Real Life Loading...™

The Guilt of Losing My Virginity: Zion Adams

with Zion Adams | January 5, 2024
Play Pause

Sex, attraction, and Christian relationships: How do those even work? Zion Adams lost his virginity in college, and after his breakup, struggled with other sources of sexual sin. He shares ideas on crushing temptation and setting bold boundaries.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

    • Listen to more on Real Life Loading...
    • Download Right Now Media — an essential resource for spiritual resources. Stream content for small groups, discover kid-friendly shows, and access leader guides—all on the go.
    • Connect with Shelby Abbott here.
    • Every donation makes an impact. Find out how you can help!
  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Sex, attraction, and Christian relationships: How do those even work? Zion Adams lost his virginity in college, and after his breakup, struggled with other sources of sexual sin. He shares ideas on crushing temptation and setting bold boundaries.

MP3 Download Transcript

The Guilt of Losing My Virginity: Zion Adams

With Zion Adams
January 05, 2024
| Download Transcript PDF

Shelby: Alright Zion, so, when did you lose your virginity?

Zion: Yes, so I lost my virginity when I was a freshman in college.

Shelby: Okay.

Zion: Met this girl through social media, who also went to the school, and we began dating, and I lost it.

Shelby: Okay. Was it pretty soon after you were together with her?

Zion: I was a couple of months into it and yes I lost it.

Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading...

I'm Shelby Abbott, and I'm here with Zion Adams to drop some real talk about the subjects of sex and relationships, and the very real struggles with sexual sin as a follower of Jesus Christ.

So, tell me, at that time, were you a believer, did you consider yourself to be a Christian?

Zion: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.

Shelby: Was she?

Zion: She was as well.

Shelby: She was as well, okay. What was the nuance of that like with you both wanting to follow Jesus, but also being strongly attracted to one another and wanting to, in a sense, compromise?

Zion: So growing up, I was always taught wait till marriage for sex. Up until that point I'd done a great job of it, like setting boundaries, even with girls I've talked to or dated.

Shelby: When you were in high school?

Zion: Yes, like not falling short in that area. But this girl, as we began to date, and we were in college at the time. She's living on campus. I wasn't living on campus. But she was living on campus, so it was easy to kind of have one on one time with her. And, yes, we didn't set good boundaries, and we ended up compromising.

Shelby: Yes. Was that a continual stumbling block for you guys, or was it something that just happened once, and you were like, we can never do this again?

Zion: No, it happened a few times when we were dating, and it always convicted me. Because like I said, growing up I knew that you wait till marriage for sex, and in a moment I compromised that. It felt good in the moment, but afterwards I was just always convicted by like, I know I shouldn't have done that kind of thing, you know.

Shelby: Was she the same way, do you think? Is she still convicted?

Zion: She was not.

Shelby: She wasn't?

Zion: She was not.

Shelby: Interesting.

Zion: Yes, that was really difficult. Because here I am wrestling with that conviction of, okay, I just did something I know I wasn't supposed to do. I just crossed the line. My partner at the time doesn't necessarily feel that same conviction or shame I was feeling.

Shelby: Did that end up being, one of the main things that led to you guys breaking up, or how long were you guys together?

Zion: It did. We were dating for a year.

Shelby: For a year, okay.

Zion: Yes, that was a final factor.

Shelby: So that was the thing that ended up being, like, we can't keep staying together?

Zion: Well, there were other things as well, but that was a big part of it.

Shelby: Okay. Was she mad about that, or confused, or?

Zion: Yes. We just weren't eye to eye when it came to that. Like she was cool with still doing that type of stuff. I mean, it just was eating me up inside. I'm like, yo, I can't do this. I can't be doing this. Plus at the time, like, I was a leader within my youth group. And so I was convicted by that and ashamed of that as well - like, yes, I am doing this behind the scenes, but still like leading young men. Yes, so it was really difficult.

Shelby: Felt like a bit of a double life?

Zion: Yes.

Shelby: Were you leading high schoolers at the time?

Zion: I was, yes – mainly guys.

Shelby: Did you have other people in your life coming around you who knew what you were doing?

Zion: I had some friends at the time that knew what was up between me and her.

Shelby: Were they were believers as well? Did they follow Jesus?

Zion: They were believers but they weren't convicted either.

Shelby: Really, okay, interesting.

Zion: Yes, I didn't have any accountability.

Shelby: Yes, yes, you know, it was very like, your insides at sometimes are telling you like, go ahead and do it, and like, nobody's stopping you on the outside. It's interesting that you still felt that conviction when there was such strong pulling from the world, and then from your interior, like sinful nature to want to lead you to a place that you didn't want to go.

Ultimately, was it Scripture that kind of like drew the line for you? I mean, you said you were raised in a certain way. What ended up being like the strongest element of conviction?

Zion: I think just the fact that I was leading the high school kids. I'm like, okay, I'm preaching, "Hey, like, wait to save yourself."

Shelby: You felt like a hypocrite.

Zion: Yes, I felt like a hypocrite. Yes.

Shelby: Yes, wow. That's Interesting how God chooses to work in lives.

You said the word shame, and I know that inevitably was a part of how you felt, but ultimately there's conviction in there. Shame is never from God, but conviction definitely comes to the power of the Holy Spirit, and it's probably an intermingling of both of those things at times.

Zion: Oh, for sure. I heard you and Paul Tripp on a podcast one time. I remember, I think it was Paul that said it, he was like, "Conviction is the assurance of the presence of the Lord." And man, I was so encouraged by that, because I'm like, yo, like, I'm feeling so convicted. So I know I'm not far from Him in a sense.

Shelby: So how old are you right now? I am 25, just turned 25. So when you were a freshman, you were like 18, 19 years old. So it's not that long ago that this was a part of your life. What do you do now for a living?

Zion: So I'm on staff with Cru®. I've been on staff for four years. I'm on the Salesforce Engineering Team as one of the Salesforce Administrators.

Shelby: Is that something you love doing?

Zion: I do, man. I love the team I'm on. I graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems. A minor in Business Analytics, so I'm definitely an IT guy. And, yes, I love my role, love the team I'm doing it with and how I'm serving.

Shelby: And am I right in saying your parents are on staff with FamilyLife®, or they were?

Zion: My dad is on staff.

Shelby: Your dad is on staff.

Zion: Yes, my mom's not on staff. My dad is on staff.

Shelby: So how long did it take for you to tell your parents about the compromise that you had made when you were a freshman?

Zion: So in all honesty, I've never shared that with my parents.

Shelby: They don't know? Okay.

Zion: I not like just straight up confirmed that with my parents, but I believe that they peeped [?] it that I have. Because I remember I was sharing with my parents that we were going to break up. I'm just sharing like mom, I'm just the shame I feel to some of the things I've done. My mom's put--

Shelby:--two and two together.

Zion: Mm hmm. Yes, absolutely.

Shelby: Okay. Is this podcast something that you would feel comfortable forwarding to them?

Zion: Yes, I'm cool with it.

Shelby: What do you think is the difference now between your desire to be vulnerable and back then when you were maybe not feel comfortable sharing this with my folks yet?

Zion: I think the shame, when it comes to shame. I've grown. Shame is a part of my story. A lot of my life I've wrestled with shame, especially in this particular situation. I feel like I've grown a lot in that area. So I'm not ashamed of any more like - yes, it's part of my story, but the Lord has done many things since then in my life that has changed me.

Shelby: Yes. When you talk about shame being a part of your story, was that before, when you were in high school, or is it just since the compromises that you made when you were a freshman?

Zion: A lot of it is post freshman, yes.

Shelby: Okay. So, there's this girl, obviously. Is there other pieces of your story that you feel, upset about? Is that the only girl that you ever slept with?

Zion: Yes. Okay.

Shelby: What other elements kind of made you feel shame? Was it just that relationship that kind of made you spiral or were there other things?

Zion: To be honest, like pornography and masturbation.

Shelby: Okay, those are the things that ended up becoming a part of your story to a stronger degree after that? And again, there was nobody in your life to help you see that that kind of stuff leads to destruction? It was mostly just This is what I'm struggling with.

Zion: Yes, at that particular time, yes. I didn't have any accountability. My parents didn't know about it, and my friends weren't, I mean, they were doing stuff like that.

Shelby: They were?

Zion: How they going to tell me not to do it, if they out there doing that kind of thing.

Shelby: Well, what had been some major stumbling blocks for you? Like, scenarios, or places, or people, events that maybe tripped you up in this area? Obviously you had this girlfriend who wanted to compromise, but in other areas after that with your struggles with porn and masturbation, what were some scenarios that, like, got in your way from walking with God?

Zion: Yes, to be honest, social media, man. Social media is really difficult to navigate with. Like with the algorithms nowadays, like, you don't even have to look for stuff. It's already there. I know Twitter was very difficult. And Twitter is probably the social media app I was on the most. Because with Twitter, you can follow someone who likes something. Like, you don't follow that account, but they like it. Right. It's going to be on your timeline. Yes. It's like, dog, like, and that might trigger you. Mm hmm - kind of thing. So, social media definitely was a big stumbling block.

Shelby: Yes, and also, it feeds you what you want, too. So, you mess up one time, and it, yes, it explodes - like the algorithm will send you that kind of stuff on a continual basis.

Was that just the norm when you were in college, this is just the routine that you got in? Or was it just, did you feel a relative sense of, like, honest battle with this to try to overcome it?

Zion: Yes., that's interesting that you say that. So, post losing my virginity, looking at porn or like masturbating while I was convicted, it wasn't nearly as convicting, because I had already crossed that line kind of thing.

I used to think in my head like, okay, I am looking at this, I am acting out or relapsing, but I'm not actually having sex type of thing. So it wouldn't, it didn't weigh on me as much at the time.

Shelby: Well, looking on, back on that from now, what would you tell yourself, if you could go back to just post breakup with that girl and your struggles with porn? What would you tell yourself? Like, would you say, "Hey, it is a big deal," or "This is why you shouldn't do it?" What do you think you'd, if you had the coffee with yourself to sit down, what do you think you'd say to yourself if you had, like, a minute to talk to you?

Zion: Oh, it's certainly a big deal. Like, post breakup doing that, it's like I was feeding a monster. Like, I was feeding something. And the more I do it, the bigger it gets, kind of thing. And it's still like a challenge today. Not saying that I act out or anything, but it's a daily challenge. And I think I, if I was to go back, I think I would look for community more. I feel like I was doing all this on my own and under my own power I'm not going to succeed. That kind of thing.

Shelby: What have you found to be super helpful now as you've been able to see more success in that area?

Zion: Community, setting boundaries. Like with me, Shelby, I'm not on social media. I'm not active on social media at all. completely

Shelby: You just got off completely? Wow.

Zion: That's a stumbling block. I guess what I do is, I have all the social media apps, but I have restrictions on them all. And the passcode for those restrictions, I have an accountability partner who owns that. Okay. To keep me away from…

Shelby:  So they're able to see, like what you scroll on.

Zion: Yes. And then, like, so if I learned something within this past year. If I'm going to remove things like social media, I need to replace them with something. What I've done is, there's an app called Right Now Media [] and I don't know if we can shout that out.

Shelby: Sure, yes, whatever you want.

Zion: There's an app called Right Now Media that has a lot of resources. Not even just like sexual assent and stuff like that - just if you want to grow in your faith. That's been great to kind of replace those social media apps, even like YouTube with the app like Right Now Media. Just diving into Word more. having like one of my best friends - we've been in Word together for over a year and that's been helpful. Then like even starting my like coming to the Lord every day, like with the sins that I know I'm committing, but even the sins that I don't even know kind of thing

Shelby: Like in the background sins that you don't even are aware of.

Zion: So yes, like I'd say removing stumbling blocks, setting boundaries when it comes to that, and then inviting a trusted believer into that space, into that struggle to help hold me accountable, and even encourage me in that.


Shelby: I think that maybe, I don't know, help me here because, maybe young people could hear that and go, all right, I just need to get the right things in place and then it won't be as big of a deal anymore. Now, I know that's not what you're saying, but like help a young person understand that it's not just: I'll get accountability. I'll read the Bible. I'll get filters on my phone. I'll be honest with other people.

Help them understand what, what does it look like? Cause it can't be formulaic, right? It can't just be like, let me do these things and then it'll get better. Help me understand that.

Zion: I think the root of my shame. I think it's the fact that I was ashamed of the fact that I needed the gospel every single day.

Shelby: You were ashamed of that? Okay.

Zion: Yes, like, why do I need I think I was ashamed of the fact that I needed that every day. Like, some days I'm good. Some days I'm bad. I think it's a fact, I'm ashamed of that. Like, you know what? I need that every day. I was ashamed of that.

Shelby: Yes, because you thought you should have been better?

Zion: Yes.

Shelby: Okay, that's interesting you say that, because one of the things that I've learned in particular in the last like five years is that the gospel is not just something that we need when we come to Jesus the first time. It's not just like this entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven where I get a ticket out of hell. Then when I die, I'll need the gospel then because it'll be my pass into heaven.

When you say it like that, it sounds stupid. But like, you need the gospel for every moment in between that. So you're saying that your struggle specifically was like, I need the gospel right now and I'm ashamed of that. Why do you feel like you felt shame for wanting to need the gospel in those moments when you failed? Was it embarrassment, maybe? Or like, oh, I shouldn't be struggling with this anymore kind of a deal?

Zion: It probably was more like I shouldn't be struggling with this anymore. I know what's right. I know what's wrong. Why am I still struggling with this?

Shelby: You know, when we struggle, and when we fail, I had a guy tell me this recently-who's at my church. I've never met anyone who genuinely believes the gospel as much as he does. And he's got a ton of  Scripture memorized, but he's also like a complete mess. Like he's a disaster, but he knows it.

He got a DUI last year and was really humble and honest about that happening and was hiding it from his whole family, his wife and that kind of stuff. Nobody knew that he had a drinking problem, because he was doing it in secret. But when he got busted, he really leaned into the humility of accepting the consequences of his sin.

I remember meeting with him over tacos one time and I was like, you worked yourself into a position of need, like desperate need. You needed people to forgive you. You needed people to like not shame you, not try to punish you in certain ways. Obviously that again, there's consequences. But like you needed that and you needed God in that moment. To forgive you, to accept you, to love you, to welcome you, because you had screwed up, no doubt about it.

And I said, how did that position of need make you feel? And he said, neediness is what's essential in the Christian life. Because if you feel like you can do it all on your own, if you get to a spot where you're like, no, I'm good I don't need the gospel anymore, then you're in danger. That's actually the real point of danger because you think you don't need God, but like the truth is neediness is a strength, because it makes you, it drives you to the goodness of God and the grace of God. Like the fact that you are on your knees going, I got nothing but you. Then, that's where the magic happens.

Zion: Oh, for sure.

Shelby: Yes. Do you feel like that's happened with you, at points in time in your life?

Zion: Ah, for sure. I think of what Paul says, I think it's in Corinthians, His power is made perfect in my weakness [Paraphrased].

Shelby: That's right, yes.

Zion: Type of thing, and I think there's so much freedom in confession.

Shelby: Totally.

Zion: I feel like that's helped me overcome maybe the shame feeling that I've had in the past – it's confession. There's so much power in that and so just being real and honest with Him. He already knows He's aware.

Shelby: Yes. He's aware of everything.

Zion: He just wants you to come to Him. Yes to just be raw and just honest

Shelby: Yes, I do feel like young people - because you learn early on as a kid that like if you mess something up, you need to hide it so people don't find out and then if you get away with it, then it's really dangerous because then you think, "Oh, well, that's a solution. I'll just hide whatever my wrongdoings are." But we need to come to grips with the fact that, like you said, you cannot hide anything from God.

I love, I love your face right now. You're like, no. Instead of like me with like the flat eyes and the flat mouth right now.

Zion: No, no, you can't hide anything from Him.

Shelby: Have you had experiences where you were like, I need to try to hide this, but like come to your senses?

Zion: To be honest, even in my thoughts. I feel like that's something like I can hide from any person. But I can't hide that from God, because He knows what I'm thinking, kind of thing. So yes, I think my thoughts.

Shelby: I heard too, like someone saying, they were practicing a prayer before they were going out onto the stage to pray in front of a group. And like, and then they came to their senses, like the ridiculousness of this is because God already knows what I'm thinking right now as I'm practicing this prayer in my mind. And then I'm praying for the people. I'm not praying for God.

Zion: Oh, for sure.

Shelby: Yes. Just knowing that like your entire life is laid bare before Him. And that's not bad news. That's actually good news. It's bad news if God is not good or loving or kind or faithful, it's bad news then. But he is loving and good and kind and faithful and sovereign, like in control of everything because of those things. Your life laid bare before him is a good thing. It's not a bad thing. I love how you've been able to discover that.

We've been talking about a lot in like past failures and stuff like that, and I love that you're in a position you are in now where you feel freedom in ways that you didn't before. Where are you hopeful about the future related to this specific area for you?

And I'm not just talking about like, oh, one day, when and if I get married, like things are going to be easier. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the gospel hope that you have. That makes you confident in your future sexual holiness. Where do you feel confident and hope about that?

Zion: I think the fact that I can come every day to the Lord and even on days I'm not pure, I can be pure again. It's every single day, any moment, I can always come to Him and be restored and have another chance to honor and glorify Him.

Shelby: Yes absolutely. Bro, thanks for your time today. Thanks for being honest about all this stuff. I know it's not always easy to talk about it, but you told me you were like - yes, let's lean into it. Let's talk about it. I'm willing to go there. And I know that means a lot to so many people who are in the same boat that you are. So I appreciate your vulnerability. It means a lot.

Zion: Yes, thank you.

Shelby: Yes, thanks for being here.

You know, like he said, you can come to the Lord every day, be restored and have honor and glory. Not because you try harder to be better and God somehow says, "Yes, good job, now be better." But because of the already completed work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. This is the gospel. This is what we believe. God offers it to you freely in His Son right now. It's just amazing.

If you liked this episode of Real Life Loading… or you thought it was helpful, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend or with multiple friends. And wherever you get your podcasts, it could really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading, if you'd rate and review us. It's rightly easy to find us on our social channels. Just search for Real Life Loading, or look for our link tree in the show notes.

I want to thank everyone on the Real Life Loading team. You all are awesome, and you're amazing.

I'm Shelby Abbott and I'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading...

Real Life Loading is a production of FamilyLife®, a Cru® ministry. Helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.

We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?

Copyright © 2024 FamilyLife®. All rights reserved.