Technically speaking, Lee and I have known each other for 19 years this coming September. We'll have been married 17 years this coming August.
Just wanted you to know :-)
So, what was the struggle? To stay pure.
Both of us raised in Christian homes that valued sexual purity, we had committed long before meeting one another that we would stay sexually pure until marriage.
There are many who choose not too or who don't know better or who get tripped up in temptation. If that's you, don't read any condemnation into this post. None is intended. None is aimed at you. In fact, I know for a fact that God can restore virginity to any one regardless of mistakes. That's not a license to sin, but it is reassuring to know if you engaged in pre-marital sex and wish you hadn't.
But we did struggle.
We would draw lines, physical boundaries that we would swear to keep, because both of us really wanted to honor God and each other in our relationship. We understood that the lines God had drawn in the Bible were for our good, for our protection, and we wanted more than anything to enter marriage (because by now we both figured that's where we were headed and if not, well, all the more reason to stay pure!) having saved sex for after the ceremony.
We would try the "six inch rule" - not sitting any closer than six inches, especially if alone.
We tried parting ways before midnight.
Mostly we prayed and would re-direct after we felt we'd gone too close to temptation.
We also guarded our thoughts and our minds.
As a teenager, I read every teen romance the library had. Post highschool, I read lots of Christian romances and a few not-Christian romances. I watched "Days of Our Lives" after getting hooked during a stay with some friends when I was 13.
But the Lord convicted me of the danger of those things. The first line of defense in staying pure is having a pure thought life. It's hard to have that if I'm feeding on fictional romance and soap operas.
[I must confess that I didn't kick the soap habit until after marriage.]
If I had fed myself on a steady diet of shows like "Friends", "Sex in the City", or "Desperate Housewives", I don't know that my commitment to purity would have stuck. See, those shows promote a lifestyle that the Bible says is bad news. And watching them makes the enemy's voice louder and louder: "Did God really say?" and leads me down a path to where the absolutes of God's Word become "guidelines" at best or "options" at worse.
And not to say "hey, look at us!", but if we could do it, so can you. And if you didn't, but now you want to be pure, or have children and want them to stay pure, it's totally possible! You can do it! You can choose better things to fill your mind with and find a group of friends to hold you accountable. You can teach your children how and learn along side of them. Because staying pure is a life-long process that doesn't end after marriage.
You can learn how to have a disciplined mind, how to take thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, how not to give in to every emotional roller coaster, how to pray and trust that God really does want what's best for you and for your children, how to root out the lies that might lead to making a choice to have sex before marriage.
You can also learn about grace for mistakes. There are consequences to the choices we make, but His grace is there, and He does redeem.
If you make the choice to stay pure, the road is not as rough in the long run. The price is high initially, but the returns are enormous.
Did we ever stray "too far"? We did. Too far into the place that stirred up feelings and emotions that it wasn't time for yet, emotions that made it especially hard to put on the brakes before we ventured into an area God had made clear was forbidden.
But waiting is so worth it. So very worth it.
And can I say yet again how amazing Lee is? He was honorable and gentlemanly at every turn then.
He still is.
Next: The proposal.
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