Clay and I are coming off a two week cleanse. We chose to enter into this “fast” in an effort to find relief for some stomach issues I’ve been having. This fast has got me thinking about another kind of fast we have been in throughout our relationship – and lives for that matter. And I’m just going to come right out and say it: the fast from sex.
In Christ-seeking dating relationships, we grow together spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, but we are called to refrain from having sex until we are joined together as one in the covenant of marriage. Once we make the covenant to each other, finally having sex is the physical acting out of that emotional and spiritual commitment we make to become one.
I’m the first to admit this is a high calling and is not one that is always (or ever) easy to live out. But I am certain that it truly is God’s perfect and beautiful design.
“For God wants you to be holy and pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin so that each of you will marry in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion as the heathen do, in their ignorance of God and his ways..” – I Thessalonians 4:3-5
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure .” – Hebrews 13:4
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…” – Ephesians 5:3
The world we live in is one that seeks instant gratification and the satisfying of our physical urges immediately. Yet, as believers and followers of Christ we are called to seek Him above self, to seek His will above our own, and to seek His desires for the way in which we should live our lives before that of our own selfish and earthly desires of the flesh.
“Delayed gratification.” That’s not a term that has a necessarily nice ring to it. But I believe it’s one God wants us to practice. In life we must often practice delayed gratification in our lives that we may be healthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually – and that we may seek God and His will before all else.
While it’s likely none of us have perfectly lived out this call of not having “even a hint” of sexual impurity in our lives, God’s grace is abundant and His willingness and ability to forgive, restore, and make new that which we have failed to live out is unending.
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” – Daniel 9:9
While it may be excruciatingly more difficult in the moment to act out God’s desires and not our own, in the long run it is truly the most rewarding and fulfilling path.
“Though the waiting is the hardest part of everything I do, I do confess it’s getting better knowing I will be with you.” – Third Day, It’s Alright
Because the path we are on is that of getting one step closer to Christ each day. Or at least that is our goal. And so as Clay and I continue on in this season of preparing for our marriage, we press on toward the goal of purity and we cling to God’s guidance to His unending grace. We strive to seek Him above ourselves. And we desperately desire to make our relationship – both now and in marriage – a testament to the goodness of God’s design.
The waiting really is the hardest, but knowing we will be even closer to the Lord as a result of this fasting? Well, that is so much more rewarding than any instant gratification we could receive.
Below are a few verses that have encouraged me along in this area of fasting in my life in pursuit of physical purity, especially in this season of engagement:
“I walk by the Spirit and do not fulfill the desires of my flesh.” – Galations 5:16
“I am dead to the power of sin.” – Romans 6:11
“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” – Philippians 3:8
And some song lyrics, of course:
“Oh, I’m not giving up. I’m gonna move on forward. I’m gonna raise my sail; God knows what I’m headed towards.” – Ben Rector, Sailboat
“You are good when there’s nothing good in me… Oh, I’m running to your arms. The riches of your love will always be enough. Nothing compares to your embrace. Light of the world forever reign.” – Hillsong, Forever Reign