I Can't Stop Feeling Dirty

I Can't Stop Feeling Dirty

How can I get over the guilt from sex and feel the grace of God again?
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Q. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I had sex. He's 16, and I'm 14. A few weeks later, we broke up, and after that, I found out that he'd been cheating on me. Now, I feel like he was just using me. I feel really dirty, and I wish I was still a virgin. I pray every night that God will help me and forgive me, but I can't stop feeling dirty. What can I do?

A. Through your letter, I sense the pain you're going through, and I feel sad that you're struggling with these feelings. Unfortunately, I do think this guy was using you. And it sounds like you've learned, from painful experience, why God wants us to save sex for marriage.

When you're dating someone, you have no way of knowing if the relationship will last. And even though your feelings can be very intense and real, it's likely that a relationship you have in high school will end. Sex is too important, too intimate and too wonderful to share with someone who isn't committed to you for the rest of your life.

It sounds like you're struggling with the results of a poor decision. Sexual sin is about more than the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, disease and damage to your reputation. Here is how the Bible explains it: "Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never 'become one.' There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God–given and God–modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another" (1 Corinthians 6:17-18, The Message). That dirty feeling you have is your soul's way of letting you know you stepped outside of what God wants for you, and that is never a pleasant place to be.

Now the good news. You aren't dirty. Yes, you feel guilty. You might even feel foolish for believing this guy was worth giving your virginity to. But if you've asked God for his forgiveness, know that you are forgiven and you are all cleaned up. Here are two verses I would encourage you to read over and over until the meaning sinks deep into your heart:

• "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong" (1 John 1:9, NLT).

• "Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!" (Ephesians 1:7, The Message).

The pain and guilt you're feeling are powerful emotions. But they will never be more powerful than God's grace. God can and does bring good out of bad situations. So look for the ways this experience can draw you closer to God as you work through your feelings and gain the strength to resist the temptation to have sex until you're married.

I would also encourage you to confide in a Christian adult you trust— someone you believe can help explain God's love and grace to you. God calls us to be in "Christian community" for many reasons (Hebrews 10:24-25), and one important reason is to find support and help during difficult times and struggles. Please find someone who can help you discover God's forgiveness and peace.

Carla is an editor of the Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan).

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