As an OB-Gyn physician I am privileged to talk with women about some of the most intimate issues of their lives. Here on this site I wear two hats when it comes to women’s health: Medical Doctor and Doctor of Ministry. I’m only going to put on my Medical Doctor hat here for a moment.
There are two things I know for sure. First, the only way to completely prevent pregnancy is to not have sex, or have a hysterectomy. I can’t tell you the number of women I have seen who became pregnant while using some form of birth control. (Of course I’ve seen many, many more women become pregnant while not using birth control at all!)
And second, the only way to completely prevent STDs is to not have sex, or to remain in a mutually monogamous relationship. And I’m not talking about “serial monogamy:” when you have sex with someone, you are also having sex with everyone they have ever had sex with. I can’t tell you the number of women I’ve seen who have contracted an STD when they thought they were “being careful.”
Now my Medical Doctor hat comes off, in a sense. There are some questions I get asked periodically that have much more to do with how to take these medical, personal, emotional, and sexual issues and live with them in a spiritually realistic and responsible way. Here are a few of my answers.
Question: Can God agree with me using contraception?
Answer: There is enough in Scripture about how God celebrates the fulfilling and bonding aspects of sex between husband and wife that I believe God can clearly bless a couple who chooses to use contraception. (Song of Solomon – whole book!, Hebrews 13:4) Pregnancy is always possible, but choosing if or when to have children can be a separate decision from when to be sexually active in marriage. And God smiles on such a couple. (For more on my answer, see Should I Use Birth Control?)
Question: What if I’ve been sexually active in unhealthy ways in the past. Can God forgive me?
Answer: Yes! A thousand times yes! He is faithful to forgive whenever we ask! (1 John 1:9) The reason many find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves when it comes to sexual sins is related to how deep the issue goes in one’s soul. Paul said, “he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18) It’s also true that the emotional and physical consequences of that sexual activity may take quite some time to heal. But God can and does bring healing even when we do stupid things and experience the painful consequences. That’s so important, and so true.
Question: Are you saying I shouldn’t be sexually active if I’m not married? That’s not realistic!
Answer: First of all, it’s not me saying that: God’s saying that. And yes, it IS possible. I know what it’s like to live single: I did so for 48 years! That doesn’t mean it’s easy. And even if you’re not sure God wants you to only enjoy sex inside marriage, the consequences of sex that nobody talks about are enough to cause you to think twice before putting yourself at risk.
Question: I’m married, and I have an STD. What am I supposed to do?
Answer: If you brought the STD into your marriage, you need to be honest with your husband. If you know it wasn’t you, it becomes more challenging. Some STDs can remain hidden for quite some time: I’ve seen many women where the most likely source of their STD was their husband’s sexual activity before marriage. A number of STDs may cause no symptoms in a man who carries it for quite some time, and he then exposes his wife. Of course there is also the possibility that your husband has had a sexual contact outside the marriage. If you suspect that is the case, it’s a time for prayer, counsel, and slow, careful thinking.
How many times I have wanted to say to the women I meet, or treat as a doctor: “Just don’t do it! ANY sex before or outside of marriage is too risky! Please don’t throw everything away for a momentary pleasure, or a man’s lies!”
But what I DO say, whenever I can, is this: “Today can be the first day of the rest of your life. You don’t have to give your heart or your body away. God made you for more than this. He’s got a great future for you!”
If just one woman, young or old, reads this and stops to consider saying NO to sex before or outside of marriage, I will be grateful.
And if just one woman, young or old, reads this and finds hope to experience God’s forgiveness from her sexual past, it will have been worth it.
[reminder]Any questions you’d like to ask about women’s health?[/reminder]
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