Friday, 24 February 2012

A Preacher's wife can preach too ya know!

Last year when Chris and I were still engaged I was asked to speak to the young women in our youth ministry. Ok, to be honest, I asked if I could do this talk. Matt graciously allowed me to speak the following to approx. 30 young girls aged Grade 7-12.

This is a topic I feel quite passionate about, but to be totally honest I feel a heck of a lot of anxiety when it comes to sharing it with all of you. I have a lot of non Christian friends. Close friends- most of which knew me long before I knew Jesus... and sometimes I wonder if they would call me crazy if they really knew how deep my faith in God is. Only one way to find out I suppose! It keeps coming to mind, and around these parts one might say that's the Holy Spirit telling me to do it soooo.... here we go.

(I haven't altered it at all, so it reads as though I'm speaking it to them.)

Deep breath.

Ok, so I'm supposed to talk to you about Lust. Before I can get to that, I need to talk to you about sex. I know a lot of you think you have all heard it before- and many times. You probably think that there isn't much more you can be taught about sex. I mean, even in just the last few weeks you've heard about what the bible says about sex from Matt, and then you heard about some physical side effects from the pregnancy care centre. I have a little something more to say.

So, you all know I’m getting married this summer. What you have probably assumed is that Chris and I are waiting until marriage to have sex – which is correct. What you don’t know is that I have had sex before. I’m going to tell you my story- how that has affected my emotional life, my spiritual life, and how it has affected my relationship with Chris, because make no mistake about it, while I have been forgiven by God, and my sins have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus, I still to this day am affected by the decisions I made.

I grew up going to church, and if anyone would ask I would tell them I was a Christian, but I was not living a life for God. I understood a lot of things in my head- like salvation, and forgiveness- I learned it all in Sunday school... But that knowledge hadn’t quite made it to my heart yet. I knew the bible said not to have sex until marriage, but I chose to ignore that fact. Partially because it wasn’t something my parents had really drilled into me, and partially because I thought that it was an unreasonable expectation of me. I mean how on earth was I supposed to get a boyfriend if I wasn’t willing to have sex with him?? Don’t get me wrong- I had standards for myself, but those standards were MY standards, not God’s. I knew that I wasn’t planning on losing my virginity to just anyone. I wanted to be in love. I wanted the person that I first had sex with to love me.

So I met a boy, and I fell in love. Our relationship seemed fairly normal for our age- we started by holding hands, then kissing... And without going into too many details, it wasn't too long before we had sex. We were responsible when it came to the physical risks- we talked about STD's and pregnancy, and we used condoms and I went on the Pill. We stayed together for a while- longer than most high school relationships, but then we eventually broke up, just like 99% of relationships do at that age. 

And then I met someone new, and started dating him, and we also had sex. And truthfully? We didn’t wait until we were madly in love at all. And then would you believe it? We broke up too! This pattern went on and with each man that I dated, I waited less and less time before having sex. Looking back it's easy to say it was wrong, it's easy to hear my story and to picture me as a promiscuous woman- someone you could never relate to, but the truth is that it all happened so gradually that it didn't seem wrong or alarming to me. If you had met me then, you would have no idea what kind of emotional battle I was fighting. At the time, even I had no idea. See, sex became less and less special. It wasn’t something that I was doing because I was in love, it was simply a physical act- or at least that's what I thought. What I didn’t realize though, is that inside my heart I still had the same views of sex as I did when I first made that decision. I wanted the men that I had sex with to love me. 

This sounds like a completely reasonable ‘want’, right? But pay close attention to how I worded it. I didn’t say that I wanted to love the person I was having sex with- but that I wanted the person I had sex with to love me. That small change in wording made a HUGE difference to how I viewed not only sex, but relationships for a very long time. What kind of love was I really seeking? Was I truly looking for a man to love me, or was I trying desperately to find the love that God was already offering me, but I wasn't willing to accept? I think I’ll wait to the end to finish that thought.

Sex is HUGE. The emotions you feel when you have sex are HUGE. And that’s the way it’s meant to be! But that hugeness simply cannot be sustained by a short term relationship. God knows that. When He is giving us the outline to live life to the full **John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.** He truly has our best interests in mind. I think sometimes we think that the “rules” of the bible are more for HIS glory only, or so that we can all live harmoniously (hence Thou shall not kill, steal etc) and while this is true, it is also true that He loves us so deeply that He wants to protect us from all the self destructive things we can do to ourselves that will hurt us in physical ways, emotional ways, and in ways that will damage our relationship with Him. And there is no better way to bring glory to God, than to live the way he asks us to.

As much as God loves us, and wants to protect us, there is an enemy in this world that wants to destroy us. He hates us and wants nothing more than to hurt us. Remember what I just quoted from John- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I want to stop right here for a second. What I just said about the enemy in this world does not just apply to some of us, but to ALL of us. So regardless if you have made a decision to follow Christ with your whole life or if you are someone who goes to church because your parents make you, or if you are here visiting for the first time – this applies to you. Satan wants to destroy YOU. He can do that whether or not you have a relationship with God, and truthfully it’s a lot easier for him if you don’t.

When I was in the midst of sexual sin, I was very far from God. I knew that the bible said not to have sex before marriage, and so when I let myself think about it, I felt shameful. WHEN I let myself think about it. For the most part, it was just easier to not think about it, because I didn't like to feel shameful. The problem with ignoring what God had forbidden, was that I was ignoring the goodness he had for me as well. I had no desire to learn more about Him, and therefore I was holding my heart closed before Him. I was rejecting the love that he wanted to give me.

OK, so back to what sex really is. In Matthew Jesus talks about gifts. It says: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! *Matt 7:11* Sex is a gift from God - because it is good, and God wants to give his children good gifts. When you decide to have sex before marriage you are allowing Satan to steal that precious gift and use it to hurt you. It causes separation between you and God, and it hurts you emotionally, because remember- sex and emotions are inseparable. You can't have one without the other.

Ok, so on to Lust. First things first- what is lust? The dictionary definition is: 1) intense or unrestrained sexual craving, or 2) an overwhelming desire or craving. So it is a sexual craving. But as we've already learned, the gift of sex is meant for marriage only, so it is a craving that God has forbidden. Lust is the temptation to have sex outside of marriage. Lust is not thinking a boy is cute, but lust is wanting to do things with that boy that God forbids. In 1 Corinthians it says: *1 Cor 6:18* Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.  So if the bible says to flee from temptation then we must flee from lust. Now lustful actions most certainly begin with lustful thoughts. It’s like this: When you think about eating a cupcake, and how it might taste… the cake, the icing, maybe there are sprinkles because who in their right mind wouldn’t want sprinkles! So now what do you want to do? Eat a cupcake!! Lust is the same way. If we let ourselves fantasize about sexual things, pretty soon the fantasy won’t be enough. Just like you might crave a cupcake, pretty soon, the desire to act on your lust will be just as strong. Can you imagine if someone told you that they had the best cupcake they had ever tasted in their life, but you couldn't have it for 10 years? Or 7 years? 5? Or even 2 years? Do you think it would get harder or easier as you got closer? Be prepared - the older you get, and the more you are exposed to sex, the harder it gets. Especially when all of a sudden it isn’t just on TV, or just the “promiscuous girls” in your school that are doing it, but instead it’s your friends, and your boyfriend’s friends.

Now why did you want the cupcake in the first place? Maybe you saw a commercial, or you heard someone talking about it. My first suggestion would be to flee from sexual content of any kind- but we live in a media crazed world, and the truth is that sex sells. It's in our advertisements, our favorite TV shows and movies, and in the magazines we read. So how do we flee from temptation? In Corinthians there is a chapter that warns us about Israel’s history. It talks about how they have sinned, some of which was sexual sin, and then it says this: *1 Cor 10:11-13* 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

So, the bible says that God always gives us a way out. Great! But what does that way out look like? If you come across something on the internet, make the choice to get off that website. If you are watching a TV show, and there is a steamy scene- get up and get a glass of water, or if you are watching a movie with nudity and sexual content, either look away, fast forward, or turn the movie off. I know that might sound extreme, but remember- lust begins with your thoughts, and our thoughts are largely determined by what we see and hear. In 2nd Corinthians Paul says 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. *2 Cor 10:4-5* The great news is that he is talking about all of us. WE have the power to hold each thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.

Now. You will be told the lie that “If you love him then you will have sex with him” I just want to tell you that you should NEVER have to perform an act to show your love. If a guy really loves you, then he should want you to live the best possible way- THAT is real romance. And the best possible way for you to live is in intimate relationship with Jesus. When we have sex before marriage we are sinning against God, and creating a separation between Him and us. A picture of real love shows a man that wants to care for and protect you, so if this guy really loves you, he should want to protect your relationship with God. Even if he isn’t a Christian, I would hope that he would want you to have the absolute best you can in life, and even if he doesn't fully understand it, he should know that if it's important to you, it's worth protecting.

OK, so back to my earlier question. What kind of love was I really seeking? And how has that affected my relationship with Chris? Well, to be completely honest with you- I am still figuring that out. Even though I know I am forgiven, I am still broken. I had something stolen from me that I will never get back. I know now that what I thought I wanted from a relationship is a lie. I thought I wanted a man to be “my other half” that he was supposed to “complete me” that I shouldn’t want to live without him, and that I should hold him up above everything else in this world. I also wanted to receive all of those things back from him. That is a lie. I don’t need a man to fulfill those desires in my heart- Jesus is all those things to me, and I am all those things to him. I don’t want to live without Jesus. He completes me. So how does that affect my relationship with Chris? That’s the best part! We are free to love each other without having those heavy, unreasonable expectations on each other, and we BOTH hold Jesus up above anything else, which means that we are brought together in our unified love for him. It also makes our love for each other more real, because when we strip away what TV and movies tells us a relationship should look like, we are much more free to just love each other the way our hearts, and Jesus would have it be.

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