I’ve struggled. Wanting union and not liking the answer “not yet.” One of the ways my impatience has manifested itself is in my struggle with purity. While I never intend to go to “that place," I always seem to “go there” with a guy. Right now I’m “doing well” but that’s because there’s no guy. (Quite frankly it's there's been a HUGE lull!) So, the real test will come when a guy enters the picture and I reface the temptation. In the meantime I hold fast to Jesus’ words, “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
This sexual struggle was at its prime during college. Therefore this time of life has been good to look back and learn from my prior actions. It was when I took a break from dating that I was able to really learn. Asking the why’s, understanding what’s going on below the surface of my heart, getting in touch my longings, and setting my standards and future limits! (Someone once said for every NO from God their are a bunch of loud YES's)
So in college I went from the girl who longed for an exclusive dating relationship to the gal who wanted control and never to be hurt again by a guy (my heart had been broken just prior to going away to college and he was the first guy i let do more than kiss, somehow between that summer love and leaving for college a belief formed, "well you've already messed up anyway?"). Thus, I went from purity to craving physical intimacy with men (and the counterfeit emotional intimacy it provided) to satiate my deep longings that weren't being fulfilled.
The behavior that ensued is what our generation has termed “NCMOS”
NCMOS—Non-Committal Make-Out Session(s). Ah now you're with me! Most of us have had them at some point, let’s be honest. But have we paused, had the courage to look inward, and ask the Lord to search our heart? What is my behavior saying about my belief? For me, it was a way to hide my heart, yet somehow feel connected and close to men. But now, at 30 it's frankly just disheartening me because it’s happening all over the body of Christ.
I was recently talking with a young woman who ministers to college students. She is young in the ministry, but so solid. She is ecstatic about the post-college community God has provided for her and the co-ed group she’s meeting with every week to get in the Word, share their lives together, and pray for one another. And the topic we were connecting over: Her friends and mine who are having NCMOS?
What’s the big deal it’s only kissing, it’s not like we’re sleeping together?
What's wrong with this picture?
Did Jesus ever make it just about our behaviors---never---it was always about what’s motivating our hearts! Was it moving towards God or away? If away, what is it revealing about that place? And this heart of mine is grieving the reality going on for our generation of Christ followers. And imagine how deeply it’s grieving the heart of the Father.
A “friend with potential” opened up about having a relationship like this 5 months ago. He called me to lament (after this girl called him) that she still calls and they’re the most boring, dull conversations of his existence. He flatters me by comparing them with the fullness and encouragement of ours, yet I wish he knew the impact his actions with her are having on my heart as we talk.
Ladies you know what I mean by this, whether it’s a guy friend we’re close to, someone we’re fond of, or even just an acquaintance, the way a guy handles another woman impacts us and somehow indicates (whether it should or not) his feelings of our worth as a woman.
When he was telling me, I wanted to remain separate and hear his words that she doesn’t mean anything to him, he’s a guy that gave in to his flesh, and that nothing has happened since for months. But I sat on the other end of the receiver devastated--sad, angry, and somehow wounded all over again—a small jab that opened up a bigger cut from the series of men who have been like this in my life. I don’t care how much this girl’s manipulated him, played the part, and even used him to feel personal worth or control, the fact is he decided to go along with it not just once but a handful of times. But what grieved my heart most as he shared was not so much that he did this (though it sucks) it is what he hasn’t done since. It’s his inaction with her. I asked him, “Have you spoken in to this with her? Said something like, ‘hey I know we hooked up and I was wrong for participating in that with you. I am sorry. But I need you to know I don’t see this going anywhere so it’s probably better we don’t talk anymore. I’ve tried to show you but I want you to hear it from me and not just have to interpret my actions. You deserve more than this from a guy.” To me that would be taking responsibility, true strength, and honoring her.
However his response was “I haven’t said anything. Why should I do that? Nothing’s happening anymore.” He thinks (and I know he’s not alone in this as I have many guy friends) backing off and having boring phone conversations will give her the “hint.”
As I sit on the other end of the phone I can’t help but wonder if how he is handling her indicates how he will be with me. (After all this is his character we’re talking about which takes time to change.) “Will he speak into my heart when I’m left wondering? What if things die out with us emotionally, will he string me along physically?” We must be willing to ask these hard questions and deal honestly with what the response (or lack-of response) indicates.
Regardless of whether he likes me and says he wouldn’t ever treat me that way, you can see how it’s jabbed at my heart, opened up old wounds, and left me feeling more vulnerable and uncertain about a relationship with him. And the enemy jumps on in, “Oh Susie, it doesn’t really matter. No guy will ever have that kind of strength. You’re a fool for thinking they could.”
Now you must hear, in the midst of my frustration, the Spirit took time to show me I am not above his behavior. If an attractive guy was giving me special attention and romancing me I too could fall into this. I wish I was above it but I’m not, my heart is weak and always asking the question, “Do you see me? Am I lovely?” Seeing my own heart condition and putting myself in his shoes gave me the strength to forgive and a deeper desire to pray for me, him and others in this area. However, it’d be dishonest to say my heart had not taken a jab and I was now being more cautious. Some respect had been lost.
Let me share what I’ve learned about a woman’s struggle with purity as I’ve put my heart under the Spirit’s direction. Being physical with a man helped keep me “safe” in relationship. You know what I mean, kissing to feel close without really being close. When we misuse our sexuality we never really offer what’s inside us emotionally and spiritually. Not always, but often it’s when we feel most insecure about the relationship or ourselves that we’ve chosen to give in to using our bodies to create security. Hiding the vulnerability of what’s really going on inside our hearts.
And when we engage this way we get a false sense of strength from a man--it's a "safe" exchange for both of us. There’s perceived protection, delight, specialness, and connection but it's an illusion, if there’s no commitment. It gives a counterfeit security and answer to our question, and when the time is over, that “magical time,” (however long we spend making out), our souls get a sick feeling inside reminding us something’s not right, (but honestly how many of us let that feeling stay? we quickly try to cover over it or rationalize). What started out arousing a good desire to be delighted in and special turns into a twisted game. But it feels good…for a time. But unfortunately, from experience I know, it doesn’t feel good at all in retrospect when you break up (or just hook up for that matter).
Here's what I took from make out times like the one described above (these messages aren't clear at first but over a handful of times doing this a message is perceived). You are an object, to be superficially enjoyed. There is really nothing special inside you worth pursuing and even if there is he’s obviously not committed enough to go after it. He only wanted what he could get from me. For many it's subtle the lies, for others loud as can be, but if you pause and really search your heart I promise they're there.
Here' the deal: it was easier for me to get physical than it was to share what I was afraid he didn't really want to know anyway. My lies, his lies. My strategies, his strategies all twisted into a big sexual cobweb of tangled emotions and superficial intimacy. We both, if we’re honest with ourselves, left empty and ashamed.
I think it’s time our generation starts to be less permissive of sexual sin and ask the question, what does my behavior say about what I believe about myself? God? Where “life” is found? It is there that His kindness can lead us to repentance.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” I Corinthians 3: 16,17
“I will flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on you out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the