Approaching Grace in Red High Heels
Growing up I had this perception that at when I turned 18, there would be a line of suitors down my sidewalk.
Then I went to college, the Mecca of Christian manhood – and expected the same thing.
Well, surprise, surprise! Not every man in Michigan and Virginia got word I was on the market. There were a few dates; a few going-out-for-coffees… but definitely no receiving line.
I’m hoping you’ve read enough of my other posts to understand my views on purity, dating, and sexuality, but if not, I’ll give you a bullet point list:
Purity is not about standards; it’s about pleasing God.
Standards of dating behavior come from our desire to please and honor God. When you want to please God, you won’t be letting men get handsy on you.
God designed sex for within marriage for our protection and our glory.
Women who respect themselves and understand their God-given value will have the most successful relationships (we’ll talk about this in this post).
We should place higher priority on God’s approval than on man’s, and always be willing to give up man’s approval in order to keep God’s…
I was crumpled in a ball by my nightstand, sobbing so hard it came in gasps. I couldn’t see through the tears, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
At the beginning it had all seemed to make sense: he liked me; he asked me out; he wanted to date me. But then… then he said my standards were too high. He said because I wouldn’t kiss him (after barely getting to know him), he would leave me. And he did.
I took him back. Now here I was, still a virgin, but an emotional wreck of who I’d been before. What happened to Purity Girl? I was the poster child for it. I wore the ring, I knew the rules, I wrote blog posts about it. This was supposed to be my area of expertise. How come it was so easy to compromise to a man who used my desire for affirmation to manipulate me?
As I knelt there hunched over a tear-stained Psalm 51, I asked God: How could you ever forgive me of something I’ve done again and again? Can I ever be who I was before?
Maybe you’ve asked those same questions. Today we’re going to answer them with what God has revealed to us in His Word. He is the only one who can speak with authority on this subject.
Since the beginning of the Other Virgin Diaries series, 60% of the emails I receive contain the above questions in some form. It’s a pressing concern for many young Christians who have compromised purity (to any degree) and long for their relationship with God to be renewed. But in the midst of that hope, many of us doubt God’s forgiveness or are unsure of what it looks like.
Sin is sin: whether it be gossip, lying, pride or extramarital sex, all sin is breaking the law of God (1 John 3:4 “Sin is lawlessness”). Sin is offensive to God because God is holy and perfect (Is. 6:1-5). Because man chose to sin in the beginning of time (Genesis 3) all of us are born with a natural tendency toward sin and thus toward offending God (Romans 5:12).
Sexual sin, however, is a different beast. Unlike other sins, sexual sin affects the body, emotions, mind, and spirit (1 Cor. 6:18). Sex was designed to be a thrilling experience in marriage, in which context the physical-emotional-spiritual connection is intense and fulfilling. But when removed from that context, sex has the power to twist our self-perception, spiral us into deeper sin, and most of all separate us spiritually from our pure relationship with God. God knows this danger, and therefore requires sex and the acts of foreplay leading to arousal as a part of marriage and nothing else.
Having established this, what do we do? What do we do if we have transgressed God’s law, offended God, and separated ourselves from a peaceful relationship with Him? Is there hope for those affected by the consequences of illicit sex?
YES! There is hope! Below are the steps we take to know this forgiveness and walk as conquerors in the grace of God.
Phylicia: Last week I received an email from a young man asking, “How can I help my girlfriend uphold purity?” I passed the question along to my husband, Mr. M, and I think his advice is worth sharing. When we were dating, we often struggled to uphold the standards of behavior we knew were necessary in order for us to have a peaceful, God-honoring relationship. Today, my husband will talk about how men can help their girlfriends in this battle against lust.
Mr. M: Believe it or not, men have more sway on the female heart than women do on our physical desires. We have the ability to control the outcome of an evening with our significant others, but there are few resources that talk about the temptations we personally bring to those situations. Most temptations are discussed as if they come from an outside source; not from within our own hearts. Today, let me outline for you several things you can do to promote a healthy and pure relationship with your girl.
1. Learn to lead her.
There are two aspects of leadership that have much influence on how you and your significant other interact: the spiritual aspect and the emotional. You must be a spiritual leader in your relationship.
You don’t know me. I don’t know you.
I saw you come in and sit down in front of me, smiling and hugging each other, looking around the sanctuary for familiar faces. During the greeting break you shook my hand, we exchanged a few words; maybe ‘Hello, how are you?’ or ‘What’s your name?’
You are all very pretty. Beautiful, actually: tall, thin, with good hair, nicely styled. Your makeup is perfect, even if you don’t think so. You are quite a good looking trio.
I didn’t keep watching you – I’m not that creepy. But after the sermon, as you walked out the door, I wish I had touched your arm and spoken.
I wish I had thanked you.
There’s something else you don’t know – other than me, that is. You don’t know that this Sunday there was a young man sitting behind you; a young man who desperately needs Jesus. I’ve been praying for him for months and it’s a miracle he was even in church today.
He probably didn’t come to church looking for Jesus. He likely came for a pew like yours – a pew of girls. But you provided him no distraction.
Every one of you was attractive. Every one of you could have advertised that attractiveness with what you wore, drawing attention to the shape of your waist, your curves, or the length of your legs. But you didn’t.
When you worshiped God in front of me and the young man behind you, the most prominent visual of your character was your heart for God. When this young man may have been looking for a distraction, he couldn’t find it with you…
“Well, it looks like you’re going to become a sex doctor,” My mom joked in an email to me. I had just informed her of this series, as a ‘heads up’ when the post titles started rolling into her inbox with major TMI and the word ‘sex’ plastered throughout each paragraph.
This series is requiring serious transparency. I’m telling ya, gals, there’s no turning back now!
Of all the emails I’ve received, many have involved some sort of concern about the wedding night. These concerns include such fears as:
Will it hurt?
Will my husband be sensitive to how new this is to me?
Will my past sexual failures ruin my experience?
I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
Will I feel guilty afterward?
These are valid concerns and big questions. How we answer them, and how we go through life perceiving sex and marriage, can have a powerful effect on the quality of our relationships with our husbands (future or present).
Many young women dread their wedding night for several reasons:
They are insecure about their beauty and their husband’s reaction to it;
They are ignorant of the logistics of sex and therefore afraid;
They feel guilty over past failure, which leads to insecurity and fear;
They put excessive pressure on themselves to perform something which they know little about or only acquaint with past negative experiences (rape, abuse, or sexual immorality).
In this post, I’m going to outline five ways we can counter ‘wedding night phobia’ and give you girls a plan of action to make it something not to fear, but to embrace and look forward to!
But first, let me lighten this conversation by telling my own wedding night story.
This post is part of a current series, The Other Virgin Diaries.
“So you’re telling me that something that was natural and good and made me feel loved is a sin?”
I tapped my pen against the corner of my mouth, squinting at the screen. How to answer?
There are many people making life decisions based on nothing more than personal emotion. ‘Feelings’, if you will, have become the determination of morality, especially when it comes to sex.
Starting out The Other Virgin Diaries I debated on which topic to tackle first. Since the morality of sex is the foundation behind most questions, that’s where I’m going to begin.
The church has made a grievous mistake when it comes to sexual discussion. Whether out of fear, legalism, or just ignorance, many churches take two tacks when it comes to sex: 1) ignore the topic completely; or 2) emphasize the evil of pre- or extramarital sex without ever discussing the nature of sex itself. This leaves church-going girls with questions about both the nature and the details of sex, but afraid to ask because the stigma is so strong.
But when these girls leave the sanctuary, they enter a different kind of world. This world is everything BUT silent about sex. Here, sex is trumpeted as an achievement, a badge of honor, and a source of value. Told to both avoid sex and be ‘in the world but not of it’, many Christian girls spend their days playing whack-a-mole with sexual topics, never truly understanding sex in a frantic effort to remain pure. Meanwhile, the world is screaming, “It’s natural! It’s good! It’s wonderful! It makes you feel great and loved! Don’t let religion control your choices!” So there they stand at a crossroads, tired of whacking the moles of sexual thought but completely sexually ignorant… and completely ready to give up.
If God is good like I’ve been taught, and God made sex, why is sex bad? And why does everyone else seem to think sex is great? Is Christian sex the only kind that’s bad? And if it feels good, how can it be wrong?
These are sad but necessary questions, and they lead us to the world’s primary argument for extramarital sex: “If it feels good, affirms me, and makes me feel loved (however temporarily), it cannot be wrong”. ..