If I go to confession, will I be completely forgiven of my sexual sins?
I was raised Christian and am still a believer. When I was younger and more impressionable, I wanted to have sex with whatever girlfriends I had at the time. After being unsuccessful in losing my virginity a few times, and reading about it online, I decided to remain a virgin by choice. It became one of the biggest and most painful inner struggles.
I just lost it recently to a girl who has been my best friend since the beginning of my first year of college (She went to a Catholic high school and claimed that she "stopped believing in God." This didn't seem right to me because she's an absolute sweetheart and puts other people before herself and would rather help them first, among other very respectable values. After talking to her a few times about it, I got her back on track and now she prays again.). Since my previous relationship I have been terrified of commitment, and it took me a while to ask my best friend whom I had been seeing for a while out to make it official. Before I made it official, all that foreplay stuff that you mentioned I had done, and then, finally let her take my virginity.
Now, I'm an absolute mess. I'm emotionally strong to the point where I rarely cry over anything, even the death of certain people and things like that. Now every now and then I just break down. Right now my eyes are teary and I feel awful. After being so proud to be a virgin, I can't say I am anymore and I feel like I've failed God. I'm horrified that God now only sees me as bad as the rest of the U.S. who have had sex before marriage ... even as bad as those who do not value it like I do and see it as something not to be taken lightly at all, and participate in it casually and with multiple partners. It seems almost impossible to be good these days. I despise what humanity has become and all the sin in the world today, but can't help but be affected by and partake in some of it.
Like I said I just feel like I failed God and there's nothing I can do and I feel damned and hopeless ... like I may never see Heaven ... and it makes me so upset. I've fallen and I can't get up. If I go to confession, am I always completely forgiven of whatever I've done? I haven't gone in a long time and I really want to go.
I'm so depressed, stressed, and am slowly just giving in to things because worrying over them hurts me so much (after losing my virginity I also even felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders because it spent so much time worrying, stressing, etc. over it). I remember one time at Church the minister told this story about a famous athlete who was also a strong believer in Christ. He made a lot of mistakes in his later life with women and drinking and such. On his deathbed, he was asked something like, "When you meet God, and he asks if you deserve to be let into heaven, what will you say?." He responded, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." In my feelings of sorrow, I feel like I can only find comfort in that story and that line in the Bible. I feel so lost and have no idea what to do.
This is one of those times again when I really would like to sit down with you one-on-one and pour through God's word with you. There are all sorts of small things that you mention that tells me you are off-track. Each one may be minor in itself, but the accumulation is significant. I'll do the best I can but some of these points are going to be painful as you look at your life, but like lancing a wound hopefully the small pain will bring about greater healing.
Yes, you sinned. It didn't start when you had sex with this woman. It started years ago, but because it wasn't properly dealt with at the time, the effect of sin in your life accumulated. But some of this disaster can be turned into a blessing. Because you were able to resist the lure of sex for so long, it became a point of pride in your life. You began seeing yourself as above other people and such an attitude is not good for a Christian. Paul warned, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). When we are blinded by pride we drop our guard against sin, thinking it won't happen to me. John also warned, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (I John 1:8-10). There is not one person in this world who is not struggling with sin.
Roman Catholicism likes to rate some sins as worse than others, but what we find in the Bible is that to God all sin is disgusting. Some sins are worse because of the damage they cause, especially if the one damaged is innocent, but sin is sin and needs to be dealt with. Not just a sin, but all sin. Looking back at your letter, you listed a few: there was lust for sex (which is also called sensuality in the Bible), unclean behavior (foreplay), worry, a lack of faith in God, and the act of fornication.
But in order to deal with these sins and the others present in your life, we must first take a moment to talk about your approach to sin. When I read your letter, what struck me most is how you are avoiding accepting responsibility for your actions.
- When you were younger, you were trying to have sex, but you blamed this on being impressionable.
- When you had sex with your girlfriend, you state that she took your virginity (you put the blame on her).
- Though you acknowledge it was a sin, you state that because of all the sin in the world, you couldn't help but give in to it.
It's not pleasant when it is pointed out. I'm not trying to increase your misery. I'm trying to get you to see something about yourself that needs to be corrected so that you can make improvements.
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).
We talk about the commonness of sin in the world today, and it is widespread, but sin has been in the world since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). Our world has not gotten as bad as Noah's. I did some calculations and estimated that the world population before the Flood was about 3 to 4 billion people, and only 8 were righteous! The odds are not quite that bad today.
"Is there anything of which it may be said, "See, this is new"? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after" (Ecclesiastes 1:10-11). Satan has used sex to tempt people for eons. It is not a new thing. That is why sex is discussed so much in the Bible. You're not the first person who was tempted by sex, nor the first to give in to that temptation, nor will you be the last. Every temptation for every sin is something that is commonly found in the world.
God promised, though, to keep Satan restrained. Satan is not allowed to give you a temptation beyond your ability to handle. As difficult as it is to face, you didn't have to sin. You sinned because you wanted to sin more than you wanted to please God at that moment. Until you are able to face the fact that it was your choice to put your hands where they didn't belong, it was your choice to drop your pants, it was your choice to put your penis in your girlfriend, until you face the fact that you are weak in dealing with sin, only then can we deal with repairing the wound you made. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:10). A weak person takes steps to protect himself from danger; a strong person doesn't think danger can affect him.
God also promised that there is always an alternative choice. We are never trapped to the point that no matter what we choose, we must sin. What we have to work on is opening your eyes to the ways of escape, and that can be hard to do when your mind has shut down because of sexual stimulation. It takes advance preparation. We need to sit down and look at where you made wrong choices, brainstorm what would have been better choices, and look to the future as to how to escape. Just like they always told you to plan your escape from a fire before the fire breaks out in your house because, in the panic of a fire, you will not be able to think clearly. For the same reason, we need to plan how to handle sexual temptation in advance before our penis is throbbing because by that point we won't be thinking clearly.
But I still haven't gotten to your question: you've sinned. What do you do about it? First, beating your head against the wall and screaming that you failed isn't going to change the past nor will it remove the debt you owe God. "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). God hasn't left us guessing as to what we need to do. He laid it out in His book we call the Bible. It is not difficult, but people constantly think they can improve on God's method for saving people from their own sins. I wrote out a chart of some verses which talk about things connected to salvation. I'm going to give you a homework assignment. I want you to read through "Things That Accompany Salvation" and read all the verses. You are going to find things that will surprise you because even Roman Catholicism doesn't teach all of what is in the Bible on this subject -- but I want you to see it for yourself. There are also going to be things that you won't understand, not because the Bible isn't clear, but because your past teachings give definitions to words that don't match the teachings in the Bible. The result often is that people decide they can't understand. But it can be. You just need to work at it and ask questions. There are also going to be points that you think you have done but later will realize that it wasn't the same thing as described in the Bible. As you go through these verses, keep a pad of paper beside you for notes and also jot down things you learn that you need to work on and things you need to accomplish. Then let's talk about it more.
You're not the only person to have committed fornication. It is not the end. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). You can be just like one of the Corinthians. You can be washed, sanctified, and justified by God.