Sunday, February 7, 2016

Honor Thy Valentine

Recently, at my part-time gig, I was working with a young woman who asked me a strange question, although I almost expected it from her. She asked if I have sex.

It blew her mind when I said no. "Really? You're twenty-four and you've never had sex?" "Yep."

Purity was a novel yet somewhat vague concept to me when it first was hammered into my head back in my middle and high school small groups. Only the "bad kids" were having sex back in those days, when we all were still children, but now, things are different. I am a grown adult. People my age are married, or have been in committed relationships where there may or not have been physicality. Even Christians, by my age, may start feeling less motivation to remain pure. Maybe they found someone that made them decide they couldn't wait. Or maybe the opposite occurred: there is no wedding in their immediate future, so why torture themselves? Why wait for something that may never come?

I feel old sometimes. I feel like my body is ready but, currently, my lack of a marital status inhibits me from reproducing. God created my biology and I feel my biology is like the IRS, sending me threatening letters about the babies I owe the system. "It has come to our attention that you have produced zero offspring because you have engaged in zero acts of reproduction. Please rectify this abnormality immediately."

People used to get married at a much younger age than they do currently, which makes me, nearly a spinster by today's standards, realize that, yes, there is a scientific reason why this is so hard, why abstinence, chastity, purity is so hard. Purity is hard. It is easy when you are in high school, when you are still young, but purity starts to look less appealing the older you get.

Really, God? Are you saying I really can't have sex yet? What's the point? What is the point of waiting so long? Especially when I've found someone, you know? We're not married, but why wait?

There's something I've realized about that "why." In all my education on why I should maintain my virginal status until marriage, I didn't hear much about something that I've come to realize is really important. That something is honor.

Honor is a way of respecting God's plan for our lives. It is a way of allowing him to have authority over our what we do. It shows that we love him at a deeper level. It brings him glory. But God is not the only one we should honor.

We honor ourselves when we make choices that are for our good in the long run, and when I say long run, I mean eternity. Having sex outside of marriage is extremely detrimental to ourselves, because it dishonors the agreement we made with God. When we don't keep that promise, when we go back on our word, it cheapens the power of our other decisions. Our character has taken a blow. We dishonor ourselves.

However, the piece of the puzzle that I've really come to realize is this: when we have sex with someone who we aren't married to, it deeply dishonors that person. If we lust after that person, if we reduce them to their body, even if we really love them, that dishonors them. They are a person worth waiting for. God designed them to be. If they are really good for you, if they really love you, then they are worth the wait. You are worth the wait, too (even if you are twenty-four blessed years old).

It is so hard to wait. Sometimes I feel like I can't control my desires, but I think I just need to grow more as a person. I need to keep praying for willpower. There is so much grace for us, but taking that grace for granted defeats its ability to teach us about what God wants for us. We should not sin on purpose because we think God will forgive us anyway. It is a dangerous thing to lust because you figure you will repent afterwards. At that point, you are lying not only to God but yourself.

Honor is a beautiful thing. It's a shining, rare thing to love someone so well, so fully that you will deny yourself pleasure in order to give them the respect they deserve. And often, that person will never know the honor you are bestowing on them. They do not know how difficult it was for you to restrain yourself. They might not see your inner struggle. But your Savior does.

I always try to be forthright in my posts, and sometimes my candidness borders on bringing myself embarrassment. But I never regret talking about the difficult aspects of life and love. Someone has to. In a world of artifice, I think there should be more authenticity. Even if it involves admitting to personal struggle.

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