital imperfection of his own that you just won’t care about. Be kind to yourself.


Is It Normal…? Medical Man Talk


You may feel like you’re the only one asking these things, but you’re not. Here are quick answers to some of your unanswered questions.



Our Sex Therapist answers:

You are very normal, especially if you are a young male. Your body is just doing what it was made to do. It can be embarrassing at times for sure. As you get older, your body will settle down and you will have more control over them. But the good news is that your body is doing what it was wired to do!



Often due to changing levels of testosterone in the body, fluctuating hormones can cause this to occur. According to some scientists, a morning erection can simply be a leftover from a series of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) episodes that occur like clockwork during the night for all healthy human males—most frequently in REM periods of sleep. Scientists have determined that the average 13 to 79-year-old penis is erect for about 90 minutes each night, or 20 percent of overall sleep time. With your brain cycling between the four sleep stages, your “sleep-related erections” appear at 85-minute intervals lasting, on average, 25 minutes. Needless to say, this is normal and common.



Exercise ejaculation occurs during intense physical exercise. It is more commonly associated with weight lifting, but other strenuous exercises – particularly those that engage the core muscles – can also cause the release of semen. A very intense abdominal and core workout puts a lot of pressure and squeezing on the prostate gland, which, in some cases, expels some semen. Mostly it is related to a general release of testosterone.



This is a natural response since the body will respond to a chemical stimulant and release in the brain. As you feel loved and are close to someone, the chemicals in your brain respond which releases testosterone in the body. There’s nothing abnormal about this, especially while you’re younger and the body is learning how to respond to things. If you are trying to refrain from this, try thinking about different things when you’re feeling this way. If this is an issue among people you are not attracted to, think about how much you respect them, cherish them and honor them the same way you would a sibling or parent. Learn to train your brain and see what works for you.



The Doctor answers:

Erectile dysfunction (ED), can be embarrassing, frustrating, and discouraging. It is also quite treatable. The first thing to do is go to your doctor for an exam and some lab work. This will likely include looking at levels for testosterone, thyroid, chemistries, and so forth. The causes of ED can be as simple as newlywed anxiety or more physiological. Certain medications, alcohol, and tobacco can get in the way. If the issue is more psychological and persistent, a good sex therapist can be of help. If physiological, proper diagnosis leads to the right treatment.

One last thought from our Sex Therapist: We are seeing an increase in erectile dysfunction in young men who have looked at a lot of porn. If this is true for you, then getting free from porn would be an important first step. After that, learning to be truly sexually intimate can begin to happen.



This condition is called phimosis (Greek for “muzzled”), and you are not alone. Circumcision has commonly been used as the most reliable and effective treatment, but there are several alternatives that can be tried first. These include application of topical steroids over 4 to 6 weeks, simple dilation (either by repeated manual stretching or using tools designed for that purpose), or a minor surgical procedure for cutting the constricting band itself but leaving the foreskin (preputioplasty). A urologist can get you started with your treatment options.



No, this is not harmful nor can it make you sterile. Seminal fluid and sperm are from two different places. Semen back up does not destroy sperm.



No, it is not a good idea to have oral sex when you have a cold sore. Historically, viral sores on the lips (cold sores or herpes labialis) were HSV type 1, and sores on the genitals were HSV type 2. Both are types of herpes viruses. However, things are less clear now, and either can be found in either location, though it is still more common for the distinctions mentioned above to hold true.[1]

In either case, cold sore viruses can be transmitted to genitals by oral sex. Not the best of gifts.




Yes. Unfortunately. According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of STDs in this country every year, and at least 50% of those are in teens or young adults. For two of them, HIV and herpes, there is no cure. Another, HPV, can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer (in women). So it is important to know if you have an STD. The best way to do that is to be tested by a medical professional.


For more urban legends, unexplained phenomena, locker-room bravado debunked, and questions answered, check out:

Am I Missing Out?

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is not a new buzzword but rather an age-old insecurity. When it comes to sexuality, it can be a strong force for some very damaging decisions. This blog is for those who are wondering, “What’s the point in waiting to have sex?” or “Why stop if I’ve already started?” My hope is to give you some clarity as to why it matters, even though it may seem every message says it doesn’t.

This is a feeling I relate to in a real way. Let me give a little context to my story: my childhood experience was very rare compared to most. Sexuality was something I wasn’t introduced to until later on. As a kid, I came across pornography a few times but never spent time watching it. I went to a public school my entire life, but I didn’t know what masturbation was until 10th grade. I have to admit when I first found out about masturbation, I was humiliated I didn’t know. I found out one day at track practice when the seniors told me all about it. At the time, my innocence felt a lot more like naive ignorance than a blessing.

As I continued on through high school and into my college years, I was able to keep abstaining from sex. I was twenty-two years old and a virgin when I married my wife, Caitlin, in 2006. Throughout my life, I never felt like I was missing out, and I have to give credit to God for guarding my desire for purity. Even though I didn’t experience this feeling when I was young, as a youth pastor I now come across questions often about missing out and feeling the need for “practice.” I wanted to share some perspective from my story by addressing these thoughts.

As a side note, righteousness comes from Jesus, not doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things. I don’t share my story to act as if I had it figured out but rather to be an inspiration for what is possible. My heart is not that my story would cause condemnation for those who haven’t had this experience, but that it would ignite hope and that Holy Spirit would help bring truth as you read.


Question #1: I feel like everyone is having a great time, and I am concerned I’m missing out on something that is really awesome by not having sex, am I?

My answer to this comes from the married side of life as well as many people I have counseled in this area. I can’t count how many people I have talked to who were hurt because of their sexual experiences. Some felt pressured to please and others gave themselves to someone who didn’t follow through with their commitment.

I will tell you this: I have talked with person after person who battled shame because of their sexual experiences. I have yet to meet a person that could truthfully say sex has no meaning and is just a fun activity with no strings attached. Those that have engaged in porn or premarital sex seem to always have a significant healing process to go through. The cost on the soul is immeasurable.

On the contrary, sex has always been an expression of love for me so that is the only context I know it in. To my brain and spirit, it is only for deep intimacy, not just for instant pleasure. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good quickie, but even that in the context of marriage speaks of love, passion, and sacrifice. I have never once thought to myself, “I knew I should have had more sex before I committed to one woman forever.” Oftentimes at the conclusion of our intimate moments, I thank God that He saved me and she is the only one I have experienced this with!


Question #2: What if I don’t know what I am doing? Shouldn’t I get some practice before marriage?

This is a very interesting question to me because the very nature of practice in this area requires giving yourself away to people. Let me be upfront about something, I had absolutely no idea how to have sex on my wedding night. As a matter of fact, we never even had sex on our honeymoon for various reasons I’m sure we will share in a future blog.

Our first few years of marriage were filled with awkward sexual moments that didn’t turn out how either of us would have liked. We often would start to get frisky and end frustrated with nothing happening. Even with these moments, I wouldn’t want to learn with anyone else. Who better to be awkward with than my best friend whom I am in love with? I am safe with her, covered by her and discovering with her. These moments have bonded us, and we have learned together. As a matter of fact, we are still learning. Besides, if I really meant, “Till death do us part,” I have a lot of years to learn how to have great sex, and let me tell you, it really doesn’t take that long 🙂 .

There is so much more to say on this topic, so feel free to send any questions or insight our way. We would love to help you process as you struggle with your innocence, restored purity, or desire for the unknown.


Should Girls Ask Guys on Dates?

Ladies, I’ve been there. You sit next to a cute guy and start up a conversation. You notice he has perfect teeth and he’s funny. This is going well. You start talking about what you did over the weekend and you say, “Just hung out with the girls. Yep, no boyfriend though… because I don’t have one, because I’m definitely single.” He nods his head and tells you about his own weekend. “That sounds fun,” you comment, and then reiterate just to make sure, “Yep, there’s not a boyfriend in sight. I am on the market. Available… Next Saturday actually.” He doesn’t seem to be picking up the cues.

What does a girl have to do to get a date? These kind of interactions bring us to the question:

“Should girls ask guys on dates?” 

We’ve gotten this question a few times, so we’re going to look at some ideas that might help answer it.

First of all, there’s a difference between initiation and pursuit. We believe God’s innate design is for a man to pursue a woman. God has placed it in a man to be the pursuer and to win the heart of the woman he is attracted to. Sometimes brokenness or past experiences can throw us off this track, but it is in our design. A relationship where the woman is doing all the pursuing will ultimately be unsatisfying for both parties. Men are designed to set their eyes on something valuable and fight for it. Women are designed to respond to the man who is willing to risk it all for her.

What we’ve seen though, is that many times girls will put the entire weight of initiating and pursuing on men’s shoulders, when this isn’t necessarily how it has to be.

Ladies, if you see a man you’re attracted to who has traits you admire, it’s okay to initiate some contact and put yourself in his world. Don’t be afraid to show that you’re interested. We have a few suggestions for this below, but just be your open and friendly self. It’s okay to be authentic to how you’re feeling and show that you like him. If he’s interested, he will start to show it as well and eventually start to pursue you. If he doesn’t, he may just not be interested, and that’s okay. You don’t want a man who’s not interested in you.

So here are few ideas from our team to help break the ice or make the first move. You can use all, some, or none of them, but the idea is to do whatever feels most like you and maybe gets you a little out of your comfort zone:

1. Say hello.

If you pass him, smile at him and say hello rather than looking away. This may not seem like ground-breaking advice for some people, but for those of us who would rather pretend we don’t see that super attractive man passing us in the hallway, this is a big step.

2. Initiate some conversation.

Ask him a question or give him a compliment to break the ice, start going out of your way a little to talk to him, and see what happens. You might even forget how to talk the first couple times (yep, I’ve been there), but it’s okay, you’ll figure out how to make sentences again in no time.

3. Invite him to a group hang-out.

Tell him he can bring friends as well. It’s always good to see how people interact in group settings.

4. Ask about relationships and his view on them.

This will at least get you on the subject of dating, and you can get a general idea of where he’s at.

5. Invite him out for coffee.

Coffee does not have to be a big deal. It can be an easy way to get to know someone without the pressure of a full on “date.”

6. Ask a friend to set you up.

If there is someone in your life who knows both of you, ask them to help you get connected.

7. Help him get in contact with you.

You can send him a friend request on Facebook, maybe throw a few “likes” or comments on his page, or for the really bold among us, you can slide in a gentle suggestion like: “Here’s my number, if you ever want to use it.”

The main thing we want to say is that no matter where you’re at, you don’t have to feel powerless in your dating life. Being a lady does not mean you have to sit and wait until a handsome gentleman notices you. If you feel stuck, you don’t have to be. If you want to get things moving a little more in your dating life, there are steps you can take. If you try some and they don’t work out, give yourself a high-five for being brave and taking a risk. As always, talk to God about the best steps to take in your dating life. He knows where you’re at and what you need, and He’s always thinking of your best.

For more information, check out some of our other blogposts on dating:

Date A Man Long Enough

For Her Eyes Only

19 Lies Churched Kids Believe About Dating


Talking to Your Kids About Sex FAQ

The Sex Talk

Talking about sex with your kids can be intimidating. It’s an important topic, and it’s difficult to know how they’re going to respond. We believe it can be a great experience for you and your kids, and the beginning of an ongoing conversation about sexuality and purity that equips them for the rest of their lives. Here are three questions with answers from our team to help you talk about sex with your kids.




Whoever talks to you about a subject for the first time is who you view as the expert. So when it comes to sex, whoever talks to your kids first about it is who they will see as the expert, even if it’s a movie or a kid on the playground. A lot of times in our culture we wait and end up being the second or third message they hear. If you weren’t the first voice to talk to your kids, don’t worry, it’s okay. It’s still important that you talk to them and make yourself available to them as a safe place to ask questions and talk about anything they’ve seen or heard, and what they’re curious about.

A study done by Simon Lajeunesse found that most boys first start to seek out pornography around the age of 10  because that is the point they are most sexually curious¹. That being said, it’s a good idea to be talking to them by then. We actually recommend that you start to introduce the subject much earlier than that. It also helps to make it an ongoing subject of conversation, not just something you have a big talk about one time.

So if you have young kids or if your kids are older and you haven’t talked to them yet, we want to help you approach the question of how to talk about sex in your home.




One of the ways to do that is to celebrate the family unit and God’s original design for children to be born into a family in the safety of covenant between two people. We realize there are single parents out there who are doing a great job raising their kids. Among all the mixed signals about family that we’re getting from culture today, our desire is simply that God’s design for family would be clearly defined for our kids.

Another thing to help them with is understanding the body and the differences between boys and girls. This is a good way to start things off and can help introduce the topic without going into details that are unnecessary for the younger ages. Kids are naturally curious, and it makes sense they would have questions about boy and girl bodies. The differences between the two should be celebrated because being created “male and female” is all part of God’s grand design for us.

What’s really important is that you’re the one answering questions for your kids. They don’t need to know everything right away. They’re just looking for a few core pieces about their sexuality so when a message comes to them, it has somewhere to land. A tool that’s helpful when answering questions is to ask your kids, “What do you mean by that?” Many times we might jump to something as parents when our child’s real question is actually much simpler than what we’re thinking. Talk to them appropriately. Don’t stir their curiosity by talking above their level. Keep things age-appropriate.

The Story of Me and the other books in the God’s Design for Sex series by Stan and Brenna Jones are great resources. This series has four books that are all age-specific. It explains the basics of life, how sex happens, and it also glorifies masculinity and femininity.




It’s difficult finding out you have a child struggling in this area. It can be scary and overwhelming, but when you respond, you have to decide if you’re going to be a voice of hope or a voice of shame for your kids. They’re going to talk to someone about this stuff, if they don’t feel safe talking to you, then they’re going to find someone else.

If you find out your kid is struggling, make sure you build relationship and rapport with them first, and then slowly introduce questions to find out what’s going on in their world. You don’t have to ask specifics, just ask them how they’re doing and create a safe place for them to share. You’ve probably heard it said that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. It’s the same for our kids. Let them know you care first. Let them know there’s a way out and that they’re not horrible for wanting to look at porn or find out more about sex. It’s normal to be curious about these things. Don’t demand a ton of information from them right off the bat. Come alongside them and ask, “How can I help you with this?”

Depending on how involved the child is, it may be wise to bring in a counselor. If you decide this is the route to go, make sure you find a counselor who knows how to connect with kids. You can offer to go with them, or ask if they want to bring a friend. Give them options and give them hope that there’s a way out.

It’s great to give your children good resources that empower them to get information on this topic themselves. We have great resources from our team as well as others we recommend. We have the 40 Day Journey to Purity for guys and girls, as well as books, curriculum, podcasts, blogposts, and all sorts of other information. It’s okay and perfectly normal for your kids to want to know more about this subject. It’s in God’s design for all of us, so of course your kids are wondering about it when they start to reach a certain age. Keep the lines of communication open and continue to be a safe place for them, free of shame, so that when they have questions or concerns, you’re the first person they want to come to.

1. University of Montreal. “Are the effects of pornography negligible?.” ScienceDaily. (accessed March 31, 2016).

Want to Get More Resources On Parenting Sexuality?

Looking For Love FAQ


How do I start to value myself and stop having sex with people to feel loved?


The Team’s Answer


This is a very real, valuable question. We’re going to cover a couple different things to answer it. The first one is recognizing what’s in your God spot. Where are you getting your identity? The way God designed family is for all of us to first learn we are worthy of love from our parents. He wanted all of us to first experience unconditional love from them. He wanted them to be the first ones to pass identity on to us. We realize that not everyone was given the gift of being born into a loving family, and we want to you to know that you can still learn these things, and God desires to come through and redeem everything that may have been missing or stolen from you in your childhood.

When you grow up, God eventually becomes your source instead of your parents. He wants to become your source for identity, direction, protection, comfort, unconditional love, healing, etc. When you put something else in this spot that belongs to God, you start getting yourself into trouble. You might start feeling anxious or insecure. Girls are often asking, “Am I beautiful? Am I desirable?” Guys are usually asking, “Do I have what it takes?” You have to go to God and ask Him these questions. If you don’t, you’ll look for men or women to validate you instead of God.

If God is your source of security, even when you start feeling insecure, you’re safe. God comes in and says, “Hey, do you remember who you are?” He reminds you of what He says about you. Other people can affirm you or compliment you, but that shouldn’t give you your identity. What people say to you should only be a reflection of what God’s already said to you. 

Having healthy relationships with people starts with having a healthy relationship with God and letting Him meet your needs for identity, direction, protection, unconditional love, comfort, and security. When there is a missing piece in your relationship with God, you will always seek man to fill it. Any time you violate your conscience, you have a need wanting to be met. If you’re sleeping around with guys, it might not be that you just have a really high sex drive. If you keep looking at porn, it might not be just because you’re bored. You might be using these things to medicate your pain or exhaustion. Figure out what your need is, and go get it met in a healthy way.

When all your needs are met, purity becomes a fair fight.

The second thing we’re going to talk about is self-awareness. Self awareness is the ability to know what’s going on inside of you at all times. Seventy percent of what’s going on in your brain, you’re not actually aware of. Self-awareness is taking what’s going on in your subconscious realm and bringing it to your conscious realm.

Here are a couple things you can do to learn to be self-aware:

1. Write questions on your mirror like, “How are you today? How do you feel?”

2. Put reminders in your phone that say: “How’s your heart? What do you need today? How did you do today?”

If you wake up in the morning and realize you’re judging yourself in the mirror, you can recognize those feelings and think, “Oh man, I’m feeling insecure. I better not leave the house feeling insecure or ugly.” Then, instead of violating your conscience, you can fix what’s going on inside of you early on. You can even get help from someone else if you need to.

These are a just couple basic steps to help you become self-aware and understand your feelings. Feelings don’t actually have any moral value. Following them is not always going to lead you down the path God is asking you to walk. What you feel is just a sign of how you’re really doing. When a feeling comes up, evaluate: “Is this a good feeling? Am I feeling overwhelmed? Why?” Feelings are critical on our journey of self awareness. Catching them early and working things out helps keep us free.

Keeping God in your God spot and practicing self-awareness are two major tools to help you value yourself and keep from violating your conscience. Remember, in Christ, you are a new creation. Old habits and patterns do not dictate your life anymore. Learn to be aware of what’s going inside of you and get the questions of your heart answered by the Father who loves you and created you. His answer is always loving and it’s the one that really matters.

Top Health Questions & The Body: FOR WOMEN ONLY

Female Anatomy

1. What is a hymen?

While some women are born with absent or incomplete hymens, in general, a hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. The most common hymen in women is shaped like a half moon which allows menstrual blood to flow out. Some women have hymens that cover the majority of the vaginal opening whereas others’ are smaller. Every woman will be different.


2. How do I know if my hymen has been broken? If it is, am I still pure?

The hymen — a thin membrane fold at the entrance to the vagina — can be torn by things other than sex or masturbation. Examples would include sports and tampon insertion. The tearing is not always painful, but often does result in a bit of bleeding. As an aside, virginity means not having had sexual intercourse; it does not mean having an intact hymen.

A torn hymen isn’t likely to heal. Having a torn hymen does not make you impure, sexually or otherwise, in itself. Typically, you would be able to tell visually if your hymen was broken if you observed yourself in a mirror. The best way to find out is to visit a gynecologist or your family doctor and ask them if it seems intact.


3. Why do some women have small breasts, while others, even their own mothers, have large breasts?

The Doctor says:

Breast growth in girls begins about two years prior to menarche (the start of menstrual periods) and may continue up to four more years, which is to say women’s breast generally grow for about six years. A 2010 Australian twin study found that bra size was fifty-six percent a matter of heredity (genetic). However, not everything in life is genetic, and genes are about predisposition and not destiny. So, a woman’s mother’s breast size says something about her own, but not everything.

Other things during her life may change a woman’s breast size. Since adipose (fat) makes up a good part of the breasts, significant weight loss or gain will also affect breast size in the same direction. Pregnancy, for obvious reasons related to hormonal changes and milk production, will usually enlarge a woman’s breasts. About twenty percent of women will have breast growth after menopause, and the main reason for this is weight gain.

Genes, weight, age, pregnancies, menopause and other factors all play roles in breast size. So the answer to your question about why some women have smaller breasts than their mothers is that they are not their mothers.


How it All Works

1. What is puberty?
Puberty is the period of life when a person’s sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children.

2. When does it start?

The time when puberty begins varies greatly among individuals; however, puberty usually occurs in females from 10 to 14 yrs old.


3. What happens during puberty?

For females, the growth of pubic hair is first followed by the growth of hair in the armpits. A minority of girls, however, begin to develop pubic hair prior to breast development. The onset of menstruation usually happens later than the other physical changes and usually occurs around two and a half years after the onset of puberty.


4. Can you explain my period to me?

Simply, menstruation, or your period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It is a sign that she is able to have children.

Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, shed it’s lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina. This usually lasts 3-5 days. *

The length of the cycle differs for each woman, the average being 28 days — starting from the day you first start your period, to the last day before you start your next.


5. When am I ovulating? How do I know?

Once a month, in the middle of your cycle (ie: Day 14 of a 28 day cycle), your body releases an egg from your ovaries. It flows down your fallopian tubes into your uterus. The egg will either be fertilized by sperm, or dissolve if fertilization does not take place. [1] The release of the egg is called ovulation. Some women say they can feel the egg “pop,” a slight twinge of pain in the lower abdomen. Most are unaware of it happening. It is at this point, when the egg is available, that you are fertile (you are able to get pregnant). There must be at least one healthy sperm waiting, available to fertilize the egg within 12-24 hours of the egg being released from the ovary if the woman is to conceive. [2]

Many women experienced a heightened libido at this time of the month. (This means they desire sex when they are ovulating.) If you experience a “time of the month” where you are extra affectionate, cuddly, and desire sex, there is nothing wrong with you. You are probably just ovulating.



3 Things Everyone Should Know About STD’s
No fear-mongering here. Just a few things everyone should know to stay safe and stay healthy. Care for your body; it’s the only one you have.

1.  Can I have an STD and not know it?

Yes. Unfortunately, some of the most common STDs have no symptoms in many women, or the symptoms may appear to be from another common cause such as a bladder infection. According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of STDs in this country every year, and at least 50% of those are in teens or young adults. For two of them, HIV and herpes, there is no cure. Another, HPV, can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer. So it is important to know if you have an STD. The best way to do that is to be tested by a medical professional.


2. What are the 7 Most Severe STDs?

Something can be life-altering and heartbreaking without being lethal. Bacterial infections are very treatable when caught early, but can cause greater problems the longer they are left untreated. This is particularly true for syphilis — which can infect and damage the brain with time — but is also true for Gonorrhea and chlamydia (pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, urethral blockage, etc.). Viral infections are often incurable, but may have successful treatments to keep controlled. I think the top 3 here are in order, the rest vary.

– Hepatitis B/C, though C is harder to acquire sexually than B
– Syphilis
– Gonorrhea (also includes pelvic inflammatory disease)
– Chlamydia (also includes LGV and pelvic inflammatory disease)
– Human papillomavirus (can lead to cervical cancer)
– Herpes Simplex.


3. Is it ok to perform oral sex when I have a cold sore or fever blister?

No, it is not a good idea to have oral sex when you have a cold sore. Historically, viral sores on the lips (cold sores or herpes labialis) were HSV type 1, and sores on the genitals were HSV type 2. Both are types of herpes viruses. However, things are less clear now, and either can be found in either location, though it is still more common for the distinctions mentioned above to hold true.[1]

In either case, cold sore viruses can be transmitted to genitals by oral sex. Not the best of gifts.