How much do the physical, emotional, mental, and other consequences of actions affect marriage and sanctification? Obviously, the answer varies depending on the severity of the actions involved: some, to a little, to a lot.
One of the oft quoted statistics on this blog is number of sexual partners before marriage and divorce rate. Women with more sexual partners before marriage have a higher divorce rate than virgins.
A woman who has repented of her past and is a true Christian following God and believes in the permanence of marriage can definitely be in the percentage of women who have had sexual partners before marriage but not divorce.
However, it’s also true that the consequences of her past actions can have repercussions on her future marriage if she is prone to comparing her previous partners to her husband and not fleeing from temptations such as these. The past can bring up barriers and temptations to intimacy and make things more difficult in the future.
The difficulty for a man in this position is assessing this risk. This is also true of a man with prior sin in his life as a woman is assessing him for marriage. Since we can’t view the hearts of the individuals (and individuals are prone to change over time), the only thing we have to look at is current patterns of behavior and how much they align with the gospel and Christian walk.
However, our God is amazing, and I think all early consequences of sin can be overcome if one is dead set on following Christ and taking off all of the old. Paul himself is an excellent example of this: full repentance that leads to him working even harder than many of Jesus’ disciples for the gospel and extreme humility for his role in persecuting other Christians before he was converted.
Paul’s example are the few indicators I would look for if I was going to marry a non-virgin or looked at any other sins in a person’s past for evaluating them for marriage. It’s very difficult to fake true humility and a passion for Christ that leads to large scale evangelism or service to the body of Christ.