NightLight: a Guide for Young Women, On Purity and Dancing too Close to the Line


NightLight will post every Friday with encouragement for  and questions from younger women. No matter your age, you are older and wiser than some, and you’ve been equipped to share through your story. Please read the guidelines and consider submitting questions or posts of encouragement or advice to nightlightguide@gmail.com.

Today’s bold post is by Brooke McGothlin of A Life in Need of Change. —

It was sweet.

One word to describe? Sweet.

And I messed it up. My choice to sin messed up…no…killed my sweetness. Not only did I sin, but I caused my brother to fall too. Double sin.

It wasn’t the only issue our relationship had, but choosing to be intimate with him before marriage caused a loss of the sweetness. We didn’t even officially have sex. I was a virgin when I married in the technical sense of the word. But we lost something with each touch. And I’ll regret that forever.

I called him mine. But he wasn’t. Never intended to be mine. From the beginning of time, he was NOT meant to be mine. But I treated him like he was mine for the taking.

Was it worth it? No. I remember the dirt road where the Lord told me it would end. I cried, screamed, said, “I can’t do this! Please don’t do this to me! I love him!” But I knew in my heart he wasn’t the one. An unholy alliance entangling our hearts made it that much harder to untangle.

As God told me it would, the relationship with this sweet one ended.

A short time passed and I found the one. A different sweet. One tainted with loss. Falling for the one but grieving the other. Attraction? I’ve never felt such suction toward another human. Heart, mind, soul, and yes, body. But waiting.

Waiting, but struggling. Failing some here and there, but both committed to purity. Waiting, asking for strength, help, forgiveness and for a love that considered the other as more important.

One morning, after we danced too close to the line, I walked across campus and heard His voice again. “Be careful love. You’ll lose again. Love ME more than your sin. I know you want to love. I created you to love. But love Me MORE.”

So I chose Him, waited, and knew real love. Know real love.

Okay, Ladies! What’s your two cents? Let’s get some conversation started in the comments.

amberhaines
About me

65 Comments

Amber
Reply March 5, 2010

Dear Brooke,

Thank you for this bold story. I have a post drafted that uses some of the exact words here, and I can't seem to find the boldness to complete the post. Maybe I will now. We do say something very similarly.

There was once a sweetness about me that my husband hasn't known. He knows a different me, and it's good, and we're grateful, but God intended it the other way, and I know that.

My story with Seth is almost exactly as yours with your husband. It felt nearly impossible with him, and the ways we did mess up have had consequences in our marriage. I think I'm just now learning about repentance from those choices. I'm just now grieving some of those sins.

I'm learning that it's important to dig to the root and ask God for the healing of our hearts more readily than we ask Him to heal our sinus infections. That's my advice to those of us who goofed.

My advice to those who haven't is to protect your senses when you're with a man. You were born with a sensuality made for ONE, and before you're married, ask God how you can increase intimacy with Him. I believe with all my heart, too, that intimacy with God only fuels a great intimacy with our husbands, so call God the safe place for your senses.

You have sense memories: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. Each way your senses commune with another is a way that sticks with you. Give your senses to God.(I know this is vague. I'll give more space to it later.)

Amber
Reply March 5, 2010

And another thing: Brothers! If any of you read here, help us protect our senses. Whether we mean to or not, we so often follow you. We so often want to be loved by you. Lead by protecting your own senses.

What does it mean to enjoy God and the presence of God?

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply March 5, 2010

Sweet Amber. Thank you for having me and challenging me to write the bold words. Just writing them was an act of obedience and healing. God truly is the Lover of my soul and my Strong Tower. Much Love.

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply March 5, 2010

This is Brooke's husband. My word is BLESSED. This is because I am blessed to have a God fearing wonderful wife who realized this before I, so our sweetness could be saved before the devil could snatch it from us. Now we share this with each other and have two little ones who are not always as sweet. God has protected us on so many different levels. I love you P (Brooke) and I am so proud of your words.

dawn
Reply March 5, 2010

Bold and Beautiful and True. I look forward to sharing this with my daughter. Thank you.

Sarah Mae
Reply March 5, 2010

Excellent Brooke - thank you for your honesty.

SO many of us have been there...it begs the question, "is there something we can do better for our children to protect them?"

I say yes.

We can't protect from everything and we can't predict outcomes, but we can be faithful in teaching, training, and covering our children. For our family, that means no dating. Not just a "no" thing either, but a "yes" thing! Yes to counter-culture living! Yes to biblical worldview! Yes to a bold new outlook on love and lust and purity! Yes to guarding and protecting hearts, not just flesh. Yes to God before man. Yes!

Thank you Amber for posting this new series. I pray GOOD and BOLD and BEAUTIFUL wisdom for it!

Prudence
Reply March 5, 2010

My husband and I were both virgins when we got married. It was a beautiful gift to give and receive. We danced to close to the line. We did things I so strongly wish we hadn't. I am happy, no overjoyed to be able to share with our children when we have one that your father and I waited to have sex till we were married, and it was the best decision, but we messed up. We did things we wish we had waited also for.

Stephanie
Reply March 5, 2010

Thank you Brooke for your honesty. I too struggled with issues of purity before I was married. The regret still stings even today. And yet as the mother of both sons and daughters, who are entering pre-teen years, I want spare my children from the pain and heartache that comes with impurity. I want them to choose to love Him more. But I cannot make those choices for them. I can tell them truth...earlier than I think their young hearts and minds should hear it. I can see in them areas of weekness and fight to make them stronger before they are on their own. I can bury my face in humility and prayer for their protection. But I know it is the Lord who must do the real work in their little hearts. Your post is one of humility and truth and I pray the Lord will use it for His glory. Thanks you.

Traci
Reply March 5, 2010

I can TOTALLY relate to this! I've been married for 5 years to my soul mate. We were "virgins" when we got married, but we definitely danced too close to the line. I would say that we lost the specialness of our wedding night, because of each "touch" that should have been waited to be shared, until that night. God's grace is so good, and he forgives and restores. BUT we definitely need to be warning young women of the dangers of this! Great post!

deidra
Reply March 5, 2010

This post. Honest and beautiful.

I wonder if there are some who read this today and think that (since they crossed the line instead of just dancing too close) there's no hope for them.

I just want to say there's hope.

I crossed the line. First I flirted with it. Then I danced right up to the line. And then I crossed it. And I knew very well that there was a line.

And when I tell my (now) adult son and teen-aged daughter about that line and how it happened that I crossed it (even though I knew I shouldn't) and how not to cross it, and why...I speak from experience.

And I am honest about what I lost and how God restored and redeemed me and my loss. And how long it took to press through it to find beauty in my marriage today.

And how God loved me - loves me still - all the way...

SETH - A GUY
Reply March 5, 2010

A guy's perspective:

To some degree, I agree with Sarah Mae. There are things that must be *done* in order for a young lady to protect herself.

I think it is important that single ladies (and our daughters) understand that there is a very distinct difference between how the two sexes think about intimacy. In fact, I doubt that you will ever hear a single man talking about "intimacy," because frankly, that's not what it is about (an over generalization, I know). And, as willing as a man may be to respect and maintain purity, the flesh... well, we all know about it.

I think a frank discussion with children is important. But, writing this to a single lady, I would say "help us help ourselves." You can *do* certain things to help us keep temptation at bay, which will effectively help you keep temptation at bay.

First, realize that for a man, the desire is fire and it may or may not have anything to do with "love" or "intimacy." Dress and act accordingly.

Second, have frank discussions about boundaries, and tell your dating partner "no" before you are in an intimate moment. Explain where the cutoff will be. Realize that if you walk a gent up to the line, he is going to jump a large percentage of the time. That's just who we are. We don't mean to be. I promise.

Third, don't assume that the guy knows what you are thinking. Don't assume that he knows you *want* to stop, or that you want to back away from the line. I have been married 10 years. I rarely know what Amber's thinking if she doesn't tell me. Maybe one day I'll figure this woman thing out, but unfortunately, that day 'aint today.

Fourth, listen to Sarah Mae. Live counter-culturally. Whatever that means, figure it out.

Finally, understand that the heart issue must also be addressed. The rules cannot and will not save you. If you abide by the rule, but your heart is still corrupt, you have crossed the line. Also know that if you have crossed the line, you can repent and there is plenty of grace to wash over a multitude of things. Relationships can be restored, and your story can be inspiration for another.

That's just a few cents from a guy.

bekah
Reply March 5, 2010

so break it down for me wise sister.
how do you date, how do you learn another, how do you set yourself up for success? how do you learn to dance but dance in a room, in circles and not near the lines....
its easy to hear: 'live counter culturally" but, uh...how do you do that?

bekah
Reply March 5, 2010

ps: brooke and amber....thank you for sharing.
honestly.
its just hard, you know? of course, you know.
i'm not dating anyone, but if i was, if i was engaged...oh, i'd want to kiss him. but i want even more to have those special things when we say "i do."

Amber
Reply March 5, 2010

Bekah, yes! I mean, Dang. It's hard. I'm not even sure that some good rules will save you. Passion is passion is fire is blinders is bits is straight jacket is too hard not to play.

That didn't make sense, but it means that once you know, really know, like Seth and I did, I suggest space or never being alone. I'm serious that Seth and I just couldn't be alone or we were trouble.

He actually had to move to a different state for us to maintain any sort of purity. That's not the easy way, but it's one way - the way I know. But the truth about that is that is wasn't a change in heart. We were so immature and weak. It would have been nice to have accountability and to have loving adults watching over us, shepherding us.

Bekah, all the single ladies, do you have shepherds in your life, in your real life, not online?

Sarah Mae
Reply March 5, 2010

Bekah - it is just so hard.

More self-discipline then anyone on their own can muster.

Only Jesus.

Mandy
Reply March 5, 2010

Brooke, thank you so much for your boldness and honesty. As one who also danced far too close to the "line", I can value your warnings and admonitions to others! Thank you for sharing your heart!

brittney
Reply March 5, 2010

Oh, this post is so bittersweet! It seems as if so many (including myself) have been here, but it hurts to share in sin.

I agree with Sarah Mae, but it can be so scary to think ahead to what and how we will share "why" with our children. I know where I was failed, and I don't want to fail my children. I thank God for His graciousness and mercy with my husband and myself in opening our eyes to our sin-pasts (and presents) and look forward to leaning on Him and His strength FULLY to protect our children in the future.

brittney
Reply March 5, 2010

PS Bekah, this probably sounds so old-world, but courting is so much a better decision than dating. (In my opinion.) My husband and I heard about it in real-world instances after we had been married months, and we ached wondering why it wasn't revealed to us sooner. A good resource we found for courtship is a preacher named Paul Washer. God can us him to rock your world in more than just the courtship learning, if you'll have it.

bekah
Reply March 5, 2010

amber, no :(
since moving across the ocean that is a major prayer request of my heart...
and it made sense. i feel like i need to 'arm myself' now...before anything happens, or could happen, or i'd want to happen...
brittney...how would you define courting? what is the difference to you? i'm very familiar with courting being originally from lancaster country but everyone sees it differently. i'm gonna look into paul, thanks!

Amber
Reply March 5, 2010

I think the one of the biggest counter cultural moves we can make is to place ourselves under the authority of wise council. It take purpose, intention, prayer, and all humility. This is another reason why finding community is so important. Nowadays, you have to seek for community.

So I'm praying now for you Bekah that God would grant you intimacy with Him and community within the body.

brooke
Reply March 5, 2010

Hey guys! I havge so much I want to say but I'm having trouble with my internet! Using my phone now...as soon as I get hooked up I'll join in. Such good stuff.

Brooke
Reply March 5, 2010

Whew! Ok. I'm on now...
First of all...wow! What an amazing thing God is doing here today. men, women, married, single...i love it! thanks again Amber for letting me be a part of it.

to my sweet husband: you are so full of grace...so much more than I. I love you so much!

to any of the single ladies out there: My husband and i dated for almost 4 years before we got married. I have never in my life felt such an overwhelming attraction for another person. He kissed me and i would lose my mind...literally lose my ability to think or know where i was. I had never experienced such a loss of control as I did with him and while it was wild, and wonderful and sexy beyond belief it was also scary. I needed him to protect me from me.

key #1 Don't even date (or court) a man who doesn't desire to protect you from sin. Look at his heart (if you're practicing courtship you may already have an idea about his character from getting to know him and his family in church or other venues). Does he have a protective spirit? Does he demonstrate a serious love for Jesus? A man who cannot submit to Jesus will not be able to protect you...no matter how hard he wants to or tries.

We were actually apart from each other during our dating time more than we were together. I was in grad school 2 hours away during the week and I was being covered in prayer and Godly counsel while there. When I was home for the weekends we had to get creative. Our families trusted us too much and so we had to come up with some ways to tell each other STOP. one funny way we did this was by wearing a rubber band around our wrists. if one of us thought things needed to stop or that the other was going too far we would reach over and snap the rubber band. it's sting wasn't overly painful, but it was enough to pull us out of the fog and give us that momentary "way out.' We also had family members (my husband's brothers and their wives) who lived nearby. early in our relationship they gave us an open door policy to their homes. Anytime we needed to we could just walk in and hang out...they didn't ask questions...just welcomed us into their homes and provided a safe haven.

tip #2 This has been mentioned before and i think it's critical. Find accountability with someone IRL. Ask for the open door policy or commit to never being alone if that's what it takes. Take this seriously...move to another state like Seth did. Jesus said to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand if necessary to avoid sin. That's how important this is. Also consider this: God tells us to run from sin (the line)...turn the other way and run as far and as fast as we can from it...not dance right around it...not stick a toe over the line to see if we'll get hurt.

I love how Seth said this was a matter of the heart. Ladies (& gents) part of what kept me going was that decision i made, and referenced in my post, to love God more than i loved my sin...or my boyfriend. Sin is enticing, deceptive, alluring...and sex feels so right in the moment. connecting with another who loves you in this way can be amazing and can make you feel like you're more mature and committed to each other. God designed you for sex with your mate. But we have to choose to be allured by Him more than we are allured by sin. Our love for Him and our commitment to pursuing Him must capture our hearts more than any other person. Sarah Mae said "it's only Jesus." She's right. Keep your eyes and heart firmly planted on Him.

tip #3 Love God more.

You also may want to read the book "I kissed Dating Goodbye," by Josh Harris...also a good one on courtship.

one other thing...parents i believe we have to be real with our kids and tell them where we sinned...prayerfully and when God tells us to. They can learn from the consequences of our sin. Don't believe the lie that says you have no right to tell them not to do the things you did.

And be overprotective. looking back, as protective as my parents were of me, I wish they had been even more so. if they had trusted me less I might not have even had the opportunity to make the choices i did.

Ok...there's my book. :-)

Sarah Mae
Reply March 5, 2010

Bekah (and anyone interested) - check out

Boy Meets Girl, Say Hello to Courtship by Joshua Harris

and

7 Biblical Truths Violated by Christian Dating http://www.visionforum.com/search/productdetail.aspx?search=dating&productid=20754
(notice you can also get it as a digital download). That sermon rocked my world and really challenged my husband and I- I HIGHLY recommend it!

:)

Stacy
Reply March 5, 2010

Wow...my heart kind of hurts just reading this. It is so my story. Dancing way too close to the line...little by little so that I didn't even know how much we were giving away. Though we did get married, something was lost. But God renews...restores...redeems. I look at my three little girls and pray for the right words...words that will protect them from themselves.

Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms
Reply March 5, 2010

Brooke,
Thank you for this tender, honest post. I love your heart.

If only I could have read something like this in my teenaged/early 20 years, it would have been such an encouragement to not dance up to and cross the line. Thank you for following His prompting to minister to these precious young girls in this way!

I want to also encourage these young women to surround yourself with godly girls who can strengthen your faith and hold you accountable when you fear the line is less distant. I also love Seth's advice about frank discussions early in a relationship. You can't cross a line that isn't right in front of you.

So thankful for God's grace (and as Deidra says) His hope that springs eternal!

Jenny
Reply March 5, 2010

one of life's biggest regrets this topic.... oh how it is dear to my heart. I have always said that although I'm know I'm not where God wants me to be, I thank him that I'm not where I used to be!

Erin
Reply March 5, 2010

What an amazing, honest discussion going on here.

We just finished a purity month with our youth group - do this every February - and had an adult sponsor talk on this very thing.

Young girls need to hear us being real. Yes, I want them to know that I was a virgin when I got married, but they REALLY need us to tell them about the times we slipped up, what caused it, how we handled it, and the "way out" that God provides. We're not preaching at them - we're sharing our struggles - relating to them.

This is a wonderful series - thank you to Amber and Brooke for pouring into the lives of young women!!!

melissa @ the inspired room
Reply March 5, 2010

Excellent topic here today!

Best books I ever read and gave to my girls. I LOVE these books. Check out the website.

http://setapartlife.com/SAL_Home.html

My oldest is married now but when they were dating, her boyfriend called her dad before every date. Yes, every date. He made plans for their evening so there was never any question where they would be or what they would do. He met with my husband regularly for discipleship.

Some might call that overkill, but we knew that if they weren't willing to set boundaries, they would be at risk for lifelong consequences. Their wedding day was one of the happiest days ever, because they had honored us and honored God by their actions!

Real Life Sarah
Reply March 5, 2010

Brooke, thank you so much for writing this, and thank Amber for hosting you. I can relate whole-heartedly to your story, but for me, it was years of living a sinful lifestyle. I so wanted to be loved, and to love- to fulfill that purpose. But the world told me that love was equal to sex. I believed it, all the while feeling emptier and emptier.

When God saved me out of that life, that hopelessness, he gave me such a strong will to only accept one who would protect me from that sin. One who viewed me as His daughter, a princess. After several "dates" you might say, with men who did not share my belief, I was amazed to find that I was not falling for the compromise. I KNEW what God had called me to. It was empowering!

Finally, God sent me the ONE he had chosen for me. My husband and I went through a 4-month (yes, short) engagement without kissing. Our first kiss was on our wedding day. There's nothing more empowering than being faithful to what God has called me to!

If we really want to empower our daughters, we'll teach them the incredible value they are to us and to God. And to guard that precious gift above all else!

Love you , Brooke!

melissa @ the inspired room
Reply March 5, 2010

oh, this might be even a better link ... http://setapartgirl.com/home.html

The books are by Eric and Leslie Ludy.

Sara Sophia
Reply March 5, 2010

To those who feel they've crossed the line
---or scrubbed it away entirely with a giant pink eraser--
there is nothing unsalvageable to Grace.
No broken beyond repair.
No end credits.

Today--all things are new.

To those who are struggling with the question of how to raise up sons and daughters to go against the grain....

May I offer the opinion of someone who actually DID the whole "courting" bit? Who grew up on planet "Counter Culture"?

****Those kind of things work.****

I married my husband...the only boy I've ever kissed....ten years ago this September. My Mum--even while a single parent herself--set the stage for leading of the Spirit, and a willingness to only consider the man God placed in my heart.
I am so grateful for that.
So, so, grateful.

We didn't have the perfect, austere courtship---but we knew we were meant for each other in the SPIRIT before we knew it in the FLESH.
And I think therein lies the most truth.

We were virgins on our wedding night---and yes, that is wonderful to say now. But so many of our friends thought we were out of our minds---asking me why I wanted to marry "the first one that came along".

So, Sarah Mae is right. The only answer IS to live counter-culturally.
No one will understand it, but if you can give that truth to your children it will change everything for them.

And Seth, its true you have to draw the line dark on the asphalt. In fact, take your piece of chalk--bear down hard--and go over it again and again. One of the first things I ever told Wolf was that we were not kissing until our wedding day (oh idyllic ideals of mine). I was 17 and we made it three months before our first kiss under a starry sky. It was magical and perfect and the sign that we should definitely begin planning a wedding post-haste.

Sometimes extraordinary measures are the only measures;)
Wise counsel makes it easier.
Striving for that "set-apart life" makes it easier.
And really not caring if people think you are from another planet.

We kind of are<3

Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms
Reply March 5, 2010

Thanks, Melissa, for those book suggestions. Am checking them out now!

Nish
Reply March 5, 2010

I totally agree with everything posted here. There's so much that I wish I had done (or not done) back when my husband and I were just dating.

I knew there was a line, and like Seth said... I also knew that if I got close to the line, my husband would jump. I knew the power I had as a woman, but I chose to ignore it to satisfy what I thought I wanted. As it turns out, it wasn't what I wanted at all.

Looking back, I'm not sure that all the willpower in the world would have saved us from that fateful moment, but I am absolutely sure that a greater intimacy with Christ WOULD have. That's where we dropped the ball and that's the true heart of the matter. We were not focused on Christ.

Just like Peter getting out of the boat to walk on water... he probably would have been fine if he kept his eyes on Jesus, but he looked down & started to sink. I realize now that I would have been a lot safer if my eyes were focused on Him.

To Think Is To Create
Reply March 5, 2010

I love this discussion, you mean it for young women but it's healing for me as a young woman who crossed the line, and helps me as a mama learning how to grow her wee ones.

I think I must write you a post, Amb.

Danielle
Reply March 5, 2010

Great post! By God's grace I never "danced too close to the line" as far as sexual purity went, for many reasons, to my future husband or anyone else. It truly was God's grace, I can boast only in that, not myself.

One of the reasons is something Brooke brings up in Key #1:
"Don’t even date (or court) a man who doesn’t desire to protect you from sin. Look at his heart (if you’re practicing courtship you may already have an idea about his character from getting to know him and his family in church or other venues). Does he have a protective spirit? Does he demonstrate a serious love for Jesus?"

Amen! The fact that it was my husband who was the one who led in the conviction that we didn't kiss until our wedding day, for example, sent a signal to me that he was the kind of guy worth waiting for. Someone who put God first. And after almost 6 years of marriage and living day in and day out with him, I can say that he still puts God first and that the decisions made during our courtship to protect our purity represented His heart for God in every area.

So girls, look for a guy who puts GOD over everything else!

Jessica
Reply March 5, 2010

Wow, Brooke! Thanks for your honesty and sharing your heart. When my husband and I were dating we had defined boundaries, but even then there were times we got too close to the line.

Bekah - It is hard, but the really great things never come easy.

I definitely echo what others have already said...accountability is a must! Also having a plan of what you're going to do (and for how long) helps to keep the line at bay. Another thing my husband and I did was to hang out with married couples we knew...you can't get too personal with an audience, but you can still get to know each other. A friend of mine used to tell our youth, "Nothing good happens after 10 o'clock!" That can be very true.

But like a few have said, there's an underlying issue of the heart. Do we desire God's ways over our own? Do we entice our man with what he cannot & should not yet have? Are we humble enough to admit to ourselves and others our weaknesses? Do we understand why God has ordained things the way he does?

Oh, and Paul Washer will definitely challenge the way you think!

Carol
Reply March 5, 2010

I'm hearing so many people say they crossed the line and they are sorry and there was "something" missing on their wedding night. What do you think would have been different if you had not danced too close to the line? What was not there? What are hoping your daughters experience that you didn't? Is this about your relationship with your husband or your relationship with God?

    Amber
    Reply March 5, 2010

    Carol, I'm checking in before bed, and your questions rock, and I could write a book but fear that now isn't the time. Forgive me as I wait until the morning to respond. Seriously, I've been waiting for your voice here.

    I know this courtship / purity business doesn't make sense to most; the courtship thing is almost foreign to me. It's funny sometimes how we often speak code and assume others have our same framework.

    Give me till the morning, and thank you for the questions.

Elizabeth (@claritychaos)
Reply March 6, 2010

I may email you my two cents because I think I may come from a slightly different place, may be slightly outside this community? And I don't want to muddy a message you're trying to convey to younger women. But I wonder how solid is the biblical basis for these lines that are drawn? And are you all drawing your lines in the same places? Or are you agreeing that different couples (people) can draw lines in different places?

Basically, I am wondering about the intention of what is offered as guidance or instruction in the Bible - is a state-recognized legal document of a marriage certificate what is important? What allows you to seal the deal? Or is it the commitment? Not arguing here, just asking questions.

Carol
Reply March 6, 2010

Elizabeth,
I would like very much for you to muddy the waters, from the perspective of one trying to learn. I think it's important to get input from all views, of course, all biblically, truth based views. I'd love to hear your thoughts publicly.

Crystal
Reply March 6, 2010

{Sorry this is sooo long!}
Wow, this is a great discussion, and I'm not surprised at all that God led me to it today. This is the first time I've even seen your site. I'm doing some research today, as my passion is for purity and I'm putting a few things together for a project about it. I disciple young college ladies at Miss State and have {and still do} led youth group purity retreats. So, I'm really excited I found this! :)
Anyway, I think all the input is wonderful and I want to see if I can *briefly* (ha) share my thoughts....
First, I crossed the line....I wasn't in love with Jesus then and I was looking for love, excuse me, what I thought was love.
Several guys later and a new love for Jesus, God put an insanely wonderful and Godly man in my life, my husband, Matt. He had not crossed the line, but did dance a little close. He taught me what LOVE is, he helped me heal from the hurt and pain of my past. He was God's gift of grace and redemption to me.

Carol - this is where I'd like to answer you a little - and this is how it affected my relationship with my husband:
On our wedding night, and even still, there was an innocence lost, there was no ignorance. My view of sex had been tainted from other guys and what I learned from our culture...things I wish I wasn't exposed to. God has healed me a lot, but there are still memories. I wish I could never think of anything from my past except time with my husband. Some of the shame from before my marriage has held me back in my marriage bed. The things that I used to feel shameful about still had a "shameful" image in my mind and I had to work to Believe that they were right and pure in the marriage bed. That's just a little bit of what was lost and what I hope to be different for my girls.
As for how it could relate to my relationship with God.....
Sin with your body is different from sin outside your body. My body is the temple of God, and I find it interesting that the only time we see Jesus REALLY angry in scripture is when people were misusing His Father's temple. He was angry and overturned tables.
I don't want to send the wrong message, He does forgive, obviously, but His temple is Holy! What pleasure I could have had on my wedding night towards God if I would have loved Him, been obedient to Him and held sex in marriage as a highly valued thing like He intended. There was just a pleasure and joy missing. Of course, I was forgiven, but I wish that I would have loved God first and the pleasure of obedience.
We now have two little girls, who I hope to teach a life of purity to......and who I will live counter-culturally with, and say "yes" to God and "no" to our culture.
Almost, every college girl I disciple now has a question or struggle with this.
The question "how far is too far?" just sounds ridiculous. It's a selfish question. Instead, it should be "how pure can I be?" I didn't come up with that, but an older girl told me that when I was dating my husband and it stuck with me. I could go into lots more details about it, but I'd be here all night!
ALL the tips above are so great! And, something I think we have to get over.....we girls like to "play house." We like to lay cuddled up and watch a movie, or we like to be alone in the house with our man for whatever "harmless" reason, etc. But, seriously, we just have to get over the things that seem normal or harmless....they may be harmless in themselves, but they have potential to lead to far worse!!! I don't want to be technical or legalistic....but, Matt and I just had to draw the line and say, ok, we need to stay in public! I HATED it! It seemed ridiculous. But, until we start listening to God and not the culture, we're going to try and justify every little thing we can!
Ok, I'll shut up now! I'm sorry, I could just go on and on!

Tamara
Reply March 7, 2010

I am someone who did not wait for marriage, although I was taught and believed that I should. I have daughters... and as a lover of Jesus, I have spent a good bit of time thinking about what to say to them about this. I lived with a lot of guilt and shame for a lot of years because of the choices I made. I was in a community that told me in words that I was dirty and unworthy because of those choices. I could be forgiven by God, but I would forever and always be tarnished goods. I was rejected in relationships because of those choices. It took God a lot of years to free me from those judgments, from all the wages of my sin that had to be paid, and also from the things that led me to that place of sin to begin with. But He did free me from them, and in fact He has used them for good. So I guess, looking back some 20 years later on the girl I was, what I most want my daughters to know is that it is really not actually the end of all things holy, to give your virginity too soon, or to the wrong person. Your sexuality is not the most sacred part of who you are, and sex is not the most intimate you can be in a marriage. There are deeper intimacies, and there is deeper value to you than what you do with your body. It is not God's best to have sex before marriage, and there are lots and lots of good reasons why it is not God's best for you, but it doesn't 'soil' you. You as a person do not become dirty, 'impure' or 'defiled' by the act of having sex with someone. This is such hurtful language... I so wish we could do away with it.

Our bodies are not a sacrifice to be saved and served up, pure and unblemished, as an offering to some future potential husband. Sexual innocence is a gift God wants to give to each of us for our own blessing. Absolutely, you give away something when you give yourself to a person. I deeply regret that I uncovered myself for men who are nothing more than strangers to me now. But the loss is truly mine, not my husband's. Maybe it matters whether or not you are 'equally yoked' in this regard? My husband was not a virgin either; we did not enter into marriage feeling we owned each other's past, or that we had 'robbed' each other of something that had somehow belonged to the other, and blessedly neither had to wear the sash of shame at not having demonstrated appropriate levels of strength of character, of self-control or selfless love in our pre-married lives. When I think of all the things love and marriage has brought to us over the last few decades, I really can't imagine ever sitting back and thinking, 'Hey, babe, you know what would have been really nice? Gosh, I wish you'd been a virgin when I married you.' Maybe in some sentimental way, that would have been nice, but in the grander scheme of things, it just simply hasn't ever mattered. We both love God deeply, and we fully understand that there simply is no purity outside of His blood. We receive grace with open wide arms. We came into our marriage pure, not because of our own ability to demonstrate self-control, but because God made us that way through the power of redemption and forgiveness.

Amber
Reply March 7, 2010

Tamara! Your comment is absolutely gorgeous and rings so true to me. Thank you a million times for it. I love it because the focus is GOD, and doesn't He restore so well?

Elizabeth, please never hesitate to bring your ideas here. I'm serious. THis is my blog, and I say COME, BRING QUESTIONS. You're allowed to disagree here. THis is not the cool club for good CHristian girls. It's a place for us to point to God - not a place to divy out rules and ask for initiation fees.

I love how Chrystal encouraged us to ask how we can present ourselves to GOD as pure. Ah, only through faith in Christ.

The rules have always been there to bring judgment on us when we break them, and Christ? He is all about FREEDOM. Though the Law was good and righteous and God-given, Christ came to demolish condemnation that came through the LAW, which, by the way, could never be followed by us. That's why Christ came. He fulfills LAW and brings the Law of LOVE.

SO what does Freedom in Christ look like in reference to sex, especially sex before marriage? Freedom doesn't mean that we go about giving ourselves away to every yummy thing that crosses our paths. We don't sit and eat honey all day. That's not freedom. It's enslavement.

The thing about sex is that it is so yummy. When it was made, He made it for good. It is clean. It is celebration of love. It is our metaphor for prayer. It is metaphor for unity. It was absolutely made to reflect our relationship with Christ, He, our ONE and only. All love relationships outside of Him are idolatry. They are the intermingling of spirits.

This may sound so hokey pokey, but if we're going to bring Jesus into it, and we are, then we are talking about the SPIRIT. Jesus did not come with a crown on His head to save our physical bodies from pain. On the contrary, we endure pain and discomfort, deny our bodies, so that our souls have freedom here and now and in eternity, to live free from the fear of death and free from eternal consequence of sin.

Our souls cannot bear the weight of sin, and we don't have the capacity outside of Christ to do away with sin.

The law that says DO NOT HAVE SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE is one we cannot purely follow. If we do it with our minds, we've broken the law. Only by the power of Holy Spirit can we intermingle with God and be satisfied with Him. People aren't strong enough. GOd does all the work. We submit our bodies to Him, and our spirits live satisfied in His communion. We take His yoke, and we find peace.

There is no convincing law but the law of LOVE that we first experience from GOD. Then and only then, when we realize His great love for us, can we find the satisfaction that we think we'll find in sex. Even sex within marriage isn't wholly pure. We do the best we can.

These impurity issues don't stop when you say, "I do."

Elizabeth (@claritychaos)
Reply March 7, 2010

Just briefly - because life is whirring on around my ankles at the moment - I would ask, in the context it was written in the Bible (I don't even know who actually wrote it) - what is meant by 'sex' and what is meant by 'marriage'? This is what I was getting at by asking what was the original intent of the law/guidance/instruction? And can a couple have sex before they have a signed marriage certificate in hand without violating that rule? Can a couple who doesn't have full-fledged sex before they're married still be breaking this rule? I think so many Christian kids get hung up on the letter of the law and miss the intent. I've also seen friends who waited (due to shame, guilt, trying to follow the law) have major issues in allowing themselves to shift perspective once they're married. Major sexual problems in their marriage because sex was always feared and associated with shame and guilt and something to stay away from.

Samantha
Reply March 7, 2010

Thank you so much for sharing!

As a single woman in her early twenties, it is so good to hear these things from women who have gone before me, women who have families and children.

I signed a commitment in high school to remain pure until marriage. At the time I took the commitment seriously, but didn't realize how dominant the pressures for physical-ness would present itself in college and post-college life, and how REAL that decision to remain pure would become.

With that being so, I was always aware of my black-and-white choice to not have sex until marriage. But all of the other black-and-white things leading up to sex slowly, but surely, became gray. I realized the choices I made, even as I made them, to allow these things to become gray, because I wanted to experience them. I chose experience over God.

Thankfully, and humbly, I realized that this truly was a road too slick and slippery to try and inch my way down without loosing my grip. You simply cannot leave your limits in your own hands.

It has been a special time of healing and reevaluation with the Lord. The choices I made were fruits of unchecked sins buried in my heart, the result of meandering away from His Word because I thought I knew enough of it to have to dig deep every single day. Such pride and such foolishness!! We have no good on our own apart from Him, even in our "saintliest" of times!

All of that to say, as a single women, it is so good to hear the testimonies of married women and the consequences of their choices even years into the marriage. It is SO healthy and refreshing to hear honest responses to even having come close to the line, and how those choices are still being felt years into marriage. I want, so badly, to experience a God-fearing marriage and to raise my children to know and fear the Lord. Thank you for speaking up on the matter, because it is a light to younger women!

Danielle
Reply March 7, 2010

You know, a really great book title I'd like to throw out there that touches on a lot of this discussion is "Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity" by Lauren Winner. Anybody else read it? Just thought I'd throw that out.

Great discussion! I like what Crystal has to say about instead of asking “how far is too far?” to ask “how pure can I be?” That can be a question to ask in so many areas to our lives!

Crystal
Reply March 7, 2010

At first I didn't know how to identify with Tamara's comment because sex before marriage seemingly affected us in different ways. Then I realized her points are still very good....
My sin before marriage didn't make me any more or less sinful than I already was.....or less holy in God's eyes. We are sinful either way.....in our flesh. Yet, in our identity in Christ, we are Holy, no matter what. "What I struggle with (sin in the flesh) and Who I am (identity in Christ) are NOT the same thing."
The "defiled, dirty, and impure" are Satan's lies he throws at us just to make it worse and harder than it already was! I am not in bondage to those things, I am Free in Christ.

Also, like she said, my husband had grace on me (like anyone should) and he didn't feel that I robbed him of anything. It more just affected me personally.
I will always regret for myself and wish that I came to the marriage with that innocence (even though God has truly taken good from it) because all the distrust, the emotional pain, all that stuff that actually landed me there in the first place and then turned around and made all of it worse afterwards.....that is what mattered more than just my wedding night, or my marriage bed. The long lasting natural consequences of my sin were so hard to work through. I do really wish I had come to the marriage not crossing that -physical line- (because yes, like Amber said, we probably all fail in our hearts at some point!). It's not that sex outside of marriage is the worst thing you could ever do, but it DOES have some more drastic consequences than some other sin.

And, yes sexual innocence is a gift He wants to give us, but it's so much more than that, too. And this also goes in reference to Elizabeth's question about a marriage certificate. God is SO serious when he talks about us becoming one in marriage.....and all the times I see that talked about is through becoming one in sex. Then Paul goes on each time to talk about when and when not to divorce, etc. because sex has UNITED you with that person....that is your covenant....and talks about when that covenant has been broken or died. It's so much more in God's eyes than we can even imagine, I think. Plus, it's even chemical....the same "bonding" chemical is released during a woman's orgasm (more so in her First one) and when she breastfeeds. The non-technical name :) is the "Love Hormone."
There's such a significance to it (and a parallel to our relationship with Him) that He only wants us to be with One other. (I haven't researched that enough to know the answers about that sex vs marriage certificate, but I have been wondering about those details myself lately as I have been asked, Elizabeth) So, all that to say, to me, it was much more than just not having that innocence like I talked about in my first comment.

Last thing - like Amber said about it starting in our hearts....do we realize what responsibility this gives us to our brothers in Christ? I know we are capable to sin in our hearts like this too, but they are often more tempted to lust. So, "a hint of sexual immorality" may have started as an idea in a guys mind because of what he saw when he looked at US....what we were wearing or doing. Now, I know it can start from many other things too, but there are still times when our clothes can lead a guy to lust. What responsibility that puts on me!!! I've thought of myself as a pretty modest dresser in the last several years, but I think I can even do much better!!

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply March 7, 2010

Hi guys, I appreciate your honestly and I'm thrilled that we can be so open and honest on Amber's blog. What a wonderful, safe place for these discussions to happen.

Just a few things to add...

Amber's right when she talks about the state of our hearts. The only thing that turned me around, gave me the strength and vision to obey God was falling more deeply in love with Jesus. I wonder sometimes if we're doing a good job of showing our young ladies (and men) what it means to bind the word of God to our doorposts and talk about Him when we're lying down and awake...showing them what it means to be IN LOVE with Jesus more than we're in love with the things of the world. One of the things I stopped doing around the time that God changed my heart was listening to top 40s music. It just dawned on me that most of the time, the love that was hailed there wasn't real love...and therefore not the kind of love I wanted to fill my heart with. I also stopped reading romance novels...because they filled me with a desire that I couldn't fulfill. I see so many young girls completely obsessed by boys as young as 10 now...and it just breaks my heart. I don't have girls, but even so, I pray that my boys will love Jesus more than they love girls...and that their father and I will be the ones to demonstrate that to them daily. Our hearts are ALWAYS what God is after. One goal should be teach our children what being in love with Jesus looks like. Because that's the only thing that can save them. Why is He worth the sacrifice? We must show them this with our lives.

And there is a difference between shame and regret. When Jesus cleansed me he also took away my condemnation. I am no longer guilty of that sin before God...He looks at me and sees the glorious beauty and righteousness of His Son. But there are consequences to sin. I regret with every fiber of my being that I did not obey and honor God and my future husband in this area. I too have memories of moments STOLEN with another man...a song can bring them back in a heartbeat...and I wish they would go away. I wish I could look at that other man and not remember the unholy alliance that was made. I wish my sweet husband's lips had been the only ones to have ever touched mine. I offended God with my sin...and I am ashamed. But I am not guilty anymore. His blood washed me clean. But the blood doesn't wash away consequences.

The main point I would like to make is about the line itself. "Dancing too close to the line" is a metaphor...just a way of communicating that helps everyone nod their head and go "uh-huh...I've been there." But in reality...the line shouldn't even exist...at least in our hearts. The Bible tells us to flee sexual immorality. It doesn't name specific sexual sins here or talk about "how far is too far?" It simply says, "flee sexual immorality." To me that means that while I'm loving God with all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength (the best I can in the strength of His Son)...loving Him MORE than my sin...I should be running as fast as I can AWAY from sexual immorality. That's it. Don't worry about how far is too far. Just run hard, run fast, but not just for purity's sake. Run into the arms of Jesus...He is the lover of your soul. With Him rests true love and protection. Don't worry about the line. Run to Jesus.

thegypsymama
Reply March 7, 2010

Gosh - where have I been? What a fantastic dialogue you have brewing here. It's been wonderfully rich to read through all the comments, digesting each slowly. I have all kinds of thoughts I need to ponder, but the one that seemed worth highlighting is my gratitude to Amber for pointing out the obvious - according to Jesus' definition - sex begins way before it gets physical. This should be a source of comfort and challenge. Comfort to those who feel like they failed physically and challenge to those who feel they have remained physically pure. Because, we all know that the mind is a tricky thing to tame. And we all have that battle in common. "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:23

We all come desperate for grace to the One we know doles it out in abundance.

Gosh, I wish I could just hug you all so tight right now and offer hot chocolate with the little tiny marshmallows as we share these soul truths in such vulnerable, intimate honesty.

You are all so beautiful. All new creations in Our Father.

Thank you for sharing,

~Lisa-Jo

Misty
Reply March 8, 2010

Praise God for such a wonderful discussion! So much wisdom has been shared here. I couldn't possibly add to it.

Brooke, beautiful post to get us started.

Tamara, thank you for taking the time to articulate yourself so clearly. Your words really resonated with me so much and this has been my experiences as well. Just as God's love is deeper still, there are intimacies that are deeper still in our marriage. He restores not just a sense of purity, but intimacy as well. Purity is the means towards intimacy- with Christ, and with each other. But Christ made a way for us to experience that despite all our blemishes. Clinging to his salvation and grace is the only way. It is not that I don't have deep regrets- I do. But I also have such a sense of gratitude because only in my great ability to fall short to I find such extravagence in His grace and redeemption!

Elizabeth, I find this comment to be so true. "I think so many Christian kids get hung up on the letter of the law and miss the intent." In the same way, lots of Christians ask similar questions and I think that they are asking the wrong ones. It is so tempting to want God to give us more specific instructions but God knows us well enough to know that we would cling to the letter of the law rather than Him. There are pictures of that all throughout scripture. I think Brooke nailed it- if our pursuit is after intimacy with God, we are less likley to distort intimacies with each other. And I think you are right, it is very common for people to struggle with sex after marriage and to shift thoughts towards it being "okay" all of a sudden. But this is not a consequence of God's guidelines. It is a consequence of us once again clinging to the rules rather than Him. Again, are we asking the wrong questions? Like Amber said- purity and intimacy issues aren't resolved with a marriage certificate. If God is not at the center or our intimacies with each other, we will continue to struggle on both sides of the purity fence

Samantha- this is beautiful. "Thankfully, and humbly, I realized that this truly was a road too slick and slippery to try and inch my way down without loosing my grip. You simply cannot leave your limits in your own hands."

I think this message more than any other can be brought to our younger sisters. Too often I see that young women are left to figure this out alone, and often after the fact. My heart beats the most wildly knowing that there are so many who need to experience the freedom to ask hard questions and get good answers from those of us who have walked the road ahead. I don't know about the rest of you, but as a young woman I so desperately longed for someone to walk alongside me and steer me in a different direction.

How do you look for opportunities to start these discussions with our own children and the other youth in our lives? It is not a rhetorical question- I would really love to feed off of your ideas!

Tamara
Reply March 8, 2010

My deepest desire for my children is that they love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind... that they love Him without fear, and with complete abandon. I desire nothing more for them than that they know to the very core of their being that they are loved with an everlasting love, by a God who is good good good. I pray for them to know who they are to Him, and to feel the weight and worth of His passion and grace every moment of their lives. But how do I explain that I had to be broken... shattered... to love Him like that?

Seth
Reply March 8, 2010

Amber,

I think Tamara's last comment deserves a whole post.

"But how do I explain that I had to be broken… shattered… to love Him like that?"

Isn't this the point of recognition of our depravity? Don't we have to be broken like this to realize we need a new heart? I'm not saying it takes broken purity, I'm just saying this is the fundamental realization needed before we can understand our need for redemption. And can we translate this to our children in a way that allows them to understand their depravity without losing their purity?

I'd sure like Hamster to come around for this part of the discussion.

Ari
Reply March 8, 2010

I know what it is to dance right up to the line. And I know what it is in fit of selfishness to jump over it. This post and these comments are so encouraging and convicting at the same time. I am currently single and I have had to come to terms with the fact that it has a lot to do with my emotional irresponsibilty and immaturity. I love what Seth said about if you dont want to cross the line but you still do that it still counts. Patience faith and trust have been so hard to learn when it comes to dating. I want what I want and I want it now and I get so far ahead of myself that I am willing to risk myself and my relationship with God. I know that He is begging me now to love Him before he will allow to love another sinner. I know that he is training my heart for something more wonderful than I could ever forcefully create out of my own flesh.

Thank you Amber for this post and for everyone who commented.

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply March 8, 2010

I agree with Seth...Tamara's post needs an entire post. I read it and thought, "wow...what an amazing question. I don't have a clue where to start." The only thing I have to add right now is what I'm doing with my own...but they're so little and really, we never know what will work until it does, right? I'm relying heavily on the fact that according to Ezekiel 36:26 it is God alone who turns hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. I know because of this that all the "right" things I do are just that...right and good. But they alone cannot turn my children's hearts to flesh. God alone does that...in His time...in His way. But I can try to make it easy for them to grasp it. At ages 2 and 4 the best I know to do right now is try to help them understand that they are little sinners. That they can't obey mommy, daddy and God Himself without calling on God for help and trusting that Jesus died so that they could be forgiven for their sins. I'm trying to create a worldview for them that says, "you can not do this by yourself." You have to have Jesus.

That's just a tiny little part of the answer...tiny...so tiny.

L.L. Barkat
Reply March 8, 2010

Just listening in... :)

keLi
Reply March 8, 2010

I'm coming late to this party, but I've been lingering over these comments. Carol's early questions, in particular, strike me, because I am the type whose toe itches to cross any line set before me. And so, in my selfishness and spiritual immaturity, I think my younger self always thought that the penalty for sexual impurity would be like other punishments I'd known: you're grounded for a week. no TV for you, young lady. say you're sorry for what you've done.

But in reality ... the impurity is the symptom, not the disease. I don't think God was sitting on High with a tally sheet, checking a box with every successive "rounding the bases" metaphor for the choices I made. Instead, I know now that the choosing revealed something about my innermost self that has continued to be true on the greener side of the marriage bed pasture. That I crave the "honey" that Amber speaks of on a daily basis. That, left alone, I would eat that honey until it sickened me ... and then some.

Tim Keller often helps me get the dishes done, and a sermon I put on today is related to this discussion in an off-shoot sort of way. The link is here:

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/nakedness-holiness-god

and the scripture comes from Genesis 3 -- in the aftermath of the first woman who "danced too close to the line." Keller's words cut deep, especially when he challenges the idea that "naked and unashamed" (our pre-Fall condition) was about the physical body. Instead, he offers a picture of a vulnerability that only perfect intimacy can fulfill. To be "naked and unashamed" is to be known completely and loved unconditionally. No human is capable of this, but since my earliest little girl daydreams I have craved it ...

And it's this that is the real CONSEQUENCE of impurity ... for me, at least. Like Brooke said, there was a "sweetness," a trust, a capacity for intimacy that had been broken. Forgiven, absolutely, but broken. I came to the marriage bed clutching fig leaves around me, and it is taking God time to help my husband and I learn how to heal old scars and prevent new wounds.

I think all of my wishing and what-ifs about our pasts are both truth and fantasy ... it's impossible not to regret; it's perilous to carry shame. Eve's greatest happiness was before that tempting fruit, yet even in her sin, God redeemed.

Tamara
Reply March 8, 2010

KeLi, thankyou for saying those things. At the risk of saying more than my share, I guess what I want to express is that, for me, it was exactly the brokenness that made it all so beautiful after. It is the irony that I wrestle with... that I fell in love with Jesus, and that my greatest happiness, was 'after the fall'. That when I was broken open, what spilled out of my innermost self onto His feet was so unbelievably precious to Him... that it was to Him like the annointing before death. That, in fact, I could stand naked and unashamed before Him without fear or fig leaves and just say, Jesus, all I am and all I have is Yours... not because of my purity, but because of His purity, and the purity of His thoughts towards me. Because I trusted Him, and I trusted His faithfulness to me. Not because of who I am, but only because of who He is, and because of His all-consuming, unconditional, relentless, resurrection love.

Sin always has consequence... and I don't want to give the impression that I was unscathed, or that I wasn't very very sad for a long time. The Truth is that the good that God did in and for me was so much greater than the sin that I did against Him, that it completely overwhelmed it. He removed the name 'harlot' from me, and called me by a new name... and that name is 'Mine'. I want my daughters to know that God... not the one who looks on them as sinners, but the One who looks on them as beloved and wholly His. I would love for them to know that without first being laid low... but it is not a soul-journey I myself would trade now for anything.

Carol
Reply March 8, 2010

I posted some questions earlier and they were born out of some feelings I was having that I either couldn’t verbalize or was scared to, but then Danielle posted about a book that I googled and was able to find an excerpt of it.

In the article proposing chastity as a spiritual discipline, Lauren Winner says “Of course, premarital abstinence is different from fasting, because when you fast you know you will eat again. Premarital abstinence is different from keeping vigil, because during your vigil you can be confident that you will sleep again. Unmarried Christians have no guarantee that they will ever get married. They have no guarantee of licit sex. Thus to practice premarital chastity is at times to feel as if you are being forever forbidden the satisfaction of a normal appetite.”

That is exactly what I had been feeling. I have kept myself pure because I knew that is what God wanted, but as the years pass, I start wondering why I am doing this. I’m not 22 anymore thinking a couple of years of pre-marital abstinence is eternity. In comparison, I’ve lived eternity more than once and I still don’t have very good reasons for my abstinence except it’s the right thing to do. And it helps to look at chastity as a spiritual discipline instead of a rule, but it’s a hard pill to swallow that the rewards may not come in this lifetime, and again you start to wonder if it’s worth it? Especially when the offer is out there and it is enticing. And you wonder if it’s really so bad? Look how many have gone before you and come out the other side.

Then I start reading the posts about the state of hearts and how that is really what it’s all about and I realize that I do picture God up there with a clip board keeping score on what I am doing. I want to love Him first and most. But I think I’m one of the Christian kids that Elizabeth talks about that got hung up on the letter of the law and missed the intent. In a lot of places in my Christian life, not just this one. So loving a God that you’re kind of convinced doesn’t like you very much, and is keeping score, even though you know you’re saved by grace, is really hard. Trying to do what you think will please Him for the sake of pleasing Him is really hard. You start to forget the reasons or even wonder if you ever knew them.

A lot of people have posted if you’ve lost the battle in your mind, then you’ve crossed the line. If that’s the case, then I’ve crossed the line, and it’s ironic that I’ve done so without doing anything. In my striving to please Him, I’ve managed not to anyway.

I’m scared of Tamara’s question, wondering if I’m going to have to shatter to love Him the way I should? I don’t want to have to shatter, but I don’t think I can do this on my own. I like what Brooke says that you have to have Jesus, you can’t do it alone. I can’t even love Him enough alone. He has to give that to me as well.

I know this post is all over the board and may not make sense or even relate to anyone. It sounds like most of you have made a decision one way or another, at least physically. Of course, the heart condition is still out there for all of us. In the end, I’m choosing God and I hope I can start to believe He is choosing me.

Crystal
Reply March 9, 2010

Oh Carol, I so know how you feel. I can't even go into words to explain it, but please just know that I have been there....and still working to move on, and even though I don't know you I am praying for you. Thank you so much for sharing and being honest.
All of these posts are just amazing, challenging, and encouraging. Thank you all! Oh, and thanks for all the links and book suggestions, I'm saving them.

Heather
Reply March 9, 2010

Wow! Thank you for such a honest, open post. I really needed to hear this today - the Lord just KNEW it! My fiance and I have, by the Grace of God, made a commitment to wait for marriage. This is very difficult, (especially for him), for several reasons. One, we have both crossed the line before. And two, we do live together. We are in our late 20's, early 30's, he is a full time student and I work full time. We both realize our relationship is Divine, and are honoring and loving God by waiting for marriage. It has caused tension in our relationship, but this post helps me to see that my fiance and I must draw closer to Jesus and rest in His open arms.

Thank you all once again. I can't wait to share this with my fiance!

Sarah@BlueCastle
Reply March 13, 2010

Brooke, reading your post was a little like reading my own diary - had I actually kept one 11-12 years ago. Everything you wrote, I experienced. And I still fill the sting of shame. Still feel the need to hang my head. The guilt, the loss of a relationship, the beginning of "the one" and the way God knocked me over with conviction and the knowledge that if I continued on I would spoil the gift He had given me - I lived it all. So many regrets. But, even with tears rolling down my face I know I am forgiven and that the past has been blotted out by Jesus' blood. I am so thankful for His forgiveness, His grace, and His MERCY.

Theresa
Reply March 13, 2010

Sorry I am coming up on this discussion kind of late....... Kudos to all you ladies who have responded above! My response would be for Carol..... Well done for being open and honest. I admire your courage to articulate your thoughts and frustrations here. If you need more reasons why not to indulge I beg of you to place your desires at the Lord's feet. My testimony is one of dancing too close to the line in order to FEEL loved but never actually crossing it. When I would dance too close I would feel tremendous guilt and shame. It was SO not worth it because unrepentant sin separates us from the Lord. A Titus 2 woman at my church took us single ladies through the book called Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot right after I broke up with "GOOD Christian Guy #3" (said with EXTREME sarcasm)! After that study, I realized I didn't have to seek out love anymore. I no longer needed to date at all! I could allow God to bring my husband to me in His time. Prior to this I had 3 relationships where I thought I was going to marry that person. With each one physical intimacy was a chore because I knew I couldn't refuse to kiss and yet knew that the kiss had consequences. I was stuck because I didn't want to even take a step there but thought I had to....... When they were told to stop OR no, they did just short of violating me....... I thought it was the price for love. I was so relieved to be able to GIVE IN, not to the worlds ways but to Gods! I found freedom in saying NO to dating and YES to finding initmacy with the Lord INSTEAD. It was not easy and sometimes lonely when all I focused on was myself, but FINALLY I was not pressured. I was SAFE in God's protection. God was the keeper of my heart and I didn't have to give it to anyone else until HE directed me to! No more disappointment, no more testing the boundaries, no more broken heart, no more emotional rollercoasters! I will not LIE! It was not always blissfully delightful, however it was FREEDOM from temptation! For years I wondered when my time would come. It was when I became content with being single that God found it fitting to place a THE ONE in my path. At first I told God NO! That I was fine........ The man God told me was to be my hubby had a past. I made it clear to the Lord that HE had to be wrong! He had only been saved for 2 years. There were things that he had experienced in his past that I never even dreamed of. After 12 years of marriage I can guarentee you that I was wrong in my assumption!We courted until each one of us recieved confirmation from the Lord that we were to be married. We never were we alone together and what was said about after 10pm is so right on! What this looked like was we would meet up with friends for a group date or he would come over to my brothers house where we played board games as a family. This is quite effective as it is REAL LIFE accountability. When our emotiona/desires are clouded it helps to have people that are not starstruck in the room to give clarity! :o)
Carol this is the part that I want to speak to you...... others may read too but sorry ladies, here is where the truth gets a bit ugly. Because he had a past he had an undiagnosed STD when we married. It had gone un-noticed for several years into our marriage. Oh Carol, there is a reason WHY God desires you to be pure. It is for your protection emotionally, spiritually and physically. While there are many other worse STDs out there, this was a consequence of life before Jesus that now we both have to pay for. At first I was distraught to know that I had saved myself, a virgin bride to get an STD through marriage. However, there are consequences to sin that extend BEYOND our little world. We don't sin in a vaccuum. You may think that if you just give in just once to get an experience that it will be no big deal but I promise you this is a lie from Satan. He wants to rob, kill and destroy. Do not lose heart. He has an awesome plan for your life if you just chose to die to yourself and ask HIM to fill that void until it is time. Prayers for all you single ladies out there! If any of you have specific questions of the practical workings of coutship or dating under-supervision please give me a hollar!
jtmabpark@msn.com

Theresa

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