Loving Amidst the Wildness

A few years ago, if you’d asked me about the kind of love I dreamed about, I’d have told you about a love that was all-consuming. The kind that shattered the world I inhabited. “We will be very passionate,” I’d say to you, describing the dynamic my soulmate and I would share, “Our connection will intersect on multiple levels — physical, intellectual, and spiritual. He will be deep and wild, and the love we share will change me.”

I found exactly that with Andy.

Our connection was intense. Emily Bronte once wrote, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” and in our way of relating, I saw that play out. A romantic fling-turned-best friend, Finn, told me last month that I was the wildest girl he’s ever known. “Not in the personality sense that people often think of, but you have a wild spirit,” he said, “There’s a restlessness you have that seems to often threaten to overtake you.” He summed it up by labeling it a “quiet wildness,” yet all I could think on was how Andy and I were two souls made of the same stuff, deep and wild, quietly for me like an ocean and roaring for him like a raging river.

After Andy and I departed physically, the threads that had tied us together didn’t unravel. They remained weaved and entangled; the longing I continued to feel for him was exquisite. I would often lie awake at night, imagining what it would feel like to wake up from a deep slumber to find him there beside me.

My friend Nikita has always said that our relationship contains a looming, ever-present inevitability. In December of last year, I wrote about him and about how the threads that had tied our love together were knotted and weaved so tightly that even when I tried to sever them, they remained.

A few weeks ago, he and I stood on North Broad in front of my apartment building. It was pouring down tepid summer rain and I kissed the hell out of him while asking how we could have ever lost one another. The open umbrella rolled around on the wet pavement next to our feet and between breaths he said he wasn’t sure, that maybe we’d been too young, or maybe he just got scared to feel what he felt, or maybe it was just wrong timing.

What we had was passionate and intense and I’ll hear the echoes of our love story for the rest of my life. I have been in love with this man for almost ten years. But the truth is that I tried to force Andy to fit into a lofty ideal I held of him instead of giving him the grace to be and his spirit the room to breathe. I’d built him up in my head and embellished him so opulently that for him to be human would have been a violent arrival into reality. The fact is that he was broken, too broken for a relationship. In my love for him, I thought that if I held him tight enough, my pieces would melt together with his jagged edges and through this process I’d make him whole again.

I didn’t have this power and it was unhealthy for me to think so.

This was perhaps the real reason we would lose one another again and again. I recently told my spiritual counselor, Jacklyn, what I’ve started to realize about myself and the kind of men I love, “If I could tame a man and force him to morph into a being of my own making, I wouldn’t feel enough awe in his presence to choose to love him.” For me, love for a man comes only after an intense respect, never before and never without, and respect in my mind struggles to hold hands with “tamable.”

But I’ve also started to realize that you know you love someone when you choose to not try to change them, to avoid an instinct to tame them, an attempt to mold them until they fit into an ideal you’ve placed on them. You choose to take them as they are or even say, “no thanks,” but either way you honor who they are instead of forcing them to morph.

I have been on the receiving end. I have been with men who are attracted to my restless depths but make me into their project once they have me, trying to mold me into something neat and tidy instead of giving me the permission to exist freely.

Andy was too broken for me to tie my life with, but I chose to honor him, blessing him where he was before saying farewell, instead of staying and pruning him into a figure of my liking. Seeking to tame someone is not love and a relationship that you enter into with the intention of altering the other isn’t one worth having. 

I used to believe that I loved him because he was wild. The truth is that I know I loved him because I honored him where he was and allowed him to remain.

Helping my Boyfriend Guard his Purity

“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.

3 Signs of Spiritual Abuse in Dating

I recently counseled a young woman about a romantic relationship she was in. She’s told me over time many red flags that all led me to believe that she was in an emotionally abusive relationship yet she wouldn’t have exactly described it that way. What she said was, “He just cares so much about my walk that he doesn’t want to see me stumble.”

Many sin-driven Christian guys twist God’s design for romantic relationships before then using it to justify controlling, emotionally abusive behavior. 

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 

Because of all the confusion about what these verses mean, Christian women I meet with who are in these situations find themselves feeling confused about what’s abuse and what’s not. A young woman can become convinced that an abusive Christian boyfriend or husband is just exercising leadership or protecting her from stumbling.

How can she tell the difference? A few signs to look for:

  1. She Feels Forced

Because I’m a young, modern guy who self-identifies as a feminist, I used to feel uncomfortable with God’s command that my wife submit to me. “That’s so outdated and archaic,” I’d think to myself anytime I came across that part of the bible, “It was specific to those times when women didn’t have the same rights as men.”

However, true biblical submission always flows freely from a woman’s spirit and is never something forced onto her by her husband:

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:19 NIV

A Godly relationship should never comprise of a man forcing his girlfriend or wife, whether physically or through emotional manipulation, to do anything, even something good like reading the bible or coming to church. God chose to give His daughters free will. What right does a man have to take away a gift God has intentionally given?

2. She Feels Shamed

“But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7 ESV

Jesus died on the cross so that sin would have no power over us any longer. He also died on the cross to rid us of shame. A sign of spiritual abuse in Christian dating or marriage is when a spouse shames the other person under the guise of “convicting.”

Shame is NOT from God and a Kingdom Man practicing biblical leadership exercises every drop of spiritual authority over the devil he has to chase it out of his household and away from his woman. He doesn’t summon it, plant it, or cultivate it.

3. She Feels Degraded

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV

Every single person was bought with the ultimate price, the blood of Jesus Christ. This gives us innate dignity because we are clothed in the Son’s blood and restored to perfect righteousness.A Godly man uses his headship to restore and redeem by leading his girlfriend or wife to wholeness through the Cross.  Biblical and humble headship should never diminish or devalue the worth and dignity that have been bestowed onto a child of God.

***

God’s perfect plan is for men to lead with love, integrity, and humility. It can be confusing when a woman finds herself feeling emotionally or spiritually unsafe with a man, but the truth is that our Lord is not a God of confusion and He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us. Anything less than loving leadership that brings His daughters to the foot of the cross is not His will. Abuse, even when packaged in a neat Christian bow, is still abuse and no one is required to suffer through it.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1.800.799.7233

Why I’m Not Ready to Be a Wife: Perspectives on Biblical Marriage

“So, something happened,” my text to Kristina started out as I sat on my bed in the lotus position, listening to Bethel Music and crunching on almonds. “Boyfriend asked me how I like my apartment building and when I told him I love it,  he then said, ‘Maybe we can look into the two-bedroom apartments there if we get married.'” She replied with an emoji seizure.

When I was with my last boyfriend who lived all the way in Russia, marriage was an ongoing conversation. “If this is going to work out, one of us has to move to a new country and I wouldn’t do that without marriage,” was how he put it; the limits placed on us by distance rushed it. When I explained it to my friend, Lisa, I told her that I didn’t think I was ready to get married, “A part of me doesn’t want to get married until my late twenties or maybe even early-thirties. I really enjoy singleness.”

Now that New Boyfriend has brought up the M-word, a lot of my old worries have started to resurface. I’ve been telling friends my images of him reorganizing my bookshelves to accommodate his library and his clothes lying on the floor all over the apartment. Of course, with each of these fears, they had quick and wise solutions. I could hear how petty and insignificant my fears sounded but to my ears, they were better than the truth.

So much of biblical literature reveres and jubilates women who are good wives and homemakers:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'” Proverbs 31:28-29 NIV

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter 3:3-6 ESV 

“He who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22 NLT

“I’m not sure I’m ready to be married,” sounds so counter to what we’re taught by the conservative church about biblical womanhood.

It seems that friends and classmates are getting engaged or married left and right. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have friends who are doing neither of those things yet intensely wish they were, coveting what our peers have. I’m in none of those groups; I’m not married or engaged to be married, nor am I coveting the experience. I’m content and fulfilled with the gift of singleness that the Lord has blessed me with.

I no longer feel like I’m less of a biblical woman for saying I’m not ready to be married because the truth is that I’m not ready to be a wife.

Marriage is something that was created by God for a particular purpose:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33

So many Christians approach marriage the way the world approaches it: we want to get married because we think we’ll no longer feel lonely or that it’ll make us look like we have it together. Like the world, so many of us idolize marriage until it becomes all about how it would make us feel and what it could do for us or give us, completely forgetting that God created marriage for His purposes, not for ours.

The role of marriage in God’s kingdom is to glorify Him, a living representation of Christ’s relationship with the church. The role of a Christian wife is to be an ezer to her husband, helping him fulfill his spiritual calling and meet his full potential, becoming the biblical man God has designed him to be.

The Christian wife is a prayer warrior, an intercessor, an accountability partner, a bible study buddy. She’s called to fight for her husband on her knees, to speak truth and the Word of God over him, and to convict him in love when he falls short of God’s standards.

Being a wife is a sacred ministry position in the Kingdom of God with a holy responsibility. For me to treat the role with the reverence it deserves by recognizing that I’m not ready or strong enough to fill it is a sign of godliness and spiritual maturity.

I sometimes say that I’m not sure I ever want to get married. The truth is that I think I’d like to get married one day, but only when I’m ready to be a wife. Until then, I will pray: Father, may I be worthy.

Rethinking Romantic Compatibility

Note: Large portions of this piece were written by Nina Singhapakdi.

Popular online dating website, eHarmony, brags that “every day, an average of 438 singles marry a match they met” on the website. The source of the site’s matchmaking success, it claims, is the questions that members must fill out in order to be matched with compatible partners. However, this philosophy is not groundbreaking in the least. Simply type “compatibility” into Google and your browser will be faced with thousands of websites boasting the most accurate relationship compatibility matching survey on the Internet.

Society believes that compatibility is the indicator of a relationship’s lasting power. After all, just look at all of the divorce papers citing “irreconcilable differences.” However, I understand relational compatibility much differently.

Most of the things that we deem as compatibility markers are shallow and fluid. Your partner may love the same movies, books, and sports teams that you do, but people’s tastes change. You may both harbor a lifelong dream to go to Bali, but when you finally take that trip together, what happens then?

I’m not necessarily trying to say that compatibility isn’t important. I believe it is and that’s something I look for in potential girlfriends, but I also think we’ve been understanding the concept incorrectly.

There are many couples who seem to have really solid marriages in spite of not being “technically” compatible.

The kind of compatibility that’s most important is about sharing your most important Chrisitan values (i.e. being equally yoked in the desire to build your marriage around serving the Kingdom) and having a sincere appreciation and respect for the kind of person your spouse is.

Whether your spouse is similar to you matters very little in light of your actions towards them.

Ben Young and Samuel Adams wrote, “It is not necessary or even healthy to find someone with the same personality traits. The issue has to do with your ability to accept and adapt to your partner’s personality style, assuming it will not change.”

You know those couples citing irreconcilable differences? They seemed to be “compatible” on their wedding day and their personalities haven’t changed.  What changed was most likely their treatment of one another.

I’m convinced that a couple who seems incompatible on paper yet prioritizes kindness, healthy communication, and a shared walk with God will be mighty compatible in all the important ways.

This becomes even more apparent when their relationship is held up next to the compatible-on-paper couple who’ve allowed disrespect, unhealthy communication, and emotional or physical abuse to become acceptable parts of their relationship.

Too many of us hear how important compatibility is and then enter into a narcissistic quest to find a partner who is just like us.

The truth is that people are complex and fluid. Someone who appears to be a lot like us can suddenly feel like our complete opposite on other days. I can find myself really butting heads with someone who’s really compatible with me on paper but end up having a loving, God-honoring relationship with a girl no one would have guessed I’d end up with.

Here’s my challenge to you (and to myself): Take your focus away from trying to find someone who reminds you of yourself and instead place the focus on yourself and the kind of romantic partner you want to be to them.

Work on your own emotional health. Work on how you respond to conflict, how you treat other people, and how you support others in hard times. Work on being more selfless, more loving, and more compassionate. THIS is how you TRULY find someone you’re “compatible” with, and in all of the most important ways.

Brothers Speak: The Person You Date Represents You

Last night, I skyped with my friend (and our founder), Nina, and she said something that stuck out to me, “Who we date says a lot about us and where God falls on our list of priorities.”

In my first year of college, at the age of nineteen, I started dating my second girlfriend, *Becca. Becca was smart, fun, and worshipped at the same church. We were also in the same campus bible study where I could tell that we had chemistry. All systems pointed to “Go.”

But here’s where things got tricky with Becca.

Becca disagreed with me about even the most basic aspects of following Christ. I took the lead spiritually and initiated the purity talk where I told her about my commitment to save myself for my future wife. She respected that and never tried to pressure me. But to be honest, she wasn’t on the same page and if it weren’t up to me, we would have been having sex. Also, even though she went to church and we got to know each other in a bible study, if I’d been honest with myself, I would have admitted that God wasn’t a priority in her life.

Church was two hours each week. Bible study was usually the same. Outside of that small percentage of our lives, I can say that God wasn’t on her mind or high up on her list of priorities. I don’t want to demonize her. She was a nice girl and an incredible friend to me, and what we had was real. But all the red flags, such as her jokingly saying how she just wanted to “get drunk this weekend, just once,” as she bought beers or how she’d always choose to miss church if the opportunity to go out of town with her friends presented itself, weren’t all signs of problems with just her. Truth be told, they pointed to problems with ME at the end of the day.

The biggest red flag in this situation wasn’t to do with her jokingly saying that she was going to sin by getting drunk or how she pursued God very rarely outside of Sunday morning and bible study. The biggest red flag was that I heard and saw these things, and I chose to stay yoked up to it.

When I tell this story to the kids in the youth ministry I lead, they’re always shocked. They look at me and my walk today and wonder how I could have been in that situation. The answer is simple: My walk did not have the same priority then as it does today. That’s the answer for how I was in that situation. Even though I was NEVER the kind of guy who’d talk about wanting to get drunk like it was something to laugh about and I kept myself celibate, my relationship with God had taken a back seat to popularity, sports, and Harvard Medical School applications.

Becca’s worldliness was not a dealbreaker to me because God was not the true leader of my life. I may have believed that Jesus died for my sins. I may have sung the words “Christ is Lord, Lord of all” on Sunday mornings, but I didn’t have Him in his rightful place in my life. I would say that He was Lord, but faith without works is dead and actions speak louder than words. And my actions spoke loud and clear, “Jesus is NOT the Lord of my life.”

The person you date represents you and your walk with God.

Where God falls on their list of priorities accurately represents where God falls on YOUR list of priorities. I know Becca was an accurate representation of mine.

Once I put Jesus back into His rightful place as Lord and leader of my life, that was when I ended things with Becca. I knew she wouldn’t be a good partner for me in my walk. Not only that, but I also became less and less attracted to her and more frustrated. It became obvious that she was a spiritual deadweight in my life, and not a Partner-in-Christ who would represent my values and Christ’s standing in my life the way I’d want to be represented.

The person you date says a lot about your walk with God. Choose someone who’ll represent your relationship with Him well.

Experience: Raising Godly Kids Today – A Glimpse Into the Life of a 4 Boy Mom

When I meet someone for the first time and they hear that I have four sons I often hear one of the following comments… 

“Better you than me!’

“Wow, how do you manage it?”

“So, you’re the queen?”

Never in all my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be a mother of four boys. When the doctor placed my first born in my arms eighteen and a half years ago and announced that it was a boy, I actually panicked a little bit. I thought, “What am I going to do with him? I don’t know anything about dinosaurs or airplanes!” Seven years later, our fourth son was born. He was perfect and my husband and I were excited and proud. Then it hit me… this was our last child and I didn’t have a daughter. I must be honest and admit that I felt alone.

As I was raising my young sons, I’d find myself looking at clothes and toys that were targeted for girls. 

I’d walk through the aisles making comments in my head….

Pink tutu and blinking wand… maybe.

Purple sparkly bike with ribbons on the handles… definitely.

Yellow dress with matching daisy purse… absolutely.

Hair bows… buy them all!

And then I’d head back to the land of blue and red with many less options. Fortunately, boys don’t care as much. They’re fine with less options and don’t need matching accessories; which makes my life easier.

Being the only female in a house of males can be challenging. I quickly learned about dinosaurs, trains, and airplanes. I watch football, baseball, and hockey as I try to keep up with stats and scores so I can join in the dinner conversations. But I also do my best to point out things to my all male crew that might not be obvious to them. Things such as the beauty of flowers, the joy of shopping (I’m still working on that one), the happiness that dressing up can bring, and explaining why I need so many pairs of shoes. I still feel like a fish out of water at times, but I make it my mission to help my sons understand the unique differences between men and women. 

My husband and I have brought them up in a home full of love, and have made sure that they have a relationship with Christ. We are fair, but firm. I like the verse Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” This verse speaks to fathers, but I think it is easily applicable to mothers as well. 

As our sons have gotten older, I feel that I have an important role in making sure that they have stayed true to who they are and not the norms that society believes young men should be. If you’ve seen any of the video game covers or watched a commercial during a football game, you know what I’m talking about. I want them to be the type of man that I’d want my daughter to date. Through this, I realized that I had an opportunity to teach them about being a true gentleman. We talk about sex, drinking, drugs, and why certain images of women are offensive. 

Don’t get me wrong, my four are not perfect. They are loud, smelly at times, and argue with each other. They don’t always fold their laundry (even though I tell them several times) and don’t always want to share. But they have good hearts and have developed into God-loving young men. Two of our sons have been on mission trips to Africa and Guatemala. Our third son raised over $1,000 from a lemonade stand and donated it all to charity. Our youngest son helps his grandparents and refuses money.

Through our relationship with Christ, our sons see models for happy, healthy lives. They appreciate the relationship that all six of us have and want to maintain it. I’m sure that they will make some mistakes along the way, but will feel confident that they know they can ask us for help and forgiveness.

So my advice to young moms is this: do your best each day and apologize if necessary. Be honest with your kids and talk to them about your struggles. Pray with them. Be a model for them and let them know that they are loved by you and God. And don’t forget to do something nice for yourself every once in a while!

Brothers Speak: Girls, You Are Not “Goods”

As a college ministry leader at a small church in Boston, I get to shepherd young Christians in a transitional stage of their lives. College is an interesting age for the Christian; I learn a ton about following Jesus in today’s world just by ministering to college students. One of the most disturbing trends I’ve noticed is a common pattern of behavior in guys entrenched in purity culture.

Don’t get me wrong: I esteem and cherish purity. Purity is sacred. Purity is beautifully radical. It’s a romantic rebellion; it goes against the patterns of the world in pursuit of something holier. It honors your future spouse. It prevents you from handing out spousal privileges to boyfriends and girlfriends. And, most importantly, God commanded it.

“Choose this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

However, many young Christian guys take their values to the point of shaming girls who’ve fallen into sexual sin. Does the insult “damaged goods” ring a bell?

Girls, you are NOT goods.

Your purity is not a “good”. Your body and your virginity are not “goods.” You are a being who is fearfully and wonderfully made and a new creation clothed with the blood of our blameless Lord. You are worth more than rubies. You are worth the price that Jesus paid for you on the cross. So with all this being said, it’s safe to say that you are worthy of so much more in your love story than a guy who takes away your dignity and humanity by talking about you as “goods.”

Christians who are being intentional don’t get married just because they love someone.

The God-fearing bible-following Christian recognizes that marriage was created by God for a specific purpose.

The purpose and goal of a marriage for a Christ-follower is to GLORIFY God through it.

It’s to serve and strengthen the Kingdom. NOT to get companionship and spend your entire life with the person you’re in-love with (although those are all both good reasons and partly why God felt that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone without an Eve).

The Bible is very on what it expects from husbands (and boyfriends, aka “husbands to be”!) The God-given standard to which a Godly husband/boyfriend is expected to lead His wife or girlfriend is outlined right in Ephesians.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

Any guy a Christian girl yokes herself with is called to love her with a love that mirrors the love Jesus has for the church. That includes viewing her in the way Jesus views her. And Jesus does not view her as goods.

Girls, you are not goods.

There is a price that you have, no doubt. But it is not defined by your sin or whether your virginity is intact. It’s defined by the price Jesus ALREADY paid for you when He died for you on the cross, all so He could have a relationship with you.

You can do so much better than a guy who views you a “goods.” You can do better than to seek the attention of a guy is not capable or even worthy of fulfilling the calling of a biblical husband and leader as outlined in that verse above.

Whatever your story is. Whatever your sexual history is. I hope you remember that Jesus wiped the slate clean for you. For all of us.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose heart. There are real Godly men out there who are praying for you and wondering when they’ll get to meet you. Good men willing and able to be biblical husbands who’ll see you the way God sees you.

Redeemed by His love.

Sins wiped clean by His blood.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

And so so beloved.

 

Brothers Speak: Examine What He Allows Into His Walk

I’d like to share a small story with you that took place back in 2013.

After a long day in med school filled with a messy dissection and two tests, I was stoked to head to the movies after work with a few of my classmates. Like many people, I am a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. He chooses interesting roles with great directors, his acting is top-notch, and everything he touches turns to gold.

I’d been waiting excitedly for The Wolf of Wall Street to come out for months. You fellow fans out there reading this know that he doesn’t come out with a film very often; that probably added to the excitement. So, fast forward to the afternoon. Here we are, each of us finished with our last class. We get to the theater, find our seats, and soon the movie starts.

Those of you who’ve either seen the movie or read the reviews that year know that the movie is infamous for what I discovered on that opening day: It’s filled to the brim with the flesh. It’s known for its profanity, explicit sex scenes, and depictions of debauchery.

About 5 or 10 minutes into the film, I left and went home. I didn’t try and make up an excuse to them. I didn’t try and explain what my personal convictions were. I didn’t try to explain at all. I just said, “I shouldn’t be here, I’m out,” and got out of there.

In the eyes of the World, what I did was radical.

It didn’t make a lot of sense. It was extreme. And from their eye-rolling perspective, I was being uncool. But as Christians, we are called to guard ourselves against impurity and all temptation to sin.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

What a Christian allows into their lives – into their hearts, their minds, their eyes, their habits – is a direct reflection of what’s their heart, their values, and their character. It’s also a reflection of where their walk with God lands in their list of priorities.

I want to remind my sisters in Christ of something important:

You get to choose who you allow to pursue your heart.

You may not be the pursuers, but you get to choose whether or not you say “yes” to that date. You get to choose whether that guy gets to talk on the phone with you, or tell him that you aren’t interested in exploring a relationship with him. That’s why it’s necessary for you, as a woman who desires to honor God in her relationships, to examine what the guy allows into his heart and mind. What habits have become acceptable behavior in his life?

I have a truth bomb to drop, and this might sting a little bit:

A guy who goes online to watch videos of strangers having sex, should not be pursuing one of God’s daughters. Period.

To have respect for God requires having respect for what belongs to God. Men of God respect the things of God — His daughters, His people, and His laws and commandments.

We are called to honor our sisters. To honor them as fearfully and wonderfully made by a holy and all-powerful God. To clothe them in dignity.

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (Ephesians 5:23)

God’s plan is for men to lead in relationships. As your brothers, it is His plan for us to lead our sisters to the cross. He’s given us the responsibility to make sure that the romantic relationship is Christ-centered. How is a man who lets sin into his heart and mind so casually deserving or capable of this immense privilege and responsibility?

A man won’t lead you to the cross if he’s not even concerned enough to walk in that direction. Don’t choose a leader who can’t even lead himself. If a guy can’t be trusted with his own walk, I sure wouldn’t trust him with yours.

Choose a man who guards his walk.

A man who views it as worth protecting, not something to toss in the backseat when inconvenient. Make it a priority to examine what he allows into his life, and whether he refuses to take in ungodly content and images.

If you’re on a date walking around the mall and you pass the giant Victoria’s Secret banners in front of their store, what does he do? How does he respond? Does he make an effort to avert his eyes or does he take it all in? Those five seconds tell you a lot about his heart and whether he’s made a promise to himself and to his future wife to guard his eyes, heart, and mind.

How about in the girls he passes throughout his day who are dressed more revealingly? How about in the content he chooses to habitually consume? The TV shows he loyally watches, the movies he goes to see, and the Instagram accounts he follows can all be a reflection of where his walk with the Lord falls on his list of priorities.

This is not to say that a guy has to turn down ALL secular activities to be Godly.

Not every piece of secular content is inherently sinful or vulgar. There are secular TV shows, movies, and Instagram accounts that dial down on the profanity and sexual content. Some of these can even be edifying! An example would be the Instagram accounts for travel and culture magazines.

But if a man willingly fills his mind with sin and spiritual garbage on a regular basis, that raises the following questions like (a) where does God fall on his list of priorities and (b) if God does or DID fall high on the list of priorities, what is all of this doing to his heart and mind?

I will never regret that time I walked out of the movie theater. Even though it made me look “uncool” to my secular friends; I don’t live for the opinion of man, I live for the Lord. I know that I made the decision that aligns with the faith I proclaim, and that I took steps to protect my walk that night. And that is something a child of God should NEVER have to apologize for.