But what does it mean to have a pure dating relationship? How pure should it be? How does one achieve purity? All of these are necessary questions to ask and to answer if a dating relationship is to be pure.
If you look up purity in the dictionary, you get two definitions:
1. Freedom from adulteration or contamination
2. Freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature
The second definition is perhaps most useful in this context. Sexual immorality is rampant in our culture. However, we as Christians, are called to be holy and pure. Since God has reserved sexual intimacy for marriage, we are called to refrain from it until after the wedding (and then engage in it only with our spouse). We’ve all heard that.
For example, I Thessalonians 4:3-7 says: “For it is God's will that you be sanctified: You must abstain from sexual immorality; each of you must know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with passion and lust like the gentiles who do not know God; and you must never take advantage of or exploit a brother in this regard. For the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.” (ISV)
The first definition of purity is also helpful, however. Since the opposite of purity is contamination, we should realize that sexual immorality is a contaminant. It contaminates not only our soul and conscience, but our relationships as well. God’s design for sex in marriage is so beautiful and amazing, but sexual immorality taints that. God’s law against sexual immorality is for our benefit, not to prevent us from having fun. Once we realize that, we are in a better position to remain pure.
So, what things should be avoided before marriage? Obviously, intercourse is wrong before marriage, but many other behaviors are also sexual in nature and should be reserved for marriage. Sexual intimacy is a complex phenomenon with many triggers and facets. It would impossible to provide a complete list of things to avoid. And, of course, if I were to try to make a list, someone would inevitably think of something that wasn’t on the list and think it must be okay to go ahead. The idea isn’t to have a list of wrong behaviors, but to strive always to be as pure as possible. In general, if it gets your motor running, avoid it. Save all sexual intimacy for marriage.
Most of us can identify behaviors that should be avoided before marriage. We usually know what is right and wrong. The tricky part is actually living out those convictions. It’s hard to maintain sexual purity, especially when you’re in love and want each other so bad. So how does one live out purity? Here are some practical solutions to help you maintain purity in your relationships.
· Understand God’s plan for sexual intimacy in marriage. It’s a lot easier to wait for marriage when you know what you’re looking forward to and when you realize that saving intimacy for marriage will make it so much better.
· Pray for purity. Pray for wisdom, that you will be able to recognize temptation and avoid poor choices. Pray for the strength to say no to sin. The good thing about praying for purity is that you already know God wants it for you. All you have to do is ask Him for what He already wants to grant.
· Clearly define your physical boundaries before entering any dating relationship. Again, you can’t make a complete list, but you can decide that you will not do certain things. If you enter a relationship with just a fuzzy idea that you don’t want to have intercourse before marriage, you are in a dangerous position. Most likely, you will engage in sexual behaviors and then not be able to stop yourself from going all the way. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So put some guidelines in place long before the heat of the moment leads you to do something that will taint your relationship and your life with sin.
· Define physical boundaries with your boyfriend or girlfriend at the beginning of a relationship. Very early in the relationship you should come to an agreement that you will remain sexually pure until marriage. If the other person doesn’t agree that sexual purity is important, they probably don’t have the Christian character that you are looking for, so save yourself the trouble of a dead end relationship and find someone else.
· Don’t just agree to remain pure, however. Plan your dates to ensure purity. One of the most important things you can do on this front is to have accountability (more on that in future posts). If you aren’t accountable to anyone, if no one is checking up on you, you probably will go farther than you planned to. You also need to plan not to have an opportunity to sin. For example, don’t be alone together in an empty house or dorm room. Alone together will be great on your honeymoon. Wait for that time.
· Be aware of your body’s response to sexual behaviors. If you are doing something (even if it seemed harmless) and you find yourself being turned on and wanting to go farther, stop immediately. Be willing to avoid even things you thought were fine if you find that they lead to temptation.
· If you do mess up, repent and set stricter guidelines to ensure you don’t do it again. Don’t simply give in and keep doing what you were doing. It’s easy to think, when you’ve crossed a line you said you wouldn’t, that you might as well just keep on. You haven’t “saved” that for marriage so you might as well indulge. That is a dangerous line of thinking. It is never okay to sin. If you have sinned, confess it, forsake it, and plan not to allow opportunity for it to happen again.
Are there any other suggestions or tips for keeping a dating relationship pure? Have you found any handy ways to prevent temptation or to remove yourself from a compromising situation? Do you know of any additional pitfalls to avoid? Share them here so that others can benefit.
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