top of page

Repairing the Damage from Premarital Sexual Choices

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

My favorite book I've ever written is Letters to My Daughters. I still love it because it's a truly beautiful book with calligraphy and art throughout the interior. I also love it because it's a summary of all the lessons I've learned in the married years of my life. So it’s the essence of who I am.

The book is based on questions about marriage I gathered from my four daughters, my two "grafted in" daughters who married my sons, and many of their friends, and it's dedicated to all of them by name, which I also love. It was a very satisfying book to work on, both in the content and in the creative graphics.

This book is now available in paperback, and this week's post is an excerpt. I hope and pray this letter will help your marriage, and if you want more be sure to get the book! It makes a great gift for anyone engaged to be married. Over 60,000 copies of the hardback sold, so I'm immensely grateful to Andy McGuire at Bethany Publishing for giving it more life in the new paperback version.

Dear Mom: Without betraying a confidence, I need your help. There are some, ahh, issues in our intimate life stemming from past decisions. Is it just our path to deal with the repercussions of sin and know that it won’t ever be as great as if it hadn’t happened? Or is there hope for healing?

Dear girls:

First remember: there is always, always hope. Cling to that.

In the book The Secret Garden, do you remember what Mary Lennox saw when she first discovered the garden? Piles of leaves, weeds and thistles, broken branches, and rocks and bits of mortar fallen from the walls greeted her eyes. The garden was in terrible disrepair.

Yet instead of seeing the ruins as impossible to fix, she saw with wonder what could be. Her eyes saw the potential beauty, the hope of new life. Immediately she began her restoration work.

Likewise, our sexual relationships are often begun with walls broken and fractured and with weeds of past experiences choking out healthy sexual expression.

As in Mary’s garden, restoration to beauty is possible in the secret garden of marriage. We were made to bloom, to flourish in the place of maximum sunlight with the right amount of moisture—not too little, not too much. God plants us in a marriage with the potential to grow as individuals to mature beauty. But it takes time.

As a boomer-generation child, I came of age in the early days of the sexual revolution. A friend and radio guest, pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker, said that our generation has left a terrible legacy in the sexual liberation we inaugurated. I agree with her. Casual sex and fluid gender identity is an epidemic spreading like wildfire, and the result for our children and grandchildren is truly frightening. As a result, it is rare that young couples marry today as virgins or enter matrimony untouched by abuse. Far too often, one or both carry physical, psychological, and emotional sexual scars into marriage.

It can feel like too much, but I know God is supremely able to rescue and restore. And so premarital experience must be addressed with your spouse. Once married, the experience is not just yours, but his to bear with you. As Paul said in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens.” Your wounds are now his, and his wounds yours. Your individual losses affect each other and your experience in sex.

Yet there is great joy in a love that overcomes. What a wonder it is to be welcomed in love, to not be alone with your losses but to be with another who loves in spite of the loss. Love does cover a multitude of sins. God delights to redeem and rescue, and He’s at work in this aspect of your marriage, too.

You see, it’s not just our individual mistakes that come with us to marriage. Lurking below the surface for every husband and every wife, in every marriage, is our universal shame. Every one of us is imperfect and bears the stain of shame before God. Though we long for the comfort and safety we intuitively know is to be found in the oneness of sexual intimacy, our shame often gets in the way. The consequences of sexual sin and abuse are not quickly overcome.