“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
There recently came a point when I started to ask God His plans for my love life. I told God how I was open to meeting someone within His perfect timing and really placed these desires at His feet and told Him, “Lord, I trust you to complete that which concerns me and bring about what’s perfect for me.” It wasn’t long before he brought me my boyfriend. I’m pretty lucky: Matt’s handsome, smart, thoughtful, hardworking, and initiates time for us to seek the Lord together.
One thing I never allow myself to forget is that before my boyfriend, he is first and foremost my brother in Christ.
“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1–2
This means that I’m supposed to be his partner in this crazy, fallen world we live in and walk with him towards Jesus. A big part of this is helping him guard his purity.
We know that in relationships, men are supposed to be the spiritual leaders. However, this sometimes leads to Christian women being passive in our relationships when we’re supposed to be partners in Christ, coheirs of salvation:
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 ESV
When you’re dating, your romantic partner is supposed to be one of your main sources of accountability in your walk with God. Godly women are supposed to constantly point others to Jesus, not cause them to stumble, and we have so much influence when we’re dating. We can either worsen all the temptations that come at our boyfriends, or we can be invaluable allies in their fight for their purity.
Here are the things that I’ve started to do in my relationship to be his ally, not one of the many things he has to guard himself from…
1. Having High Standards
I’ve seen so many girlfriends stuck in relationships with guys who indulge in sexual sin on the regular and continue to do so even as their girlfriends try to convict them against it. The truth is that in all of those relationships, the girls would willingly take part in some of these activities (even though they’d feel guilty afterwards and try to stop) or at least turn a blind eye to them. How can we expect a guy to step into line and rise to a higher standard when we ourselves don’t see it as worthwhile? It makes us hypocrites at best.
It’s human nature to continue on with the same behavior when there’s no incentive for change or potential for negative consequences. People will treat you how you let them. They’ll continue to behave in a way that’s unacceptable simply because your willingness to stick around and tolerate it communicates that it is.
One of the ways I’m helping my boyfriend guard his purity is through guarding mine fiercely and being clear about what I find unacceptable, along with following through when he falls short of them. He recently told me that because of this, he has a high level of respect for me and also has a desire to rise to the occasion.
2. Being Mindful of What I Expose Him To
Last week, he texted me, “Hey, how about I take you to the movies? You pick.” I watched trailers for all of the movies listed as “Now Showing”, but the most important thing I did was research how each movie ranked in terms of explicit content.
So many of us are unwilling to participate in sexual activity outside of God’s plan for it, yet are willing to expose ourselves and significant others to temptations. I have heard of Christian girls who ask their boyfriends to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show with them and who hold up magazines of half-naked women to their husbands, innocently commenting, “I wish I had a body like this.”
To help him guard his purity, I don’t watch movies or TV shows with him that feature sexually explicit content, I don’t encourage him to read books that feature much of the same, and I dress in a way that’s modest. In other words, through my behavior, I show respect to him, to God (and His commandments to him), and to the very real battle I know he has to face as a young man living in a fallen world with a very real enemy who wants to see him lose everything.
3. Being His (Loving) Accountability
It’s important to have high standards, but too many Christian girls move into the sphere of shaming their boyfriends for sinning differently than they do. The enemy loves shame because shame takes struggles underground, where they can grow and worsen. Even though you should have high standards, you should communicate them in such a way that a guy feels like he can come to you for support in his areas of struggle.
You should be his accountability, not a fellow accuser. There’s an important balance to strike between speaking the truth in love and making a fellow believer feel the shame that Jesus died to free them from.
I’ve made it clear to my boyfriend that he can come to me to confess any sin under the sun and that I would support him and help him fight it. If he came to me to confess a sin that I promised myself I wouldn’t be yoked to, I would distance myself from him and leave him, but I wouldn’t sever all ties. I’d support him and be open to reconciliation if I saw true repentance and change.
Many of us are so focused on our OWN walks and guarding our own purity that we forget about our significant others and how we’re supposed to support them. A Godly woman doesn’t just guard her own walk; she leads her brothers and sisters to the same place and consistently points them to the cross. You are supposed to be your boyfriend’s most important accountability and most important earthly source of spiritual strength. You have the potential to be an invaluable ally in this fight he has to take part in every single moment of his life.
There’s a battle cry. Can you hear it? Rise to it.