Practicing Purity & Pursuing Righteousness in Romantic Relationships

How does one pursue purity and righteousness in a relationship?

nature-3061486_1920(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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 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, 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. 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:

Meeting.

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)

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.)

Pursuit.

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.

road-2563427_1920(found on pixabay.com)

Friendship.

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, 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.

Boundaries.

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?

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)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 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. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 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)

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 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.

wedding-2616652_1920(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:

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

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. 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.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 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!

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 ~

Advertisements

Boys … Can We Just Be Friends?

It seems like a question that often comes up . . . “Can guys and girls be just friends?”

As girls, we want to be friends with guys, because they’re fun to be around. They’re interesting. They make us laugh. They have a unique and different perspective. Oftentimes, it’s a lot simpler to be around them than a group of young women; they’re more easy-going and quick to see humor. We value them and time spent together.

So the question is, can young men and women be just good, old friends . . . or does the relationship between guys and girls always include flirting, secret interest, and broken hearts?

boys-can-we-just-be-friends

Well, I believe that young woman can, and should, have guy friends. In fact, I think it’s vital. It’s healthy and wonderful to have brothers in Christ. Godly men can help us become better women. And we, as godly women, can help them become better men. We can encourage and support each other.

I think God put us here for each other. We were created for meaningful companionship. Fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful and powerful thing! And I don’t think God meant for women to solely hang out with women, and men with men. -Only associating with someone of the opposite gender if you’re in a romantic relationship.

No, we can learn from each other! And if it’s not God’s time for us to be part of a romance, we should still be able to have friendships, encouragement, and even guidance from men in our lives.

Proverbs 27:17

17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

See, I believe men can share some unique insight with us that perhaps women in our lives can’t. Now, fathers and brothers can also do this. But maybe you don’t have brothers. Perhaps your relationship with your father is unhealthy. That’s when I think it’s extremely important for your brothers in Christ to step in – in a godly, mature, and selfless way.

My older brother and some of his friends have really helped me in things like accepting who I am. Feeling like lady. Wanting to be more gentle, and nurturing, and Christ-like.

With men as friends, I believe we can see more clearly that there are good, Christian guys in the world who care about us and simply like us just the way we are. They can be examples of what we should wait for in a future husband.

And hopefully, we can do the same for them. Encourage them to seek the Lord. Make them want to be better men. Be examples of what they should be waiting for in a future wife.

I truly think having godly, kind young men in my life has helped me just to be content and secure, and not thinking I have to be a certain image and have a boyfriend to be acceptable in the eyes of men.

Now ultimately, God is the only one who can bring us to full contentment, and show us that our security and identity is found in Him. But I think He does intend for us to help each other out. To be friends. To be examples. To be support.

This all being said, it’s vastly important to search your heart and choose your friends wisely.

1 Corinthians 15:33

33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Hang out with godly men. *smiles* Not those who are going to lead you astray or tempt you to fit a certain image, like I mentioned before.

Proverbs 12:26

26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.

And I think it’s best to keep these friendship limited to mostly group settings. One-on-one, personal, “best friends” relationships with guys often lead to heartache. Either your heartache, or theirs. It’s way too easy to become emotionally attached when you’re pouring out your life story and struggles to one certain guy; and feelings tend to develop on one side or the other.

So be careful.

And behave in a modest manner. One befitting a lady of God. ^_^ Having fun and joking around is certainly entertaining. (And most of the time, perfectly appropriate!) But I think it’s always good to check myself and make sure it’s not becoming flirtatious . . . either outwardly, or in my heart.

Try to think things like: If his future wife was standing beside us, how would she feel?

Or: If a girl was acting this way toward my husband, how would I feel?

Just to be sure you’re acting appropriately. Believe me, it’s better for everyone in the long run! Emotional attachments, heartbreak, and the like are not fun.

But having guy friends is. So have friends! In a God-honoring way,  they certainly are encouraging and great relationships!

1 Timothy 5:1-2

Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.