I’ve never kissed my boyfriend.

I’ve never kissed my boyfriend.

“How will you know if you’re compatible if you guys have never kissed?”

258325_10102726882657174_305337452_oThis question is the very reason why my boyfriend and I haven’t made a big deal about the fact that we haven’t kissed yet. We haven’t lied about it or hidden it and, if you asked us, we’d tell you without shame. But there is definitely a stigma around choosing to save your first kiss until marriage.

I grew up in a Christian home and always knew I wanted to save myself for my wedding night. But when my boyfriend asked that we not kiss until the wedding, I admit I was a little upset. No kissing? I remember the first thought that popped into my mind was, “He doesn’t want to kiss me. That is why he is putting this boundary in place.” I felt insecure. Something must be wrong, right? My twisted mind was putting all of this importance on the physical and not on the most important aspect of a relationship: companionship. He wasn’t setting the boundary because he didn’t want to kiss me, he was setting it because he knew that sexuality, no matter how innocent, can cause relationships to get sidetracked, and in some cases, it can confuse what is actually there. He liked me so much that he wanted to put steps in place that would insure that our relationship wouldn’t be focused on the physical, but on Christ.

Like no other before us, our generation has placed a significant emphasis on sexuality and it’s role in dating. Sex is no longer reserved for marriage. Heck, it’s not even reserved for someone you know. It has been cheapened to a recreational activity between strangers. No commitment and no longer special, it has become the entire focus of most relationships. This “try before you buy” mentality is corrupting the beauty of real relationships.

“If the sex isn’t good, the relationship isn’t good.”

“You need to make sure he is a good kisser.”

“How do you know if you want to marry him/her if you haven’t lived together/slept together/kissed?”

With the divorce rate increasing every year and millennials waiting until much later in life to marry, we need to start re-evaluating what we look for in a spouse and what we believe about love.  Despite what culture and the media will tell you, love is not a feeling. Sure, feelings can be a side effect of love but it should never be what your relationship is based on. Feelings come and go and, as hard as you try, you can’t control them. So why would you want to base your relationship on something that is ultimately fleeting? Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”.  Our hearts are fickle things that tend to change their minds based on uncontrollable factors. I know if I trusted my feelings, I would be the most flighty, anxious, over-dramatic female out there. True love is a choice and sometimes, focusing so much on the physical aspect of your relationship can create feelings that aren’t based on constants, but based on how you feel in the moment.

Now hear me when I say that sex and romance play a vital role in marriage and God is for it! He created it! It binds two people together in the most intimate way possible. But it is not the only important component in a marriage and it should never be your deciding factor when looking for a spouse. 

Now you’re probably thinking, yeah yeah, I agree with the sex part, but don’t you think not kissing each other is taking it a little too far? Maybe for some people. It is definitely a personal choice and by no means do we condemn people for kissing their significant

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others. Heck, I know we both want to. After dating for almost a year and a half, it’s really hard! And in our defense, we do allow kisses on the cheek. But we both realized that, in our pasts, we put more importance on the physical aspects of relationships, which shifted our focus off the important things. Though it was Joe who led us in creating that boundary, I came to the realization that not kissing would give me the opportunity to evaluate whether or not I wanted to marry him without being distracted. It hasn’t been easy but it has taught us both a ton, like self-control for starters. And instead of spending our time together having make-out sessions (we are both super jealous of you who do), we talk about life, cook together, take silly Instagram photos, and just enjoy our friendship.

As I mentioned, our physical boundaries are a personal choice that Joe and I made together and will look different in every relationship.  If you are or were in a relationship where you’ve pushed the physical boundaries, there is no shame. God is a god of mercy, love, and grace. We are not defined by our pasts and have been fully redeemed in the eyes of God. Though God calls us to live lives of purity, we will always fall short,  which is what makes Christ’s gift so amazing!

So has not kissing Joe harmed our relationship? Has it prevented us from discovering if we are truly ‘compatible’? Not one bit. In fact, it has made me respect him more than anyone else I know. And when we finally do have our first kiss, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be well worth the wait.

True Love: A Manual

True Love: A Manual

God must have thought he was pretty funny when he chose to not include a single Bible verse on the subject of dating. If you’re like me, you are frantically looking for a biblical how-to manual on how to date well. As a woman who grew up in the church, I have listened to my fair share of dating sermons, read numerous Christian books on being content in your singleness, and had the Proverbs 31 woman as a role model since forever (That chick is cray! Am I right?). And now that I’m in a relationship, I feel like need more directions than ever. And then it hit me. There are a TON of verses in the Bible about dating! And they all say the same thing: be patient and wait on the Lord. He’s got a plan and it’s awesome (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 118:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 2:6-9,Proverbs 16:9, Isaiah 48:17, Philippians 2:13, Psalm 37:23, Psalm 119:105, Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:7, Proverbs 15:22, 1 Chronicles 16:11, Proverbs 3:7-8, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 48:14, Jeremiah 10:23…).

God’s not going to shine a beam of light upon the head of your future spouse and He’s not going to give you someone who is perfect for you in every way. He will, however, teach you what love is. It is not a feeling, it’s a choice. And, ultimately, dating and marriage are just mediums through which God shows how unfailing and vast His love truly is.

“The world takes a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, “This is love.” God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloody man hangs and says, “This is love”. – Joshua Harris

Not butterflies, not romance, not flowers or chocolates but the willingness to sacrifice yourself for another person when they have wronged you in every way and with every fiber of their being. That is true love.

Dating and marriage are really just journeys. And, if you’re doing it right, a journey that brings you closer to God. So in the end, if you’re dating, you should have one goal in mind: develop a relationship with someone that glorifies God and one that God can use for his Kingdom. With His glory in mind, no matter what the outcome, you can’t go wrong.

All The Single Ladies!

All The Single Ladies!

I think the worst part about being single is the pity looks you get from the committed or married population of the world. Like there is something wrong with you. Because, obviously, that is the only reason why you don’t have a date this weekend or a boyfriend or a husband. And that, my dear single friends, is just SILLY. But as silly as it sounds, I’ve been hearing this a lot from my single friends. Things like “Is there something wrong with me?”, “Why don’t guys like me?”, or “What am I doing wrong?”. As I watch my single friends struggle in singleness with me, my heart goes out to them. The self-deprecating tapes they play in their heads are vicious and cut deep to the soul. Who said you aren’t good enough? Who said you had to earn love? Who said you are anything less than spectacular? Whoever did, they’re wrong and I will punch them in the face. You’ve been lied to and I’m here to set the record straight. You have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. You are a diamond in the rough (or maybe a diamond in plain sight). And I’m telling you something right now: he will be worth your wait. Because let’s be honest, the best things in life are the ones you wait for. Just because no one is asking you out doesn’t mean that you’ll never be asked. It also doesn’t mean that people don’t think you are awesome, beautiful, and valuable. All it means is that God has a better plan for you than you could ever imagine and He is saving you from unnecessary heartache and wasted time. So hang in there. I’ll keep you company in the Singles Club until God calls you or me out of it. In the meantine, set yours eyes on the other relationships in your life. Community is so important for your spiritual and emotional growth. When the dates finally come, your friends will be the ones helping you process them in a godly way. And most importantly, cling to God. He is the only thing that will bring you fulfillment and eternal happiness. With a husband, it’s “’til death do you part” but Christ has beaten death and will never leave you.  Find delight in HIM (Psalm 37:4) and don’t define your worth by the world’s idea of dating. Set your eyes on Christ for He is directing your path (Proverbs 3:5-6).  So yes, it sucks being reminded everyday of yet another engagement via Facebook and seeing a plethora of your friends’ wedding dress preferences and cake recipes on Pinterest. But your time will come. God has perfect timing.

Let’s not go crazy, shall we?

Let’s not go crazy, shall we?

This morning, I stumbled upon One Direction’s newest music video featuring their hit new single, “Live While We’re Young”. Now, my 13-year old step-sister is a huge fan so I thought I’d check it out. I was immediately hit by an extremely catchy beat and pop melody. Can someone say this Fall’s big hit? But as I watched these 5 boys (yes, ladies, they are not men, so stop fawning. Unless, of course, you’re below the age of 17.) sing and dance on this video, I started listening to the lyrics and was honestly appalled at what I heard:

“Let’s go crazy crazy crazy
till we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never never never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some
And live while we’re young”

First things first. Ladies, this is NOT love. True love and healthy relationships are built on trust, commitment, and mutual understanding. You’re 14. You don’t know what love is. So if a boy is telling you to “pretend” y’all are in love, RUN AWAY. Don’t look back. Or better yet, slap him. And by “get some”, I hope the boys of 1D mean getting some ice-cream from the local Ben & Jerry’s. If that were the case then “live while we’re young” would be less appalling.

This generation is all about YOLO and living it up before you get old (or have to take on some actual responsibilities). For wanting to avoid as much responsibility as possible, kids these days are participating in activities that require A LOT of exactly that. Alcohol and sex, while fun, are not games. And sex is definitely not something you want to do with just anyone. It is a sacred thing and should be handled with care. You may only live once but each time you “lose it” you lose part of your heart. Do you want some guy who is “pretending” to love you to take that away from you? God created sex to be a sacred act between a woman and her husband. Don’t go handing it out like you’re advertising.

Hey girl it’s now or never
It’s now or never
Don’t over think, just let it go
And if we get together
Yea get together
Don’t let the pictures leave your phone

…yeah. You better not let those pictures leave your phone because in all 50 states, those pictures are considered child pornography. And what is a guy doing taking pictures anyways? Ladies, if a guy EVER degrades you by taking pictures of what I think they’re singing about, he is not respecting you. And no. It’s not “now or never”. If he is serious about you he’ll make that “never” a “FOREVER”. The emotions you feel in the moment are hormones and should not be what you base your relationship on. So think about it. OVERthink about it if you have to. I’d rather you overthink that situation than jump in the sheets with some kid you just met at a random camping trip beach party bonanza (Which is what I’m assuming they’re doing in this video).

Hey girl I’m waiting on ya
I’m waiting on ya
Come on let me sneak you out
And have a celebration a celebration
The music up the windows down

Let me make this simple for you: DON’T let this man-boy rush you. Don’t let ANY man OR boy rush you. Take your time to evaluate your feelings, your thoughts, your boundaries, and, most of all, his character. Any relationship that you have to hide from your family or friends and have to sneak out to have is not a relationship worth keeping. Call me “old school”, but you want a guy who will shake your dad’s hand on the front step of your porch, not one who rips his pants while climbing out your bedroom window.

Woman was God’s final creation. The cherry on top. You are a treasure and deserve to be treated as such. So don’t let this catchy song fool you. True, you are young and free but that also means you have your whole life to regret the decisions you make. True love is worth the wait.

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

You’ve probably seen or heard the phrase, “I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model”. This little campaign sparked out of Baylor University and caught fire. I am a huge supporter of this biblical campaign for many reasons. However, it has started me thinking why there isn’t a male-equivalent campaign. Yes, culture is attacking women, telling them they need to be rail thin, have big boobs, perfect skin, etc. etc. But culture is lying to men, too. The media is full of images of men that encourage sexual promiscuity, laziness, passivity, and other worldy passions. Any man on TV today fits this image. If I see another “family” show where the father is stupid and the wife rules the household, constantly repimanding her spouse for his laziness, I’m going to throw my remote out the window (or exit my Hulu window). This is percieved as “humor”. I don’t think there is anything humorous about a stupid, lazy man. That is not attractive and that is not ok. The other extreme is the “man’s man” who is tall, built, and highly sucessful. His success is determined by the clothes he wears, the car he drives, and the number of zeros in his salary. He controls his life by the credit card in his pocket and is admired by all. This image teaches men that money and success is the answer to all their problems and defines his worth. This leads to husbands and fathers who would rather provide for their families financially than emotionally. They would rather work overtime than spend time at home with their children. Now this doesn’t mean they don’t love their families, they have just been taught that this is the ‘right’ way to do things. The media also encourages sexual promiscuity in men of all ages. Boys are taught their worth is derived by the number women they sleep with (Just watch any show on ABC Family or even How I Met Your Mother, among others). Character’s lives are defined by the constant attempt to get laid and how to manipulate women to do so. To make matters worse, men who have chosen to remain sexually pure are portrayed as weak and are the butt of all the jokes. Staying ‘pure’ is seen as unrealistic, undesirable, and unmanly. Just like women, men are told they have to look a certain way to be handsome: big muscles, tall, athletic… Newsflash ladies, males models are airbrushed, too. Beauty is fleeting in men just as quickly as in women. Ryan Gosling is not always going to look that way. What is more important is the way he acts; His character. One’s character never fades.

As a women striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, I can only wonder why there is such an emphasis on women. Men should be equally encouraged to pursue a Christ-like character: A man who loves his wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). A man who is faithful and loyal, giving honor to marriage (Proverbs 5:15, Hebrews 13:4). A man who doesn’t take advantage of the women in his life (Col. 3:19). A man who stands firm in his beliefs and who is courageous (1 Cor. 16:13). A man who is not passive, but subdues his world (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:3-8). A man who is merciful, just, and humble (Micah 6:8). A man who rules his household in a way that earns respect, not with laziness and passivity, and not in a way that engenders fear (1 Timothy 3:4-5). And, above all, a man who fears the Lord (Psalm 128:1-4).

These are the qualities and characteristics we should be encouraging in our sons, our fathers, our husbands, and our guy friends; encouraging men to be who God calls them to be, not this world.

If men would rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret model, then I’d rather have a godly man than a man who defines his worth by worldly standards and worldy pursuits.