Man and woman on their wedding day

I'm Engaged to a Struggling Man

Rose, we want to continue a series that we call "Ask the Counselor" and today we want to answer a question that came in from a woman who is engaged to a man who is struggling with sexual sin. Let me read her question. "My fiancé struggles with sexual sin. He gives in a couple of times a year, but is always honest with me about it. I realize that it's probably unwise to marry him until this issue is resolved. What should I do?

Yeah, this is a common question. Usually, when we have someone call in and saying that their fiancé is admitting to any kind of sexual sin we will tell her that she needs to put the whole marriage on hold until he gets help for this area. Unfortunately, we've seen that sometimes a woman's not willing to do that, because she is under the assumption that if they get married this problem is going to be taken care of. But it doesn't usually take very long to find out that it doesn't get resolved by getting married. 

Just recently I got a very sad phone call from a woman. A couple of years ago, her fiancé had just finished going through our Residential Program and we counseled them to wait for two years before getting married. We wanted to make sure that there were real fruits of repentance in his life. Time will often tell whether or not a man has truly walked away from his sin. But they wanted to be married. Now, the whole situation is a mess. She's pregnant and the husband is full-blown back into his sin. 

I share that story because we've had other stories like that--people who are not willing to wait or not willing to let spiritual leaders get involved and they just go forward with what they want. All too often it ends up in a heartbreaking story.

Isn't part of the problem, Rose, that the men and women in this kind of situation are looking at sexual sin as if it is the main issue, and that they are not seeing the much broader spiritual issue that it represents?

Yeah, there is that mindset, and part of it is because we read that in 1st Corinthians 7, where Paul says, essentially that if you can't control yourself, then it's better to marry then to burn with lust. What we've seen through the years of doing this ministry is that the lust issue is not the heart of the issue! And that's what I was sharing with the dear woman I mentioned before--that God is after his heart! God's after his heart! He hasn't surrendered his heart to God in the way that the Lord is calling him to surrender--his heart, his life, everything about him! And until that happens, he's just going to keep going around the same mountain.

OK, so you mentioned a couple things to this woman. Number 1, that they should wait to get married. But secondly, you made some recommendations for both of them. 

Yeah, she needs to make sure her leaders, her spiritual leaders, know what's going on. Sometimes the pastors don't know anything that's going on, and it's just between the two of them. So, it's good to get that third party involved so they can speak into their lives. And we would also recommend that if the spiritual leader does not know about Pure Life Ministries to tell him about us and to have him visit our website to see what we have to offer so that he would kind of push the fiancé in that direction to get help for his sin before they even think about getting married.

And that could be another important reason to go to someone who is in a place of spiritual authority as opposed to just a friend or family member, who may very well give you good counsel, but you need someone who has that spiritual authority in your life that can say "No, this is the direction you need to go." Because they you know you've got God's hand on it. 

Yeah, because I think about my pastor...I know God brought him into my life and he gave us counsel that, in the natural, I did not agree with. And I couldn't understand how what he told us to do was going to solve our problems, right? But what I saw that was God was after something in me during that time.

And that's another important aspect of the counsel that you gave the woman that asked this question. You recommended that they both seek counsel.

Yeah, it's very important for them to both go for help, not for one to go independently of the other.

And again, to wrap up your response, Rose, you did say that even if they are willing to wait and they both go through counseling, that it is wise to still wait at a minimum for a year, just to make sure that what God has wanted to get at in the heart, that progress has been made there and that it is genuine and will be long lasting. 

Yes, because especially this area of sexual sin and what it does to a marriage. It's just devastating for a wife. It destroys the marriage vows, really.

Right, and of course our prayer is that people will seek good counsel and that's part of why we're here. We provide help for them and will walk alongside them through whatever it is that God wants to accomplish in their hearts. 

Yes, exactly.

Rose Colón is the former Director of Women’s Counseling at Pure Life Ministries, a position she held from 1996 to 2015. Rose has a Masters of Ministry in Biblical Counseling from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity in Evansville, IN and holds certification from the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC) in Denver, CO.

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