How does one pursue purity and righteousness in a relationship?
(picture found on pixabay.com)
Even though if you read my relationship status it would say “single”, I’ve gleaned some insight and wisdom over the years on romance, dating, and marriage. By pursuing God and studying this particular topic through Christian Living books, sermons, and speakers—plus deep thought and discussion—I’ve perhaps gained some knowledge, and I want to share my ideas with you! I would love to converse with you in the comments below and hear your experiences and thoughts.
One thing I’ve learned: each relationship looks different! There are no perfect steps and cut-and-dry answers.
But as we strive to honor God in all areas of our lives, what are some ways we can intentionally practice the purity and righteousness He calls us to as His children?
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:1-6)
So here are some thoughts:
Wanting marriage is a God-given desire. While we need stay focused on our First Love and be careful not to get obsessed with “finding the one” or make marriage/a relationship an idol … desiring and seeking marriage is perfectly okay!
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)
I think it’s a beautiful and Biblical thing to connect with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and have meaningful friendships. God created us for community and relationships! So get involved. Meet men and women your own age – and of all ages!
If you find someone you’re interested in, make an effort to spend time with them. Get to know them in a group setting. Seek friendship first … show interest without flirting! Oftentimes, flirting can be shallow and self-focused – so check yourself. Strive to see this person through God’s eyes. They are a human created in God’s image; a beloved child of the King, with a heart worth really knowing! (Here is a letter I wrote to my future husband with these thoughts in mind.)
Dear fellow women, wait for a man who will pursue you with godly intention and genuine attraction and interest in you. –Who you are as a person and your heart.
Take your time, know your mind, and let him win your heart. Don’t feel pressured to act or be a certain way. You don’t owe a single thing to the man who’s pursuing you. This is a trial period where you each get to know one another, deepen your friendship, and seek out each other’s hearts with the possibility of marriage in mind. You do not belong to him. He does not belong to you. The purpose of an intentional relationship should be to really get to know one another and find out if you want to marry. If, at any point, you realize the answer is “no”, end the relationship without delay. Be honest. Don’t lead them on.
In a man’s pursuit of you, I think it’s so important that he ask for your dad’s (or spiritual father’s) blessing. Involve your parents, mentors, and other family and friends who care about you and are invested in your life. I think it’s a beautiful thing when men and women involve wise people as they contemplate a relationship. Take steps to honor each other instead of just rushing into a relationship with only fun and pleasure in mind.
Men, you’re pursuing a woman, not a relationship.
Women, you’re responding to a man, not a potential fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams.
Take time to truly care about them.
(found on pixabay.com)
Be careful to use this dating/courtship time as an opportunity to deepen your friendship, rather than get all romantic too fast or too deeply. I’ve heard so many times that once you introduce physical touch into the relationship, your ability to really get to know one another seriously dwindles. Perhaps this is why many couples wake up six months to a year after their wedding day and wonder, “Do I really even know this person – my spouse?”
Besides that, remember, you do not belong to each other yet. So be careful of thinking that you have a right to any and all romantic touches, gestures, and talk.
I believe we should establish a solid foundation as brother and sister in Christ and focus on pursuing a deep, enjoyable, real friendship in dating/courting relationships.
Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Honor that young woman as your sister, men. Treat her with gentleness and care, and much respect!
Girls, treat him as an esteemed friend rather than spending all your time stressing over what to wear, flirting, jealousy, and posting a thousand and one pictures of you two snuggling on Instagram.
You don’t belong to each other yet. Maybe not ever.
Establish boundaries right away. Realize your values, and stick to them. Pray about convictions you feel God is giving you. Study Scriptures that speak on the topic of sexual purity. As I mentioned above, honor each other as brothers and sisters and pursue an authentic friendship first and foremost. Relationships aren’t all about holding hands and cuddling.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Concerning romance and physical touch, my basic thoughts always went something like this: I’ll meet this wonderful guy and we’ll become the best of friends. After a few months of courting, we’ll hold hands. Maybe after about a year, we’ll get married! And I’ll probably save my first kiss for my wedding day.
Well, yes. Every relationship is unique! So you can’t really plan out your future relationship perfectly – everything all black and white.
But I do think it’s important to ponder, pray, and contemplate. What do you stand for, and how would you like to proceed if a man shows interest?
Men, how are you going to go about things if you find a woman you want to pursue? Have you thought about how to best honor God in this area? How to best honor a girl you want to date?
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
What are your boundaries? Do you have any? I firmly believe that men and women seeking to have a godly relationship should have solid convictions and boundaries. Not something like, “Well, I might save my first kiss for my wedding day … that kinda sounds like a good idea …”
No. Figure out where you need to draw the line, and make some firm boundaries for yourself. If you don’t have convictions, you’re bound to go where you never set out to go. And be certain to honor the boundaries of the person you’re in a relationship with!
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23)
Lust is not part of a healthy, God-honoring relationship. Seek the Lord. Guard your heart. Take every thought captive. Watch your actions. If you start to lust, know that you’ve stepped into forbidden territory.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20-22)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
Besides avoiding sexual compromise, I think we need to set boundaries to protect each other emotionally.
I, and perhaps most women, need to feel secure, emotionally connected, and trustful before I would be open to a man’s affectionate touch. I see holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc. as an expression of a love already deep. Not a way to “feel in love”.
And we, as women, need to know we’re being pursued for who we are – our hearts. Not our bodies, not our looks, not what we can give.
Men, pursue patiently, gently, and selflessly. A woman doesn’t owe you anything and you don’t have any right to her body, emotions, heart, etc. If you pursue her in a godly way and honorably win her heart in time, she’ll give you what is right to give you—in God’s eyes and for her personally—in each season.
I now hold to a conviction to save my first kiss for my husband. I want to honor him even now – and more importantly, honor God. So I’m intentionally learning, and reading, and practicing, and doing what I can to be ultra cautious and honorable in the areas of sexuality. Even if I never marry, I want to live purely before the Lord. If marriage is in my future, I want to save my body, romantic touches, and such for my husband, because he is the only man who has the right to them. And because I want to give him such a gift.
(found on pixabay.com)
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)
This is not to say that I’ve been perfect in the area of sexual purity. Maintaining God’s standard of purity can be a battle, especially if you don’t know what you’re up against and aren’t seeking God in this area, and all areas, of your life! We’ve all made mistakes, entertained the world’s ideals, and fallen into sin.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25)
But today is a new day. Though our sins are grave, our mighty God is faithful in forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and grace! You can turn from sexual impurity and walk in forgiveness and newness. Today you can choose to start honoring God in your love life and with your sexuality. Today you can commit to reserve your body and heart for your spouse only. Today, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, pray for a passion for God’s Word and His good design!
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:22-25)
If you want to study more about God’s design for your sexuality, relationships, marriage, romance, and sex, here are some books I recommend (though I exhort you to read with discernment, because these are books written by fellow humans, not God!):
- Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart: Discovering the Beauty and Freedom of God-Defined Sexuality by Kristen Clark & Bethany Beal
- Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand & Jay S. Thomas
- Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge (I’m assuming Every Man’s Battle would be helpful to men in the same way.)
- Sex and the Single Girl by Dr. Juli Slattery
- Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships by Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird
- Savoring Single by Shelley Black
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Pray. Serve. Be.
So, make friends, have fun, hang out, get to know people! Go wherever God calls you and do all that He gave you a passion and heart to do. Find a like-minded community of believers and serve together, work together, play together, laugh together, grow together …
But be serious about relationships and marriage. Give it some thought. And pray! Bring God into every aspect of your life. Tell Him about your struggles and concerns. Bring the person you’re interested in to Him in prayer. Tell Him about your desires for marriage. Ask for His leading. For wisdom, guidance, and clarity. He is faithful to write beautiful stories for those who follow Him and seek His face constantly.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)
Be in prayer and surround yourself with good friends and mentors. Whether single or in a relationship, now is always the right time to learn more about God’s design and beautiful plan for purity, relationships, marriage, and the like!
9 How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. (Psalm 119:9-11 & 15-16)
Pray for your future spouse. Pray for your future marriage. If you’re dating/courting, always be praying for you and the person you’re in a relationship with! I cannot stress enough the power and beauty of prayer. ❤
As you practice purity and pursue righteousness in your relationship, remember to enjoy this season! Laugh. Talk. Go on exciting adventures. Serve together. Pray. Rejoice. Count your blessings. Love being friends and being together! Even as you act intentionally in this, trust God to guide you each step of the way, and just be.
~ Lady Grace ~
15 thoughts on “Practicing Purity & Pursuing Righteousness in Romantic Relationships”
Hope it was encouraging! 🙂
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Wonderful! ❤ I prayed that it would be a challenge, encouragement, and blessing to people!
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You are so right when you said in the beginning of this post that every relationship is different. There is no one way to find a spouse or for a relationship to progress. When I was single, I would read Christian relationship books and think, “This is it. If I do X, Y, and Z my relationship will progress in a healthy, God-honoring way.” The problem is that life doesn’t work out like that. I was in a super unhealthy place when I met my husband and he wasn’t in the greatest place either. I didn’t live up to my own expectations of what a I thought relationship should look like. Despite that, God is good and gracious and we got married have a wonderful relationship. I’m not saying that you should ignore all wisdom and just do what you want when it comes to relationships. What I am saying is that even when we fail to listen to our own advice and the advice of others, God is still at work. We should try our best to be wise and make the best decisions that we can, but we should also remember that God is working for our good even when we fail.
Every relationship is different, though I do believe there are practical steps and boundaries you can establish! 🙂
See, the problem with reading a Christian Living book and using it as an exact formula, is that you’re probably trusting in a person (the author or yourself), rather than God to guide you.
God IS a God of redemption, compassion, and grace – I agree! He can heal broken things, for sure. And we all do make mistakes, fail, and sometimes not stick to our own convictions. We’re human.
BUT, regardless of God’s healing nature, sin and bad choices DO have consequences. They leave scars, and wounds, and things you have to work through.
I’m making an effort to draw near to the Lord, study Scripture, pray daily, bring God into every choice, and walk by the Spirit because I do desire to honor and glorify Jesus Christ with my life and my actions … including how I go about relationships/marriage. -And because I want to be in a healthy place now, and when/if God brings along a man for me to marry.
Though everything might not be black-and-white, God’s Word does have answers and I think we should earnestly seek to find out what honors Him and follow His design! (Psalm 119:33-48) He is our Creator, after all. 🙂 So … I think you fall in love with Jesus Christ, you seek, you study, you pray, you walk by the Spirit. Find out what boundaries God would have you set in place to maintain honor and purity; and also, find out what’s healthy for you, personally.
God is at work! I’m glad you have a wonderful relationship with your husband. I pray you continue drawing near to the Lord and seeking Him in your life and marriage! ❤
This was such a beautiful post Grace and it is filled with so many truths. I would say I am currently in a relationship and tbh I couldn’t agree more about setting boundaries for yourself. It is so easy for the enemy to come in with lustful thoughts. But God is good. He always shows us a way out. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was a very encouraging read. God bless you Grace and please keep shinning for Jesus.
Lots of love.
Hi, Joanny! ^_^
I’m so glad you stopped by! Thank you for your kind words about my post! So very happy that it was encouraging to you. You’re welcome! ❤
Yes, it's so important to have boundaries … Sometimes it takes us awhile to realize that! But yes, He is! And He gives us His strength and wisdom.
Thank you! I pray that He will keep working in and through me! ❤
May you be filled with His love, joy, and peace, friend! 🙂
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Amen and I wish you all the same. God bless you ❤
Thank you! ❤
I can’t believe more people haven’t had the opportunity to see what you’ve written here! So encouraging!
So glad that it was encouraging! Thank you!
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