Ever since I can remember, I was told by people around me that “True Love Waits”– meaning, if I love my future spouse, I will wait for them physically for marriage. This long held phrase has been taught by countless youth groups, small group leaders, and Pastors. Overall the idea that waiting until marriage to delve into sexuality is Biblical, but does the phrase “true love waits” capture a Biblical view of sexuality?
I think that this phrase alone, does not fully capture the Biblical call 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-even if they have sin in their past. I’ve heard so many people say “The Bible says we can’t have sex before we get married.” I have also then seen many use this notion to rationalize away conviction and do everything but have sexual intercourse because “it’s not sex”.
Lets go to Scripture, as we always should, to see how the One who created sex has created it to be used- not using what we deem to be “logical” or politically correct to dictate our beliefs, but the very words of God-the words which anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ has staked their entire life upon.
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 we 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 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)! Amen?!
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 immediately bristled. 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! What in the world? But as we dug deeper, I started realizing that I was being extremely selfish. There was a call, and I needed to surrender to it if honoring God was truly the most important thing to me. My faith needed to have feet. Even though I didn’t like it, it’s what the Bible said. Period. Obedience is often uncomfortable. 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. Let me be clear-obedience in the area of sexual purity does not mean that people who wait until marriage had any less of a sex drive than those who do not. It simply means that long obedience outweighs the cost of momentary pleasure.
Obedience is often uncomfortable.
For all of you wondering what in the world this meant for us practically, I’ll elaborate slightly, hopefully to help as you wrestle with what the Lord is calling you to specifically in your quest to honor Him. Going back to Ephesians 5:3, I would urge you to 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. If it makes you start revving up for sex…it should be off the table–anything that causes our mind or body to struggle with going down the sexual path; anything that makes the battle with our minds harder to control, anything that leaves us hankering for more physically, anything that makes it hard to stop doing what we’re doing…before marriage…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 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 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 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.
If you have ever been sexually abused or raped, you are absolutely pure. The evil that was done against you was wicked, and my heart breaks for your pain. Dot not allow any sense of false shame to keep you from the beauty that can await. Allow someone to walk alongside you as you heal–don’t do it alone. I have seen so much beauty come from the pain of abuse–keep your eyes forward, and keep your heart aligned with the Lord. He is the great healer and sustainer. There is freedom and beauty awaiting you.
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 previous relationships 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.