Monday, March 3, 2014
"On Fire": What You're REALLY SAYING by Saving Yourself
"There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."---I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message)
That another marriage counselor and I discuss, quite a bit, is the fact that more and more, when I meet a non-married couple who is sexually active and wants to get married, I recommend that they break up. A clean break. For how long? A while, actually.
At first, my friend thought that was a bit extreme until I explained to him my reasons why. For one thing, if sex outside of marriage, when you're married, is a powerful enough reason to divorce (Matthew 19:1-12), then sex outside of marriage, when you're single, is a powerful enough agent to ruin a healthy relationship. Two, if you are putting another person ahead of God and his Word (which says not to have sex before marriage-Hebrews 13:4), that is a form of idolatry (Exodus 20:3). Three---and I believe I've said it on here before---someone being "high on orgasms" is very similar to being "high on drugs". It's hard to separate how someone makes you *feel* from *reality* (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message), discernment (Proverbs 2) and common sense (Proverbs 2:6-8 & 3:21-26-Message); marriage is *definitely* something that you should go into with a sober mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Four, when Paul said it was better to marry than to burn, *he was not saying* that if you can't keep your hormones in check then you need to hurry down the aisle (um, love is patient not hurried or desperate-I Corinthians 13:4). He was saying that if you can't be single like him, *and keep your hormones in check*, *then* you need to get married: "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (I Corinthians 7:8-9-NKJV) Five, a man is meant to be a covering for his wife (Ephesians 5: and a wife is meant to be a helpmate for her husband (Genesis 2:18). A man who *uncovers* a woman he's dating and a woman who *does not help him to use self-control* is a recipe for disaster. It compromises trust from the very start. Remember that a part of what Ephesians 5 says is this: "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." (Ephesians 5:29-NKJV) A man is not nourishing or cherishing your spirit if he's taking advantage of your body. There's no exceptions on that. Six, if you can't be patient dating then I'm not sure what makes you think that you are going to be able to be patient married.
So for all of those reasons, I'm not gonna push two people down the aisle. I'm going to require that they break up, do some serious praying and fasting (without communicating with one another) and then see what God has to say about if their foundation, one that has cracks, is something that he wants to be repaired. Or if they need to "build elsewhere" (count the cost before you build, right?-Luke 14:28-30).
Is it *that* serious? Um, yeah. Marriage is just that serious (Matthew 19:6, Malachi 2:14, Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)! And since God said that sex (and all versions of sex-LOL) should be applied only in marriage, then so should we!
And then there's my running joke (that I'm actually quite serious about) that I say whenever people ask me if I would consider marrying an ex (the answer to that is "no". I slept with all of my exes): "I don't do regifting". (LOL) I intended to be a surprise for/to/ with my future husband on our wedding night. In fact, I prefer to no longer say "I'm saving myself". I prefer to say "My future husband doesn't like to share me and I respect that":
Share: the full or proper portion or part allotted or belonging to or contributed or owed by an individual or group
I Corinthians 7:4(NKJV) makes it crystal clear: "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."
As single women, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19)
As wives, our husbands have authority over them (one definition of authority is expert).
And so, while we're single, we should have enough faith in God (Hebrews 11) and respect for our future husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24) that we're simply not interested (tempted, at times, but not willing enough to partake-I Corinthians 10:13) in sharing the intimate parts of who we are with people who are not deserving of them. A friend, boyfriend or even a fiance' is not deserving. A HUSBAND IS. We should want to wait for the man whom we can have the "pillow talk resolve" that *only with him* are we better sharing a bed than sleeping alone.
And so, in honor of that, I'm going to share an article that I checked out entitled "6 Couples Who Saved Themselves For Marriage…And Why They’re Glad They Did". Even if you're not a virgin (and heads up, you are only a virgin *one time*; those who haven't had sex in a while are *abstinent*. Please make sure you are honest with your future husband about that if you fall into Category B. Love also is honest-I Corinthians 13:8), you can still refrain from sexual activity with your future husband. And so, for you, these stories are still relevant. Enjoy!
Although it may sound old-fashioned, believe it or not, there are still couples out there who not only want to save themselves for marriage…but actually do.
My husband and I landed squarely into the “wanted to” but failed category; after 4 years of dating, we slipped on our promise to save sex for marriage and well, inadvertently made a baby in the process. Who knew?
Fortunately for us, that baby turned out to be the complete love of our life–as most children tend to be–and we can’t really say that we regret how things have turned out.
But once in awhile, part of me can’t help but wonder what things might have been like, had we succeeded in our vow of saving ourselves for marriage…
Real-life couples who waited for marriage.
To find out, I asked around and found some couples who, even in today's day and age, had succeeded in saving themselves for marriage. And I found out that it looks like the grass really can be greener on the other side...
Living on Love.
Lacy from Living on Love says,
"My husband and I chose to wait because love is a sacred thing. We wanted our first time to be with each other, right after we said our vows to love each other for all our lives. We wanted it to be something we experienced together, a memory, something we'd cherish forever. There was no shame or embarrassment or guilt. It was just as I had imagined it would be and I wouldn't have done it any other way."
MyStyle by Joanna.
Joanna, a hairstylist, and her husband Ted, a financial planner decided to wait until marriage to have sex.
"The biggest reason for waiting was my faith," Joanna told me. "I think everyone has something non-negotiable in their relationship and that was mine. Nothing else can come first. The guilt I knew I would feel, and the disappointment in myself and to God, was not worth the compromise. If he had pushed me to give in, I think would have hated myself and resented him for it as well."
Of waiting, Joanna says, "It was HARD. And I am not the type to say 'no,' so I think it was actually good for me to learn that."
" I have seen amazing couples who haven't waited and people who struggle who have. But I will say-- it made our first year SO FUN. And whether waiting is the reason or not, I have always felt like our marriage has been really blessed because of it. Maybe it is because we learned a lot about working through our issues together before we had any really big issues to work out. And it is nice to know that neither of us has a past with anyone else. I don't have to worry about comparisons or anything like that."
"I guess I would say, that the thing you fight the hardest for is typically going to be the thing that is going to be your biggest success. Whether it is with work, your health, and most especially, your relationship. You fight and work at it, and you WILL reap the rewards. And it will be so fun the first year ( and of course--always gets better !) So keep going!"
An anonymous reader.
One reader sent me a message to tell her story, although she wished to be anonymous:
"Even though it was very hard, I am very glad we waited. There were multiple reasons that just fueled my decision to not and with that being said, the first year of our marriage was just magical!
We were soooo in love and could be together whenever we wanted. That is one thing I feel bad for couples who did have a bit of rush into it all, it's so hard now with kids to deal with everything and I'm glad we got a chance to slowly work together and figure it out together and had that time before everything got crazy!"
A pastor and his wife.
OK, so some may not find a pastor and his fiance choosing to wait until marriage all that surprising, but how about a second marriage?
"Although this was a second marriage for both of us we decided to save sex for marriage. It was difficult at times but the fact that my husband respected me and never pressured me for sex has allowed me to trust him with my whole heart," says Elizabeth Hudspeth, who celebrated her 10th anniversary with her husband last month.
A public vow to purity.
Another reader, who also wished to remain anonymous, was part of a public purity ceremony at church as a young woman, where she pledged to save herself for her husband.
"I got a ring and wore it on my ring finger and I really didn't have a serious boyfriend until I graduated high school and that boy turned out to be my husband," she wrote me. "There were many times I thought about it, but honestly I was scared. i was scared of breaking this promise, I was scared of the consequences that could happen from sex. I don't know if it was just drilled into me, but I was told it was wrong and I just couldn't do it. I think my husband felt the same way; he was raised that it was wrong and he had the same fears that I did.
I think that staying virgins until we got married was the best gift we could have given each other. I think back and sometimes wonder if I missed out on the part of life where you are young and sex is forbidden so it's so exciting, but then I realize how much heartache I saved myself from. It still means so much to me today that my husband and I have never been with anyone else; there is such great intimacy when no one else has ever known your body. im so happy that one day i can tell my kids that we made that choice."
And then there's Devon Franklin and Meagan Good----two people who were sexually active with others yet profess that they were not with one another before marriage:
So how did Franklin, who'd gone 10 years without sex, and his bride-to-be make it work during their courtship? "We held each other accountable because we honored the commitment," he tells ESSENCE.com. "And we both were already committed to it."
The newlywed, who calls married life with Good blissful, credits his drive to obtain his higher purpose in life for keeping him focused. "I believe we all are called to a higher purpose," says Franklin. "That is the greatest motivator. What if I never get to my purpose because my lifestyle never leads me there? The poor choices in my life are the barrier to me getting to my purpose."
Franklin believes that marriage's higher purpose is love and healing. "The idea of disrupting that or potentially corrupting the union by doing anything less than honoring our commitment kept us both motivated and committed to keeping each other accountable," he says.
Reportedly, they are releasing a book this year entitled The Wait.
So whether you're dating, *courting* (which is my personal preference) or simply waiting until you can/should date or court, I pray this encourages you to go beyond "saving yourself" to "I was made for one man. Why would I share my sacred parts with others?"
Trust me, there's not one single solitary good enough reason to...
So, hold your pearls close.
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."---Matthew 7:6(NKJV)
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."---Matthew 13:45-46(NKJV)