As unmarried women I think all of us have felt, at one time or another, the pressure to have what the world calls a relationship with someone. Growing up, what have we always been taught from the time we were little girls? Follow your heart. Find someone who loves you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, chase boys or flirt a bit. And of course, enjoy every moment of it.
We covered how this mentality is totally contrary to the Word of God in the Dangers of Dating.
Today I want to talk about keeping your heart. What I am going to say to you I say to myself as well. This is something I have struggled with enormously. I still struggle with it sometimes and carry a lot of baggage from the past, which I must continually lay down at the feet of my Lord. So I am not saying this with an attitude of hostility toward anyone or without any firsthand understanding.
First, some questions: Are you truly striving to uphold purity for your husband-to-be? If you would be horrified at the thought of committing the sin of fornication you’d better seriously check your thought life, because that carnal sin starts with the small things. Do you have the spirit of a harlot, even if you don’t dress or act outwardly like one? (Chances are you show it whether you think you do or not.) You don’t have to physically fornicate to come to your marriage defiled, because your heart is really the problem. Trust me, it is your thought life that is at the root of the situation. If you let those thoughts lodge in your heart that is what you will become.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7)
Lusting after someone is the same thing as adultery, we read in the Bible. And adultery is a serious sin.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
Do you have thoughts of lust? You say, “Well I don’t do or even imagine dirty things. And I don’t read books or watch movies that contain that stuff, so I’m fine.” Well, do you imagine romantic situations between you and a man you are aware of? Do you wish for any kind of verbal attention or physical contact from them? Do your daydreams about boys set your heart aflutter? Are you discontent with the affection from your father and want to look beyond? If you answered yes, all of those things are fueling the fires of lust. These fires are dangerous and can and do lead eventually to the act. It happens EVERY DAY – women who never thought it would happen to them in a million years find themselves defiled. Listen, sin is always candy-coated. It tastes sweet, feels good and makes you want more. That’s how you get drawn in. But its end is always sorrow, heartache, destruction and death.
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15)
Sin isn’t relegated to just breaking one of the ten commandments. Sin happens when you are going against God’s Word on any matter. Lusting is on par with adultery, according to Jesus.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
And interestingly enough, lust is breaking one of the ten commandments – thou shalt not covet. Just to drive home the point: when you venture into that realm in your heart, that realm of coveting something (or someone…), that realm where you want something that is outside the boundaries God has put in place, you are putting yourself in Satan’s territory. You are playing the devil’s game. You are in sin. Do you realize how serious that is? Do you think God is going to bless you for your adulterous heart, your ungrateful attitude for all of the blessings He’s given you, for delivering you and redeeming you and washing you clean, while you turn again like the sow to wallow in the mire? No, rather, that protection, guidance and fellowship with Him is hindered. Are you such a servant to your sin that you are willing to turn your back on the God who saved you out of sin?
“God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2)
Because you can’t have it both ways. Don’t you think for one minute God is fine with you reading your Bible, praying, dressing modestly, behaving good, then turning around and eating yourself up with fleshly lusts! You are being Pharisaical, and I don’t use that term lightly because it is tossed around far too flippantly in my opinion.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)
If you are truly a child of God that is flirting with iniquity, He is going to chastise you, and it isn’t going to be fun. Don’t think you can run from God; He knows your thoughts. Don’t think He is oblivious to that poison you are letting fester in your heart. Maybe you can hide them from your family and the outside world but you can’t hide them from God. He sees you toying with wickedness and it does not please Him. Fear God, sister, and repent before it gets to the point of ruining your testimony, shaming your family and dishonoring your Lord. Repent before it is too late to undo what has happened. Seek righteousness and hate vain thoughts (Psalm 119:113). Because,
“… behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)
If given the opportunity, this cancer of carnality will continue to infect your life and break down your moral inhibitions. It is a downward spiral.
You may say, “I don’t see how thinking someone’s cute and wanting to be around them is sin.”
You don’t have the same perspective that God does on the matter. You want to be with that person out of wanting to gratify your own lusts, not wanting to further the kingdom of God or beautify your religion (by the way, proving you don’t really love that man). In fact, your words (Matthew 12:37) betray that what is drawing you to that person is their appearance. So many ladies get offended at men looking at their bodies, yet they turn around and gawk over the physical features of a man – a man who is not her husband! It is a double-standard.
And it isn’t bad enough that society pressures us, but we also have our own emotions to deal with. I think there is something in the thrill of those thoughts that makes us feel something deep inside our flesh. If we didn’t have those kind of emotions it would be much easier to nip those thoughts in the bud and get on with our lives, but as women we are very emotional creatures. God made us to want those things. They are a gift that binds the married couple together, intended to give us joy. But when we want them from the wrong people at the wrong time we are abusing those emotions. It is exploiting that pleasure for your own self’s satisfaction. You will notice my language sounds as if I am speaking of fornication or other fleshly sins, but I’m talking about your heart.
“…I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” (Psalm 119:113)
The vanity of daydreaming/imagining about boys is pretty easy to identify. Not to mention when that young man you are drooling over is not yours, you are just setting yourself up for heartbreak. He lives his life and almost always ends up moving on to other places and other people because he has no obligation to you. The world tells you “don’t give up on love,” or “learn to love again” after you experience the pain of a relationship that doesn’t work out. It’s a downward spiral if you do that, and there is no profit in it – it’s totally pointless. And it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to manipulate men by using your physical attributes in an effort to gain masculine attention, a whorish practice. That’s why there is great wisdom in waiting to give your heart to someone until you are man and wife. At that point the deal is sealed. But you can’t do that if you’ve been busy doling out bits and pieces of it to every fellow who strikes your fancy along the way. God didn’t make a woman to have 50 different lovers like the harlot! God made one man and one woman in the Garden of Eden. Some people make think this sounds far-off, but scientifically it has been proven that the “feel good” hormone serotonin (coincidentally the same chemical released when doing certain drugs or watching pornography, by the way) that is released when you get those butterflies in your stomach feelings IS BEING DEPLETED. What does this mean? It means that’s a big part of marriage problems, is what it means, because people find themselves with no desire for their spouses. They’ve drained themselves dry of these feelings and affections before the time. God put that there to be reserved, not exploited at the wrong season of life. And I do want to point out also that those emotions you feel are 100% carnal. If you don’t believe me then wait until you have a severe case of the flu and then see if you still feel that way thinking about someone (chances are it will make you will feel worse!).
If you haven’t read my very brief article on imaginations, why don’t you take the time to do so.
Daydreaming about boys is a huge problem for many girls, and is something I have admit to have struggled with personally. I was definitely the kind of girl you would call “boy crazy,” and I was constantly obsessed about them (much to my shame and sorrow). When you have a heart that is not chaste, it can really take over your mind, distracting you from everyday life and causing unfathomable damage to your purity and ability to serve the Lord. Imagining romantic situations that never happened (actually, all kinds of imagining) is incredibly self-deceiving and spiritually damaging. Maybe you “tapeloop” on past situations that make you feel good to replay in your mind. If you have this problem, sister, you will have to break free of these mental patterns in order to get right with God. Will you do it unwillingly and temporarily, once your heart is crushed by a boy (who most of the time will be ignorant of your suffering or that you ever were interested in him to begin with), until the next one comes along, or will you lay it down once and for all? Is what God wants more important, or what you want? You may find the grip of these thoughts surprisingly difficult to loose. Depending on how much of a hold these thoughts have on you and how much time you spend thinking on them, you may actually find yourself to be in a state of addiction! The sooner you get them out of your life, the better, and only by the grace of the Lord could you truly be free. If you think it is a stretch to say being boy crazy is an addiction, let me assure you it is. I know I found myself habitually thinking about boys without ever planning to. I kept coming back to my “drug” over and over just like the porn/drug/gambling/alcoholic for the same reason they came back to theirs: because I derived sinful pleasure from it. Just like them, my addiction made me feel good! I was a boy-o-holic! Even at the time of writing this I must confess even after all this time this still a weakness for me and something I do battle with, with the Lord’s help.
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Colossians 3:5)
What do you do when you have those thoughts? First, identify them for what they are: sinful. Yes, it is wrong to think them because you are breaking the command not to covet and the command not to commit adultery. You need to beat into subjection your flesh – mortify it – and know how to possess your vessel in holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:4). You need thoughts to control your body, not the other way around. Because in most cases I think this is really a flesh vs. spirit issue. It is about carnality, and we are told to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof (Galatians 5:24).
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Then, direct your attention towards seeking masculine approval from the right place – your father. A strong father-daughter bond is a very powerful way to overcome lust because that need for love is met in purity. If the bond is there, you can also confide in him. Tell him your struggles. Ask him to pray for you to keep your heart pure. Seek from him protection over these desires you have. He can help make sure you aren’t put in situations where you could be compromised emotionally or physically. Put all of that excess energy and enthusiasm into caring for him and building him up.
Also, it is wise to make sure you do your part to avoid placing yourself in a vulnerable position. Talking long with a man can cause you to feel intimate. Being caught alone together with one should be steered clear of if at all possible. It just isn’t wise… there is so much opportunity for mischief on many levels. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to engage in conversation, keep the topics light and impersonal. Don’t gaze long into his eyes. Try not to laugh together. It causes the heartstrings to tie together. Remember, I speak from experience. While this all may sound disheartening to you, please listen and weigh what I say carefully. Just as the recovering alcoholic must make extra effort to order his steps away from places of temptation, so must the girl who is curbing her appetite for sensual things. And these are just prudent suggestions even if you don’t have a boy-obsession problem to keep you from falling.
I want to say that you are doing your father a disservice when you daydream about other men you don’t belong to. God has put your father as your head. Your job is to build up and serve that man to the best of your ability. Let me tell you can’t do that when your head is filled with selfish, lustful thoughts. Even if you haven’t run off with that person, you may be mentally absent from your family and your father in your thoughts. Actually this is the mentality of the whorish woman,
“Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.” (Proverbs 2:17)
True love is about self-sacrifice. It is a daily process of dying to your flesh to serve others and build them up, taking up your cross and denying what you want for the cause of Christ and what He wants you to do.
“But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:20, 21)
Are you playing the whore in your father’s house, even spiritually? Something to think about. God says it is evil. Whether or not the death penalty for fornication is applicable to the Church today is the topic of another article, but the principle stands.
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” (Romans 12:9)
If wickedness doesn’t seem that big of a deal to you, if you don’t hate that which is evil, you don’t truly love that which is good and you need to get right with God.
Maybe you don’t have a very affectionate father. In fact I think this is the case with nearly all girls who struggle with inordinate affections. But rather than bemoan that, why don’t you throw your efforts and thoughts into how you can obtain more of his affection? You want the love of a man, you can’t escape it, so why not pursue his love in a pure way? If you feel that he doesn’t love you, don’t draw back and widen the chasm between each other. Be determined to make him love you. Think of things you can do that will make him happy. Seek opportunities to help him every day. Embrace the challenge. It will pay dividends – most fathers will respond positively to a daughter eager for his attention and affection. They like that. It motivates them in turn to be more protective and kind towards you. I know that this isn’t always the case, so please don’t think I am broad-brushing the situation, but your distant relationship could very well be due to you not putting effort into building a strong bond there. Maybe, just maybe, you have been too busy chasing other things all of your life to put the time and diligent attention you should invest into your father.
Of course, there are situations where a father may not be responsive to his daughter’s love, no matter how long or how hard you have tried. He may be detached. He may have sin in his life that is preventing him from fulfilling his role. He may carry emotional baggage that prevents him from opening up for one reason or another. This is a difficult situation, but don’t be downcast. Even if he does not appreciate your greatest efforts, the Lord sees them. He will provide for you in those times of want. It could even be that your father is not around to be there for you. Lean on God, look to Him as the Great Father and your Provider. Commit your ways to Him and trust Him; seek His direction. Don’t look to the world or to the men of the world, as easy as it may be, to fill the void.
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:32)
Controlling your emotions rather than letting them control you is the key. Starve your flesh, don’t feed it. Take charge of what is going on in your heart, by the Lord’s help. Don’t let them rule your life or you will be sorely short-changed.
I know for me this was absolutely the case. But as with all of the rest of the world’s “advice,” it led to nothing but pain and heartbreak for me. A big part of the reason I want to write this to you, dear sister, is to try to spare you of that. I can guarantee you won’t find what you are really looking for there, which is true love and respect. It is one of Satan’s traps. You will only become the victim of predators, whoremongers and shallow people looking to please their flesh.
Let us close with this final thought: if you truly love the Lord, you will desire to run away from the things that displease Him. If you find that sin – when you understand it as such – is attractive to you rather than horrible and ugly, it is very possibly an indication that your relationship with the Lord is not where it should be. You are not loving Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, which is the greatest commandment in the entire Bible. More than anything else, loving God first and foremost is priority #1. Are your priorities where they should be? Is the Lord first, above all else – even above yourself?
When you truly love the Lord, you will be so filled with His contentment and that love for Him, there is no room to desire any of the things of the world. You know with every part of your being that you do not have any need for them. It is the most beautiful, happy, peaceful state. There is a well of endless pleasure and joy in Him. You know you can go from the cradle to the grave unshaken, so close is your heart to the Lord. The thoughts of chasing after temporal things are replaced by the deep desire of your soul to be closer to your God, and everything else is clearly seen for what it really is – corruptible and stable as the wind. Men come and go. Even good husbands don’t live for ever. I pray that this love would be yours, sister – a love that is better than any other – and you would be filled with it entirely.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
You will also trust in God that you don’t need to give a second thought to boys. Your future is in His hands. Both your heavenly and earthly father are the ones whose job it is to see to your marriage. It is not your burden. Give thanks to the Lord for the blessings you have and the relationships He has put in your life, and may He continue to bless you for your chastity.