For Christian's, virginity is a virtue, yet the harsh reality is that many times people come to faith, and into the Lord’s church with, a broken sexual past and all of the baggage that comes along with it. I should know, I am one of them.
Unfortunately, an even harsher truth is that sexual baggage can be created in the church. Just look at the church in Corinth. Or you could just look around at your own church.
"The truth is sexual baggage can be created in the church - look at the church in Corinth, or you could just look at your own church"
So when is the right time and the best way to go about broaching the subject of your sexual past with your significant other? Before you start going steady, during engagement, perhaps after the wedding day? And how much should you share? Every painful sexual detail and rendezvous, or perhaps generic terms and information that leave enough ambiguity for one to never really know the truth?
My wife and I over the years have had to navigate this difficult terrain together with the help of trusted mentors and spiritual advisors (more on this in a moment), along with the Spirit of God and the time-tested truths of His Word.
My advice to couples is generally not to discuss anything intimate in terms of one's sexual past while they are dating (or courting, or going steady, or whatever terminology you prefer to use to indicate a romantic relationship in which a man and a woman are exclusively on a path together to explore the possibility of marriage) but instead to just have fun getting to know one another and each other's character, passions, hobbies, gifts, etc. There are some exceptions to this, but it is not the norm. In the case of an exception, conversations should never be had about sexual past experiences without a TON of prayer and guidance from trusted and proven spiritual advisors. (I delineate “proven” spiritual advisors from someone who gives advice or is simply older. I have for instance heard of a young couple receiving ‘advice’ from an older couple to experiment sexually together before they were married just too make sure they were “sexually compatible”. This is not what I would call “proven” advice. The only fact it proves is that their advice is just plain worldly and not of God. A "proven" advisor in the manner that I mean would be someone that has proven themselves in the past and given you sound Godly advice that adheres to the principles of the scriptures).
"A proven advisor is someone that has proven themselves in the past giving you sound Godly advice that adheres to the principles of the Word."
If there is sexual baggage in the past of one or both of the individuals involved in the relationship, I usually advise that discussing it wait until engagement, or possibly just before (again the details will be nuanced based on each couple since every relationship is somewhat unique), and only after there has been much counsel and advice sought about how to discuss it. It is generally not needed, or very helpful, to discuss every detail of one’s sexual past with a future spouse, but at the same time you don’t want to paint the picture so vaguely that someone might feel duped should they find out some piece of information in the future. A simple rule of thumb in this matter would be to ask yourself, “Is this information relevant to our future relationship, and if they were to find out this piece of information in the future, would they be hurt that I had not shared it now?” Another good rule of thumb is to simply ask the person how much information they want you to share with them (but again, many times a person cannot anticipate what is best for themselves in this regard so outside counsel is imperative).
The truth is that if there is sexual baggage in one or both of the person’s history, this is not going to be a one-time conversation, and it will not likely cease after marriage. For that matter, even if there is relatively little sexual baggage and both people are virgins (although every sinful human has some degree of “baggage”) there will still need to be efforts made and conversations had in order to achieve a fruitful, enjoyable, and God-honoring sexual relationship. The way in which modern media portrays romance and sexuality as being intuitive and ‘easy’ is simply not true, and often sets up unrealistic expectations and disappointment. Not to mention that fact that the modern Western concept of sexuality is one of consumerism. Simply put; a Godly sexual relationship is just like everything else we try to do in this life in a Godly manner; it takes self-denial (Lk 9:23) and self-control through His Spirit (2 Tim 1:7).