As the car pulled up to the terminal, my new friend mustered the courage to ask me a question that burdened her heart for many miles. “Marian, how do I become a woman of purity?” I met this beautiful young woman a few years ago at a women’s conference. She was my hostess for the weekend and eventually drove me to the airport on the last day. When I looked into her eyes, her love for God and passion to live for Him was evident. Realizing there was more to her question than could be answered in a quick airport goodbye, I sat in the passenger seat and listened as her story tumbled out.

She was a virgin when she began dating her college boyfriend. She loved Jesus and thought her boyfriend did too. She’d always imagined she’d wait until marriage to have sex, but then she fell in love. Soon their relationship began to focus primarily on the physical and as a result, they disobeyed the Lord, engaging in sexual sin. Overtime, they both grew distant from God and their faith fizzled. She described the relationship as “unhealthy,” but felt tied to him due to the sexual bond and couldn’t break it off. Eventually though, they did break-up when he cheated on her and moved onto another girl. Heartbroken is an understatement. She justified their sin by telling herself, “We will get married one-day.” But in the end, she felt used, hurt, and ashamed.  It was at this time she ran back to Jesus and experienced unconditional love, forgiveness, and healing … and discovered even though she’d moved away from Christ, He’d never moved away from her.

That alone would be a beautiful story of redemption. Right?

Yet her question still lingered in the air, hoping for an answer. How do I become a woman of purity? You see, her question wasn’t about her past, it was about her future. She understood that Jesus forgave her, but she didn’t want to make the same mistakes in her next relationship.

Her question is a vital one. We live in an age that not only mocks sexual purity but also confronts us at every turn with temptations aimed to lead us away from God. Her question is also important because there are so many like her who assume purity isn’t really possible.

Girls, let me just say— purity is possible! If God can redeem my past, and make it something beautiful, He can do so for anyone. I was a train wreck in this area prior to trusting Jesus. But from the time I surrendered my life to Him at age 25, to the time I married my husband at age 38, I committed myself to sexual purity. Do the math—that’s a really long time. By the power of God’s Holy Spirit and with a whole lot of grace, I was able to honor this commitment. I’m not saying I did everything perfectly, but along the way, I learned some valuable lessons that I get to share with others today.

Becoming a Woman of Purity

1. Purity is a desire of the heart, before it’s an act in the bedroom.

First of all, sexual purity begins in the heart.  I learned a powerful truth early on in my walk with Jesus—when we love God, we obey God. When I fell in love with Jesus my desires changed. Before, I was the girl hooking-up with guys and didn’t think much about it. This was just normal … everyone did it.  But when I began a relationship with Christ, something changed. I knew sex outside of marriage was not God’s will for me and I wanted to obey. Not because it was a rule, but because it was right.

Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my  commandments.” (John 14:15) Our hearts naturally gravitate towards that which we love. And when Jesus is our first love, then purity follows as a natural overflow of our devotion. When we believe God is good and His commands are for our good, then we want to put them into practice.

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard put it this way: “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Think about that, what is the “one thing” you desire more than anything else? When I fell in love with Jesus, my “one thing” became to glorify Him.  Sexual purity was the natural overflow of that chief desire— I wanted to become a woman of purity because I loved God and wanted to please Him.

2. Don’t settle—any man worthy of your heart will cherish you!

Women often tell me they are afraid they will lose the guy if they don’t have sex with him.  To which I say, GOOD RIDDANCE! Or, as we say in Texas, “DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT HIM, WHERE THE GOOD LORD SPLIT HIM.”  If a guy leaves you because you won’t have sex with him, then that tells you who he is—he is selfish and not worthy of your heart.

Sadly, it’s gotten to the point that even Christian women don’t expect men to honor their purity. Our culture has brainwashed us into believing that we are objects to be used instead of a treasure to be cherished.  Please hear me precious ones: God’s best for you is a man who will honor Jesus and save sex for marriage. It is completely up to you whether or not you give in and settle for less than God’s best.

I firmly believe if more Christian women stood their ground and expected men to act Godly, then we would see men rise to the challenge.  Don’t settle. Expect a man to treat you as God wants you to be treated.

[As a side note: There are many good Godly men out there. I promise. But If you don’t know any right now, then PRAY! I honestly believe we are called to pray for the men of our generation. For more on this topic read Praying for your Future Husband.]

3. Remember, God is good!

God, the Creator of All Things (including sex), designed it for one man and one woman in the context of a covenant marriage.  He gave us this gift as a blessing. But this gift can become toxic when taken outside of its rightful place. Sex outside of God’s design hurts us body, soul, and spirit. What kind of God would He be if He didn’t protect us from that which would ultimately harm us?

With every temptation we face, we must realize that we have an enemy who is lying to us about the goodness of God. With every temptation, there is a lie that says  “God is not good, he is withholding something from you.” This is how the enemy has operated since the beginning (Genesis 3). God is painted as denying us pleasure. In reality, our God is a good Father who desires the very best for us. He longs to protect us from that which would harm us.  As our Creator, He knows how our bodies and souls are wired. He knows sex is more than just a physical act, it is a spiritual mystery that cannot be treated carelessly.

4. Speak Up.

When my husband and I dated we talked frankly about our desire to remain pure. We also set up boundaries and accountability so that we could resist temptation. Often times women tell me they are too embarrassed to talk about it. To which I say, “If you can’t talk frankly about your desire to honor God then the relationship has more problems than you think.” Any relationship—friendship or dating— should be one that we can freely share our hearts. As a woman who loves Jesus, your desire to honor Him should be something you are happy to share. Plus, if the guy is turned off by the topic, then see the previous point.

Because my husband and I both made our intentions clear from early on in dating, it was easier to resist temptation— and yes, we were very tempted! But we both knew our first priority was honoring God and therefore we both helped each other keep our commitment.  I remember many nights when it was time to say goodbye that the desire to stay was so strong and the lure of sin so sweet. But we resisted with one simple statement— “I love Jesus more than I love you, so I’m going home.”

5. Focus on Friendship.

An eye-opening Scripture that is packed with wisdom for becoming a woman of purity is Romans 13:14, which says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its lusts”.  I recall reading this passage in my quiet time one day and pausing over the words make no provision. I knew the Lord was revealing an important truth, so I stopped to ponder these words:

MAKE . . . NO . . . PROVISION.

To “make provision” implies forethought, planning, or preparation. When it comes to sin, sometimes we slip up and say “I can’t believe I just did that,” and other times we willingly walk into situations that set us up for failure. This happens all the time with believers when it comes to sexual sin. We may desire purity, but we willingly put ourselves in vulnerable situations that entice our flesh and make us weak to Satan’s lies.

Good intentions are not good enough. We need to plan for victory.

When Justin and I were dating, we had a motto: “Redeem the time.” We intentionally planned activities so that we would not just sit around each other’s houses fighting the temptation to make out. We went to painting classes, we went mountain biking, we trained for a marathon, we took cooking classes, and we planned events with friends. We intentionally focused our time on building our friendship.

Today, I know this was the best decision ever! Honestly, we are best friends. Here’s the truth: The physical aspect of a relationship is super easy. The physical will be there once you say “I do.” What is difficult for most couples is communication, finding activities you both enjoy, and building a friendship that will last a lifetime. Dating is the best time to learn these things and to develop communication that involves more than wandering hands! Redeem the time! When you focus on building your friendship, you are laying a foundation that will last a lifetime.

Jesus is Better, 

{I pray this post was helpful to you or a friend. I want you to learn more about this topic, my book Sex and the Single Christian Girl equips readers to win the battle for sexual purity.  You can buy yours in the Redeemed Girl store. Also, be sure to follow @redeemedgirls on Instagram for a fun giveaway we’ll have for this book on Friday!}

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