Saving Yourself

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Art by Emma Hodge

Disclaimer: This post may come off as extremely convicting, especially for anyone that is having or has had sex before. I want to make it clear that this is a post to start a discussion and a dialogue about my beliefs, values founded in the Bible, and the beliefs that many Christians have. This post is not meant to come off as condescending, hypocritical, or bigoted, because I know I fall short of God’s commands and will for my life.  I also want to be clear that God is a forgiving God and though sometimes we fall short of the things He commands us to uphold, He promises us healing that we cannot give ourselves: healing from broken relationships, from situations outside of our control, and He understands the brokenness, pain, and longing for love and affection that we have for something greater than ourselves. Rather than making you feel as if I am pointing fingers and condemning you, I want to preface this post with this: I will value your feedback and responses to this post and most of all I hope this can show you a glimpse at the love God has for you, because He loves you infinitely more than you can imagine.

Saving yourself for marriage isn’t quite the social norm these days and college has done everything to prove that to me. It’s extremely hard. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. But I’m doing it and until recently I never understood why. Let me explain what this year has taught me:

Weird. I know. We’re talking about sex and Jesus in the same post. Some people might consider this something to keep hushed. I may have just lost you completely. Hang with me here, I promise I’ll explain it if you keep reading.

Just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean I am magically cured from all the desires that every single other person on this earth has. Thousands of Christians struggle with addictions to pornography, sex, and masturbation. Beyond these addictions, even more Christians find themselves longing for relationships and lusting after significant others so much so that our happiness is determined by whether or not someone likes us back, talks to us, or even acknowledges our existence. Not to mention that, just like everyone else, Christians are subject to the constant barrage of sexualized images, advertisements, shows, movies, language, clothing, et cetera that send our mind back to those desires. In fact, there are churches and Christian nonprofits like XXXChurch in Pasadena, California that are dedicated to helping Christians overcome these addictions and desires. Sometimes, however, we physically cannot overcome them – that’s what makes saving yourself impossible.

I’ve found that the term “saving yourself” is dangerous. It makes us believe that we are capable of reconciling and perfecting ourselves. That simply isn’t the case. As Paul states in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” none of us are capable of reaching God’s perfect glory because each of us has fallen short at one point or another: we’ve lied, we’ve robbed, we’ve killed, we’ve hurt someone, we’ve cheated, we’ve had sex, we’ve cursed. It’s not a matter of saving yourself from all these desires our eyes and minds perceive on a constant basis, because inevitably we will fail in pride, in lust, and even in our own thoughts.

Instead, here’s what I’ve figured out about saving myself for marriage: saving yourself is all about giving yourself completely to another person.

Now, a lot of the time the church and youth conferences explain “giving yourself completely to another person as preserving yourself for your future husband or wife. This is a good point to make, but it can’t be a completely accurate way to explain why we would do it (or wouldn’t do “it”) because none of us are promised or guaranteed a husband or wife by the Bible. Not only this, but this gets in a mindset of worshipping our significant other or worshipping the idea of a significant other. So who on earth are you giving yourself completely to?

What if you aren’t giving yourself fully to a person you don’t know and don’t know you’ll ever meet? What if you’re giving yourself to Jesus Christ?

Recently in one of my psychology classes we discussed moral development. Our professor described the highest level of moral development as follows: the willingness to give up yourself for the sake of something greater than yourself. This “something” could be justice, the team, another person, or maybe, in this case, God. For anyone who is a nonbeliever, or even skeptical that there is a god, imagine just for a second that there is a perfect god. Now imagine that that perfect god said to keep yourselves sexually pure. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this “god” would be greater than us. I also don’t think it’s a stretch then to say giving up our own, selfish desires (including, but not limited to sex) for the sake of following that god’s perfect will would be the true, moral way to live your life.

Now the Bible New Testament says this about Jesus being sinless and perfect and therefore being one with God in 1 Peter 2:21-22:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

The Bible New Testament also says this about Jesus’ and God’s will for us regarding sexual purity in 1 Corinthians 6:12-14:

I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything…” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

I realized that saving yourself isn’t effective or adequate wording when it comes to explaining why I don’t want to have sex before marriage. Saving myself is not what I’m doing at all. In fact I’m doing the exact opposite – I’m giving myself up. I’m letting someone else save me. I’m letting Jesus Christ take control of my life and respecting His will. I’m giving myself up for the sake of Jesus Christ, who is much, much greater than myself. I’m listening to the words of John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.” I’m not caving to the lustful, prideful desires of myself and selfishly acting on them. Instead, I’m humbly putting those desires behind me to pursue a perfect relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

This may be a semi-relevant example: say everyone in your school or your classes starts buying nice Patagonia sweaters and you really want one. Your parents say not yet, wait for your birthday or Christmas. You know for certain that your mom’s credit card is saved on her Amazon account, or even better you could just “borrow” it from her purse and order yourself one.

Do you do it? Let’s say we choose not to. Why? Some might say for the fear of punishment, but I would hope instead it would be because of the respect and love you have for your parents will and their hard work they put in to make that money.

Now compare this to sex (especially in a college setting): say everyone in your school or your classes are doing it and you know it’s pleasurable (after all, sex is made by God). Your Father says not yet, wait for marriage. You know for certain that it is accessible (through pornography, images, fantasies, even other people) and you could easily pleasure yourself.

Do you do it? Let’s say we choose not to. Why wouldn’t you do it? Some might say for the fear of punishment, but I would hope instead it would be because of the respect and love you have for your Father’s will and the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross that gave you life and life everlasting.

How much greater to live a life for a greater God that personally knows you than a life for yourself? How much greater to live a life for the will of a God that sent His only son down to Earth to suffer and die for you? How much greater to give all of ourselves to something that cannot fail in loving us? How much greater to leave behind my sexual desires to chase after a love so intimate and real from a God that is pure and perfect? How much greater is my God to save me, than for me to save myself?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:16-17)

 

God Bless,

Sam

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6 thoughts on “Saving Yourself

  1. Amen! This is so good. Changed my perspective on the topic. Although I am keeping myself pure for my future husband, I am more importantly keeping myself pure for Jesus. Really well written piece, the Lord will use it and will bless you for your willingness to write truth for him!

  2. Sam,
    It makes me so incredibly happy to see you spreading God’s word and love through your writing. I was so intrigued by the way you compared “saving oneself” to “giving up oneself”. Recently (in an article in the Chronicle), I was interviewed about my choices regarding abstinence, and I used the term “saving myself”. Now I wish I would have said “giving up myself” – it conveys the message and reason behind the choice so much more accurately. I really feel like I have an even deeper understating of abstinence now. Thank you so much for this, and for continually sharing Jesus with this world.

    1. Keep being a light, Sarah! Thank you so much for the kind words! Seriously, your encouragement is so humbling and is a blessing to me and I’m beyond thankful for that!

  3. Wowza, awesome blog post. Something that needs to be talked about more for sure. You’re reaching people. Grateful for Christ followers like you in this generation. Keep doing you Sam.

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