Why Abstinence Matters

“We’re engaged, which means we’re already committed like we’re married.”
“We’d better live together first to make sure we’re compatible enough for marriage. Everyone else is, anyway.”
“I don’t want our first time to be on our wedding night – how awkward would that be?”
“We’re only a couple weeks out from our wedding. It doesn’t matter.”

Coming into my teen years in a Christian, homeschool community, I sat through many a lecture/sermon on abstinence. The topic was covered from a variety of angles on Sunday morning, at the homeschool convention, during youth group, throughout young women’s retreats, and in its fair share of Christian books for teens. I wore my purity ring, kissed dating goodbye, and got all relevant information on men from the most reliable source on the market, For Young Women Only. I abhorred the passion and embraced the purity. My love was true, so darn it all, it was going to wait. And yet (dare I say?), by the time I was getting ready to say “I do”, I could understand why the justifications offered above can suck people in.

Maybe I just missed it as a teen, but as I recall, rarely did any of the resources on “sexual purity” get to the heart of why Scriptural living is paramount. Why it’s worth it to resist the Devil and zealously pursue righteous living. As I found out, sooner or later, even the most sheltered youth come to realize the world is pointing and laughing at our so-called uptight morals and narrow-mindedness. They tell us that we’re missing opportunities to explore and experiment. And folks, I’m here to tell you, Satan is a very convincing liar.

It isn’t enough to teach that sin is only fun for a season. It’s a lie to say it isn’t fun at all – and if you tell that lie, it will make for distrust that goes beyond this single topic. It isn’t enough to lay out natural, physical consequences for disregarding God’s rules for sex. Sure, you could get pregnant or contract an STD or your parents/church/community could find out and disown you. But none of that is the point.

There’s only one consequence worth teaching about and we can be sure of its happening 100% of the time, as the result of any sin. When we disobey God’s law, we damage our relationship with our loving, heavenly Father.

When you live outside of biblical boundaries, you not only grieve the Holy Spirit indwelling you, (Ephesians 4:17-32) but you render your prayer life ineffective. Yes, sin does that! (Psalm 66:16-19) And the worst part is, the sweet, thrilling fellowship we enjoy with Christ cannot be as it was intended. 1 John 1:5-7 reads as follows:

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The passage has both the bad news and the good news. You can’t walk in darkness and fellowship with God. But the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and so we need not walk in darkness any more.

It takes courage to say no – especially to someone you love. It takes courage to treat sex as a holy part of marriage, rather than the casual, physical pleasure the world presents it as. But Christ calls and equips Christians to live differently.

As a married woman, I’ve got news for you: nothing is as crippling to your relationship with your spouse as having a half-hearted relationship with Christ. Whether you’re making plans to walk down the aisle a few weeks from now or you’ve only been on a few dates, let your love be God-honoring so that whatever comes of it, you have drawn closer to the Lord as the result of having been in the company of one another.

I write this because my heart is for other Christians (other young Christians, especially) to know God personally and deeply. And I am so tired of seeing Satan ruin lives under the guise of romance, using Christians to do his dirty work, laming other Christians so that they cannot run the race set before them. (Hebrews 12:1) But God promises to chastise us, “that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:13)

Don’t buy into the lie that because your sin is already forgiven it doesn’t affect your walk with God. Repent. Draw near to Him and experience His tender mercy and lovingkindness and sin no more.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Advertisements

Anxiety in Light of Christ

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my struggle with anxiety and/or depression on this blog before.  The depression has launched a couple of major campaigns against my sanity in both high school and college, and we’ve had several skirmishes in between. Anxiety has been my constant companion since earlier on, I just didn’t have a word for it until a couple of years ago.
Continue Reading

Marriage Advice from a N00b

You’ll have to take what I say with a grain of salt–today is our first year anniversary and we’re currently recovering from a delightful, overly-indulgent dinner. I’m a little nostalgic (“Ooh, this time last year I was waking up at 4am, horribly sick…and by this time we were taking pictures on the lake with -15 windchill!”) and waxing loquacious on my very full stomach (I don’t know what TGIF puts in its mashed potatoes, but they are good).

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the first year is the hardest–expectations are high and a lot of adjustments need to be made. For us, I have no idea what the future years hold, but if this is the hardest then we’re awful spoiled.

I will say, however, that I see other people a bit like mirrors. I learn a lot about myself, and the closer I get to another person the more zits I see on my face. Metaphorically speaking. And now that I’m married, more than ever my “coverup” doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s good. And I hate it sometimes. God has been very good to use my husband to both bring out and balance out my shortcomings. (And my husband has been very good to forgive and love me in spite of myself.)

And the advice from this married newbie: take care of each other first, and also take care of yourself. When life is crazy busy, having your spouse set up the coffee machine after you go to bed or lay out your work clothes for you says “I love you” in a practical way that brief interactions cannot. As for the second piece of advice… well, my mantra has become “I am not upset, I am hungry.” And it’s my responsibility to keep myself out of the danger zone. I’ll leave it at that.

I love the verse in Ecclesiastes 4 that talks about how it’s better to have a partner in life, because then if one falls the other can help him up. Thanks for helping me along, Matt. It’s been a great first year.

170

When You’re a Hypocrite…And Also a Blogger

bible

Photo credit: Anna Grace (Not my Bible on my counter, haha, I found this among her amazing photos after writing the post!)

 

If you happen to notice such things, it may have struck you that it’s been a little quiet in the Audacious Poet blogosphere. I’d like to say it’s because I’m busy–and I am busy–but that’s not the primary reason I haven’t written anything substantial since… I’m afraid to look. October? Well, beginning of November, anyway. No, it’s actually because I’ve felt  hypocritical posting about spiritual things because I haven’t been living them like I ought to.

I have a recurring problem. I hit a busy spell and I routinely forget or put off spending time in the Word and in prayer. Ladies and gentlemen, I here confess: I have been forgetting and putting off spending time with God. It’s awful. And then I have a secondary recurring problem–I get really embarrassed about it. I “hide” from God, as if I could and as if He’s going to upbraid me for missing time with Him then second I sit down with my Bible. (Sort of like when someone lends you a book, and you haven’t read it yet, so you avoid them for an eon because you’re afraid they’ll ask how it was and you’ll have to admit it’s been kicking around your car since they lent it to you, and then they’ll call you terrible names and hate you for all eternity…or am I the only one?)

Additionally, I want to hide from anyone or anything that might make me feel more remorseful, or actually call me out on it. Folks, I’ve actually been embarrassed to pick up my prayer journal because I don’t want to record that I’m STILL reading through the same part of Ezekiel so many months later. Nobody even reads (or will read) my prayer journal. Might I suggest that there’s some irrational, spiritual interference here?

Please understand, I don’t think the devil himself lurks around my home to plague me with guilt about missing my quiet time. However, I do think there’s a real spiritual battle surrounding any activities that strengthen my relationship with Christ. And I do think the enemy is shameless about using my own shortcomings–namely pride in this case, I think–to trip me up.

A closing thought here, for any who have read this far. My brother and I recently had a somewhat unrelated discussion about living a middle of the road life where you aren’t really doing anything in the way of Kingdom work, nor are you enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. You’re just doing your thing, enjoying the “benefits” of neither and making sure you muddle through the every day stuff without any serious sin. But we know that Christ can’t stand a lukewarm Christian (Revelation 3:15-16). And we also know that Christ offers an antidote to the paralyzing poison: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) Just like that. It’s our responsibility, once we’re aware of where we’re at, to do something about it.

I got out my Bible yesterday morning. I’m starting in Hebrews. (NOT so I can cheat in my prayer journal, just because I need a change of pace.) I’m also leaving my Bible open on the kitchen counter so I read my mandatory chapter in the morning before work, if nothing else. If you’re in a paralyzed, lukewarm, embarrassed stage for whatever reason–just open your Bible. Say a prayer. God is so gracious to draw me, as He did Israel, with cords of love–especially when I’m a knucklehead (Hosea 11). I’m sure I’ll be here again in a few months, in spite of my best efforts. But God is so good. Happy New Year, everyone.

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

I was blessed to be invited to guest post on Erica Mbasan’s blog today. If you haven’t already done so, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of her blog, Erica’s Adventures, as well as her book, For the Joy Set Before Us. She writes beautifully from her own experience, always from a grounded, biblical perspective.

Erica's Adventures

I have stumbled across a lovely sister in Christ through social media. Chloe Quimby maintains a blog and has a lot of insights to share regarding life and truly following God. I have been so blessed following her blog that I asked her to guest post on here, and I’m delighted that she has agreed! Check out her beautiful insights below, and follow her at: https://anaudaciouspoet.wordpress.com 


Hi. I’m Chloe—a twenty-something Christian housewife/writer/copyeditor/biologist/receptionist—and I usually blog over at An Audacious Poet where I’ve lately started rambling a bit about what God is showing me in my life. However, Erica graciously invited me to pop over here today. Thanks, Erica!

This is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while, because God has been bringing it to my attention as a problem in my life. That is, doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Isaiah 1 records the Lord…

View original post 643 more words

5 Contrasts Between Holy Living & Holistic Living

editIMG_4321Let me begin by saying these lifestyles are not mutually exclusive. A Christian can adopt holistic practices for the sake of health and not be any less a Christian. In fact, we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are bought with a price and our bodies now belong to the Lord; therefore, we ought to take care of our bodies.

Also note, I’m using the term “holistic” here to mean the pursuit of improved health through homeopathic, natural, and organic methods. (Some folks use it more broadly, but that’s how will be defined for this discussion.) There isn’t a problem with organic or natural, in and of themselves. However, there are a few points that bother me about the uber-natural movement within Christianity. Trying not to step on too many toes, I’ll list my grievances below and ask that readers keep an open mind.
Continue Reading

Frugal, Minimalist, Non-consuming Christian

Ladies at the farmer’s market, circa 2013. Picture by yours truly.

I chose the buzzwords above because they all seem to describe aspects of the same mindset–one which, for one reason or another, would rather make choices about money/possessions than be ruled by them. I’ve been exploring a variety of “literature” on the topic for the past several months. I’ve read it all: Mr. Money Mustache, Money Saving Mom, Passionate Penny Pincher, The Frugalwoods, Afford Anything, Budget 101, and many lesser known blogs by individuals just living and sharing their frugal, minimalist, non-consuming lives. I’ve joined the Non-consumer Advocate group on Facebook and begun researching the Buy Nothing movement. I’ve tortured my husband (sorry, Honey) with thousands of pictures of tiny homes, fantasizing about the day we have our own uber-minimalist place. And I’ve even switched over to cleaning cloths for most formerly-paper-towel jobs.

What does this have to do with Christianity? I jumped into these resources initially thinking I could be a better steward of the resources God has provided. I wanted to live below our (limited) means because that seemed wise. God says that the root of evil is the love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10) And beside that, it seemed pretty cool what folks like the Frugalwoods and Mr. Money Mustache are doing… retiring in their 30s? Choosing cool experiences and travel above mere stuff? That’s really living! Except, as excited as I got about those ideas, those don’t really have any more Kingdom worth than money. I had a good, long talk with my husband (which is a great way to get all sorts of thoughts straight in my head) about financial priorities. And then I did some praying and some thinking besides.
Continue Reading