Striving for Purity in a World Where Sex Sells

// Week 5 of “Waiting + Dating: a 7 Week Guide to Godly Relationships //

{Links to Week 1, Week 2 + Week 3, + Week 4.}

I sound like such a valley girl in this clip. “I like, knew… I just like, knew.” I laugh and roll my eyes at myself, but then I again I love how true this statement really is.

I did know. In the moment of our first kiss I already knew I could spend my life with Clay. As I mentioned last week, during the ten months leading up to our first date I got to actually see Clay’s character lived out in his life. {Not simply some version of himself he wanted to present in dating.} And in the three weeks of dating leading up to our first kiss, I got to know him on a deeper level, got to learn even more of his heart for God’s Kingdom, and I got to use my head without being clouded by the infatuation of my heart that is all the more present when you introduce a physical connection with someone.

When Clay finally did kiss me, the butterflies I felt in my stomach only confirmed what I knew in my mind–that I could most definitely marry a man with this character.

As we continued to date, we did not do so in perfect purity. The struggle was definitely real. But in many ways I’m grateful for the struggle because it means we have a lot of chemistry between and attraction for each other. Clay and I used every ounce of willpower and power from the Holy Spirit in striving for purity until our wedding night. And let me just say it was so worth the struggle.

This world preaches anything but striving for purity. We live in a culture where “sex sells.” We are bombarded with images and content that is so highly sexualized at every turn or glance. Movies and television plots tout couples who sleep together on–or even before–the first date. We are told–whether overtly or subliminally–to give in, do what feels good in the moment, and that we have to prove our love for one another physically in dating.

And yet when I look at the state of our relationships as a society–not simply at the rate of divorce but at the state of pain, heartache and brokenness surrounding them, I have to ask, How’s that working out for us?

A recent study revealed that “not only did the couples who waited until after marriage to have sex rate their sex life better, they reported that their marriages were more stable and satisfying, and their communication was better than couples who had not waited” {read the article here}.

The truth is: like Adam and Eve we have believed the lies that Satan has whispered in our ears. We have doubted God’s goodness and the promise of His design, and we have taken that which is not ours to take–relationships that are not God’s best for us and purity within dating relationships that is not ours to take. And as a result of that sin, we are reaping some very real consequences.

Because of The Fall, we all fall short. Because of Original Sin, we will all sin. Thankfully, God does not call us to perfection {that’s why He sent His Son}, but to take actionable steps in striving for purity until marriage. The journey isn’t easy and the road can feel long. But it is so. worth. the wait!

“Man, I really regret staying so pure until our wedding night.” – no person ever


Ponder in Prayer

Where’s your heart at? Are you trusting the goodness of God’s design? Or are you believing the lies shouted to us from the world?

Ask God for strength and wisdom as you walk the season of waiting and dating. Ask Him to give you discernment as to who you date and for guidance as to how you date.

Ask Him for forgiveness from your past mistakes and receive His grace with bold confidence as you walk forward on His path toward His beautiful marriage design.


Knowledge of Truth

God calls us to purity. 

  • Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” {emphasis mine}.

We choose which path to take. On the journey of life there are two paths: that which leads to righteousness and that which leads to destruction. God’s way is former; the world’s way is the latter. And like Adam and Eve, we may be tempted by the enemy, but we make our decisions ourselves.

  • Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Waiting in purity is not easy. In fact, it is quite difficult. And yet we are promised that the path of righteousness leads to life.
  • Not only are we called to wait in purity, we are called to run from impurity. 1 Corinthians 6:18 call us to “Flee from sexual immorality.”
  • In fact, Colossians 3:5 goes even further to say that we are to “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” {emphasis mine}.

The road of purity is not the easy road. It is one that requires many choices to be made in self-control and delaying of gratification. But there is such promise that lies on the road ahead.

You are worth the cost. In sixth grade at summer camp we got “the sex talk.” The room was abuzz with excitement as they handed out to each of us a card that read:

He costs everything; He is worth the price.
You cost everything; You are worth the price.

Jesus paid a high price for our sin–the highest, in fact–because of the worth He finds in our lives, because of our value to Him.

  • Romans 5:8 tells us that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
  • And 1 Peter 2:24 tell us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Jesus is worth the price it takes to live our lives for Him. We are worth the price it takes to live in accordance to His will, design, and path that leads to life–in regard to every aspect of life, including but not limited to our relationships.

That card has been in my Bible since I was twelve years old. It was a constant reminder in singleness and in dating that I was worth the price it took to wait in purity both for my husband and for our wedding night. And I’ll be honest, it has continued to be a reminder that I am worth the cost it takes to live my every day in striving after a life of righteousness in Christ.

We aren’t guaranteed a life in pursuit of God’s design will be easy; in fact, we are guaranteed quite the opposite. And yet there is such a beautiful truth that comes with the call to righteousness. One of my favorite verses is John 16:33 in which Jesus proclaims:

“In this world you will have trouble; but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

There’s always grace but choose costly grace. {Yep, there are four points of wisdom this week!} Okay, there’s a song I love that we sing in church called “That’s Why There’s Grace” by Kendall Payne with the following lyrics written from the perspective of Jesus:

“That’s why I died. That’s why there’s grace.”

The entire reason Jesus died was to cover our sins, to wash clean our past. Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” There is always grace for us, God’s beloved, no matter what our past.

Know this truth that there is grace. Receive this gift of grace upon grace. And yet strive after what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “costly grace.” In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer describes the difference between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.”

  • Cheap grace. “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate,” he writes. Cheap grace is the kind of grace you take when you sin against God’s Word, receive His forgiveness available through your relationship with His Son, and yet you still continue engaging in that sin. It’s cheap. It doesn’t cost much.
  • Costly grace. “Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has,” Bonhoeffer continues. Costly grace is the kind of grace you take when you sin against God’s Word, receive His forgiveness, and you turn away from your old ways and run toward God’s way. It’s costly. It costs a lot. It requires sacrifice, effort, will and determination. And prayer–lots of lots of prayer. But it can be done.

Strive after costly grace. It’s the real deal, not the counterfeit stuff. It’s the grace worth having that is worth the cost of getting.


Walking in Wisdom

Pray. Aloud. Together. Alone. Silently. Before you enter a relationship. While you are in a relationship. Pray. All the time. Clay prayed over our meal on our first date and we haven’t stopped praying since. But when it came to striving for purity, we also combined prayer with action.

Set up boundaries + stick to them. When Clay and I first began dating, we set up physical boundary lines we would not cross. At one point when we were engaged we actually wrote down a list of what our boundaries were, signed it at the bottom, and listed out consequences if we didn’t keep to it.

Write down your personal boundary lines even before you are in a relationship. At the very start of a relationship, write them down together. If you need some suggestions here are a few we used:

  • No kissing laying down.
  • Don’t hang out in the bedroom.
  • No sleepovers.
  • No removing articles of clothing.
  • No hands on the bikini/swimsuit zone.

Pray about which boundaries are right for you. Always use Scripture as a guide and prayer as a conviction. Different people are tempted by different things. It’s not a matter of legalism; it’s a matter of the heart. And God will discern your heart posture and convict you of what’s honoring to Him.

Keep away. The common question in dating seems to be, “How far is too far?” The common way to act is as if you were asking, “How close can we get to the line?” And I think the better and more life-giving question is, “How far can we stay away from the line?” Don’t see how close you can get to the line; make it your goal to see how far you can keep away from it.

Scripture tells us Satan is a roaring lion waiting to attack” {1 Peter 5:8}. You wouldn’t see how close you could get to a roaring lion; you would see how well you could keep away from him. Satan uses physical temptation as a way to attack God’s beloved. The farther away you stay from those boundary lines, the better protected you will be from the enemy’s prowl.

There is such wisdom in waiting to connect physically with someone in order that you can better determine if you are cut out to be together for a lifetime emotionally and spiritually. A very small percent of marriage is spent connecting physically; the vast majority is spent living life together emotionally and spiritually. Thus it is of the utmost importance that we don’t allow feelings of infatuation that will eventually fade to lead us into a marriage that will last a lifetime.

Also, as Gary Thomas points out in The Sacred Search, the very same discipline it takes to stay pure when you’re madly attracted to each other in dating will be the very same discipline you and your significant other will employ to remain faithful to each other in marriage and to keep your sex life thriving.

Bottom line: we can’t strive after purity alone. The person we are with must also desire to strive after God’s call to purity.

Not only did Clay value my purity, he strived to preserve it. He very much valued purity for himself. Never once did I compromise one ounce of purity to be with him or to feel loved by him. In fact, in our striving after purity and taking things super slow physically, I felt even more loved by this man.

When Clay did finally kiss me, he confessed–

I’ve wanted to kiss you for a while now, but I wanted to first make a commitment to you.

I truly can’t think of anything more honorable, noble, and romantic. Ladies, wait and date a man like this! Gentlemen, be a man who waits and dates like this!

None of us will do this whole “waiting and dating” thing perfectly, but we can strive to meet God’s standards every step of the way. We can keep the distractions of the enemy at bay by fixing our eyes on Jesus. And we can avoid falling prey to the lies portrayed of “love” in the media by looking to God’s Love Story–the greatest love story ever written–as the guide to our own pursuit of true, godly, righteous and lasting love that will be filled with passion until death do us part.

Week 6. On Finding “The One”: Where to Start, Where to Look

Week 7. A Dim Reflection: Why Marriage isn’t the Happy Ending.

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