Saving Yourself, or Something Else?

If you haven’t heard, Joshua Harris has recently come out with a statement and a documentary about the ways his views have changed from those he laid out in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

With all the media and blogs and tweets coming out about this news, it raises again the topic of “purity culture”.

Now, I always look onto these discussions with great interest, because I was raised to save sex for marriage, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I was part of “purity culture”. Primarily because there weren’t many Christians where we lived, let alone enough to form a whole “culture”, but also because there was a distinct lack of creepy Daddy/daughter stuff.

I’ve been specifically thinking about the language we use around sexual purity – the phrase “saving myself for marriage” or “waiting for my future husband”. (The latter being popularised by Rebecca St. James’s song “Wait For Me”. I had the matching journal, Letters to my Future Husband, in which I poured out my weird little teenage heart. Hmm, maybe I was more part of purity culture than I thought…)

The problem with these sayings – euphemisms for abstaining from sex until marriage – is that they place the emphasis, the reason, for not having sex as an unmarried person on the eventual hope that you will marry. And that’s a great hope, even goal for a teenager to have, but what about those who don’t go on to marry, despite desperately wanting to and pursuing this goal?

Where does that leave their sexuality? Being saved for something – someone – that will never come. And to be honest, I think that leads sexual immorality. It leads people to think things like, “If I did the right thing by saving myself, why hasn’t God given me a husband?” and “If doing the right thing didn’t get me what I was promised, then I may as well not bother any more.”

Not to mention, that “saving sex for marriage” is totally the wrong frame. It approaches the issue from the perspective of the (secular) world, who have no moral constraints on sex apart from “consent”, and kind of says, “Well, I’m not going to just have sex whenever I want, I’m going to save it.”

What would it look like, how would we speak about this, if we started from God’s perspective? If we held as right and true that:

  • Sex is a good gift for married couples
  • Singleness is also a good gift.
  • The only appropriate context for sex is within marriage.
  • This is not about a personal or religious choice, it’s simply about obedience.

Maybe then we (and our children) could speak not of “saving ourselves for marriage”, but instead we would talk about “living holy lives to God’s glory” and “obeying God because we love him”.

Whether that looks like getting married and having frequent sex (in obedience to God).

Or staying single and celibate and living wholeheartedly to please the Lord (in obedience to God).

In all things, let’s live to His glory.

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A Time to Savour and a Time to Hustle

I can hang out a basket of washing in 5 minutes.

I did it today in the small window of time I had before I had to pick up my daughter from school.

It would have been easy to fritter that time away with a scroll through Facebook (as I have done on other days), but today I squeezed those minutes for all they were worth – I hustled.

I felt a glowing sense of accomplishment at the time well spent. And the benefits extended into the rest of the day – it was one less thing I had to do.

My favourite time of day to hang out the washing is in the evening, right after dinner. The kids are sitting on Daddy’s lap watching videos or getting ready for bed.

The air outside is cool and the birds are calling to each other in the trees surrounding me.

I hang an item and then stop to take a deep breath as I look around, trying to spot which bird is making that unusual sound I haven’t heard before. I might bend down and wonder at the lady bug traversing the blades of grass, slowly making her way home.

Doing it this way, it takes about 5 times as long to hang a basket of washing, but the experience is far more pleasurable.

Would I get more done if I hustled all the time, squeezing productivity out of every minute? Unquestionably.

Would I have a better quality of life? Not a chance!

Hustling all the time is a sure-fire way to burn out. (And if Mumma burns out, we’re all gonna have a bad time.)

The key is seeking God for wisdom on how to spend our time – moment by moment, day by day.

Here’s what I’ve observed in my own life. The more I’m in His word, the more my priorities match His.

And the more I’ve been intentional about keeping Sunday holy and restful, the more productive I am the rest of the week.

Ask the Lord to help you know when it’s time to savour and when it’s time to hustle.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
James 1:5

The Good Girl Delusion

I guess this is the story behind the name of my blog. (I might post it on the About page…)


I’ve always had this deep desire to be the good girl, or at least, to be thought of as the good girl. I’m a classic people pleaser – give me an instruction and I’ll follow it, show me a line, and I won’t cross it. But please, please don’t be disappointed in me!

 

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents taught me about God and the Bible from a young age. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know God.

In my public primary school I was a total weirdo – I didn’t wear the same kind of clothes and I wasn’t allowed to watch the same kind of shows as my peers. I was regularly teased and made fun of for the way that I stood out from the others.

But the shame of being different as a kid grew into pride in being different as a teenager. I was the Christian, the rule-follower, the good girl, and in my heart – I thought that I was way better than my peers. I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t wear revealing clothes and I didn’t have sex. “Thank you, Lord, that I am not like these other teenagers!” became my heart’s silent refrain.

But I was a bleach-soaked rental shower. Clean and sparkling on the surface, but covered in toxic, black mould underneath. My heart was full of pride, lust and jealousy. On the one hand, I felt that I was so much better than other kids at my school, who would indulge in heavy drinking and premarital sex. But on the other hand, my thought life was consumed with fantasies of sex and living a life of indulgence.

I just thought I was better than them because I didn’t act on it.

I knew that I had Jesus in my life, I just didn’t think I needed him.

I knew that I had Jesus

The Bible calls this pride and it’s at the heart of all sin – this thinking we don’t need God.

 

Back it up a bit…

I accidentally responded to an altar call at a huge youth event (my first one!) when I was 12 years old.

It’s true.

I think I must have been daydreaming during the actual altar call, because all of a sudden, people around me were raising their hands, so I raised my hand too. And then everyone who had raised their hand was walking down to the stage, so I walked down too. Everyone seemed really excited for us, but I didn’t really figure out what was happening until after we got back on the bus and one of the youth leaders congratulated me on giving my life to Christ.

In a way, when I look back on that moment, it seems an apt metaphor for my true salvation. There I was, stumbling around and not really paying attention. And yet, God saved me. It’s not something I did or a decision I made.

He. Saved. Me.

 

And that’s why I write. Sure, I write about lots of things.

But above all, I don’t want to spend my time on earth carefully crafting and managing my own image, being so preoccupied with how I appear to others and what they think of me. I want God to continue his good work of conforming me to the perfect image of his son, Jesus.

 

I used to be the good girl. But He graciously redeemed me.