by Becca Christensen
Purity is a subject we single church goers love to hate. I was in middle school when the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” craze hit and I grew up in church where “how far is too far” was asked in every middle school and high school small group. My dad even bought me the book, Every Young Man’s Battle in an attempt to show me just what guys were thinking (it rode around in the car with me for months, becoming the center of many conversations).
What I’ve come to realize is the point isn’t how far you can push the envelope or how close you can get to the edge without falling over; the point is your heart. Guarding it, protecting it and saving as much of it as you can for the person you will give it to. We can’t separate the physical sin of sex outside of marriage from the bigger picture of emotional consequences.
If you’ve ever seen the “Pieces of my Heart” skit, then you have the benefit of a visual for what I mean. It is a pantomime in which a girl goes through three relationships, during each she hands her heart over (a little less reluctantly each time), and gets it back at the end with a piece or two missing. The final scene is her wedding day, and she gives what’s left of her heart to her husband. For any of us who have been through a slew of relationships, we get a little uncomfortable at this part. We can’t help thinking, “Is that going to be me?”
In each relationship we enter, we give away a piece of our heart. Christians are especially vulnerable to this because we grow up in a culture where the ultimate goal of our relationships is marriage. While dating with a purpose makes more sense than dating someone we would never marry, this is a slippery slope. When we convince ourselves we’re on the path to marriage, there’s the danger of compromises before we get there.
I would argue that as believers we frequently miss the big picture. Churched singles are taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong and you’ll get no argument from me there. The bible is clear about sex being intended for married couples only. Where I may stray from the norm is that I think we’re focusing on the wrong part of the Lord’s protection. I don’t think that it’s purely about the physical. I think the Lord created us, women, to desire connectivity and He knew that whether or not society tries to tell us otherwise, we’re not wired to have the physical without the emotional. More than “setting limits” in our physical boundaries, are we guarding our hearts?
We serve a God of grace, forgiveness, and second chances. I’m one sinner who is happy to bask in that. There is arguably more courage in rerouting your path to a future, healthy marriage after mistakes, than to having gotten it right from the beginning. We have to stop asking “how far is too far” and focusing on the technical aspect of giving as much as we can without sinning, and start focusing on guarding our hearts.
I want to leave you with one final thought. I already confessed to being from the generation of dating (and non-dating) books. Somewhere along the way I read something that stuck with me. The author asked, “If we can’t learn to control ourselves in dating relationships, how do we expect that we, or our spouses, will be able to be faithful inside of marriage?” Would we handle dating differently if we thought of it as our chance to build healthy habits? Self-control and discipline don’t magically appear after you’re married, they’re developed before you get to the altar.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
Becca Christensen works as an event specialist in the non-profit/sports world. She loves to bake, travel, read, blog, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca attends Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her blog, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.