Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making the Most of Melodrama

(Note: We're so sorry for the delay in posting! I admit, it's my fault--yes, Abigail's being a slow poke again! What else is new? Ha! Anyway, we will get back into the swing of posting just as soon as we can--school starting and vacation has gotten in the way of posting recently, so thanks for being patient!)

As females, I’m sure we all (at least to a certain extent) appreciate the idea of snuggling up in a comfy chair with a blanket and a cup of coffee to watch our favorite romantic film. I love the memorable “meet cutes”. I get frustrated with the characters during the complication. I adore the chill that goes down my spine and gives me goosebumps when everything turns out just the way I want it to. I can’t live without the contented sigh I feel inclined to utter at the end of every viewing. In a word, the idea of the “sweep you off your feet” kind of love is simply perfect.

There are so many amazing things about these moments— since we’re girls, we can definitely enjoy getting into a good love story! However, it’s also easy to get pulled too far into these romances and think about these imaginary scenarios too often. There are some mental exercises that I put myself through regularly to make absolutely certain that I don’t get too caught up in something that isn’t really happening and become discontent with where God currently has me.

What is probably the most common occurrence in my life is that I see these theatrical romances, and they make me think about my relationship with my future husband. This doesn’t seem wrong at first glance, but the times when I don’t hold myself in check, I find that I start thinking of my future love as that kind of fun, flirty, and romantic love, when in reality, there might be some of that, but it certainly won’t all be fairy tale—it will take a selfless heart and diligent effort. In the correct context, the extra details of love that they pack into movies are completely innocent and in fact would be a blessing in a marriage, but if it’s taken too far, the lightweight love will take over the deep commitment that love involves. I want that deep commitment more than anything, so I work hard to hold onto that priority.

Another issue which I find to be completely rampant in our day and age is falling in love with the male leads. These men are created to be appealing to females for obvious reasons—I mean, what would a love story be without the proverbial knight in shining armor?! There’s nothing wrong with recognizing good qualities in these characters, but it is easy to become so attached to those qualities that the imperfections in the men that make up the world around us start to look absolutely intolerable, and discontentment arises within our hearts. What is the meaning of true love if not to love people with all of their quirks and imperfections? We can have love like in the movies—beautiful, fairy tale love—but only for a moment—real life holds even more beauty, because clinging to each other through thick and thin, and living with those things that drive you insane while still absolutely adoring one another is what defines unconditional love; a concept formed from the deepest part of God’s perfection!

Among the more vividly harmful problems is the temptation to indulge in love stories that focus too much on physical attraction. Keeping ourselves pure is just as much a mentality as it is an action. In order to remain pure for my future spouse, I need to guard against any kind of physical attraction and the best way to do that is to simply avoid anything that could stimulate that temptation. Where to draw the line is different with each person—we need to search our hearts, examine ourselves, and ask God for guidance. If we’re sincere and have a real desire to do what’s right, He will lead us and protect our hearts.

In conclusion; romance is beautiful, and it can have an incredibly positive effect on how we view life and love. God wants us to have enough joy to see our future love stories with the same exuberance as we feel when we watch these films. Keeping both excitement of what is to come and contentment with the here and now is difficult, but with patience and perseverance we can come out victorious and with our own Godly, quirky, imperfect, manly men to sweep us off our feet! (Lord willing.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Purity - More then Meets the Eye

In modern Christianity there are often “overused words”. Those that are seen only at face value and used flippantly. “Purity” is one of those words with the “true love waits” movement that's filled with abstinence speakers and purity rings. But do we often miss out on what purity really is?

For me growing up, my parents were always clear about God’s plan for sex and I learned about it at a young age. My parent’s philosophy was that they would rather have us kids hear it from them and get a Biblical understanding of it even if that meant talking to us at young ages, then learning about it from the culture, friends, or media. As was appropriate at each age of life, my parents would be open to talk to us about it. Never have I believed anything different then God’s standard for sex to be in marriage.

At the age of about eleven I would listen and watch videos of abstinence speakers with my parents and older brother and read books on the subject. But along with other things, my most clear view of true purity, that which is more then physical was two years ago at the young age of twelve, reading Authentic Beauty (I’ve mentioned this book so much already, but there is a good reason for my doing so).

I realized that purity was much more then I had originally thought. It is not only a preservation of physical virginity, it’s also a great aspect of holiness. It is that of being pure and radiant amidst a generation wallowing in sexual sin. A “lily among thorns” complex that overtook every area of a person’s life. Even physical purity is more then a surface level of just virginity… it starts in the heart.

Abigail and I have emphasized the heart and emotional aspects of purity in our last two posts because it’s where everything starts. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that we are to guard our hearts because from our hearts “flows the springs of life” (ESV). When our hearts are guarded and focused on purity, our physical purity will take on deeper meaning.

In our overly sexualized culture where promiscuity and premarital sex are the norm, the focus of Christians can become just hoping that teens will keep their basic virginity because that is difficult enough for them. Rarely does it come with a call and urging towards purity of the heart and the entire life. We settle for deeming the act of premarital sex a sin, but all that leads up to it as a normal part of growing up.

The temptations are strong in our culture and if we only ask the question of “how far is too far?” we are settling for so much less then what God’s plan is. God wants us, above all, to try with out entire beings to go above and beyond the expectations the world has set for us. If we are to honor our husbands all the days of our lives, we are to keep our bodies, which are meant for only our husband, sacred and set apart for the one man God will give us for life. We are not to leave our husband with the remnants of our virginity but seek to give him everything we have.

It’s not “what can I do without sinning?” but rather a question of “how much can I give to God and my husband?”. In a culture that tells us the most we can do is get by, we are to seek to thrive. We are to seek the best, and that is total purity of our bodies for one man. For me, I’ve chosen a few years ago that my first kiss would be on my wedding day and it excites me so much to envision a day when my husband will get to be the very first to express his love physically to me. I know that I will not regret it and that I will cherish that first kiss a million times more then those who have given it away carelessly. Above all, physical purity is a chance to glorify God:

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a pride. So glorify God in you body.” I Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)