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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. 

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

As a thirty-two-year-old virgin, I haven’t used sex as a weapon. Yet.

But I soon will.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I’m not talking about denying my soon-to-be husband sex because he hasn’t lifted a finger around the house or complimented me often enough. I don’t intend to use sex as a weapon against my husband; I intend to wield the weapon of sex against Satan.

Where’d I get a crazy idea like that?

As an engaged woman preparing for marriage, I’m reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. In this book, Piper suggests that “faith makes use of sexual intercourse as a means of grace.”

Wait. Whaaaaaat? Where’d he come up with that?

You’ve probably read 1 Corinthians 7:3–5 before, but pay particular attention to the last line:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (emphasis added).

When a husband and wife are not coming together often, Satan is given a wide-open door for temptation.

John Piper continues:

A married couple gives a severe blow to the head of that ancient serpent when they aim to give as much sexual satisfaction to each other as possible. Is it not a mark of amazing grace that on top of all the pleasure that the sexual side of marriage brings, it also proves to be a fearsome weapon against our ancient foe?

This should not surprise us. Marriage at its exquisite peak of pleasure speaks powerfully the truth of covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. And that love is the most powerful force in the world. It is not surprising then that Satan’s defeat, Christ’s glory, and our pleasure should come together in this undefiled marriage bed.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I don’t know how often my future husband and I will have sex after we marry, but I hope it is the exception, and not the norm, to not “play” together. Why not glorify God, fight Satan, and delight in each other as often as possible? Sounds like a win-win to me.

(I realize that not every woman’s husband is all that interested in having sex. In that case, I would encourage you to keep praying for desire on his part and for protection for your marriage. Make sure you are making yourself attractive to him—not just physically—but relationally. Finally, if he’s open to it, seek medical and/or spiritual help.)

How about you? If you’re married, are you using sex as a weapon against your husband . . . or against Satan?

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

 

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Today, women will go in droves to drool over Christian Grey in a new blockbuster romanticizing BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism). In case you’re not familiar with these terms, a sadist receives sexual gratification by dishing out pain; a masochist receives sexual gratification by receiving pain.

A Strong Woman’s Dilemma

At first glance, it appears downright puzzling that women would consider this to be enjoyable entertainment . . . and flock to it in droves. Dr. Juli Slattery asks,

In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, do you find it strange that a book about bondage is spreading like wildfire? All of a sudden, words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable but sexy.

In a conversation about Fifty Shades on The View, Barbara Walters suggested that the reason women love this book so much is because, “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”

Really?!

Well, yes. Women want strong, confident men . . . and we want to be in control. But unfortunately, through insisting on control, we’ve contributed to the very thing we despise: a culture of increasingly weak men.

Christian Grey to the Rescue

Enter counterfeit solution Christian Grey and the dark world of BDSM. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Slattery write,

Although Fifty Shades is fiction, we assure you that the world of BDSM is not. Since the book’s release there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of bondage gear. What was once viewed as a strange, aberrant practice is becoming increasingly mainstream for married couples and for those looking for an exciting affair.

But, they warn,

Solving the “weak man” problem with BDSM is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. The true answer is for us to grasp what health looks like.

So what is healthy in the bedroom?

Great Sex Is Not Grey

First, a couple of basic reminders about sex. Because, while E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, would have you believe that sex is grey, God is not grey on this topic. He’s black and white, so you might catch a glimpse of His unrivaled beauty:

  1. Great sex was God’s idea (Gen. 1:18–25)! If that blows your mind, that’s because, as Dr. Slattery says, “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” Oh, and “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman.
  2. Great sex is not ultimately about us; it’s about God. God designed marriage and sex to tell the story of His loving sacrificial leadership toward His Bride, the Church, and of the Church’s joyful submission to Him (Eph. 5). Again, I appreciate Dr. Slattery’s reminder:

    Christ taught and modeled that authoritative leadership is for the purpose of loving sacrifice, not domination, control, abuse, or humiliation.

    Submission is all about power—not weakness. . . . God’s design for women to submit is not to take away her power but to channel it in a way that builds a courageous lover and leader in her husband. God’s plan works!

Christ Jesus to the Rescue

So what if you don’t have a strong man to love and serve and lead you?

Actually, you do.

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, left His powerful position and riches in Paradise to stoop low to serve you. He became a man so He could receive the righteous blows of God’s justice as the willing Substitute for your sin.

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Christ Jesus became a man so He could bleed, so that His blood might wash your dirty heart and body white as snow. He experienced physical and emotional pain unlike any you will ever know—so that you, through His wounds, might be healed.

He did all this to restore your broken relationship with God, so that you might glorify and enjoy Him forever, “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Calling Out the Hibernating Strong Man in Your Husband

Until you are with Him in person, God has given you the means to fulfill your sexual desires, married woman. Not through dark, harmful, twisted sexuality, but in the God-blessed, sanctified context of biblical marriage.

Some of you are experiencing this joyful gift right now. Others of you wonder if your husband even has a sex drive.

I’ll share a secret with you that I learned from reading Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart. Great sex will not begin in the bedroom. Here are a few excerpts that speak to this:

Becoming a great lover requires you to exercise the muscles of temporarily suspending what you want in order to understand and bring joy to your husband. . . .

Sex in marriage will always take on the form of the relationship, even for couples that try to use it to cover up other problems or to think of it as a separate issue. Many couples come to counseling complaining of problems sexually. Almost invariably, their sexual dynamics are a perfect illustration of what is happening throughout their entire relationship. . . .

If God created and defines sex as a “deep knowing” (“yada”), we can reason that the ultimate sexual satisfaction will be found when we are truly known by one another. If you want a satisfying sex life—to truly experience yada—friendship with your husband is the pathway to achieve it. When the deep knowing is given priority in our love lives, the physical aspect of sex just works better. . . .

Regardless of whether your sex life is sizzling or hibernating, my challenge to you is this: How can you begin to call out the strong leader in your husband?

If you have no idea where to start, may I encourage you sign up for the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge? Even if you’ve taken it before, would you consider taking it again?

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Dear Single, You don’t have the love (and sex!) you want, so does that mean erotica is a good outlet for your sexual frustration?

Before I answer that, let me tell you how I define erotica. Erotica is art, literature, or movies intended to arouse sexual desire. It doesn’t have to be a harlequin romance novel or an X-rated movie to count. I can hear you protesting, But when I read a book or watch a movie, I’m not actually having sex myself. So isn’t that the lesser of two evils?

This Valentine’s Day, the world offers you a solution: You don’t have to have sex yourself; you can watch someone else have sex, or you can read all the steamy details through erotica like Fifty Shades of Grey. While that might initially sound better than having sex yourself, don’t believe for a minute that erotica has any place in a genuinely born-again believer’s life.

Is Jesus a Killjoy?

Jesus clearly taught us that any kind of lust is sin:

“Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

Was Jesus just being a killjoy? Quite the opposite! Did you know that great sex was God’s idea?! (Gen. 1:18–25). If that blows your mind, that’s because,

“Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” —Dr. Juli Slattery

By the way, “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman. (I can’t wait!)

But if you—like me—aren’t yet married, than you do know what it’s like to wait! And wait. And wait. And wait.

Why Erotica Is Not the Solution

Here’s why Dannah Gresh shares that erotica is not the solution for your sexual desires:

While erotica might originally heighten sexual feelings, over the long haul it erodes something much more important—intimacy. Whether you are married or single, you are longing for more than sex. Your body, your mind, and your spirit were created to crave intimacy. The Old Testament [word] for sex [is] yada—to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. Transcending the physical act, God’s language speaks of the deep emotional knowing you ultimately long to experience. The physical aspect of sex is just one part of the equation, but our culture tends to hyperfocus on it with no attention to the ultimately more fulfilling aspect of yada—emotional intimacy. Sexual activity by itself is an empty substitute for true intimacy, and will never be enough. Erotica places undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally.

The Tragic Ending Erotica Doesn’t Tell

If you’re still skeptical, take it from a girl who’s been there. Dannah and Juli share this girl’s story in Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,

I am single and erotica has ruined my life. I have been addicted for ten years, and I am only twenty-five. No one knows that I have lived an isolated life because I have found more solace in fantasies aroused in my mind by erotica than in real relationships.

Erotica seems harmless because it’s just words on a page but it brands your mind, creates false expectations for future relationships. I can’t even maintain real relationships because I feel like a shallow pretender hiding one of the biggest parts of my life. Erotica perpetuated my “need” for meeting people online because I didn’t know how to develop or maintain relationships with people outside of the screen.

Eventually, I decided to take my online relationships into reality. Many of the stories I read portrayed rape or power-struggle situations as exciting. A no didn’t always mean no because, in the end, the girl always seemed to end up just fine. So when I met one of my first guys offline, I was thrust ever too quickly into a scenario I had read about but, unlike the stories, I didn’t end up fine. My no didn’t mean no, and I was sexually abused by a man who did the same things to me that I had read about in those erotic stories. But in my story, there wasn’t a happy ending.

Ever since then, I have carried the weight of shame and guilt from putting myself into that situation six years ago. Erotica makes it seem normal for us to be used and abused, but it’s not normal.

Dear single, erotica is not the answer to your longings for intimacy. Christ is. He’s also provided community so you can experience emotional intimacy right now. And if and when He provides you with a godly spouse, the physical intimacy of sex will just be the icing on the cake of the friendship and emotional intimacy you already share together. (And if you’re married, erotica isn’t for you either, for all the reasons mentioned above. It will erode your intimacy with your husband, rather than enhancing it.)

I’d love to hear from you. Here are some ways you can join the conversation:

  • Do you agree that erotica doesn’t belong in a born-again believer’s life? Why or why not?
  • How do you see the difference between sex and intimacy?
  • Got any great ideas for how single girls can cope with unmet sexual desire? Please share them!

Why Didn’t God Protect Me?

 

Why Didn't God Protect Me?

Renee felt like her relationship with God was “golden.” That is, until she met Clay. She shared her story with me over email.

Renee’s Story

It was my prayer when I first started this job that I could be God’s light at my new workplace. Then I met Clay. He was the site technician at work, and I thought he was cute. He was older than me so I made sure to check for a wedding ring, and there was none.

At first I ran toward God and kept praying over and over, “Please don’t let me be attracted to Clay if it’s not Your will for us to be together.” I intentionally didn’t make any moves or advances toward him, because I told God if this was right, I wanted to be pursued.

Well, sure enough, Clay kept chatting with me whenever he got the chance, and eventually we exchanged numbers so we could chat more. Right after that he confessed he had a fifteen-month-old daughter and was married.

I was shocked, but under the pretense of not being judgmental I accepted it and decided to be a good friend to him. We both couldn’t deny the mutual attraction though, and he eventually invited me over to his house and we hung out. Alone. Bad things happened, and I was left reeling. I knew this didn’t feel right, but at the same time everything seemed to work out. He pursued me. We were a great personality match.

We had this faux relationship for a little while where I poured out my heart to him and almost decided to get rid of my faith altogether so I could be with him guilt-free. Eventually I went back to God and confessed things were messed up and the fling ended, but I was left in loneliness, despair, confusion, and felt broken beyond repair.

Renee continued, “I’m having trouble trusting God will protect me from another situation like this because even though I asked Him to, He didn’t.”

Protection in a Suit?
Can you relate? My heart aches for Renee, and I want you to be protected from the same mistake. But girls, throwing up a quick prayer for God to protect you just won’t cut it.

I don’t know if Renee thought Clay was a Christian (I doubt it), but I do know at the very least, Renee should have run the other direction as soon as Clay told her he was married to another woman. And she certainly never should have agreed to go to his house alone. These weren’t wise decisions, and God isn’t to blame for her choices.

Fact is, God has already provided for Renee’s protection and yours by giving you a whole suit of armor. No, you can’t purchase it at your nearest Christian bookstore—but the armor of God is an analogy for six very real ways to protect yourself from your enemies. Just before the armor is showcased, we’re told this:

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Eph. 6:10–13).

How Unprotected Are You?
Let’s break this down a bit:

  • You’ve probably heard the story of young David taking on the fearsome warrior-giant Goliath. Goliath was decked out in a hard-core suit of armor, but he left one place unprotected—his forehead—and that’s how David destroyed him. Unlike Goliath, we need to put on the whole armor of God and not leave a single place unprotected.
  • Our fight is described as a wrestling match. This isn’t long-distance shooting but up-close-and-personal struggling. The devil has schemes or strategies that play on your weaknesses.
  • In Renee’s story, Clay isn’t the enemy. Ephesians 6 tells us our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, or humans—it’s against rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil. Renee’s enemies—and yours and mine—are unseen.
  • Over and over in Ephesians 6 we’re told to stand against Satan. In any battle, those who are standing still have a shot at winning. Are you down on the ground? Are you lounging on the couch? Stand and fight. I love how Matthew Henry says it:

Satan is the wicked one, and his kingdom is the kingdom of sin: to stand against Satan is to strive against sin (emphasis added).

  • It sounds more exciting to take on Satan than to beat down sin, but in choosing not to sin, you’re really conquering Satan! While Satanthe world, and self are all separate, they usually work together to cause us to fall. We’re usually not taking on one at a time but all three.
  • If you’re not up for that kind of fight (I know I’m not!), Ephesians 6:10 holds great news. Our strength doesn’t come from ourselves—God offers us His strength. So come back next week to pick up each piece of God’s armor, dust it off, and put it on with me.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear . . . what have you been trusting in to protect you from evil?

Why Didn’t God Protect Me?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.