Today we continue with a topic we began last week, how to simplify relationships and demystify the road to marriage.
For my newer readers; besides helping you build a strong foundation for your marriage in these early years, I am also passionate about saving marriages before they start; once in a while I’ll address some of the challenges single readers face.
Today’s post is one such.
We hear it all the time; the world has changed, morals and societal standards are not what they used to be.
Here’s how I see it though; while the world may change, you still get to choose how you live your life.
So inspite of all the hullabaloo, you are responsible for how you live your life.
You can choose to live a values-based lifestyle. Now unlike what some people think, a values-based lifestyle is not the easier road.
Actually being counter-cultural and counter-flesh guarantees a big bulls-eye on your back!
Yet that’s the way to a rich, God-filled (and much simpler) life.
Here’s one more thought on how you, as a single lady, can un-complicate and simplify this journey towards marriage. (Read last week’s post for # 1 & #2)
3. You need to understand that purity begins in the heart… but does not end there
I’ll probably ruffle a few cultural feathers here, please bear with me if I do. I have a point or two if you’ll read all the way through!
Here’s what I think – America is one of the the most liberal and permissive societies on God’s good earth : )
Seriously, I am yet to find a place where something as simple as purity, boundaries, morality – and other godly values that clip “freedom” feathers – can rile so many people!
Not that I come from a saintly society myself – we have issues and quirks like everybody else.
And I am not American (been here two years) – so I don’t know the background and story behind the “purity movement” and why people think being conservative is an awful idea.
But here’s what I have observed – courting couples holding hands, hugging closely, snuggling and kissing in church.
I am not talking buildings only but the general born-again Christendom.
Here’s the problem
I have a big big problem with getting getting physical in courtship or any other place besides marriage.
The physical road is a very very very very slippery road.
Let me give you an example
Think about the first time you tasted a new brand of ice cream or a food or snack that you liked. Wasn’t that initial experience exciting?
I remember the first time I tasted Klondike Original Ice cream. Half a bar was enough at first.
But within a few weeks I graduated to a full bar. A few weeks later, I was downing two bars in one sitting!
The more I ate Klondike ice cream the more my taste-buds build a tolerance towards it and the harder it was to get the same “high” I had at the beginning.
So you start out by holding hands.
No ulterior motive, no other plan but to “bond”.
But soon hand-holding becomes normal. The high, that connection and bonding you first felt when you first held hands slowly wanes.
And since you want to keep that connection going, you seek new ways to satisfy the “taste buds”.
And more often than not it’s not a conscious decision, more like a drift to a new normal
See the progression?
It’s not impossible standards!
Lest you think I am “one of those” married women who likes preaching “impossible standards and boundaries at singles”, let me add that I have walked the road.
I’ve had my own failures and successes.
My boyfriend-now-sweet-husband and I held hands.
He’d help me across the road. We’d wander in the park with fingers intertwined, sometimes we held hands on the bus.
Other times he’d sling a hand across my shoulder
And we hugged too. A quick side hug to say hi and another quick-one to say bye.
No ulterior motives, no agenda. Just friendship and fun.
But a few months into it and some months before the wedding, we noticed strange fires and incredible longings. (Actually to be very honest my mentor “noticed” it for us)
The side hugs had become longer-than-normal front hugs, the hand holding was not so innocent any more.
We were on crave-mode!
So we quit the hugging and the hand-holding and the hand-slings
Now you might say “but we are strong, we are not you!’.
And that’s true, we are not the same.
But you and me sister we have the same body, the same natural inclinations, the same fallen self, the same enemy.
So here’s some quick thoughts on purity
1. You draw the line.
You have the power as a woman to draw the line. Infact as a woman I’d say you have even more power because you are not as visually stimulated as men are.
I did not say that men are not responsible for their feelings and actions. But you are wired differently and ought to take advantage of that.
2 Forgiveness doesn’t always equal forgetting (on your part)
The bible says “he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18) – that verse is not just for anyone who went “all the way”.
But for everyone that plays around and engages in foreplay. Yes that’s what it is – petting, stroking, kissing stirs up your sexual feelings and emotions..and the goal of that stirring is sexual union, which happens in marriage.
All these memories don’t evaporate when you say “I do” (also see # 5 & 6).
You carry them right into marriage. The weight of the “what if”s and regrets and guilt can wreck unnecessary havoc in your union.
3. He’ll struggle to buy if he can get it for free
You’ve probably heard this – keep giving a man something for free and he will struggle to pay money to keep it.
It might not make sense to you because you think giving him a part of yourself will make him stay or commit.
Here’s the thing and like we said last week, if he can’t make a good boyfriend now, he will probably not make a good husband.
Giving yourself away won’t make him stay. Oh he might stay, as long as you keep giving.
But the day you stop giving or the day he’s had his fill, he will move on.
4. It begins in the heart but manifests in your life
You can abstain and restrain your physical urges and desires on the outside but let your thoughts, heart and emotions run wild on the inside
Purity starts on the inside, it’s a heart thing . The things you think about, the emotions you feed, the mediations you let loose in your heart.
If you want an uncomplicated road to marriage, keep with the real program; it’s not about appearances, but about your heart.
5 There’s always a second chance (and 3rd and 4th…)
To God there’s nothing like “damaged goods”.
The devil would have you believe that you’ve been at it for so long, that there’s no hope for you, that you might as well continue down that complicated road.
But that’s a lie.
You can stop.
But my guess is that if you could have stopped all by yourself, you would done it by now.
It’s just not that simple.
You must get back with God.
A blog post can’t change you. Your pastor or mentor can’t either.
But God can and will. He can build you up from the inside, fix that which is broken and set you on strong grounds.
6. You are not crazy for having those feelings and emotions
As a single girl, I didn’t always understand that my emotions are from God.
For a long time I believed that my less-than-saintly-emotions meant I was a doomed sinner. Well, that’s a bit dramatic..thing is I struggled!
You are not abnormal for having feelings and wanting intimacy.
The feelings are from God. But they have a time and a place (marriage).
Before this time and place, He gives you the ability to control them – through the Holy Spirit. And common sense.
7. Take it as practice
Many single women long to get married because they believe it’ll cure pesky hormones and satiate the urge-to-merge.
Sorry to burst the bubble but marriage is not a cure for lust, a wandering eye or an unfettered mind.
After marriage, you still have to choose to love the one you have because there are others who will seem nicer, sweeter, taller, more understanding….
If you can’t get yourself together now, you’ll struggle in marriage.
Now it’s your turn – what do you think about purity, how important is it, how can we guard it, how is your purity walk as a single woman.
Also check out these posts in the series What Singles need to know and The anatomy of sexual impurity and Is there hope after sexual sin? (Ps – The “purity” I am talking about here is the kind that involves exercise of free will. If you have been abused or have been forced to do things against your will, that was not your choice and I pray you don’t feel judged or condemned. Purity is something you give away, it cannot be taken from you. So you are not impure because someone abused you or made you do things you did not want to. I don’t feel entirely qualified to speak on that whole area : ) but I needed to clarify that )