Living holy lives for Jesus requires diligence in every area of life, particularly when it comes to relationships. God's command to "be holy as He is holy" (1 Peter) allows us to maintain our relationship with Him and hear from His heart without the roadblock of sin. But holiness-or purity, as they are essentially the same-does not come naturally to our human hearts!
The hyper-sexualized culture in which we live is constantly sending us messages about dating. Without even realizing it, we receive these messages through music, movies, articles and images. As women seeking to honor God in our relationships, we have to be on guard against sinful influences. We must be prepared for the Enemy's attacks on a relationship that reflects God's intentions.
This takes intentionality. Below are five ways we can bring this intentionality to our walk of purity when it comes to dating.
1. Know your weaknesses.
Safeguards must be set up strategically. What works for one couple won't work for another for the simple reason that every couple has unique strengths and struggles. Both you and your boyfriend need to be aware of your weaknesses. You will need to be honest with one another about stumbling blocks in your relationship.
In Matthew 18:9, Jesus stated: "If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away." That sounds pretty extreme! But that's exactly the point Jesus was making. Jesus wants us to be harsh with the things that cause us to sin, literally cutting them out of our lives-even when it's painful and difficult. If there is an area of weakness that is compromising your purity, be honest with yourself and set up safeguards to protect your relationship.
2. Communicate with openness and honesty.
This honesty goes beyond telling each other the areas that need boundaries. Good relationships are built on constant positive communication. To walk in purity, you will need to continually assess your progress and ask one another how you can help maintain holiness.
Try not to take these conversations personally. If your boyfriend says he can't come to your apartment anymore because it's too tempting to compromise, celebrate the fact that he wants to walk in purity! This kind of honesty and commitment honors God and honors you. And if you're the one who has to set boundaries, pray for your boyfriend to have an understanding heart that appreciates your openness and commitment to holy living.
3. Avoid compromising situations.
When you love someone, almost any situation can become an opportunity to compromise. Love is meant to act as an "on-ramp": As emotional love deepens, physical attraction grows. In marriage, that's a beautiful thing. But in dating relationships we have to be very cautious.
Set up standards for your behavior as a couple. If you know you're tempted to go too far when you're alone, stop meeting at one another's apartments. Go on public dates in parks and coffee shops. Some couples even take separate cars to their dates in order to protect their purity. When you know your weaknesses, you can set up standards to counter any opportunity for compromise.
When my husband and I were dating, we knew that if we kissed, we'd go too far. In order to protect our purity, we had to make the radical decision to save our first kiss for our wedding day. It was difficult, and there were times we really struggled to keep our commitment. But we did it, and we don't have any regrets. (You can read more of our story in this post: 5 Myths About Saving Your Kiss for the Wedding Day.)
4. Don't compare.
No two couples are the same. Though Josh and I knew kissing would be too much for us, we had many friends who were able to kiss without being tempted to go too far. You and your boyfriend need to honestly assess where you are as a couple-without comparing yourselves to others.
It can be difficult to be the "strict" couple-the couple whose standards are higher than everyone else's. But it’s more important to protect your purity than it is to please people. They might laugh or make fun of you, but God isn't laughing. He's smiling at your commitment to His Word and His ways.
5. Pray together.
Finally, the best way to protect your purity is to pray together. As you lift your relationship up to God, you are inviting Him into your love story. God's role in your story will be instrumental in keeping you on a path of holiness.
Why is this important? Pure relationships are free from the guilt and regret that inevitably come with sexual compromise. They also promote a God-centric foundation for marriage and strengthen the emotional bond without physical distraction. In other words, it's worth the effort to protect your purity.
It's not always easy, but it's God's design. God blesses those who follow His plan for relationships. By upholding purity, you're reflecting Christ not only in your relationship, but also into your world.