How Much Do I Need to Know About My Potential Spouse's Sexual Past?

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Below is the latest installment of our “Questions and Ethics” series. As always, read the scenario below and let me know in the comments section what I should advise in the situation. What would you counsel?

Dear Dr. Moore,

I am a young single Christian woman. I made a commitment at a very young age to remain sexually chaste, and I’ve done so. I have dated other boys, but always just in groups in a very casual setting. Now, however, I am seeing a young Christian man who seems great in every way. We have dated for about a month, and I really like him. He treats my family (my father is deceased but my mother and sisters live near me) great, and all my friends like him.

Here’s my question. I am wondering what his sexual past looks like, in order to know what I’m getting into. Has he been with other women, sexually? If so, how many and in what way? Has he ever had a problem with pornography? With every week that goes by, I’m more and more in love with him, and I’m afraid to keep getting my hopes up only to have them dashed when we’re right at the point of marriage.

I’m not saying that any particular information would necessarily kill the relationship, but I’d sure like to know something about this to know what I’m getting myself into. It sure seems awkward, though, to say, “So tell me about your sex life?” Would that be forcing too much intimacy too soon? Is it right for a woman to be so forward with a man who’s not her husband? Do I ever need to know this?

My question: should I ask him about his past? If so, how should I ask it, and at what point in the relationship?

True Love Waiting

Okay, readers. What do you think? And, one more thing, how would your answer differ to her, if at all, if she were a man and the roles here were reversed?

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.