Tag Archives: christians

Can I Have A Pure Heart and Also Have Sex?

20 Sep
"Woman Lying on a Bed", by Pierre Bonnard, 1899.  Image via Google.

"Woman Lying on a Bed", by Pierre Bonnard, 1899. Image via Google.

“If you do not get married, do you think you will be able to forego ever having sex again?”

Last night Mr. Smooth told me that he was asked this question many years ago, and that his response was, “That is not going to happen.  I am definitely getting married.”

This conversation of ours, where Mr. Smooth talked to me about issues regarding personal purity, came out of nowhere.  In the interest of edifying the blogosphere, he has permitted me to detail a little of our talk.

At the time that he was asked that question, Smooth explained to me, he was not able to commit himself to not having sex ever again.  Years passed before he could make that commitment to the Lord.

Smooth also told me that several years ago he’d had a spiritual breakthrough that released him from the pornography habit that had been an issue for him for most of his life.

Finally Smooth told me that sometime after that breakthrough, his pastor had the men in his church begin to focus on adhering to higher standards of personal purity.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“StillSingle,” Smooth replied, “a lot of men struggle with…touching themselves.  It’s something they don’t even think can be helped.  I have reached the place where I have committed to not doing that.  It is not easy.  But I think back on where the Lord brought me from, when I couldn’t even commit to not having sex, and I know that if I take it day by day I’ll make it.”

Our conversation got me to thinking about the practical side of purity.  If rules are not the point, how is one to actually live?

I think God has to help us.  Help us to create firm sexual boundaries if we are used to being sexually active.  Help us to stop turning to sensual images and romantic fantasies to stimulate ourselves sexually.  Help us to stop (ahem) touching ourselves.  And help us to figure out why we want to do these things.

I think God gets us to figure these things out by causing us to focus on Him.  The more we focus on Him the better we know Him.  The better we know Him the more we love Him.  The more we love Him the more we want to please Him.  The greater our desire to please Him, the greater our desire to fight temptation.

The details of our resistance, though, have to be worked out individually, according to our own lifestyles, proclivities, and weaknesses.  I don’t know what Mr. Smooth does to keep from touching himself.  I know for myself, though, that there were mornings in past times when I found myself jumping out of bed like there was deadly spider crawling on my sheets.  I know that these days (and I’m just going to say it like it is here) when I feel my body winding up, and I’m lying in my bed with some scripted fantasy beginning to play in my mind, as soon as I am cognizant of what’s happening, and of where things are headed, I stop my fantasizing in mid-action.  And instead of my mind focusing on a storyline involving sex, I focus my mind on a storyline involving love.  Specifically, the love of my as-yet-unidentified-husband.  I write a letter to him.  I tell him what time it is, I tell him what happened during my day or night or morning that led me to think of him, I tell him how I miss him, and how much I love him.  The exercise of trying to think of what to tell him in my letter, and the very idea that this man is out there somewhere right now, is usually sufficient to turn my mind and body away from temptation.  God gives me grace.

There is no universal prescription for purity.  But if we desire purity, and pursue God, and take it day by day, we’ll get there.

Kissing Before Marriage?

6 Sep

I had a pretty good day at church a few weeks ago.  I finally made it to the 9am service, instead of being late to the 12 noon service.  I was lifted by the worship and by the Word.  

Outside church as I walked to my car a few blocks away, my friend K (over 35), called out to me.  I was singing in my heart, and out loud a little, and glad to see her.  I offered her a ride home.  She declined because she was on duty with missions stuff.  We walked along chatting together for a bit and ran into another friend.  I know this other friend, but K knows her well.  The other friend had just gotten engaged!  We stood on the sidewalk talking and listening to the joyous details.  Then, with hugs and kisses all around, off the other friend went.

Some part of me was vaugely disquieted by this encounter.  Another engagement that isn’t mine.  You understand.  But this was only a vague sensation. 

K turns to me, then, and says, with such glee and delight in her voice, “I have to tell you about their courtship.”

This makes me happy.  I love a love story.  Smiling in anticipation I respond, “What?”

“They’ve never kissed!”  K gushed.

My smile froze.  My anticipation was smothered. 

She went on, “It was his idea.  He wants to act honorably towards her.  They’re going to wait until the wedding for their first kiss.”

Seeing as how I immediately thought, almost as a reflex, “Is she sure this man is not gay?” upon hearing that it was his idea not to kiss the woman he loves for months while dating her and many more  months while the wedding is being planned, I was at a loss for words as to what to say to romantic, idealistic, dogmatic, K.  I managed to offer a sincere, “Isn’t that sweet,” in response before walking on quickly. 

My sense of disquiet was now glaring.

What K told me was not a love story, e.g., boy meets girl, girl resists boy, girl succombs and love prevails.  I think K telling me that story was intended as an indictment.   “See, maybe you should stop dating and stop kissing, and then you, too, could have this kind of Godly man pursuing you.”  She and I have disagreed on this issue more than once.

Sigh.

For me, this is more of the same “preach holiness but don’t mention the Holy Spirit” kind of thing.   “Tell women and men who are fortyish or older to be absolutely pure, but don’t tell them what to do about their sex drives.”   This doesn’t work.

And “no kissing before marriage” rules seem too extreme for me.

Why cannot those who want to be so abslute, refrain from imposing their rigid standards on the rest of Christendom?  Shouldn’t each of us be convinced in our own hearts about what the right thing to do is, and cause no offense to our sisters?  Isn’t it the Holy Spirit’s role to lead us and guide us and convict and correct us?

Singles of the church unite already!