Summer is finally, officially, Memorial-Day-weekend here.
The sun’s out longer, your dopamine levels are higher, and you’re ready for summer love.
Many single Christians are already dating, and dating rather seriously. That’s wonderful!
Many of you have tried dating and marriage the world’s way and, like my guest blogger from March 26, gotten the world’s results: pain, heartbreak, guilt, and disillusionment.
You’re ready to try this whole romantic relationship business God’s way. Part of that is trying your best to stay sexually pure when your biggest impulse is to rip off your clothes and jump in bed together.
How in the world can we stay sexually pure when temptation is all around us and not just all inside us?
I, too, had to learn to overcome some mistakes I made early in my dating career. I know how hard it is to remain calm when you’re just looking at each other, wondering the same thing and struggling to say, “Let’s get out of here!”
I thought that now, the beginning weekend of summer fun, would be a great time to share 15 tips and helpful suggestions from not only my experience, but others’ ideas that have worked for them. I have included links to the other articles after this post for you to research and incorporate.
I’m not trying to be legalistic. I’m trying to be helpful.
1. Begin with the understanding that sex is not considered a recreational sport by the Lord, subject to cultural trends and media-influenced values. Sex was created to form a permanent spiritual bond between a husband and wife, in the context of a sacred, legitimate, and legal union upheld by a covenant. If you would like a better understanding of what a covenant marriage is, and how that’s different from a regular contract, click here: http://covenantmarriage.com/what-is-a-marriage-covenant/
2. Overlay your understanding of the place marriage holds with God with an understanding that God forgave your past sexual failures. He also gives you grace to live for Him now instead of your impulses if you’re really committed to doing life His way.
3. Value and respect your date as a child of God. Hold your relationship with him/her as a holy trust, not someone to fulfill your lusts and ego. Remember: your date belongs to God, not you, and it’s your job to respect and guard not only your heart, mind, and body, but your date’s.
4. Honestly discuss and agree on both your physical boundaries, including reasonable curfews and if it is appropriate to go to each other’s residences alone, and how to keep those boundaries.
5. Plan to get home at a reasonable hour! The adage “nothing good happens after midnight” is appropriate here.
6. Stay vertical, upright. There’s no need to get prone—horizontal—at any time. That’s a strong invitation to some serious temptation.
7. In the same spirit, avoid activities—whether together, alone, or with other friends—that will fill your mind with carnal themes and heighten your sexual arousal. Resist the devil (James 4:6-8) as he tempts you to sext, talk dirty or posture your body in suggestive ways, surf or rent even “soft” porn, wear revealing clothing, participate fully in a rowdy, worldly party like a bachelor or bachelorette party (eg. where strippers or unrestrained drugs or alcohol will be present).
8. Be sure to work on all aspects of your relationship to diffuse the typical fixation on physical intimacy. Hobbies, skills, new challenges, gifts, talents, ministry and personal goals, conflict resolution, and communication skills are all necessary facets for developing a solid and interesting friendship on the spiritual foundation of Christ.
9. Go through at least one book on Christian dating, perhaps even a pre-marital workbook, together.
10. Read the Bible, do a Bible study, and/or memorize scripture together on a regular basis but don’t neglect your individual devotional times. Pray for one another and with one another—but not late at night, when you’re both tired or wired!
11. Go to church regularly. Participate in ministry together. Serving together in a shared ministry will increase your awareness of the world around you and dilute your focus on each other.
12. Do more group activities than alone-together activities, especially if physical intimacy is becoming a distraction. Hang out in public places, hang out with family and friends, and don’t spend too much time in the dark or alone in your vehicles or residences.
13. You may have to go on a “relationship fast” to help reset your relationship on an operating system of purity if you have become physically involved. This would involve breaking off all communications for an agreed amount of time to seek the Lord and His direction and strength as well as consult others to restart the relationship on a clean note.
14. Have accountability partners, both individually and as a couple. As your relationship becomes serious and focused on marriage, have a married couple mentor you together. And do not discount the wisdom and support that comes from premarital counseling.
15. Focus on the ultimate goal of making it the altar free of guilt and shame and with a testimony that pleases God and encourages and blesses others.
May the Lord bless you both on your journey toward the altar as you go through this summer.
Bielski, Mary. Ten tips to stay chaste. Blog for the Chastity Project 8/1/2015. http://chastityproject.com/2015/08/10-tips-to-stay-chaste/ accessed 5/25/17
Bonos, Lisa. Spring has sprung, so does this mean love is in the air? Article for the Washington Post 4/9/2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/04/09/spring-has-sprung-so-does-science-say-love-is-in-the-air/?utm_term=.f24574c4fd5d accessed 5/25/17
Foster, David Kyle. Covenant: The heart of the marriage mystery. From The Divine Marriage as an article for Focus on the Family series on marriage. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/gods-design-for-marriage/marriage-gods-idea/covenant-the-heart-of-the-marriage-mystery accessed 5/25/17
Gregoire, Sheila. Why I wished I had stayed pure before marriage. Article for To Love, Honor, and Vacuum website. 5/7/2014. http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2014/05/staying-pure-before-marriage/ accessed 5/25/17
Hargrove, Thomas & Stempel III, Guido H. Spring’s not the favorite season nor a time for love. Article for Newspolls.org. 3/18/2003. http://newspolls.org/articles/19564 accessed 5/25/17
Hutchcraft, Ron. 10 ways to practice purity. Article for Christianity Today website. http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/hottopics/sexabstinence/10-ways-to-practice-purity.html?start=1 accessed 5/25/17.
Jones, J.E. Sex series: Waiting while dating. Article for Boundless page of Focus on the Family website. 9/5/2012. http://www.boundless.org/relationships/2012/sex-series-waiting-while-dating accessed 5/25/17
Kimberling, Kim. Tools & tips for remaining sexually pure before marriage. Article for Christianmingle.com. https://www.christianmingle.com/believe/remaining-sexually-pure-before-marriage/ accessed 5/25/17
Lee, Morgan. Christian dating culture (Part 1): Majority of Christian singles reject idea of waiting until marriage to have sex. Article for the Christian Post 02/12/2014. Part 1 at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-1-majority-of-single-christians-reject-idea-of-waiting-for-marriage-to-have-sex-114422/ accessed 5/25/17
Ibid. Christian dating culture (Part 2): Does church attendance impact how often you have sex? Part 2 at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-2-does-church-attendance-impact-how-often-you-have-sex-114423/ accessed 5/25/17
Ibid. Christian dating culture (Part 3): Women struggle in dating scene that expects openness to premarital sex. Part 3 at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-3-women-struggle-in-dating-scene-that-expects-openness-to-premarital-sex-114465/ accessed 5/25/17
Marriage Covenant Movement. What is a marriage covenant? http://covenantmarriage.com/what-is-a-marriage-covenant/ accessed 5/25/17
Pacific Prime’s Blog. The top 5 reasons spring is a season of love. 02/25/2013. https://www.pacificprime.com/blog/the-top-5-reasons-spring-is-a-season-of-love.html accessed 5/25/17
Watters, Candace. Is saving sex for marriage actually possible? Article for Boundless page of Focus on the Family website. 6/23/2008. http://www.boundless.org/advice/2008/is-saving-sex-for-marriage-actually-possible accessed 5/25/17.
Williams, Ann Marie. How to keep your relationship pure. Article for Chastity.com. http://chastity.com/blog/how-to-keep-your-relationship-pure accessed 5/25/17.