Should I Keep Sex a Secret?
Q. Not long ago, I had sex with my boyfriend. I know that it was a sin, and I feel disappointed in myself. I grew up in church and have been a Christian for a long time. I've only told one friend, and have hidden it from my parents and everyone else. I don't want other people (like the people in youth group) to know what I've done because they look up to me, and I'm afraid knowing will turn them away from God or cause them to look down on me. I don't want my parents to be disappointed in me. Should I still keep what I did a secret? I've forgiven myself and I know that I won't have sex again until I'm married. I know I'll need to tell whoever I end up marrying. But do I need to tell anyone else?
A. The Bible says to "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16, NLT). When you've messed up, sin damages your spirit. Confession and prayer are part of the healing process. You need to confess, but only to people who will listen and pray. That's one person, or a select handful. It's not everybody. Making it public won't help you or your boyfriend heal. Your youth group doesn't need to know. You need the cleansing experience of confessing to somebody who can express God's forgiveness to you. You also need somebody to hold you accountable. You say, "I know I won't have sex again." How do you know? Having sex lowers your personal barriers. You have become much more vulnerable. Truthfully, you need all the help you can get.
Talking to a friend your age is not enough. You need to speak with an adult who cares about you. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your parents right away, I would urge you to approach somebody older, like your youth pastor or a wise older woman from your church. This person should be someone who will keep your confidentiality and someone you trust to show wisdom and sensitivity to you. Ask whether you can meet regularly for prayer and accountability. As you move forward, perhaps this person can help you talk to your parents about what happened—and you can tell them about the changes you've made so that you won't make the same mistake again. As you take these positive steps, I believe God will help you experience his healing love and forgiveness.