What is the best reason for a single woman to live a lifestyle of sexual purity?

The best motivation is so we can mirror the pure passion that God intended for there to be in a marriage that represents Christ and His church. The bible continually tells us that the only thing on earth that comes close to the passion that Christ has for us, is a pure relationship between a husband and a wife. The primary motivation would be mirroring that relationship so that the world can see the passion of Christ.

Another big benefit for women is emotional health; knowing you are free from the past. My heart hurts when I meet a woman in her thirties or forties or fifties who is still grieving over a relationship that occurred when they were fifteen years old. They’ve never told anyone, not even their husband. They’ve never healed.

Social Science Today will tell us the suicide rate among sexually active teenage girls is six times higher than that of their virgin peers. That to me points to a great emotional crisis. On the other hand, when we use God’s gifts according to His plan, there is such blessed emotional intimacy between you and your spouse.

Where do you suggest pre-married couples should draw the line in regards to the Nine Steps of Sexual Intimacy? That is the million-dollar question everyone’s asking. How far is too far… The question I challenge dating couples with is, “How far away can you stay?”

Ephesians 5:3 says, “Let there not be a hint of sexual immorality in you. For this is improper for God’s holy people.” The way our nervous system works, the arousal process begins in both male and female even with passionate kissing.

I would ask a couple, “How far can you stay away from that line?”, rather than telling them, “This is how far you can go.”

You write about Satan’s biggest lie. Tell us more about that.

Satan has many lies in the sexuality arena. I think his biggest lie is that God is withholding something good from us. Particularly when we’re young and dating and interested in the opposite sex, we get that feeling that we’re missing the party.

Abstinence is not about “not having sex”, it’s about waiting to have it right. None of us would go on a diet and Need Help? deprive ourselves of that lasagna and luscious chocolate cake unless we knew at the end of that diet we would look better, feel better, and be stronger and more energetic. We know there are benefits when we abstain from food.

In the church we really need to talk about the tremendous benefits and blessings of waiting — or we’ll fall for this lie that we’re missing the party.

God tells us in Deuteronomy that your children will come to you someday and ask, “What are all these rules for?” God says, “These rules are there so that you will prosper.” And when He gives us the guideline of waiting for sex within the confines of marriage, He is doing that so we will prosper.

Even some of the most liberal social studies will tell you that couples having sex most frequently are those who waited for a mutually-monogamous marriage relationship. That supports what God told us thousands of years ago: When we do things according to His plan, we prosper.

How can a sexually pure couple prepare for the eventuality of sex in marriage?

My husband writes in his book, Who Moved the Goalpost, about the four-hour drive to our honeymoon suite after our wedding. There were periods where he accelerated as fast as he could go, trying to get there as fast as he could.

Then there were periods of, “Oh my goodness, what will happen when we get there?”, and he would drive as slow as could down the interstate.

I think a couple needs to have some solid counseling during the engagement period, prior to their marriage. It’s vital that a couple get a Godly perspective.

In our own pre-marriage counseling situation, our pastor waited until just a few weeks before the wedding before opening up that dialog. Revealing too much in advance might have made it difficult for us to wait for our wedding night.

If we’re not comfortable talking about sex, it’s probably because there is something from the past that has marred God’s truthful definition of sexuality in our lives. There should be a level of comfort there. Maybe it’s past sin; maybe it’s parents who stuffed that conversation in the closet every time it was brought up. You may subconsciously feel, “This is a bad thing. Is it okay I feel this way?”

There should be a level of comfortable mentoring that takes place within the confines of the engagement period to prepare you for that wonderful gift God has.

What can a woman do to recover from the guilt of a previous sexual relationship?

First, she needs to be turned 100% in the other direction — growing for Christ, setting up barriers in her life so she doesn’t fall into the same sexual sin. That is vital. And, she needs to go before God and ask for His forgiveness. Most women are good at doing these things.

The problem is getting women to feel that forgiveness in their hearts; this wound becomes greater and greater. God tells us in James 5:16, “Confess your sins one to another so that you will be healed.” It’s really important that a woman who has sexual sin in her past goes to someone older and wiser, a godly woman, and opens that door so she can begin the process of healing. Healing and release follows this confession.

I never had the courage to do that before I was married; I had fallen into sexual sin when I was 15. I got out of that Need Help? relationship, I stood before God and I asked Him to help me live a life of purity, which He did.

I was five years into my marriage when I realized how broken I still was from that. There was this spiritual secret between my husband and I. It took me three hours in a dark bedroom to confess this sin to him.

How could he forgive me when I had kept this secret? I was so afraid of his rejection. I had tried so many times prior to our wedding to confess that, but my shame kept me locked in isolation.

As I confessed that to him that night and he verbalized God’s forgiveness to me, and as he held me and I felt God’s forgiveness, a beautiful process of healing began in my life.

I think it’s vital we talk to someone about the sin and the hurt in our heart.

Dannah Gresh is the author of And the Bride Wore White. A former corporate trainer, she now leads retreats and Pure Freedom Events around the country. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two children.

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