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Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure

Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure

Recently I heard from a girl who was struggling to remain pure. She had just started dating a guy long distance. After her first weekend visit, she wrote: The physical temptation is so real. Even the smallest thing will set off a wildfire in my heart. It’s a war I didn’t realize I would struggle with. I wish I had been more prepared to guard our hearts in the most heart-racing moments. I can relate.

My Rule-Making Strategy

Before Trevor and I married, we also dated long distance. I’ll never forget my first visit to spend time with him over Christmas. Unlike this girl above, I did anticipate that it would be tough physically. So I set a couple rules for myself before boarding the plane:

  1. No lying down horizontally.
  2. No kissing on the lips.

And while I technically didn’t break either of those rules on that first visit, I found myself flirting at the very edges of those boundaries, like a hummingbird hovering near sweet nectar.

I kept “the letter of the law” while ignoring “the spirit of the law.” I observed my literal rules but not the intent behind the rules: purity, so I might see and enjoy God (Matt. 5:8).

Don’t just run from sexual immorality, though. Run to Christ.

It was soon blazingly obvious: Rules weren’t going to do the trick of keeping me pure. For example, if I had set a boundary, “I won’t be in a bedroom with him with the door closed,” my flesh would surely have countered, “Okay, I’ll go to the garage instead.”

Pastor and theologian Gerald Hiestand describes this well when he writes, “Every ‘objective’ boundary can be worked around by sin-inspired creativity.”

Colossians 2:20–23 also explains that boundaries and rules aren’t enough to keep us from doing wrong. On our own, they’re not capable of getting to the root issue—they don’t deal a deathblow to our ungodly passions and desires.

What, then, is to be done?

Your Dating Strategy

First, as 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” Get your running shoes on and start sprinting like mad! Don’t just run from sexual immorality, though. Run to Christ.

  • Flee sexual immorality and fly to Christ, in whom every treasure is found.
  • Ask God to send His Spirit to help you see and despise your sin.
  • Be brutal with your sin. Don’t just exile it; cut its head off!

I’m not saying there is no place in dating for boundaries. But even if you do set rules, don’t rely on them alone to keep you pure. You aren’t strong enough to battle your ungodly passions in your own strength. Run to Christ. Only He is strong enough.

Be brutal with your sin. Don’t just exile it; cut its head off!

How about you? Have you set any rules or boundaries for yourself once you begin dating? If so, what will you do when your flesh doesn’t cooperate with your good intentions? Then what?

Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How to Tell if He’s a Christian

How to Tell if He’s a Christian

Sweet girl,

I hear a really nice guy has been showing you a lot of attention lately. I know you’ve gone on a couple dates, and you like him a lot. He’s told you he’s a Christian, but you’re not sure how strong he is in his faith.

Maybe he is a Christian; maybe he isn’t. I don’t know. But here are a few thing I do know . . .

Be on the lookout for the fruit of faith. Anyone can claim to be a Christian (just like anyone can claim to be an astrophysicist), but there should be evidence of Christ’s transformative work in His followers. James (Jesus’ brother) puts it like this:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14, 17, emphasis added).

Pay attention to how this guy lives. Is he living like a young man who has been redeemed from the slave block of sin? Or is he still living like a slave to sin (Rom. 6:15–23)? Put him to the test (1 John 4:1). I’ve included one below.

You shouldn’t have to wonder if this guy is a Christian or not. It should be obvious. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

No, he’s not going to be perfect. Yes, we’re all in process. But if he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

If he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

Trust me on this one. You don’t want someone who maybe, possibly, probably, hopefully is a Christian. One who just barely squeezes by. You want a thriving Christian. A white-hot Christian. A young man who is well on his way to being able to lead you spiritually.

So here are a few questions to ask about him, straight from 1 John:

  • Does he walk in “light,” or does he walk in “darkness” (1 John 1:6–7)?
  • Does he confess his sins, or does he claim not to have sin in his life (1 John 1:8–10)?
  • Does he keep God’s commandments, or does he live differently than Jesus lived (1 John 2:3–6)?
  • Does he love others, or does he hate others (1 John 2:9–11, 4:7–21)?
  • Does he love the Father, or does he love the world and the things in the world (1 John 2:15–17)?
  • Does he confess that Jesus is God, or does he deny that Jesus is God (1 John 2:22–23)?
  • Does he practice righteousness (1 John 2:29) or does he make a practice of sinning (1 John 3:4–10)?
  • Does he believe that Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, or does he not believe this (1 John 4:2–3)?
  • Does he have the Spirit of God? The Son of God? Or is he just doing life on his own (1 John 3:24; 4:12)?

If the majority of your answers were on the right side of the comma rather than the left, this guy is not for you, nice as he might seem. God is the treasure in this life—and in the life to come—and you will want a man who will consistently point you to this treasure . . . through his words and his life.

How about you? Are you currently dating or considering dating someone you have doubts about? Where does this post find you today? I’d love to hear from you.

How to Tell if He’s a Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

Note: A girl just emailed me asking for advice. “I’m falling in love with an atheist” she explained. The man she’s falling for just happens to be her dance partner, causing her to interact with him several times a week. Knowing that she’s not the only girl who has fallen for someone who doesn’t share her faith, she graciously agreed to let me share my response with you.

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