Thursday, September 8, 2011
Signs and signals are important for our safety on the road and in relationships. Have you ever been in traffic and the car in front of you flashes a bright red left turn signal, and then suddenly turns right.
Um – what’re ya doing?
When a man treats you like that, and sends mixed signals, it can be confusing. It’s time to ask questions and get clarification.
What kinds of signs is he giving you? Does he act like a boyfriend and then treat you like a friend? Does he just want to be physical (sexual) with you, and then act like he doesn’t even know you? If he doesn’t pursue you, don’t settle for being a “friend with benefits?” You deserve better.
Think about this: Lust visits, love stays. Lust takes, love gives. Lust is selfish, love puts the other person first. You can tell over the course of time a man’s intentions. “Only time can reveal the difference between infatuation and lasting love,” says Bill Hybels in Fit to Be Tied.
To be a woman of integrity, go to the source of integrity, the Bible. This helpful and holy book addresses what to do, and not do, with your body before you are married. We are to honor God with our bodies, not degrade them.
For instance, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Sex is for two people who’ve made a commitment, a marriage covenant. In fact, one of the best gifts you can give your husband on your wedding night is yourself. Hebrews 13:4 affirms that, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” God’s words, not mine.
Sadly, sex before marriage is so prevalent in our contemporary culture that sometimes people forget God intended this intimate expression of love for a lifelong committed relationship called marriage. Not outside of it. In the context of marriage, it’s a special and incredible thing that, like a fire in a fireplace, brings warmth, comfort and joy.
In the wrong context, it's like a cozy fire that burns outside of the fireplace’s boundaries and becomes out of control--it sets the house ablaze, damaging your property and destroying your life.
If you’ve already gone too far sexually, you can find healing and forgiveness. You can become what one woman I know calls, “a born-again virgin.” Talk to God about it in prayer. Confess what you’ve done wrong and ask for his forgiveness. And our gracious God will forgive you and make you clean and pure again. Love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).
Emotional and physical boundaries
A few years ago, Scott Croft wrote a column for the Boundless.org website, a Focus on the Family webzine for singles. In it, he talked about how God’s word (in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8) “admonishes us not to wrong or ‘defraud’ our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.”
The passage tells us, among other things, to avoid sexual immorality, control your body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust.
Many times women have come to me and said they felt terrible (used, shamed, hurt) when they gave in to the sexual demands of a man who was not their husband.
Whether it was a boyfriend trying to push his limits or just a guy they hooked up with, they were "defrauded," used, and not treated as they deserved to be—with love, respect, and honor. When someone uses you for his or her own selfish pleasure, no matter what the level of physical intimacy, it can be inappropriate both physically and emotionally, according to Croft.
People can wound you with words or with their actions. That’s why boundaries are vital in dating and relationships—both the physical limits of how far you will or will not go sexually (to guard your body) and emotional limits of what you will or will not accept from others verbally and relationally (to guard your heart).
In their classic book, Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend describe the protective device like a fence, “Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. They guard our treasures (Matthew 7:6) so that people will not steal them.”Your heart is a treasure, and so is your body.
Guarding your heart means you don’t “play house” by acting like you’re married when you are not. Doing so can be very hurtful when you break up because the emotional ties you’ve created now need to be severed. Protect your heart from emotional injuries you were never designed to incur.
What will your boundaries be in your next relationship? How will you enforce them?
Your precious heart's depending on it.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.