A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. - Proverbs 27:12
And if your hand is causing you to sin - even your stronger hand - causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. - Matthew 5:30
“Boys, line up, you’re going to the other room for this discussion,” my Sunday school teacher yelled over the chaos of our typical middle school conversing.
The boys were hurried off to the room on the other side of the divider wall while all of us girls were gathered together in the front of the classroom.
My Sunday school teacher began passing out a red rose to each one of us. The room fell quiet as each one of our brains stared in wonder at the flower in our hands.
I began to twirl mine around between my fingers as I waited for instructions.
“This rose represents your purity and each petal represents a part of your purity. Every time you do something with a boy, you lose a petal. Once the petal falls you can’t get it back. If you hold a boy’s hand, you lose a petal….” she continued on with more examples and explanations, but I lost all comprehension of what she was saying. My eyes shifted downward and landed hard on my very whole flower.
Guilt struck me as I began to think about giving away my petals to anyone other than my husband. In that moment I silently, but fervently promised God I would never give away my petals to any man but the Godly man He would have me marry.
This story is real, and it’s really embarrassing. I really did once sit in a classroom full of other young pre-teen girls. And we really did listen to our teacher tell us about our petals and how we should protect them and keep them safe until we wed.
Though my teacher’s intentions were good, it was missing some key components of faith. Things such as grace, redemption, and trusting in God’s best for you. This rose analogy haunted me well into my early 20s.
Guys would barely look my direction and a visual of a rose losing its petal would pop into my mind, leaving me squirmish and completely panicked.
The struggle became even more evident when I finally allowed myself to date, like really date, my now-husband. He would hold my hand - which I wanted him to - but it then led to a night of me tossing and turning as I panicked about giving away one of my petals.
This cannot be what God means by having boundaries. This thought that hit me one day sent me on a quest to discover what does a Godly relationship look like?
Here’s some of the Godly truths I found on my journey:
Stop putting rules where Jesus didn’t put rules.
The Bible has a lot to say about relationships and some of its contents are fairly black and white, but nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Never get lateral with a boy,” a common rule given in the church culture today.
"Boundaries" is a word used often as a limit marker in relationships or behaviors.
In a sermon series by Andy Stanley, Guardrails, he describes boundaries using the analogy of guardrails on a road, where he discusses the importance of putting guardrails in our life to keep us out of our danger zones. The key word here is our. Guardrails and boundaries are personal to who God made you to be.
Is not getting lateral with a boy bad advice? No, but cuddling on the couch doesn’t necessarily lead everyone to sinful behavior. This leads me to the next truth God taught me.
What is wise for one person may not be wise for another.
Patrick, my husband, was my first boyfriend and all my firsts belong to him. Which I know sounds sweet, but remember this is simply a result of my petal trauma.
When we were dating I would find myself feeling guilty if he held my hand for too long or if we cuddled on the couch while we watched a movie. Shame would plague my heart as I battled with the fear of disappointing God.
It was in this fear God led me to Matthew 5:30. "And if your hand is causing you to sin-even your stronger hand- causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
Through this Scripture God revealed a game changer for me in my faith journey. What was wise for me, may not be wise for the person sitting next to me and vise versa.
I was capable of cuddling on the couch with Patrick without it leading to an act of sin. Cuddling was not a sin, but if cuddling on the couch together had led to us behaving in a way that did not honor God, we would have then needed to put a boundary in place to protect and honor one another and each other’s relationship with God.
In Matthew Jesus doesn’t tell everyone to go cut off their hand, he says if your hand is causing you to sin, then get rid of it. If we began to see cuddling, or holding hands, or kissing, or hugging as a gateway to engaging in behaviors reserved for marriage, then we would have needed a boundary. We would have needed to cut it out of our relationship because honoring God had to be more important than feeding our fleshly desires.
All this to say, you have to know yourself and your relationship well. It took me 4 months to stop dodging Patrick’s kisses (he is such a patient man); needless to say our boundaries were pretty minimal in those first 4 months. But once kissing entered the scene we had to reevaluate what was wise for us because it changed and it would change again.
Proverbs 27:12 tells us, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
Different seasons and different people require different wisdom at different times. That is why it is vital to talk about the boundaries early on in your relationship and keep talking about them.
Please hear my heart in this: boundaries are so important (and Patrick and I had our fair share of them from the get-go), but they can be just as much of an idol in your life as other relationship issues can be. For me, I had allowed the boundaries to become a list of God’s rules that had no Biblical reference. It caused me to worry more about being right, than being righteous. It led me to be judgemental of others and prideful of my so called “pure” behaviors.
My behavior, caused by my sin, was just as non-God honoring as other relationship struggles.
In my quest to learn what a Godly relationship was supposed to look like I ended up realizing there’s no one right way to execute a Godly dating relationship. Sure, there are some wrong ways to go about it, but God made us all different for a reason and as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus He will lead our relationships.
Now, for all of you wondering, there was finally a day where I put those petals to rest in my brain and began to focus more on what God wanted from my relationship with Patrick. Turns out God was way more concerned about my heart than the petals I had kept for all those years.
1. What are some non God-honoring behaviors you do not want to participate in in your current or one-day relationship?
2. What boundaries can you put in place to keep you from entering into the danger zone?
3. God does not shame us, He convicts us. Conviction leads to repentance (or turning from sin and asking for forgiveness), which leads to grace. If you have participated in behaviors you wish you hadn’t in the past, do not allow Satan to shame you. God sees you, loves you, and desires to give you a clean slate. Come to God, ask for forgiveness, and embrace the redemptive grace He has for you.
Lord, thank You for your love and protection. Thank You that You speak to us and give us personal wisdom for our lives. Father, help me to know what is best for me in all my relationships. Help me to know when a boundary needs to be made. Help me to keep my eyes on You as I learn to work out my salvation with You!
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