In a society where it's entirely normal to do what "feels good," live with your boyfriend, do the married person thing without being bound legally, "switch it up" by having multiple sexual partners (keeping life interesting, right?), and be maritally unfaithful, I'm about to explain why I am entirely willing to be "not normal," and the reasons are based wholly on my relationship with Jesus. If I did not love Jesus, I probably would not care about this subject at all- but because I love Him and really desire to follow Him, this subject means the world to me.
I want to wait to give myself, wholly, to my husband (and only my husband).
It seems obvious and easy to say that I'm willing to wait for my husband because of the verses in the Bible that explicitly say "you should avoid sexual immorality" (1 Thess. 4:3). Proverbs tells us that the wise man will avoid the adulteress wife, even though her "lips drip honey" (5:3). The Bible clearly acknowledges our struggle with sexual temptation, but Christians are exhorted to keep ourselves sexually pure until marriage- and there's no cutting corners on that issue. And, thankfully, Philippians 2:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us the willpower we need to act according to that good purpose, no matter how hard it may be to resist temptation.
But that's the obvious reason I'm waiting, and I've heard it a billion times. And being honest, the only thing that makes this lifestyle desirable is the sheer joy of gladly obeying my Creator and Authority- but my fleshly, human self often thinks that obedience to Christ isn't always worth it. So what's the deeper issue? What causes me to truly delight in saving myself and preparing myself for my husband? It's something that I just grasped in the past week: the hope of Heaven.
I love Phil Wickham's song You're Beautiful mostly because of the last verse of the song:
"When we arrive at eternity's shore, where death is just a memory and tears are no more, we'll enter in as the wedding bells ring; Your bride will come together and we'll sing 'You're beautiful!'"
Since I was a little girl, I have daydreamed and daydreamed and daydreamed some more about the moment when only an aisle separates me from my future husband. I've dreamed about finally looking at him as my husband, while he looks back at me and hopefully finds his new wife, in a pure white dress, to be completely beautiful. It still blows my mind that, Lord-willing, I will be able to experience this in less than 7 months. By that point, I will have been preparing myself to marry my future husband for 22 years. Everything that I have done since April 2 and even before that has been to prepare for our wedding next year- and brides push themselves to the point of exhaustion in order to prepare for & plan that beautiful wedding.
In the same way, when Christ died for us, He died so that we might be purified and prepared for our reunion in Heaven (Ephesians 5:25-27). Our reunion will not just be an awkward time of catching up and drinking punch, but the Bible says that it will be a glorious wedding, because we are considered Christ's bride!
"The wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." -Rev. 19:7-8
Christ has been waiting in Heaven for us since the day He created us. He prepared us, beautiful and clean, by washing away all of the sins that we have ever committed that make us ugly and disfigured with sin. His salvation covers us and makes us beautiful and clean before Him, and He delights in the day that we will be presented before Him in Heaven, spotless and pure! Go back and read those lyrics by Phil Wickham again, think about what that will really be like, and be amazed. My 2012 wedding will be lame compared to the wedding I'll have with the rest of the church and Jesus!
So, how does this relate to our sexual purity?
I certainly have not forgotten about my May wedding- not one bit. Theknot.com and every other curious person's question of "how's wedding planning?" reminds me weekly of all the things I have yet to check off of my to-do list. I work out with the motivation of fitting into a wedding dress, I make plans around that wedding day, and I talk to my fiance as if we will actually get married in May- I have not forgotten about our wedding. In the same way, Christ does not want us to forget about our wedding with Christ in Heaven- He wants us to have a life-long focus and motivation of purifying ourselves for that day! He wants us to anticipate Heaven because we will finally be able to fully delight in the full beauty, goodness, and radiance of God. Although I struggle to fight the temptations of sin every day, I am waiting for the day that Christ will be revealed to me in all His splendor and will wipe every single tear from my eyes. Until then, He calls me to sanctify and purify myself in preparation to meet my Bridegroom without stain or blemish:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." -Eph. 5:25-27
I am keeping myself sexually pure because God created sex and marriage to be a picture of what our reunion with Christ will be like in Heaven. We were not put on earth to satisfy ourselves, please ourselves, or live the easy life- we were put on this earth to learn how to glorify God and delight in Him! For a Christian to say that they will live a life that is culturally acceptable and "easier" is to defy the nature of sex itself as God has created it to be: to be enjoyed within a marriage as a representation of the delight and awe we will one day receive from seeing the Lord is all of His majesty. Because Jesus purified us on the Cross to prepare us for that day, we too must keep ourselves pure and prepared for marriage to our earthly spouses.
I'm not saying that, by living with this frame of mind, temptation will be obsolete- in fact, the Devil loves to tempt those who pose the greatest threat to his plans. I will still face temptation to lose self-control, forget God's promises, and forget why I am here on Earth. I am not perfect, and I will mess up. God provides forgiveness when I mess up, and He still provides a way through Jesus for me to be pure and blameless when we enter Heaven. However, living life as God intended for us to holds enormous blessings and richness, just as we will experience one day in Heaven!
Therefore, I will willingly wait for my husband- not matter how difficult it is. I will prepare myself for him by holding back from everything that our society says is okay, knowing that there is a greater plan for me. I am willing to wait because I know that waiting is exactly what God intended for me when He sent Jesus to the Cross to cover up all of my sins.
I'm thankful for a reason more than "because I said so" that gives me motivation to live out the costs that come with being a disciple.