“Set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control. I want more of You, God. I want more of You, God.”
“Set a Fire” echoed through my mind throughout retreat with my fellowship this past weekend. As we draw closer and closer to His light, we see more and more of our own darkness. We don’t become any less of a sinner, but rather we come to love what He loves, and hate what He hates.
What is popular does not mean what is good. Our society downplays adultery, making cheating on your significant other, divorce, and casual intimacy (intimacy with just anyone) the new norm. As a single, unmarried person, I could not understand how the commandment about not committing adultery even applied to me yet. I genuinely thought adultery was merely a problem for adults, and I’m barely an adult. During the Biblical Womanhood workshop at my retreat, we learned how we must be mature in our emotions, using them to love others and strengthen us, while also developing the logical, rational side of us to balance the fleeting emotions. Later that night, our pastor spoke on the Ten Commandments, particularly adultery. Just as I was about to tune out because I thought it was irrelevant, he specifically said, “Adultery applies to single people as well. That means basically all of you here.”
Adultery is not a clear, universal picture, but can loosely be defined as anything that weakens or contaminates the exclusivity of your marriage vows and trust. As a single person, committing adultery is any close behavior with someone other than your future spouse. This made no sense to me when my pastor said this, since I obviously do not have spouse. But then it clicked. That was the problem. I have no idea who my husband will be in the future, which made this even more dangerous. Being intimate and talking about vulnerable things with guys is not maintaining the proper distance that I should be maintaining with guys who aren’t my husband (yet). When we steal and toy with someone’s heart, we’re not trusting God with marriage. Self-restraint and guarding the heart are cultivated disciplines; they don’t suddenly develop when one gets married, which is why it’s important, as a single woman, to start the guarding of my heart now.
For the longest time, I believed I could have as many guy friends as I wanted. This is quite a common belief, especially among young women in high school and college. We have this mentality of “They’re just my friends. What does God have to do with it?” Reflecting back on senior year of high school, which was less than a year ago, I went through two very unhealthy friendships with guys. I got close to both of them extremely quickly after first meeting them, through very vulnerable talks and frequent one-on-one time together. In both situations, I gave away my heart to them, and they to me. Though with time and distance, my memory of these relationships has faded a bit, but the memory of constantly thinking, “This is still okay, no one will get hurt,” paired with just wanting the thrill of being in an exclusive friendship, or having a “thing,” lingers. If I even have to justify to myself that “it’s okay,” it most definitely is not okay. Something was very wrong in both of these friendships.
Looking back, all I was was selfish. I was using all of his time. I essentially stole his heart when he would tell me everything on his mind. I led him on. I used him to validate myself. I didn’t even know my intentions. If I were to get married at that moment, when I was good friends with either of them, I would not be able to explain the friendship to my husband. More importantly, I could not explain the friendships to God. I could not explain why I was trying to satisfy all my desires and cravings for love and intimacy with these guys, rather than coming to Him, the living water (John 4:14).
We’re naturally attracted to opposites. It is simply a fact. That is why spending one-on-one time with someone of the opposite gender is so dangerous, because the more we spend time with him/her, we naturally begin to develop feelings, or he/she gets on our nerves. The fine line between platonic friends and more is too fine, and there is no guarantee that either party won’t develop feelings. It isn’t fair to lead someone on and continue being friends with him. We need guardrails, so we don’t teeter on the edge of disaster. Sin should not be toyed with, but rather appreciated from afar. When we wonder if something is “okay,” we’re likely already at the edge, but trying to justify it by saying it’s not a long or painful fall. When I can’t tell if a guy is being just friendly or flirty, all I can do is assume the worst now, because this is anything but a good picture, especially considering how I typically reciprocate how a guy acts towards me.
The relationship triangle below depicts how a Godly marriage should be. As you both grow closer to God, you actually grow closer to each other as well because of your similar pursuits, values, and purpose in life. Our priority is to seek God and His kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), and then all else, all the relationships in our lives, fall into place once that order of priority is established.
I was saved on 5.17.15, baptized on 7.31.15, but finally made my lordship decision during this retreat, on 1.18.16. Walking the Christian life is definitely a process, not an instant transformation. I often forgot this, which just caused me to get frustrated every time I would sin, wondering why it was still so hard to cut my habits. The shame and guilt would eat away at me, causing me to fear coming in front of God. However, I’m no longer ashamed or trying to hide. I can say now that I am an adulterer, but His grace and love is greater than all my sin. We were never meant to carry our guilt and shame as if it was a part of us. The cross took care of that. The Lamb has overcome.
Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way…. Badness is only spoiled goodness. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity]