From incredibly naïve to extremely conservative, Christians have long had a wide-range of expressions when it comes to sex and sexuality. Most often, those expressions have been negative or conversely overly idealistic only resulting in false preconceptions shattered. Those of you who have followed my blog have read my views on singleness, marriage, and the importance on living into our calling regardless of which state we find ourselves in. By this point some of you can even quote what I always end up saying: that God designed sex as the fullest expression of human love and intimacy and that He delights in it. That God’s first commandment was for us to procreate and that through intimacy we can grow and bond in incredible ways that are meant only to be shared between two people in the committed and loving relational bond of marriage. Unfortunately, because we live in a fallen world, God’s original design for complete trust and gracious vulnerability has been lost. Instead, sex has been used as a way to manipulate, abuse, and destroy others. When this happens, God grieves over the loss of shalom. When one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to humanity is used flippantly or without regard to the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of another it breaks His heart. And yet we continue to do it over and over again.
Before I go further on this topic, I need to address one thing. I am not here to judge. If you have had a less than ideal experience with sex because of abuse or manipulation, my heart sincerely goes out to you and I want to offer to you the fact that there is indeed help through Christ our Lord. Conversely, if you have been the one to misuse this precious and sacred gift because of selfish reasons or simply feeling passion in the heat of the moment, God offers to you His deepest forgiveness and peace.
My place is not to judge those who have engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage, but it is to challenge you to realize the high standards God places on those of us who consider ourselves His children. If you do not consider yourself a Christian you can simply disregard this message. It has nothing to do with you. Live your life the way you want to because life is short. But if you are sincerely desiring to be a man or woman after God’s own heart, you will understand the value of keeping the marriage bed pure and you will be able to grasp the stern warnings that God gives to those who do not follow the Scriptures.
This blog post is not meant to go into a theological rant about why sex should be saved for marriage. If you are part of a Bible believing church, I am going off of the assumption that you have already heard this all before. Probably too many times. And if you haven’t, then I will assume that you may go to one of those super conservative churches that doesn’t even bother talking about sex at all – which is equally dangerous. Instead of scaring you with statistics or telling you all the dangers of breaking God’s law, I simply want to offer some suggestions for those of you who are truly desiring to remain pure before marriage but find it incredibly hard to do so. After all, who doesn’t struggle with this type of thing? Regardless of your past experiences you can make a new commitment to stand strong. By immersing yourself in prayer and Scripture, you will gradually discover that following God’s laws trumps indulging in your own passions. And when that happens you crave the things of Him rather than the things of this world.
So where do we begin?
- Make a commitment. This may go without saying, but it is truly the most important step. If you are not motivated to follow through with purity, it won’t happen. Equally important is having a partner who also shares this same commitment. If only one partner is interested in staying away from the physical, it will be bound to happen. But it’s not just enough to say you want to stay away from the big one. You need to decide for yourself what you feel right and comfortable with. That’s a choice only you and your significant other can make. Some of my friends shared their first kiss on their wedding day or waited until being engaged to start holding hands, others had different ideas. But the main thing is that you know what those ideas are and that you talk them out with your partner. That way you can both stand strong when temptation comes. Also, although it is important to know WHAT you are committing to, it is also important to know WHY. If you don’t have a strong enough motivation you will also fall.
- Have accountability with teeth. It’s not enough to just trust yourself and your partner to stand strong, you also need good back up support. This is difficult in a world that screams “promiscuity.” It is hard to be the only one in your circle of friends who is waiting, but if God is the first and foremost focus of your life you will find the motivation. Have a friend who is older and more mature in their faith walk with you through the various challenges you may face and have someone you can confess things to without any fear of judgment. This is important in any relationship not just because of physical reasons, but also because it will help establish a firm base for when you do decide to tie the knot. Listen to your friends when they mention red flags or when they voice concerns. Don’t shut them down, ignore them, or get defensive. Use each opportunity as a chance to learn more about yourself and your partner.
- Avoid the appearance of evil. Simply put this means staying away from those pesky “danger zones.” This can be different for each person. Basically what you want to do is avoid situations in which people would right away assume you are engaging in certain activities (even if you really aren’t) or where you would personally find yourself in a compromised position. This may mean not being in secluded places with your partner or leaving their place at a reasonable hour and not spending the night. These things are important if you are truly trying to minimize the risk of doing something you may later regret.
- Know Scripture and Pray. I know this is placed last in this list, but it really should be first. If you don’t know the Scriptures you may think these types of activities are really no big deal…but the longer you spend time reading God’s Word and truly getting to know Him, you will see just how much He loves you. God’s great love for us is the source of all comfort, hope, and healing. It is precisely because God doesn’t want to see our hearts getting broken that He so solemnly warns us to save the very best we have to offer only to our mate.
While there is no complete guarantee that you will never fall, I do believe that by making a prayerful commitment with your partner you can easily avoid most pitfall and most temptations. Remember, marriage must be built on complete trust and mutual understanding and acceptance. This happens best when we respect each other’s boundaries enough to learn how to wait. May God bless you on this waiting journey.