Ever since I can remember, I was told by people around me that “True Love Waits,” meaning, if I truly love my future spouse, I will wait for them physically for marriage. This long held catch phrase has been taught by countless youth groups, small group leaders, mentors and overall, I think it is so good that abstinence before marriage has been taught. The idea that truly loving your future spouse is to wait for them physically is, bottom line, Biblical and good.
I think that this phrase alone, though, doesn’t fully capture the Biblical instructions regarding purity, nor the absolute beauty there is to have within marriage if two people are dedicated to honoring the Lord through their purity before marriage. I’ve heard so many people say “The Bible says you can’t have sex before you get married.” I have also then seen many use this notion to do everything but have sexual intercourse. They rationalize guilt away because for years they have been told that they can’t have sex before marriage, and thus define sex as intercourse.
I think this understanding of Biblical purity has been marred because of the definition of sex. Lets go to Scripture, as we always should, to see how the One who created sex has created it to be used.
let’s go to Scripture, as we always should, to see how the One who created sex has created it to be used
The Bible doesn’t just say to not have sex outside of marriage….it actually says something a lot more profound and specific. The two words you will find over and over again in Scripture that address sexuality outside of the marriage covenant are the words “sexual immorality.” Not sexual intercourse….sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Thess 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality,” and Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality.” And the verses could go on and on (1 Cor 6:13, Heb 13:4, Col 3:5…).
The Bible doesn’t just say to not have sex outside of marriage…it actually says something a lot more profound and specific
So if the Biblical command is not “don’t have sexual intercourse outside of marriage” but rather, “do not be sexually immoral outside of marriage”, what is the difference? Friends, the difference is huge. And to all my single friends reading this, the difference means that you have the opportunity to experience the absolute beauty, fun, pleasure and excitement of a sexual relationship marked by obedience that is blessed by the Lord within a marriage relationship.
When my husband Andrew and I began dating, we had a couple of long, very intense discussions regarding what physically is God-glorifying before marriage. We both came from relationships in our pasts where we failed in striving towards absolute purity and were now in the place in our relationships with the Lord where the fog of lust and sin had thankfully been lifted from our eyes long enough for us both to realize we wanted to honor the Lord more than we wanted to ravage each other before marriage (but let me tell ya. ravaging after marriage….its a beautiful thing). 🙂
As we tried to grapple with what we should and should not do physically, Andrew came upon a verse that had a great impact upon our physical interactions before marriage. 1 Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy, a Pastor, with instruction for how the church is to function. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructs Timothy as to how the Church body is to treat it’s members:
“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.”
“And younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” According to the New American Commentary, “The word “purity” calls for modesty and chastity…”. When Andrew read this to me initially, I had an extremely hard time. My love language is physical touch and I was told by the man I was falling in love with that he believed it was Biblical to treat me like HIS SISTER! But that’s what we felt convicted about regarding the Biblical definition of sexual purity. Even though I didn’t like it, it’s what the Bible said. Period. Often obedience is not comfortable. 1 Timothy 5 is God’s instruction to the church about how to treat one another. The only thing, Biblically, that would change those words to Timothy would be marriage. Obedience in the area of sexual purity does not mean that people who waited until marriage had any less of a sex drive than those who did. It simply means that long term obedience outweighed the cost of momentary pleasure.
For all of you wondering what in the world did this mean for us practically, I’ll elaborate a little more as you wrestle with what the Lord is calling you to specifically in your quest for purity. Think through this: What would you do with your sister? What would you do with your brother? Going back to Ephesians 5:3, I would argue that you would strive against anything that resembled a hint of sexual immorality with a sibling. I mean even the thought of it is just nasty. Lets be real. So. I would challenge you singles; anything that causes your mind or your body to struggle with going down the sexual path; anything that makes your battle with your mind harder to control, anything that leaves you hankering for more physically, anything that makes it hard to stop doing what you’re doing…that should be off limits.
God created us to desire the intimacy and passion of sexuality. These are good things!…in the right context. The battle is hard, brothers and sisters, and you will face it in a dating relationship. I use the word battle, because it is a BATTLE.
Ask yourself; are you pouring fuel on the fire? Besides the absolute “no’s”, are you cultivating even an atmosphere of sexuality when you’re with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance? I believe that that is the question and bottom line Biblically.
Are you cultivating even an atmosphere of sexuality when you’re with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance? I believe that that is the question and bottom line Biblically
I have to say that if you have faithfully waited, it doesn’t guarantee that your wedding night will be the most wild, euphoric, ecstasy of physical pleasure you will ever experience. BUT it will most likely be one of the sweetest, funniest (the greatest advice I received; it’s okay to laugh at yourselves!), most confusing and most intimate nights of your life. God clearly celebrates sex in Scripture. It is a beautiful, beautiful creation. And, the exciting thing is that all of the adjectives I listed in the first sentence will come with time and you get to learn about the sexuality of your spouse every day for the rest of your life with absolutely no fear of them abandoning you. That is beautiful, and THAT is worth waiting for. You’re not waiting for just one night. You’re waiting for a lifetime of experiencing a growing, safe, fun, and beautiful sexuality with your spouse.
Even if you have struggled physically in the past, you have the opportunity to, from this day forward, strive for physical purity in either your single life or your dating, and experience the blessing of obedience now. God redeemed both Andrew and my pasts and even though we did have a lot of pain to work through because of our past sin, we pressed on intent on honoring the Lord with each other.
Strive hard after the Lord, friends. He is the one who created us and who created sexuality. Enjoy in the way He has created it and I promise you…..you will not be disappointed. 🙂
Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 145.