Dating someone from church was definitely something new to me, but when I was younger, I never even heard of “staying pure till marriage”.
Well, I guess I can’t say that. Everyone tells you to “wait” until you’re married. But no one actually did it.
In fact, in my experience, girls were having sex with their boyfriends as early as high school. I thought I was the late-bloomer when I decided to have sex in college.
But it wasn’t unheard of. It was expected.
And to be honest, I had a really hard time with that. I mean, really hard.
I was dating an older man at the time and I felt an internal pressure to give him something that he had been used to getting.
But every time I thought of losing my virginity before marriage, I would get sick to my stomach. So much so, that I ended up losing 30 pounds over a winter break because of it.
While I wasn’t a super-saint at the time, I was taught that staying pure till marriage was something that God instructed us to do. And I don’t know why, but that one sin (to have sex before marriage) carried a lot of weight for me.
It’s not like my boyfriend was pressuring me into doing. Rather, I was pressuring myself because I didn’t want to come off as being “too young”. Even though he never flat-out said that he needed to have sex with me, it was very evident that us not doing it was affecting him.
At the time, I didn’t know what it meant to feel convicted. I didn’t know why having sex before marriage was such a big deal for me. And I struggled with my guilt and my fears daily.
In the end, I eventually did it. I gave in to my fears of losing my boyfriend and I did something that the world approved of. In doing so, I always thought about God and His rules for sex and marriage. Every. Single. Time. I tried to drown out those thoughts but no matter what I did, God always came back to mind.
At this point in my life, having sex became the norm for every relationship. It was more important to do it in order to keep the relationship going than it was to not. Though I’m pretty embarrassed to admit this, but back then, I definitely placed my boyfriend’s love and affection for me above God’s. And because of that, I continued to do something that made me feel guilty for the sake of feeling loved and valued.
Did I ever try to stay pure in a relationship during this time? Yup. But it didn’t take long for us to abandon that desire– I was still living with my boyfriend, and sleeping in the same bed… so yeah, so much for that.
Flash-forward to my late-20’s. I’ve been in so many bad relationships and I had had enough. Engaging in relationships with guys who saw sex as purely physical did a number on me. It
I was finally ready to trust God with my love-life and to do things His way.
So I started going to church and taking my faith walk more seriously. I wanted to really work on my personal relationship with Jesus, rather than with any other guy.
And sure, it was easy to stay pure while I was single. But I was absolutely terrified of how I would ever be able to accomplish staying pure once I started to date again.
I just couldn’t believe that this woman was dating this guy, all that time, and never once crossed any physical boundaries. I thought it was impossible! And what she was telling me must’ve been some rare exception to the norm. There was definitely no way that I could follow in her footsteps.
But then I met Kyle. The man who ultimately became my husband. And I so desperately wanted to do the right thing with the right guy. So I made it my mission to make the impossible possible.
Crazy, I know. But it happened. And it happened to me. So it can happen for you too.
Now, when I was considering going “exclusive” with Kyle, my biggest fear and concern wasn’t how we would stay pure?
It was, “how was I going to stay pure so that I would not cause Kyle to sin.” Cause, let’s be honest here: Eve persuaded Adam to eat the fruit. I knew what I was capable of doing if I wanted to.
Kyle was already established in his faith. He had been going to church and serving the Lord way longer than I was! I just knew that if anyone was gonna mess this up, it was gonna be me.
Not to mention, my past was so broken. I was such a broken person because of it. In my past relationships, sex was one of those things that kinda kept things together. By taking that out of the equation, how does one even have a relationship? Let alone, a good one?
Ultimately we trusted God fully and totally in this area. And it definitely paid off.
So how did we do it? How were we able to make the “impossible” possible?
How did a sexual sinner like me find the restoration in Christ to create a pure and loving relationship with the guy who became my husband?
Since this was my number one concern back when I was dating, I want to share with you some of the most important things that helped us remain pure
1. We shared our thoughts about purity and dating.
I had to let Kyle know what I was feeling when it came to purity, dating, and my fear of how I could lead him to sin. I also shared my past experiences and convictions. Not because he was a priest and I had to come clean, but because I genuinely wanted this to work out, so he had to know the entire story.
For example– I knew in my heart that if I were to ever kiss Kyle I would have wanted more eventually. I knew this because that is what always happened in my previous relationships. One thing would always lead to another.
Likewise, Kyle had always desired in his heart to save his next kiss for his wife. This was something that was way bigger than me. It was between him and God.
By sharing our fears, concerns, and desires of what we wanted in a pure relationship, we were able to stay on the same page from the very beginning.
2. We set boundaries on day one.
We didn’t wait to be in a situation before we set a rule or a boundary for dating. Kyle and I set rules the moment we decided to start dating.
What kind of rules? The kind of rules that kept us in line when it came to getting physical. Here
- No kissing on the lips
- Stick to the curfew
- Never be alone in the dark
- Never watch/listen to R-rated movies/shows/songs that would promote getting frisky
- Pray before and after each hangout
- Never go into each other’s bedroom
A bit extreme? It wasn’t for us. Remember, I didn’t trust myself because of my sexual past. And Kyle didn’t necessarily trust his own flesh either because of his own past.
While some may think this is just way too much, what’s important to understand is that with an impure past, it is easy for someone’s thoughts to go back to that place.
So by setting up boundaries and rules for your relationship (whether you’re 18 or 45!), they’re going to protect you.
3. We warned each other when temptations were high.
Anything could trigger a temptation. Though we didn’t deliberately try to, sexual attraction was still there.
That’s not a bad thing. Attraction is not a bad thing. I mean, after all, you are going to want to be sexually attracted to your spouse. That chemistry should be there.
But to act on those sexual attractions during the wrong season of your relationship is what causes us to fall in sin.
The reason why is because unless you marry that man, you’re only trying to figure out if that man you’re dating is the right man for you.
So if you engage in sex before marriage, and it turns out that he’s not the one you’re meant to marry, then you just gave away your most valuable gift (your body/heart/a piece of your soul) to someone who will ultimately no longer matter.
This is why it’s so important to guard yourself from making any “marriage-like” moves before marriage. Because what you have in yourself is so precious, that it should only be given to someone who is worthy of loving and caring for it for the rest of their life.
The Engaged Woman's Prayer Book
Back to the warnings. Like I said, anything and everything would trigger us.
A simple look. They way we smiled at each other. What we were wearing. Any of this could easily turn us on.
So, we created some code words that we would use in public and private to communicate that what was happening was turning us on. By using the code words, we were able to understand that we had to tread lightly and be sensitive to not pursue the temptation any further.
Sometimes, that meant a simple wardrobe change. Or, a change of subject. At times it even meant that we would stop watching/listening to whatever we were watching/listening to and pray together to keep us focused and free from sexual distraction.
4. We watched what we wore.
I don’t know about you, but wearing certain things make me feel sexy. And whenever I’m feeling sexy, I act sexy.
You better believe I reserved that ish for once I got married.
I made sure my girls were properly contained and my clothes were modest. Doesn’t mean I dressed unstylish. It meant I wore clothes that protected myself and Kyle from sexual temptations.
And don’t get me wrong. This isn’t just for girls. Because there were many a days when Kyle was wearing something that really made me focus only on his looks and his gorgeous features. What he wore would also make me feel sexy. So we both had to mind this.
5. I told my BFF everything. And I mean everything.
Do you know how humbling it is to be a grown woman and have to tell all of your business to someone who is not a part of your relationship?
I think this is where a lot of people get in their own way. They are too prideful to admit when they have fallen to impure thoughts or actions. And rather than to use someone who can help them stay in line, they assume that they are strong enough to fix themselves.
Never assume that your flesh is strong enough to move you past sexual temptation if you have already crossed that line to begin with. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
And trust me when I say that telling my friend everything I was thinking or doing that went out of line with our desires for staying pure was our saving grace.
Because it’s so humbling (and humiliating), that you don’t wanna keep doing it. So eventually you start to consider that before taking any actions on your temptations.
6. I allowed myself to be restored in Christ and embraced a new beginning.
My shame and guilt from what I did all those years ago could have affected how I loved my husband and more importantly, how I received love from my husband.
And whenever we slipped into temptation and got close to falling into sexual sin, I could have used those excuses as a way to stay in sin and never get back up.
But unless you choose to embrace the adoption of Christ, and the restoration that His grace offers, you will never be able to maintain a pure relationship till marriage.
You gotta renew your mind DAILY and remind yourself that you ARE a new creation! That the relationship you’re in IS a new thing and not like any of the old ones that tried to take you out!
Most importantly, you gotta put that guilt aside and never look back at it. There were many times when I felt like I didn’t even deserve to receive the blessings of a pure relationship because of what I did in my past.
You. Cannot. Think. That. Way.
You have to think that yes, you serve a good God, and yes, He can turn things around in your life, and yes, you can have a blessed relationship that ultimately leads to a blessed future.