We are joined again by guest Matt Chandler. He’s the lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and the author of the new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption.

Question #10: How does the gospel change or inform or help those who are dating who have been victims of past sexual abuse? Large numbers of men and women in the church represent this population. How does Jesus Christ help the unique struggles that those Christians face in a dating relationship and as they look forward to marriage?

I am grateful to answer the question, because I, myself, am actually present in this question. The home I grew up in was wrought with just about every type of abuse imaginable. And it does leave some marks, and it does leave some dents, and creates some baggage that not just in dating, but then on into the marriage, are going to need to be gospeled.

And what gospel change and help occurs is that for the one that has not sat under the abuse, but is free from that type of baggage, the gospel should create patience, compassion and empathy to walk alongside of the person who has borne the brunt of this abuse. Now for the one that has borne the abuse, the gospel begins to reshape our identity, it begins to reshape our hearts and wounds, enables us to begin to trust again — slowly, but surely.

And so when the gospel is at work both in the one that was not abused and in the one that was, you have a person who is patient and empathetic and compassionate, and a person who is being reshaped and healed by the gospel in such a way that there is an opportunity to grow into intimacy that wouldn’t have been possible outside of the gospel. And so that is really how the gospel has worked in my own life and in my own marriage. Lauren was able to be very empathetic and compassionate and gracious and not demanding, while the gospel did its work of healing and repairing the broken parts of me.