Bible Answer

Should I confess my sin to my wife?

Should I tell my wife that I had sex with other women before we were married? She asked me while we were dating if I had ever had previous sexual relationships, and I told her no. Listening to your teaching has convicted me to "come clean," but wouldn't it be unnecessarily hurtful to confess my lie to my wife after so many years?

Our ministry does not offer personal counseling services, but we can address the biblical issues you raised in your correspondance. We suspect you already know in your heart the answer we will offer, but sometimes it helps to hear confirmation from others.

Deceit is the sin of concealing the truth by word or action, and in this situation, you are deceiving your wife by withholding the truth of your past. Moreover, you also committed the sin of lying by telling her a falsehood in response to her question before marriage. Neither act is loving toward your wife. On the contrary, when we deceive or lie to our own advantage, we love ourselves more than loving another. 

The Bible instructs Christians to set aside all deceit:

1Pet. 2:1  Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 
1Pet. 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 

Since you have been longing for the milk of God’s word, you have grown spiritually as Peter commanded. That growth has provoked your conscience into confessing your sin, also as Peter anticipated. Studying God’s word causes us to evaluate our lives in relationship to the commands and holiness of God, which sanctifies us over time. This is the process you are experiencing, and we encourage you to work with the Spirit by yielding to His counsel in your heart.

Out of love for your wife, you should confess all your sins (e.g., the sin of fornication, the sin of lying and the sin of continuing deception). Will she be upset? Probably. Will she forgive you? Possibly. Regardless of her response, however, you are obligated to do the right thing by God. Ironically, your hesitation to confess your sin is partly due to your desire to please your wife (i.e., to not upset her), yet scripture says we must seek to please God, not people. Pleasing the Lord, in this case, means confessing your sin to your wife and asking for her forgiveness. 

Finally, as you speak with your wife, we encourage you to explain the timing of your confession as an indication of your spiritual growth. It may help her forgive you when she learns that the Lord is working in your heart to bring you into a closer walk with Him, and this confession is the fruit of that spiritual work.