Saturday, September 16, 2017
Some of this guy's videos are hil-ar-ious!
This one? Not so much. But it is a gut check like a mug!
My James 5:16 for the day: I used to be the woman who settled for less than what I want *and* for what God had for me (not necessarily in that order--I Corinthians 2:9-10), all the while using some sort of "at least" justification.
This (Christian married) brother sums it up perfectly...
If you're using "at least" to explain your man...
9.5 times out of 10...
THAT. AIN'T. GOOD.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
An Ounce of Prevention: (VIDEOS) 'How She Knew He Was the One' & 'What She Wishes She Knew Before Marriage'
There's nothing like listening to a Christian wife talk about what it's like to meet the one and to speak on what she wish she knew before saying "I do". There are some gems in both videos.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Monday, September 11, 2017
Marriage—Christ and the Church
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."---Ephesians 5:22-33(NKJV)
Something that *never* ceases to amaze me about the Bible is how I can read the same things over and over again and *always* get something new from it (Psalm 18:28).
Today, what caught my attention was the title of this section. It reminds me that marriage was created for believers. Actually for disciples because they are the ones who are spiritually mature enough to understand that marriage requires *constant* self-denial (Matthew 19:26) and Word-abiding (John 8:31-32). And since the Word tells us that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement (Amos 3:3) and the Word also instructs believers to NOT be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:11-18) then...there really is no biblical ground, basis or support for choosing to marry someone who doesn't have a relationship with the Lord.
ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN...
Why? Because in spite of how much the world (and sadly, even some women in the Church) try and "buck up" against the *biblical instruction* of wives submitting to their husbands (Colossians 3:18), that is EXACTLY what wives are supposed to do. That's why I oftentimes say to single women: "If you don't want to submit to a man, DON'T GET MARRIED."
And deeper than that, since God calls us to submission...
Why would you submit to a man who doesn't submit to God?
Women don't "suddenly find out" that a man is not honoring the Lord *after* marriage...
While dating/courting signs reveal themselves.
I was reminded of this fact when I read an article entitled "When God Doesn’t Approve of Your Relationship". Here's an excerpt from it:
If you’re praying for God’s will, eventually their true colors will show. But you can’t pray for God to reveal these things to you and then disregard them when He shows you this person is not the one for you.
One of my relationships, I REALLY wanted to work. So when we began to have our share of problems, I began to pray.
I asked God to show me whether or not this person was the one for me. If not, I prayed that He would remove him from my life. Well, it didn’t take long for God to show me at all.
A day after praying that prayer, my ex told me that he felt we should call it quits. Not quite the answer I was expecting from God. But His will is always best. Too bad I didn’t believe that at that time. About two weeks later, my ex called me and said he realized he had made a mistake letting me go.
In spite of everything I had discussed with God, this was still music to my ears.
We talked about how we were going to make our relationship better this time. It truly felt like we were going to be alright this time. We had a plan this time and for the first time in a long time, we were actually communicating with each other, listening to each other.
I even began to wonder if I had misunderstood what God was trying to tell me about our relationship.
Nevertheless, our relationship got to a point where we were breaking up every other month. This went on for about two years. Every night I would pray that our relationship would take a turn for the better. Until finally I prayed a different prayer…
This time I asked God to forgive me for going against His better judgment, for being so disobedient, and for not trusting Him with my heart.
I'm telling you. A Scripture in the Bible that can spare your heart and time A LOT of unnecessary drama is "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15--NKJV)
There are TONS of women out here who ARE NOT praying "thine will be done" (I John 1:14-15) about the guy they are seeing or are interested in. It's more like "God, I desire him so make it happen." And so, when challenges (or are they obstacles?!) arise, they think it's "Satan" when really, it could be God all along. That's why the Word *warns us* that our hearts have the ability to deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Because in matters of the heart, oftentimes they most certainly do!
So, take out a moment and ponder (Proverbs 4:26)...
If you are currently seeing someone, how does he *line up with the Word*?
If you're interested in someone, what *fruit* reveals that he's godly?
If you simply desire to be in a relationship, how much is "his" spiritual walk a priority?
For not nearly enough women are these things the case.
Case in point. When two people who are fornicating with one another tell me that they want/plan to get married, I shake my head. Why? Because sexual immorality is idolatry (I Corinthians 6, Exodus 20:3) and we are instructed to *flee idolatry* (I Corinthians 10:14). Why is it idolatry? Because ANYTHING that God tells us not to do that we choose to do anyway? That is something that we're putting above God and *that* makes it an idol. *God does not give us idols*. That includes in the form of (future) spouses.
Fornicating couples don't need to get married...
Fornicating couples need to break up, repent, confess and get whole.
(I John 1:9-10, James 1:4 & 5:16).
And you know what? Before ANY OF US get into a relationship with a man (and by "man" I mean has a relationship with ALL of the Godhead, knows his purpose and honors your body and own purpose--Genesis 2, Psalm 20:4, Romans 11:29, I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message)
, we need to seek the Father (Matthew 7:7-8, James 1:5) for divine wisdom on what it truly means to be a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10) and also what it means for a man to be godly. *Truly godly*.
The reason being that when we understand (Proverbs 17:27) what GOD'S STANDARDS are for a man and a woman who are prayerfully contemplating becoming husband and wife, our discernment gets clearer. And stronger (I Corinthians 2:14). And when *that* happens, things not working out with a guy starts to feel less like rejection and more like God's protection.
This is why I like articles like "When God Says No: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer". While I personally don't subscribe to "unanswered prayers" (just because it may not be the answer or in the time that we want, that doesn't mean God didn't answer), I do agree with what the author shared as far as why God sometimes, oftentimes, says "no":
Sin in our lives.
To say "yes" would bring us harm we don't foresee.
God has something far greater in store for us.
We pray at cross purposes with other believers.
We pray for things where a "yes" is impossible.
We pray for things that are already determined.
We get discouraged in prayer by thinking God has said "no" when in fact He's said nothing at all.
God's "no" is not rejection, but redirection.
God's "no" isn't punishment, it's preparation.
God's "no" will sometimes bring greater glory to God.
God's "no" opens the door to an adventure with God.
(There are explanations for all of the points if you click on the title link.)
It's not a popular notion, but the reality (Ecclesiastes 7:18--Message) is a lot of people's desires ARE their idols! They are so fixated on (or is it obsessed with?) what they want that they don't even make the time to process if it's what God wants for them. They are so afraid of God's "no" (2 Timothy 1:7, I John 4:18) that they don't realize that his "nos" ARE ALWAYS a "yes" to something more. Better. Greater (I Corinthians 2:9-10). In his time (Acts 1:7--Message, Ecclesiastes 3:11). *Not theirs*.
To truly "walk by faith" (2 Corinthians 5:7), including in matters of the heart (Mark 12:30-31), we have to be willing to hear what God has to say about who we want (Proverbs 28:9--Message), release the guy *and* our plans if that's God's will, *get our own lives in order* and then...wait (Isaiah 43:19). And in that waiting season, pray (I Thessalonians 5:17) and prepare. Not for how *we think* our lives should go, but how *God reveals* it to us---the more we acknowledge him in ALL that we do (Proverbs 3:4-6).
Unfortunately, there are tons of unhealthy marriages today because people said "yes" to individuals who were not marriage material because they were not walking with the Lord.
A godly husband is to nourish and cherish you...
He's to sanctify you with the Word of God.
He's to present you as holy before the Father.
He's to love you as he does his own self.
Are you praying for *this* kind of future husband?
Or is it more about the guy you want or just being in a relationship at all?
God answers our prayers yet that doesn't always mean it's "yes" or that we'll always get our way. Trusting God is about knowing that he is perfect and he makes our paths perfect (Psalm 18:30-32)---and that oftentimes means/requires *totally rerouting* us. Yep. Even in relationships. Even when it comes to "him".
Stay prayerful and faith-filled. Daily. Always.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Monday, August 28, 2017
"But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing."---James 1:4(AMPC)
Being that Christ was a Jew...
King of the Jews, in fact (Luke 23:3), that is a *huge* part of the reason why I study a lot of Jewish and Hebrew culture.
Take the word "beshert", for example...
In Yiddish, it means "destiny" or "meant to be".
In Hebrew, it means something along the lines of "inevitable" or "preordained".
A lot of Jewish people use this word to define their soulmate:
The term beshert is most often used to mean a soulmate: the one person whom an individual is divinely destined to marry…
Though the term beshert can refer to any fortuitous event (“I missed the bus, but it must have been beshert, because I heard it broke down”), it’s most often used to mean a soulmate: the one person whom an individual is divinely destined to marry. The etymology of the Yiddish word—spelled, generally, either bashert or beshert—is something of a mystery. Some argue that the word comes from the German beschert, meaning bestowed or given. (Bescherung, a version of the word, is used to describe the exchange of gifts on Christmas.) Others say that it’s from the Yiddish word sher, meaning scissors or shears, the idea being that beshert is something that has been shaped in a specific way, as if cut out by a pair of unseen scissors.
Do I personally believe in soulmates? Not in the sense of there only being one person you could be happily and in a healthy marriage with, no. I discern that when selecting a life partner, a spouse, a big part of what you're selecting is your life's path.
Marry a doctor? Your life will go one direction.
Marry a minister? Your life will go another.
Marry an entertainer? Whew! Buckle up (LOL)!
What I *do* believe in is "soulmates" in this sense:
"Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt."---I Samuel 18:1-4(NKJV)
OK, so *clearly* this means that I also don't believe that soulmates are limited to marital dynamics. Yes, I believe that even friends can be soulmates; that there are some people who come into your life---who are *assigned by God*---to touch it in a way that no one else can. They are individuals who have made a covenant, more with God than even you, about how to serve you on his behalf.
And yes, ideally, one of those individuals, would be your future life partner...
However, as far as the Jewish belief that a person is "half a soul" without a spouse (you can read more about that here). Eh. I discern it depends on the context:
"But Jesus said, 'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it."---Matthew 19:11-12(Message)
Being that even Christ himself said that not everyone would be married (remember that Jews believe that Christ was a prophet, but not the Son of God so the New Testament is basically irrelevant to them, for the most part), and even the Apostle Paul spoke of one benefit of being single is being able to serve the Lord in a way that married folks simply cannot (I Corinthians 7:32-35)---if only individuals who are married were "whole", that's basically saying that those who are next-level-devoted to serving the Lord are somehow fractionated. ABSOLUTELY NOT IS THAT THE CASE.
And while we're here, I feel led to say this...
Some of the emails that I get, it's beyond "desiring a husband"; there is almost an obsession or compulsion with getting/having one. GOD WILL NOT GIVE YOU SOMEONE TO WORSHIP OR TO PUT ABOVE HIM. That is called "idolatry" (Exodus 20:3, I Corinthians 10:14). Read Romans 1 to see how *left* things can go when you choose to put the gift before the giver.
And that's kind of where I'm going with this...
Listen, can't *nobody* convince me that the 90s wasn't the absolute best decade for R&B and "I Gotta Be" by Jagged Edge used to be my joint! At the end, the keep saying "You make my WHOLE, you make me right. Don't ever wanna think about you leaving my life." And while it's about as romantic to think about as Tom Cruise saying "You COMPLETE me" in the Jerry Maguire movie, it's also a dangerous way of thinking.
Whole: comprising the full quantity, amount, extent, number, etc., without diminution or exception; entire, full, or total; containing all the elements properly belonging; complete; undivided; in one piece
Complete: having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full; having all the required or customary characteristics, skills, or the like; consummate; perfect in kind or quality; thorough; entire; total; undivided, uncompromised, or unmodified
Personally, I have yet to find even *one* Scripture that speaks to a spouse making another person whole. Some people interpret the first marriage in the Garden of Eden to be that instance, but I *loathe* when people interject personal feelings as if it's verbatim Scripture. The Word does not tell us that Adam was lonely. THIS is what the Word tells us:
"And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.' Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."---Genesis 2:18-25(NKJV)
Honestly? How is it not borderline blasphemous to come to the conclusion that in the state of perfection, in the very presence of the Most High (Genesis 14:19) himself, that Adam was *lonely*?!
Lonely: affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome
Now there is another definition. It's "destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc." Yet minus the intercourse part, I'm not even rockin' with this. Adam had no better companionship and support than his own Maker!
This does not say that Adam was lonely...
It says that while he was doing his JOB...
He noticed that he didn't have a helper in the way the animals did.
The Word also doesn't say that Adam told the Lord that he wasn't whole...
It says that GOD DECLARED it was not good for Adam to be alone.
Alone: separate, apart, or isolated from others; without anyone or anything else; without equal
Gee. When you stop to look at it from this angle, does it sound like God was saying that Adam was "needy" for a wife? Or was it more about the fact that since God had already declared that he made male and female and being fruitful and multiplying was a huge part of what was to come from their relationship (Genesis 1:26-28, Malachi 2:15--NCV), it wasn't a good idea that Adam, a human, would be isolated or without, since even the animals had companionship. And more than that, assistance to do what they were created to do.
Seeing it *that way*...
Adam was not given a spouse because he was lonely...
Adam was given a spouse because she would help him to do God's will.
I'll even go so far as to say that a part of the reason why Adam named the animals *first* was so that he could even grasp the concept of how companionship was to work.
Think about it. Trying to explain a wife to Adam when he had never seen another human before may have had him be like "Huh?!"Yet watching a lion and lionness work together? He was probably like "Ohhhhh...that's what a female does. I don't have one of those." And God was like "No, you don't. You could use one to further my purpose, though. Go to sleep for a bit."
Because again, God didn't say "It's not good for a man to be alone because he's lonely."
God said, "'It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.'" (Genesis 2:18---AMPC)
This is what A TON of people miss...
Marriage is not about "healing your loneliness".
Marriage is about two people...
Being brought together BY GOD...
To further a specific purpose and mission that GOD has in mind!
That's why being out here looking for your "other half" is whack, dysfunctional, carnal, potentially self-destructive and a great way to set yourself up for divorce (Malachi 2:14-16)!
Half: partial or incomplete
*Especially* if you're a woman! Why do I say that? Because *a wife* is *a helper*. Providing good help is hard and consistent WORK! If you're going into wifedom partial and incomplete, all the while expecting a man to do for you what really ONLY GOD should be doing? You're gonna end up over in one of these places:
"And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be trapped by her."---Ecclesiastes 7:26(NKJV)
"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman."---Proverbs 21:9(AMPC)
"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."---Proverbs 14:1(NKJV)
"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones."---Proverbs 12:4(NKJV)
The women who are spoke of negatively in these verses? How much you wanna bet they were "half" going into their relationship? That they went into their situation incomplete and expecting a man or a relationship to make them whole when James 1:4 tells us what makes us whole. Ironically? It's endurance, steadfastness and...PATIENCE.
Not only that, but as a confirmation for all of this, I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33--AMPC) an article earlier today with this title: "My Wife Doesn't Complete Me" (excerpt):
In Marriage: Complementing vs. Completing
This is the part where I bring the conversation around to marriage…
As spouses, we’re called to complement each other, but we we were never called to complete each other. This may sound obvious, but most of us act as if we believe the opposite.
When we place undue pressure on our spouses for our joy, peace, and even love, we set them up for failure. They will inevitably fall short, and if we’re leaning on them for our security we’ll fall with them. If we’re not full in Christ, we will have an immensely hard time being fulfilled by our spouse.
When we’re full in Christ alone, suddenly we have margin (extra room) in our lives for each others’ imperfections. We are enabled to stand in the gaps where our partners fall short.
We can have patience when they’re impatient, express love when they’re hurtful, and remind them of Christ’s hope when they are hopeless. In other words, you help and complement them by being strong in their weaknesses.
The "complement" word?
He's pulling that straight from Scripture and real talk?
NO ONE IS IN THE POSITION TO COMPLEMENT ANOTHER...
UNTIL THEY HAVE A WHOLE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD.
*NOT PERFECT BUT WHOLE*.
The folks who are whole in the Lord are not out here pining over a spouse...
They are in relationship with God, walking in their purpose and trusting...
That if/when HE decides they should be married, *they will be*.
Not because someone else will complete them...
It's because GOD DETERMINED they would truly complement one another.
So yeah, if you're out here waiting for your other half, PRAISE GOD that he hasn't brought you to anyone---yet. A husband is not what you need right now. A deeper walk with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7) and a greater understanding of your individual purpose (Proverbs 33:15) need to be the far greater focus.
Looking for your other half is a problem.
Getting whole within yourself is its solution!
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. "---Ecclesiastes 3:11(NKJV)
"He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”---Acts 1:7-8(Message)
At the end of this post, I'll share a video that I checked out this morning from a spoken word artist that some of you might be familiar with. The entire message is about him being a single man who's getting ready to go to a wedding while helping people deal with wondering when their time will come *and* understanding that marriage is not ultimately for or even about them. It's about bringing glory to God. And since it's about him, *he knows what's best*. All the way around. Selah and amen!
I really like how he paralleled Christ performing his *first* miracle at a wedding (John 2), initially being asked to turn water into wine and his first response being that (catch it) *it wasn't his time*. Clearly his mom had some influence over and a lot of faith in him because he performed the miracle anyway.
However, the gist of the message is that when it comes to having the desire to get married and not having it (yet) happen, to many of us, God is also saying "It's not yet your time."
It's not that it won't happen...
It's that it's not the right/best time. YET.
That got me to thinking about something that a pastor by the name of Bishop Joseph Walker once preached about here in Nashville: "It's your time, it's just not your turn." Yeah, that's another way to look at it. However, here's the thing I really want you to consider. And then pray about.
Proverbs 16:3(NKJV) states "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established." This is not a suggestion; it is a biblical instruction. Before *any of us* can enter into a marital covenant (Malachi 2:14-16, Matthew 19:1-12, I Corinthians 7:10-11) with another human being, we first must *commit ourselves to the Lord*. The choices and decisions that you make today will play a direct role in the outcome up the road. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8) and one of my favorite heads up Scriptures is something that was once said to Jerusalem...*as a consequence and a warning*: "Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome; she had no comforter." (Lamentations 1:9--NKJV)
Our destiny is what God already has planned for our life...
YET those things don't *just happen*...
We need to HONOR HIS WILL and HIS DIRECTIVES.
This *wholeheartedly includes* trusting his timing...
When it comes to timing, a word that I really like is "kairos":
The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative...
The Bible warns that we should take full advantage of the opportunities God gives us.
Although I know what some women reading this struggle with whether or not they'll be married...
I know that *far more* take issue with WHEN it will happen.
My mother used to always say "The right thing at the wrong time *is* the wrong thing." So true, so true! Remember what God said when it was *time* for Adam to be joined to his Woman was this: "Now the Lord God said, 'It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him'." (Genesis 2:18--AMPC) And what is kairos time? It's not just about seizing opportunities; it's also about being in the right season and the fitting time. (Fruit picked before it's ripe is still fruit...it's not as good, though, right?)
At the fitting time and in the right season...
A suitable, adapted and complementary woman is brought to a man...
By God himself.
The *kind* of wife a man has...
Comes at the *kairos* time.
This means that not only should we be praying about whether or not marriage is God's will for us *and* if we're mature enough for marriage (Matthew 19:11-12--Message), we also need to ask him to make peace with *his timing* and trust that by *committing to him*, he is leading and guiding us, *through the power of the Holy Spirit*, to the right man and the right time!
Hopefully, that is a word that will bring some comfort to some of you.
Get out of YOUR TIMING of things...
Settle into KAIROS.
Then watch how much calmer you become (Proverbs 17:27)...
How much you'll be willing to obey God's every command!
That's some good stuff right there!
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Sunday, July 23, 2017
"Look! Listen! There’s my lover! Do you see him coming? Vaulting the mountains, leaping the hills. My lover is like a gazelle, graceful; like a young stag, virile. Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate, all ears, all eyes—ready! My lover has arrived and he’s speaking to me!"---Song of Solomon 2:8-10(Message)
I've been talking to more and more virgins. Yep. Don't let the media LIE to you. There are still *quite a few* women AND men who are saving it until marriage. *Just like the Bible says we're supposed to do*.
For instance, look at how Rebekah is described in the Bible *before* being joined to Isaac:
"Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up."---Genesis 24:16(NKJV)
Or the the criteria of what Esther's future husband was looking for in his queen:
"Then the king’s servants who attended him said: 'Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them."---Esther 2:2-3(NKJV)
"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti."---Esther 2:17(NKJV)
Here's another great reference to virginity:
"For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you."
Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin:
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, 'God with us.'"---Matthew 1:23(NKJV)
(This one alone is enough of a reason to get why Satan HATES virginity; our Savior came to this world through one!)
Both the wise and foolish bridesmaids in Matthew 25 were virgins:
"Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps."---Matthew 25:7(NKJV)
According to this verse, it is to be an "assumed standard" that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN is a virgin prior to marriage. *This* is how it was supposed to be for all of us:
"There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world---how she may please her husband."---I Corinthians 7:34(NKJV)
In fact, check out this 24-year-old male virgin who said my favorite thing last week:
"I may not be catching bodies, but I'm out here catching souls!" PREACH!!!
*Who cares* what the world---the place that the Bible says is filled with *nothing* but lust and pride (I John 2:16)---has to say about virgins?! The Bible ADORES them!
Matter of fact, if you are one, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. I recently looked up what the Hebrew word for it is: "bethulah". I'm gonna figure out a way for you to sport your sacred sexual status in a way that's subtle but still a conversational piece (if you're down!).
In the meantime, as you can tell from the title of this message, this isn't just for virgins nor is it only about virginity---although I will say "I salute you!" to all of the virgins who are *so pure* that they've never even been kissed before.
Yeah, virgins who are the I-do-everything-but-penetrate-and-still-brag-about-being-untouched women don't impress me. Not one bit. God isn't impressed either. Being a virgin is about more than just not being penetrated. It's about living your life like you really and truly know that you've been bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message) and that ONLY once you are MARRIED does a man get special privileges to..."unwrap your gift" (James 1:17, I Corinthians 7:1-5).
So back to kissing...
There is an article that I checked out that confirms what I've been saying quite a bit on this long as of late. The title will give it away: "Does Dating Prepare Us for Marriage---or Divorce?" Here's an excerpt:
The common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.
Dating is an intentional pursuit of marriage, not casual preparation for it. Unfortunately, many of us are being told we must date early and often if we ever want to be ready for marriage. For instance, one popular Christian dating book reads, “Dating is an incubator time of discovering the opposite sex, one’s own sexual feelings, moral limits, one’s need for relationship skills, and one’s tastes for people.” Sounds practical and reasonable on the surface. Until you think about putting yourself (or your daughter) into someone else’s “incubator” for a few months, or years, while he or she tries out their “sexual feelings” and “moral limits.” We put too much of ourselves at risk in dating to donate our hearts to someone’s romantic experiment.
The truth is we have given dating far too much credit, and far too much power in our pursuit of marriage. And because we misunderstand and misuse dating, we end up making more and greater mistakes in our search for love.
Wait to Date?
Wait to date until you can marry. That’s my advice for the not-yet-married, reflecting on my personal experience (and failures) in dating and on years of walking with others falling in love (and often falling harder out of love). In short, if we are dating in order to marry, we need to be ready to marry before we begin dating.
Yeah, some of y'all will call this take "old-fashioned". Me? I call it "SAFE"...
It' also a great way to connect the whole kissing thing.
There's a married couple I'm working with right now who dated (and had sex off and on) *for years* and now? While they claim that they still love each other, they act like they can't stand each other. What I've worked to get them to recognize and admit (James 5:16) is that they were so busy trying to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" (which for them included having sex) that they never focused on cultivating a real *friendship*.
The Bible says NOTHING about having a boyfriend.
It says A LOT about the value of true friendship, though.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 17:17, John 15:13)
And if you're more focused on friendship...
How sacred is not only protecting your body...
But your mouth too?
What prompted most of this was that over the weekend I was having a conversation with a 30-something never-been-kissed-before virgin (when she launches her FB fan page about her platform, I'll let you know!). She's going to be speaking to some youth soon about purity and she was asking me how far is too far in my personal opinion. She also wanted to know if it's the woman's job to tell the guy what the limit was.
My response to the second question was basically...
A man who doesn't want to be accused of rape is going to want to woman to set the limit...
A godly man is going to have some preset boundaries out the gate. #realtalk
The first question? I shared with her an article about what is *really going on* during a kiss:
As people kiss, oxytocin, which is a hormone made in the hypothalamus and released from the pituitary gland near the base of the brain, also increases. Among many other functions, oxytocin is thought to reduce stress and increase feelings of connectedness. Along with the endorphins, it is thought to influence feelings of happiness and attachment found in committed, loving relationships. Pheromones, which are chemical messages sent between members of the same species, may also play a part in human attraction. The vomeronasal organ, located between the nose and mouth, usually detects others’ pheromones. Although it is still unclear how they work, pheromones are thought to signal sexual arousal and increase attraction towards appropriate partners. You feel fantastic; the warmth and appeal for your date grows beyond your imagination and leaves you feeling closer than ever.
He squeezes you tightly one last time before you begin to back away, neither of you aware of the internal changes and reactions that have just occurred in your bodies. You barely remember the keys in your hand, as you thank him for a wonderful time. He smiles at you happily, already daydreaming about the few moments before. You unlock the door and slip inside, thinking, “There’s nothing like a first kiss.”
That's why I included the lead quote. I wanted it to look/seem/feel mega-intense because a kiss---and you know what I mean: *a real kiss*---is just that: INTENSE. There should be *nothing* casual about it!
Taking it further, peep what oxytocin is---and does (excerpts):
One of the hormones that these neurotransmitters send from the Deep Limbic System of the brain is oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes bonding and attachment and if all the hormones had an opportunity to vote for the “most popular” award in the hormone yearbook, its peers would vote for it every time because it makes others feel good and close when it is active.
For the Psychology student, here is the scientific description: “Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus [which is in the Deep Limbic System part of the brain], where it is either released into blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, where it binds to oxytocin receptors to influence behavior and physiology.” (DeAngelis)
Oxytocin has been dubbed the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” because it does simply that. It creates bonds, trust, and generosity in us. (DeAngelis) In fact whenever you feel comfort or security, oxytocin is involved. It is involved in every form of human bonding. (Horstman, 23)...
Oxytocin not only promotes bonding during birth and breast-feeding; it also increases trust and empathy. (Bartz) It is also released during a hug and kiss of a loved one. (DeAngelis) This hormone does it all. I could go on and on about this hormone but it is time to turn to oxytocin and sex.
Oxytocin and Sex
The other crucial time oxytocin is released is during sex. During sex this chemical is being produced in both individuals, creating a bond between them both. Released in the brain, this hormone is creating an emotional bond between the partners.
One of the prominent figures in neuropsychology is Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Amen does cutting edge research in neuropsychology and has helped millions of people have healthier brains, which translates to healthier lives. Dr. Daniel Amen writes in his book, Change Your Brain Change Your Life, page 41:
“Whenever a person is sexually involved with another person, neurochemical changes occur in both their brains that encourage limbic, emotional bonding. Yet limbic bonding is the reason casual sex doesn’t really work for most people on a whole mind and body level. Two people may decide to have sex ‘just for the fun of it,’ yet something is occurring on another level they might not have decided on at all: sex is enhancing an emotional bond between them whether they want it or not. One person, often the woman, is bound to form an attachment and will be hurt when a casual affair ends. One reason it is usually the women who is hurt most is that the female limbic system is larger than the male’s.”
Does this resonate with you? Have you ever felt the hurt and pain after a one night stand or breakup? Do you find yourself repeatedly playing the scenario in your mind, maybe even thinking of different outcomes? Chances are you are doing these things because of the attachment that was created between you and your partner when you were sexually involved. The emotional attachment that is created during sex (the glue) brings two people together.
IN MARRIAGE, oxytocin makes a *ton* of sense because there is to be NO "starting and stopping" in intimacy. A husband and wife can go all the way because sex is especially *for* them.
SINGLES? Shoot, I can only imagine how many people are more caught up in someone than they should be because they are on an oxytocin high! **sigh** And, as you can see from the first article, oxytocin kicks in with kissing...not just with sex.
In fact, it helps me understand why some of the men in my world (they get side-eye, but still) consider kissing to be MAD INTIMATE. Some of them even think it's more intimate that sexual activity. If they *kiss* you, they *really like* you. They feel very connected during the act.
And listen. Y'all may need to refresh my memory because it's been a while since I've kissed anyone and, real talk? Even longer since I've kissed someone and it didn't lead to *something somewhere* coming off. As...amazing as a *good kiss* can make you feel, if you're at least *halfway* trying to take the Bible seriously (God don't like "lukewarm" y'all--Revelation 3:14-16), can't it be a bit of a roller coaster ride too? A mad frustrating one?
Here you are, in the throes of passion, with the man of your dreams and he's a *great kisser*. HOWEVER, you know that sex before marriage is wrong (DEAD WRONG---I Corinthians 6:9-10, 18, Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 10:7-8, Revelation 21:8) and so you end up...multi-tasking. You know: trying to enjoy the kiss while also wondering where to put your hands, if his are in an "appropriate" place, how far is too far...stuff that married folks *never* have to consider.
Sex, especially sexual intercourse, is the *ultimate* form of physical intimacy...
Yet don't for a moment underestimate the power of a kiss.
Case in point: who wants to have sex *without* kissing?!
So Shellie, what are you saying? That kissing is wrong?
Nope. I'm not saying that. Not saying that at all.
What I *am* saying, though, is that your *entire body* was created for a purpose and your mouth is not exempt. Also, when you kiss someone, your body is expecting A LOT from the experience. Not only that but the mouth is the dirtiest part of the body (I mean, it's true), more and more STDs are "popping up" via saliva. Plus, your mouth is precious. So is his. And if both of you are trying to see where things are going, the less oxytocin...the better.
To confirm these points...
Let's close out with some videos about couples who took their kissing seriously.
I have a girlfriend who was a virgin when she got married. Her husband was one too. They started off kissing but then stopped and didn't kiss for three years...until their wedding day. They've been married (wow) 14 years now. Look how geeked she is!
Everything about you is special.
You're the temple of the Holy Spirit after all.
Whether you're wondering when your first kiss is coming...
Or who is worthy of your next one...
Even kissing serves a sweet, profound and very relevant purpose.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...