Please discuss the whole “purity before marriage” issue. How far can you go in a relationship and remain pure? Why is it so hard to get a clear cut answer?
– Mel -City Unknown
A pure heart (Part 1)
I’ve always been particularly impressed with a young man named Joseph from the Old Testament and the way he handled sexual purity. He was sold as a slave into the house of a man named Potiphar whose wife desired him. She made no bones about it, openly saying to Joseph; “Lie with me.” (Genesis 39:7) He refused — listen to his reason: “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)
Joseph was in his prime and certainly had all the desires of a young man his age. As Potiphar’s wife bugged him day after day he must have felt some inclination to give in to temptation. That would have been normal. Yet his relationship with the Lord made him run rather than succumb.
Joseph had two things in place that I think we can model in maintaining sexual purity. First, he had a line drawn in the sand BEFORE the temptation ever came. Second, he really knew God. Not just “about” God but he actually knew him deeply and intimately. If you love someone very deeply, you think twice about doing what you know will hurt that person. He could not bear to violate their relationship.
If you want to remain pure before marriage, draw your line in the sand now. There has been a movement across America over the last decade targeted at teenagers to help them draw their line. I believe it originated with the Baptist church but then spread to many denominations. Teens are challenged to “Promise” to remain pure until marriage by signing a commitment card and taking a pin or ring as a reminder. When done with purpose and sincerity, this promise has aided many to hold fast.
Second, take care of your relationship with the Lord. Cultivate it. Instead of putting God on a shelf that you look at every once in a while, make sure he is your best friend and that you spend quality time with him every day. If you do that, you will have the heart of Joseph and it will be an affront to you to be presented with sin.
Don’t worry; I know I have not yet gotten to the real crux of what you are asking. Next we will talk about the lines within the line.
How far can you go? (Part 2)
Let’s say that right now you are a virgin and that you have drawn your line in the sand. You have determined that you will remain a virgin until marriage. How far can you go in physical contact and still have hopes of keeping that promise?
First let’s admit that the question itself has a little more to it. The question really implies: I want to go as far as I possibly can without sinning so tell me how far that is. It’s understandable. We were designed by God to be drawn to sex and to enjoy it. Denying those natural impulses is not easy and our culture no longer expects it. In fact, the decision to remain sexually pure is practically considered freakish in our society.
That said; each person has to evaluate all the steps leading up to physical consummation with the constant question: will this particular activity compromise my commitment to remain a virgin until marriage? Then, they have to be very honest in answering those questions. That’s the hard part. The tendency is to fudge it if possible and say; “This little bit won’t hurt. I’ll be okay with this or that.” But remember that Joseph ran before ANYTHING at all happened.
You might say; well that doesn’t help me any more than a hill of beans. I want a checklist that says yes or no next to each activity. Holding hands, YES; lying together naked in bed, NO. Well there are probably places you can find such checklists but in the end, will someone else’s arbitrary rules work for you?
The underlying question is how motivated are you to your commitment to purity? If you are very motivated and if you ask the help of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to make your own checklist. Still, there are some common sense guidelines for conducting a relationship in general which may help and we will talk about those next.
Safeguards (Part 3)
Set common sense rules in place for yourself in the very beginning of any relationship with the opposite sex. This goes for friends too because many times, love blooms from friendship.
The first rule is: GUARD YOUR HEART. There is a place inside you that should be reserved only for the person you marry. To give that away beforehand to someone you don’t end up marrying will result in deeper and longer pain in the breakup. Guarding your heart is not just how far you have gone physically but how far you have gone emotionally. Protect yourself until your wedding day when you are entirely safe.
Next, put limits on how much time you spend together and how much alone time you spend. It is easy when you start dating someone who sweeps you off your feet to drop everyone and everything else. Don’t do it. Keep all your friends and all your activities even though you may have to juggle your schedule a little more. Limiting time limits sexual possibilities.
Give yourself a curfew. Don’t have open ended dates. Don’t linger past the time you have set for yourself. Don’t fall asleep watching movies together in your living room because that leads to a familiarity that may be dangerous.
Watch what you watch. Be careful which movies/videos/TV you choose to see while dating. Some of them will not help you maintain sexual purity. Certain music is the same way so it’s best to keep a guard over what you listen too also.
Don’t daydream. Daydreaming is wasteful at best and dangerous at worst. Daydreaming is a set up for frustration and opens your mind to laziness. An undisciplined mind can hatch up all kinds of things which easily turn into sin.
If you have chosen sexual purity you have set your heart upon a good thing. You can succeed. God will help you. Your reward as you enter marriage will be great and you will look back with gladness of heart that you waited.