In our fortnightly column ‘Great Sexpectations’ the Woman Alive panel answer your questions on sex, faith and intimacy. Drop us a confidential email on email@example.com and ask us anything. Here, we address a question about taking the morning after pill.
Dear Woman Alive,
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months and we did agree that we would try not to have sex before marriage. We found the temptation too much and a few times we had sex. Once we did it without any protection. I don’t know if I could have been pregnant, it was too early to take a test, but I knew I wasn’t in the place to have a baby. So I went and took the morning after pill. I feel so guilty, like I might have taken a life. Now I don’t know what to do.
What a powerful emotion guilt is. The idea of “taking a life” can bring so much shame especially for those walking the Christian journey of faith. So, first I want to say please be kind to yourself and go to God in prayer. He knows all anyway. Ask him to show you how you can move on from this feeling. That’s the most important thing to start with because he will bring clarity and also healing.
First I want to say please be kind to yourself and go to God in prayer.
I also want to say thank you for sharing candidly what you have experienced. It can be very tempting (and easy?) to hide some of the apparently less salubrious things we go through as Christians. Holiness and purity have been rammed down the throats of many and it is often through fear of revealing how difficult that is, that we can end up feeling alone in our struggles. So let me just say: you are not alone.
I’m guessing both and your boyfriend are Christians; are you still together? How does he feel about you taking the pill – did you discuss it? The responsibility of this falls on both of you not just the person whose body is affected by the medication taken. It would be great if you could both take time to talk about your expectations for the relationship and what would happen if. The thing is, it’s very easy to just say, oh we won’t do it, but in moments of passion, who knows?
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When I was at university, I remember a (Christian) friend telling me that she avoided the free condoms handed out on campus because she didn’t want to have sex and didn’t want the temptation to indulge. I wasn’t sure about that logic but she seemed pretty determined. Spoiler alert: she got pregnant in her first year with her first boyfriend. I say this to advise that you have a plan if you intend to stay together and spend time in intimate moments. Now that that bond has been created, it may be that it creates a pull for you both to revisit it. Please note this is not me giving you carte blanche to go and do as you will; I’m simply saying be honest with yourselves.
In your email, you say that you and your boyfriend agreed that you would try not to have sex before marriage. I’ve been there. And I’m going to suggest that that might be the wrong way around to look at things. There’s a lot of focus on “don’ts” in the Church and that might just seem like God is the fun police. I once heard someone say that once you decide to cut out something, you have to replace it with something else otherwise the enemy will fill it for you. This will make sense if you’ve ever tried to diet. Say, for example, you decide to cut out chocolate but have no plan for what to do if you get a chocolate craving, I can tell you right now that you will fast go back to that chocolate habit.
There’s a lot of focus on “don’ts” in the Church and that might just seem like God is the fun police.
In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus restored a man who was demon-possessed. When he commanded the demons to leave, they begged him for another “home” to go into. Jesus sent them into the pigs. The man himself was left not empty but full, with this newfound knowledge of Jesus and his healing power in his life. So if you really are determined to abstain from sex while still maintaining a close relationship, you need to decide what you will do when that temptation comes up. I’m not going to patronise you by talking about all the “fun” things you can do outside the bedroom; you already know those. But given how strongly you have reacted to this experience I would advocate really asking God what his will is for you and for the two of you, and then making sure you have something in plan to make sure that you can be obedient to that.
Our Great Sexpectations column is written by a number of different contributors who make up the Woman Alive panel. If you have a question for us, email: firstname.lastname@example.org,uk