Category: Forgiveness

Q&A: Memories of Sin

Q: I was exposed to pornography at a young age, and though I’m married now I can’t seem to erase the images. What should I do?

Dr. Gary Chapman: The Scriptures say that the blood of Christ covers our sins. I would encourage you to pray that God would cover the images of the past in your mind with the blood of Christ. Visualize the blood of Christ flowing over the images and I think you will find that God will blur those images for you. This may take a while, but in time you will deeply recognize that God has forgiven you for those things; he no longer sees them, and neither will you.

Sexual Activity Before Marriage

One of the realities in contemporary marriage is that many couples come in with previous sexual experiences, either with each other or with other partners. A commonly held idea is that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. All research, however, indicates otherwise. In fact, the divorce rate is twice as high among those who have sexual encounters before marriage. The Christian answer is the confession of wrongdoing and genuinely forgiving each other for past failures. The scares of the past may remain, but they serve as a reminder of the grace and love of God. When God forgives us he no longer holds the sin against us; we in turn forgive each other.

The Circle of Confession

Someone said years ago that the circle of confession should be as large as the circle of the sin. Private sin, bitterness towards someone that’s held in your heart and has never been expressed to anyone externally, is between you and God. If that bitterness, however, has led you do to things against that person that are wrong, I believe it is likely that he or she is going to find out about things and you need to reconcile the situation. But ultimately and first of all, all sin needs to be confessed to God.

Q&A: Your Spouse’s Past

Q: My husband keeps his past a secret because of painful memories. How important is it that I know these things?

Gary Chapman: It depends on what he’s keeping secret. If he’s had painful experiences or trauma such as you would expect from being in the military, people have cheated him in business, or something similar, I think you need to be sensitive to him and not force him to share things that he does not want to share. I feel this way because there are some things that he could share that may be extremely painful to you. Even though he may feel better for having told you, you may feel worse for knowing. If God has forgiven him, I would let him choose what he shares with you from his past and I would not pressure him to tell you everything that’s ever happened in his life. If his sins are covered by the blood of Christ, there’s not necessarily a need for you to know them.

Q&A: Topics that Apply to Couples of all Ages

Q: Your books on marriage seem to be geared toward younger people. Do your principles apply to older people as well?

Gary Chapman: Well, I agree that some of my books are geared more toward younger couples, but many of my books are geared to couples of any age. For example, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been married 2 years or 30 years, learning how to speak each other’s love language is extremely important if you want to have an ongoing healthy relationship. In my books I also address topics like learning how to apologize and how to forgive each other. So I really think that the basic concepts that I seek to share in all of my books can apply to all ages. Now there is one book of mine, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, that is written specifically to singles or engaged couples. In it I try to help them have a healthy marriage from the start. However, even couples that have been married for many years have shared with me how they have benefited from that book. No matter when you start applying the concepts I teach in my books, I believe they will help you work towards a healthy marriage and/or relationship with others.