Godly Dating Principle #6: We are Called to Holiness
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” ~1 Corinthians 6:18-20
One reason why I think some churches tend to take a stand against dating is because of the physical boundaries often crossed outside of marriage. There is some truth and wisdom in that, especially for young hormone-driven teens who are just learning how to manage these new feelings and biological drives. Sometimes refraining from dating can be the best thing for those who are not ready to conduct themselves in a way that honors God in a relationship.
But for those who are considering dating, it is crucial to have a firm understanding and conviction of what God’s standard for our behavior is within the relationship. Holiness is the standard by which God calls us all to live and we need to be prepared to uphold it, even within a relationship.
So what constitutes sexual immorality? And how do we ‘flee’ from it? What does it mean to treat our bodies as ‘temples for the Holy Spirit’? What does ‘honoring God with our bodies’ look like in a relationship when two people are attracted to one another?
These are not easy questions to answer and I won’t even attempt it in this post. But I will share that in my own life, this standard of holiness was very hard to uphold before I had the revelation and conviction of what living a holy and pure life meant. I was actually in a relationship with another Christian when the Lord spoke to me about this. He revealed that my behavior and the ‘lines’ we were crossing (sexually) were not pleasing to Him. We thought we were ‘honoring’ God because we were not having sex. But it turns out, God had a different view of what it meant to honor Him with our bodies. The conviction and correction from the Holy Spirit came so strong that it propelled me to make some immediate changes, which entailed some serious conversations with the person I was with and some intentional drawing of boundaries (more on this next week).
I this represents the legalistic approach we often take to sexual purity. For example, the Bible says that sex should be reserved for marriage. So we will push the envelope until right before rule of sex is broken. But what I have learned is that God’s standard of sexual morality is not about rules, but about His heart that says, “I love you and want the very best for you.” Maintaining sexual purity outside of the covenant and commitment of marriage isn’t God punishing us or taking away all the fun. Rather it is Him protecting us and preserving these things for a time when they can be fully enjoyed the way He intended them to be.
In a society that is very sexually charged, many Christians succumb to the pressures and give up trying to remain sexually pure. While it’s true that upholding a lifestyle of sexual purity is no easy task, it is possible! But it cannot be done on our own strength. It will take a great deal of reliance on God in His power and grace, in addition to setting practical boundaries to allow His holiness flow in and through our lives.
At the end of the day, only you know what your behavior looks like behind closed doors. And only you can look at God in the face each day and know whether you are honoring Him with your body or not. If you are unsure of whether your behavior and expression of love towards your boyfriend/girlfriend is ‘holy’ then I suggest praying and asking God to give you a fresh revelation of what His standard of holiness is and what it looks like lived out in your relationship. If we are truly asking Him with a heart that is set on pleasing Him in every area of our lives, we can be sure that He will gently convict us of behavior that is not pleasing to Him. Be prepared to hear Him and obey!
True holiness comes not from following a list of rules and trying on our own strength to live out a standard of perfection. Rather it is realizing our human limitations and weakness and making decisions that will allow His holiness to manifest in our lives and relationships. If we are tuned into the heart of God and truly desire to honor Him in the lifestyle we live, He will enable us. As Paul so eloquently states, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). This includes godly relationships!
**This the Sixth Principle of Godly Dating out of a 10-part series. Please join in the conversation and share your thoughts, questions and comments! And stay tuned for next week’s Godly Dating Principle #7: Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries. See you then!