I praise the Lord for a holiday like today that has it’s roots in God’s perspective of human love. It should be a day for Christians to remind themselves of the way God designed mankind, marriage and companionship. It should be a day to remember not only God’s sacrificial love in bringing us redemption, but also a day to remember that God’s love gives us instructions on how to live a redeemed life. Today I am reminded of the principles he has given us to live in the mindset of being a one-woman-man or a one-man-woman. As a single young man, I am grateful to be living by that principle: it has avoided much needless pain and emotional drain, it has provided energy for the urgent tasks at hand for advancing God’s kingdom, and it is laying the groundwork for enjoying and appreciating relationships down the road.
So, as I was thinking about these things today, I thought I would share a snippet from an article I came across not too long ago on www.purityandtruth.com. It’s about Christians guarding their hearts and minds. I feel like the perspective and exhortation given is so needed in today’s culture. It was almost as though it was flowing from my own heart as I read it. May it give Biblical balance to the worldly perspectives we are surrounded with every day, even within the church:
Jesus commands us in 1 Thessalonians 4 to “not defraud our brother or sister” in the area of purity. As a man, this means seeking to understand which of our actions make it difficult for our sisters in Christ to guard their hearts and minds. So even though women are responsible for their own thoughts and battles with lust, we purpose to not defraud them or stir up untimely desires. There are many things that could be stumbling blocks. For some women it might be an expression of gratefulness that is too personal. For others, taking the time to talk might be what gets the engine going and prompts that woman to struggle all week trying to figure out if those moments together meant more than casual friendship.
It goes back to the idea of a switch: a switch that turns on our God-given desire for sexual companionship. These are not dirty desires! They are beautiful and God wants to fulfill them. But they can only be truly fulfilled within His design of lifelong commitment. When we stir up a desire for something that cannot righteously be fulfilled we have contributed to their struggle for purity–the goal of surrendering their desires to their Creator to be met in his perfect time.
For women, they too must understand which of their actions makes it difficult for their brothers in Christ to guard their hearts and minds. To understand, you have to comprehend the powerful effect the female body can have on the male mind. A glimpse of those God-designed curves and a fire is lit. Not always, but when it is, the fire is can be consuming! I’ll never forget as a young man seeing a provocative image and being consumed with desire. I did not want to give in to lust. I am not whimpering. I am not a victim to the way a woman dresses. I have a duty to fight and guard my eyes for my wife. It is not always a battle I win, but I refuse to quit fighting because my eyes belong to God first and to my wife second. But I want you to know that being in the presence of a woman dressed immodestly is a struggle. I cannot give that person my full attention because there is a battle raging to look elsewhere. That voice in my head says “don’t look there” I respond “where?” Oh there. And the battle continues.
I don’t want to be fighting, especially if this takes place at church. Christian fellowship is supposed to be a place of refreshment and exhortation. A time to focus on worshipping God. But if there is a woman there who is dressed in a revealing outfit, the distraction is there. It can range either from mild annoyance that there is now a place in the room I can’t look, which means that spot becomes a focal point, or it can set off a raging fire.
A Christian does not have the right to demand how other women dress in a way that helps us men. All I can do is appeal to my sisters in Christ to be merciful to us brothers. The article concludes:
I think many women are not aware of the effect their apparel is having on the guys around them, just as many men may not be aware of the emotional battles they are setting off in the hearts of young women by their actions. . . . Being married for almost 8 years has given me a whole new appreciation of the sacrifice that is required to dress modestly, especially in hot weather. I know it can be frustrating too when finding the right outfit is hard enough, even before you consider modesty. But for those of you who are making an effort, I want to thank you so much!