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Gospel negotiation

These are the words I most recently spoke to a friend…where I yet again took the position I’ve held for some time now. I wonder though, as I always do when I say the following…is there something I’m missing, or is it really that wonderful, intentional and asking of us when we make our way toward forever with someone?

“I know for myself, that I cannot kiss a girl before marriage. I only want to kiss my wife. This is something  that I’ve failed at more than once, but, that personal, tailor-made conviction from God remains. I cannot do this…I should not want to do this…and through His help, I will continue to not do this. I wonder while it is perhaps not the honorable route everyone need take, why does my extreme, as it ends up being by default, seem so far from what others say is okay for them to take part in…kissing, making out, etc? I wonder if I am just seeing to a very specific God-spun conviction upon my heart for my life, or, are other people just fudging on what was once pursued to be application of Biblical truth, only to end in negotiation into something not entirely truth? Or, is the Truth of everything somewhere in the middle of all our worlds?

All I can say is that right now for me, I must hold to what God has impressed me to do. But I still do wonder and worry…are others taking an alternative path to relationships, filled with fast-track and short-cut that miss out on the courtly Love-approaches of old? …the lessons found in antiquity from those who have gone before us, and in my opinion, interpreted, applied and surrendered to God’s commands in ways that we’ve only negotiated with? I wonder if we’ve forgotten all about our heart’s motivation of application of Biblical Truth and exchanged it, entirely, or worse, subtly allowed it to mingle with negotiation of such Truth? All that time between being down on two knees and perhaps just getting down on one one day seem chasms apart with impossible in the air if not for God’s intentions to be remembered and devoured right now.”

I am attempting to be mindful as I court and sort sorting through the tendency of mine to see things only through Western eyes and assume that the Gospel through my eyes (Greek thought…what America follows now and has since its inception) is the only way it can manifest itself, I do wonder where those other ethnic-driven manifestations of the Gospel start and where Christ has always been?

I learned a valuable lesson in Scotland on my most recent mission’s trip where a pastor encouraged to think much more deeply about the idea that while the Bible is truth for all and does apply across gender and ethnic lines, it does manifest its perfect truth in different ways depending on where you are at. In other words, he challenged me to consider the expression of the gospel…of Truth…of true Faith outside of the expression I am used to in America and through my Western-eyes. He used the example of being “modestly dressed” as he asked to hear my views on the particular girls dress in the church I was serving in. I was told that I might look at a girl in a church in Western Europe and think she is dressed provocatively, looking of course through my Western eyes, and yet in Sweden, as he explained, I might be invited over to a church gathering where everyone is comfortably hot-tubbing nude…as he said he had known people who had experienced this.

I understand the idea of being sensitive to Gospel expressions…I really do! My Grandmother is Roman-Catholic, but is an example of faith my Protestant Christian friends could learn a lot from, despite her crowded sense of worship, what with Christ, Mary, Saints and Angels. I honestly adore the God-intended variety of gospel expression and manifestation across the world…but, I am sorry, I just can’t agree with what I feel goes beyond expression and into negotiation of Biblical truth.

I’ve spoken with Christian and Muslim men from the Middle East who talk about how they are filled with such a “consuming struggle, unlike any other for purity”…and mind you, these are men who are looking at “eye-slits and using imagination” as they so simply commented on the women’s typical attire in their country. The point in this example is that yes, of course there are different expressions of the the Gospel, but allowing things accepted by culture to mingle and tag-alongside, or worse, commandeer Biblical truth, is just sad and wrong.

Please, feel free to disagree with me. In my opinion however, sin is always gonna be sin, and more importantly, for preventative sake, the enemy is always going to use the same old temptations…whether you are routinely hot-tubbing, naked in Sweden, or staring at no more than an eye-slit with imagination as women pass you by.

What does this have to do with kissing a girlfriend or boyfriend exactly…? Perhaps everything I think. I believe the gap between discerning the holistic idea of exchanging Gospel application for Gospel negotiation, and deciding to kiss your girl versus kissing only she who is called your wife is not too far and wide, and hopefully, with some good insight from many of you, we can all better consider what it means to become a Lover.

So help me out guys and girls…share with me your God-logic…because I get confused when I hear what your reasoning behind drawing lines of physical and emotional intimacy are. They’re pitched as wise ways to fight, but they just sound like different ways to eventually fall…very determined, but doomed all the same as deviations from what God already laid out as instruction for the heart.

I don’t know about every guy, and I certainly would not assume my personal understanding and convictions for my own heart to be what everyone should have to hold to, but, how can kissing someone you care about, someone you might possibly even Love…how in the heck can that not be stimulating to so very many things that are not meant to be awakened before their time?

I know wonderful Christian men who are walking strongly with the Lord, who plant more than one (more than a dozen half the time) on their girlfriend nearly every time they see them. I guess my question is this…all I’ve ever heard from all of these guys (and I do mean all) is that they maintain that kissing their girl does arouse them and does awaken those things which ought not be awakened…but…and they all in their own words have added this sentiment…‘we simply take captive those thoughts and don’t let those emotions go too far.

Again, I’m not saying that kissing should go, more so because I am still sorting through how I think all of this applies to everyone…but…is going “too far” really what and where our hearts should be concerned with? Sure, it sounds honest and intentional enough, but guarding against what might be “too far” for situations you and your lovely find and/or put yourselves in sounds more like a fail-safe defense than a faithful stance of a true Lover.

I just wonder how guys and girls go about doing this without either going too far, or more importantly, without even daringly approaching those boundaries we are always seemingly obsessed with negotiating? While I hear and understand the confidence in many of my brother’s voices as they articulate to me the precautions they’ve taken to ensure it will not go “too far,” I begin to wonder…is not the deeper motivation of wanting to find that delicate line of physical intimacy testimony enough to the simple fact that we are dealing with something far simpler than the guise of honor and commitment.

I know in my own heart, EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ TIME I walk(ed) down this path of drawing up lines of intimacy, scribbling all over God’s blueprints, I end up dealing with a much simpler motivation beneath a bunch of others …my flesh! I simply want to do it, to have it, to take what is not yet mine! I think, in very real ways, this is true for all guys…we react and consider with the flesh, and then stray into strategy mode with our self-made Christian road-map…and then, WAM…we wonder why it doesn’t work.

I fear for all those who put faith and confidence in the probability that arousing such intense gifts might work with your pursuits of purity…I fear more for those of you who feel that such intimacy is working and in fact benefitting your relationship…not because it’s not, because clearly those things were always meant to enhance and deepen affections…but I am sad for all of you who might simply never consider giving that back or keeping from such indulgences…because once you get married, you never again have the opportunity to present it as waited upon and patiently waited for to your special someone. I think we, myself included, do nothing more that gerrymander our affections in the hopes that those forbidden “not yets” somehow, just maybe, now fall under Christian jurisdiction. If only I had yelled at myself these words…”Remember where you draw your lines you fool…you’re deep in enemy territory, and more likely than not, much of your collected counsel has come from spies.”

In other words, we want to kiss, make out and touch…so we drape some faith and morals in and around it, negotiate, re-negotiate, and then apply a new standard and method to something that already has a Christ spoken biblical standard to it.

Someone who wishes to apply biblical truth across the board in every area of their life is concerned with application of biblical truth, not that subtle shift into negotiation of Truth. We’re never to look upon God’s sweeping, comprehensive statements of expectation and freedom alike and peruse them as a buffet, trying to find what we’re most conveniently willing to try. Nor are we to approach His Truth with the attitude of trying to discern how it all fits into our life…question is, this Truth, these Commandments stand and always have, with or without me…how then do I then fit into their reach with all that I am.

So, I apologize for tearing off on rabbit trails where now some of you you’re either lost, or wondering why I seem to repeat myself so much…I’m still learning not to write circularly, which is how I think.

So, as simply as I can put it… When we as guys get physical, usually almost in every way, even the small ones, we run smack into that place where we begin to negotiate what should be added beneath God’s accepted action…extra-biblical exceptions fought for by the inspiration of extraordinary hormone and heartfelt rushes of affection. I know for me, when I truly take stock of where I must draw the line…where I begin to take what is not yet mine…I find myself not only not kissing, but not spending much time one-on-one with girls at all. I was even told by a pastor I deeply respect, “Justin, until you learn to better anticipate those around you, and likewise handle yourself, you would do good to not even make a girl feel special at all.”

Now, if you’re like me you’re thinking…”Great, then how the heck am I supposed to pursue even the idea of interest in anyone?” The answer is very, very, very intentionally! The kiss has become not my border of  physical intimacy, but rather a reminder that such a simple thing is a very small and beneficial sacrifice to do what I think is most pleasing to God next to loving Him as He loves us…which is loving His kids as He loves them. I’m not saying back away from everything…that too is wrong. Just know that your flesh is ever ripe to be prompted by the enemy, and good intentions are often the strangled, last words of every regret. That same pastor told me, “Just focus on God, and if it pleasing to Him to pursue someone, pursue one…choose one…and let them be your one and only pursuit.” I didn’t follow his advice in the moment as I should have and I found that a crowded throne room weighs impossibly heavy on the heart leaning on its own strength. Point is…I missed the very simplest of God’s intentions…to Love God’s kids, even the one I am smitten with (especially that one) as He loves them…with patient freedoms, endless in their honor and Loving timing.

So, please let me know what you think…guys…is your explanation behind certain intimacies before marriage something other than, “I want to”…and…”I won’t let it go too far.” And don’t tell me it doesn’t hurt, but helps us get deeper…I already know that…physical touch is great…a lot of physical touch is even better…sex is it’s pinnacle…but marriage I believe was meant to hold much if not all of that precious.

Girls…knowing this about us and how much we covet intimacy with you, especially physical intimacy, what are your thoughts on waiting on even little things? It’s not rigid legalism, but perhaps relational deliverance in Christ. It is for my heart any way…and I would venture that your guy kind of works along the same lines as me, even if he coats it in different words.

I think many of us just flat-out don’t believe any more that we can find out deep things about someone…learn about them in the ways we would need to when considering forever…or even simply, truly fall in love with someone without physical intimacy. I know I often lean that direction despite the resolve to believe otherwise. All I know is it’s enough to try and honor the women around me by taking my thoughts captive, which I am honored and exhausted in doing. So why we ever think to add actual tangible stimulant to that, when it’s not even ours, and their hearts are soon quickly to follow us to those places, that no matter what we say IS TOO FAR…I will never understand.

I think it’s much simpler guys…the flesh has wants in this fallen land, and we battle against the spiritual forces unseen…let us consider what little more we can give back, to hold our redeem to be so much more. Just imagine…what if our “too far” was flung high into Heaven the opposite direction of trying to see what we could get away with…How far can I take this awesome Purit in this relationship for God…How far can I slingshot honor for her out in the open for all to see and hear and know…here is a woman who demands respects…How far can I take Love, a Love for her whom I have waited for and will continue to wait for as long as is needed. That “too far” sounds loudly of wild ocean currents, beautiful in every direction…instead of man made lakes, which only sit, lead and give away as little as they can.  

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About justingunter

I'm recently 29 years old, recently married and ready to change the world for God. He has called me to be a missionary! This means more than just changing zip codes and living in countries where I struggle (for a while) speaking the language the locals dream in. It means a lifestyle of sacrifice, audacious Hope and above all, a desire for Jesus simply because He is who He is. I moved to Franklin, TN in October 15th of 2012 and expect this to be the first of many changes for the great calling on the Gunter's life. Side note...I dig being married. It helps when you're married the best woman ever! Teale and I feel called to plant churches, combat sex trafficking and be a place of refuge and Holy sojourn to all who would seek to join alongside us for good or for a season. For now, Ol' Rocky Top is our home, Zoey is our Great Dane and we, the Gunters, love Jesus with all we have.

4 responses »

  1. Katie Harrington

    well probably you already know this answer I am about to give you but I feel it is an important topic; especially those in the “Christian Influence”. I have made a mistake in the past that I am still regretting to this day. I find it to be refreshing to have a guy wait on the little things (ie. saying I L Y, kissing and waiting for the more physical stuff as well). You hit it right on the head in wanting to know the girl by watching her interact with others and seeing how she treats people. As you know, my friends are some of the most important people in my life and I would feel honored and at ease with the fact that “potential husband” would want to talk to my closest friends to find out what I am like.

    I know I have made jokes regarding how whoever I choose will have a hard time passing all the tests that my friends ask him; however I take that seriously not only my friends asking him questions but him asking my friends questions (esp. my best friend).

    Thank you for being this type of guy and knowing that it will be tough because it definitely is not common but it also maintains the whole chivalrous ideal about how a man should treat a woman.

    That is all for now..

    katie

    Reply
  2. Often, I think we view purity as a line we’ve drawn somewhere in the sand. We figure as long as we don’t cross it, we’re ok. We’ve boiled it down to a list of dos and don’ts. We’ve learned to justify what we’re doing because it “makes us feel good” or because “we’re in love.”

    But- that’s not biblical at all. Love is all about choosing the highest good for the other person. Plainly put, when we act out of our flesh, we’re just being selfish. Jesus clearly states that if something is causing you to stumble, then do what you need to do to get rid of it (Matt. 5:27-30). He also commands us to flee from sexually immorality (1 Cor. 6:18-20).

    Personally, I think not kissing until you’re married is an awesome goal to have. One that can totally be achieved! My sister is getting married this Friday and she hasn’t kissed her fiancé yet. How cool is that?

    I am convinced you don’t need to kiss or have sex with someone to fall in love or to “know if you are compatible.” That’s crazy talk. If that were really the case, then why would the One who created us (and who knows us best…) say otherwise?

    Unfortunately, a “one size fits all” doesn’t work with relationships… BUT- if we are following Christ, and Loving Him with all our guts, and living in constant communication and obedience, then He shows you the rest. In that, I am confident.

    If you are not aggressive in the pursuit of God and purity, you are at the disposal of sin. I think because sin is so aggressive, our pursuit of purity has to be progressive (and proactive). Purity isn’t a final destination, rather a process of us becoming like-Christ. It’s a fight and a race.

    Reply
  3. Justin, I love the heart behind this note and in theory I am right there with you one hundred percent… on the practical side, however, I would like to challenge you one one factor. (Before I go any further I want to be clear that I do honour and respect that goal, and if you and your future fiance want to go for it, then by all means necessary do so. This is just one other perspective.)

    In the first few lines you talked about how, though you have always had a goal of “no kissing” (or as some put it, extreme physical abstinence), you have crossed that personally drawn line before, and you have been in other relationships, whatever their title, before or other than that of your wife. (That’s okay, and if there are things that will need to be forgiven for, with God’s help she’ll be able to do that,) But your “experience” puts you in a bit of a different situation than, potentially, that of your wife-to-be. Example.

    I have not yet been in a relationship and have managed, thus far, to save my first kiss. I hope (as you did) to experience that connection with my spouse alone, but I personally do not wish for that moment to come three seconds after an “I do.” Why?

    Reason one: a kiss is an incredibly delicate, personally intimate, love-filled thing that is shared between two people. Especially in the case of a first kiss, this is a memory that binds them together forever and it is a moment that will always be remembered. For me, I do not want that private moment shared with a hundred and fifty people, half of whom I will not know on a first name basis. To me it needs to be just between man, woman and God.

    Reason two: and maybe this is different for guys, but for girls (at least this one), physical progression is as much an emotional/mental process as it is about the body. As much as you can “imagine out” doing something, even something nonsexual, it does not compare (or necessarily prepare) for the real thing. IE, You can think about a roller coaster all you want but the drop is still going to be the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced, the first time around. From my point of view the transition from holding hands to sex in one day would cause more anxiety to build up in my little self than I could handle. That kind of pressure would likely make me the tensest, most high-strung bride you’d ever see… it would turn anticipation to fear and celebration to… well, fear.

    So here’s my opinion: yes, I absolutely agree that physical intimacy of all kinds should be saved for the one person who you know has completely stolen your heart and intends to keep it for the rest of her life, and yes, I would encourage you to hold off against the temptation that a beautiful woman will bring (especially when you are in love with her) for a long, long time… but “the day of” is potentially a terrifying thing. Give your bride (and perhaps yourself) the security of knowing that you already love her and are pleased by her physically – to the degree of kissing alone – before you’re both standing at the altar. If she has never kissed or been kissed before, the greatest pre-wedding gift you can give her (even if it’s just in the week leading up to the “big day”) is to give her the freedom of that confidence.

    There’s my two cents on the subject. Maybe three cents… it was a bit long. All said, if you keep God in the middle of everything He’ll make sure you’re both good to go when the time comes. Trust Him with the details and the Bride 🙂 He’ll take care of you (plural).

    Reply
  4. This blog was really good and I love the comments also that the other three girls wrote. Purity is such a precious treasure and I completely agree with you that kisses and physical intimacy are worth waiting for!!! May you hold firm to your convictions no matter how beautiful your gf/wife to be is!! God is delighted in your decision to wait to honor Him. Continue to be that man that stands out among the rest and lives a life that says I WILL NOT COMPRISE!! Do not awaken love until it’s time! 🙂

    Reply

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