When you begin a courtship relationship or are engaged, there are new questions, new temptations, and new battlegrounds that isn't often written about in books. Throughout our engagement, my husband and I fought battles that, many times, we weren't sure we would win. The temptation to compromise was strong. And Satan did a good job of filling our minds with "reasons" to justify going a little further. It was only by His grace that we made it!
So how do you stay pure when you are in a relationship? Below are seven ways that I have discovered to be immensely helpful!
- Pray, pray, pray. During my husband's and my relationship, I prayed more than I ever had before. I remember one day literally feeling sick because my every thought was "Lord, give us strength...Lord, help us honor You....Lord, steady my heart..." Purity is a war and our biggest weapon is prayer. The closer we get to Christ, the more Satan will flee. The more we look at Jesus, the less we will look at sin. Pray. Pray for each other. Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Just pray and pray a lot.
- Do things in groups. That's not to say you can't ever be alone. Pray and allow God to direct you in those decisions and let Him show you where boundaries need to be. But I would encourage you to do most of your interactions in a group. There is more accountability there. With my husband, we went witnessing with friends. We went to concerts. We spent time with our families. We went bowling and hung out with others. It is a lot less likely for something to happen when you are surrounded by people.
- Read the Bible. Reading Scripture will allow you to keep your focus where it needs to be. There is always an emphasis on being physically close, but marriage is a package. It is not only physical. It is also emotional, mental, and spiritual. If you want a healthy marriage, Jesus MUST be the cornerstone. He must be the foundation that holds you both together. Reading the Bible together will open up Biblical discussion that will lead you away from "baby, baby, baby, ooooh" and towards "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name." It will bring you closer to the heart of God and get you both aligned with His will.
- Don't talk about your future physical relationship. Save it for marriage. Not just your body, but your talk too. Don't discuss your future physical relationship. Don't talk about what will happen once the vows are said. Do not allow yourselves to think of that because once that can of worms is opened, the worms slither out and you will have a time trying to shove them back in the can. Don't worry about the wedding night or the honeymoon. God made it. God blessed it. And God will bless you. No need in trying to "prepare" yourselves beforehand. It will just lead to more problems.
- Don't have a long engagement. Once the question is popped, get yourself a tux and a dress and get married! --okay, maybe not immediately...but do it soon! :) I speak from experience. My husband and I were engaged for 14 months and it was the biggest struggle for us to keep our bodies and, most of all, our minds pure. Once you enter into engagement, there is a whole new level of temptations and Satan will try to get you to succumb to the slightest compromise. The Bible says that it is better to marry than to burn. I would recommend that if you are able and have the freedom to do so, have as short of an engagement as possible.
- Take every thought captive. Sin starts with the mind. We may not have ever touched or been touched, but if we let our minds roam into the perverted room of lust, then we are doing just as much damage to our purity. This is a toughie, I will admit. I found that in my engagement, my mind was my biggest enemy. God's Word says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take every thought captive. Memorize that verse. When a thought comes into your head, immediately pray and ask God for help and forgiveness, and then make a conscious decision to take your thoughts and bring them back to the throne.
- Make your goal be to glorify God. When you're in love and heading for marriage, it is very easy for your vision to become so clouded that every conviction you ever had can easily be justified and tossed out the window. You cannot expect to remain pure if you go into a relationship with simply a list of do's and don'ts. The odds are slim. In the heat of the moment, you can make excuses and look at that list as a set of legalisms. But if you go into a relationship with the desire to honor and glorify God, you stand a bigger chance of having a pure mind and body. Make your goal be to bring honor to Jesus. If that stays in the forefront of your minds, then not only will you stay out of trouble, but you will be setting a very good foundation for your future as husband and wife by making Christ the King of your hearts.