[Warning: Possible trigger and some sexual content.]
My boyfriend and I have a hard time falling into sexual immoralities, not full on sex, but a lot of playing around … We keep trying to set rules and such but they never work and it’s a “your head knows it’s wrong but your heart doesn’t care” kind of thing. We know we need to be serious but we just can’t seem to be and it’s frustrating. We don’t want this to cause us to break up because Jesus said if we bear no fruit we’ll be cut from the vine. How can we be serious, about this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hey my dear wonderful friend, please first allow me the grace to point you to a previous post:
I have to say upfront that I’m not very qualified to speak on this struggle, mainly because I never quite got a handle on this in my previous relationships. I’ve been in a great relationship now for over four years and we plan to get married soon: and though this is the best I’ve ever been, it’s still an extremely difficult problem. It’s possible to beat this, but you’re basically trying to fight the air and gravity with your bare hands.
I have to graciously rebuke something right away. A simple word: choices. I don’t like this phrase “falling into.” I don’t know anyone who’s ever “fallen into” their own behavior. No one goes from drinking coffee to falling into crystal meth (and if you have, I’m sorry and I’ll pray for you). I get what it means, but I think it implies you’re doing this against your will — and you’re most certainly not.
I’m not trying to guilt-trip you, but the very opposite. The moment you know it’s your choice, you gain a certain empowerment knowing that simply changing a few choices will usurp this whole thing upside-down.
It doesn’t mean setting a few extra rules. Rules are good and they can work for a while, but if they only restrict behavior, they will never have a direction or purpose. If you’re only trying to quit just to quit, that’s a neutral goal which will leave you with too much idle time and then right back to your original problem.
The only way I know how to fight sin is to choose something else instead. That sounds simple, but for every couple who is struggling to keep physical boundaries, I find out that this is ALL they’re doing. Just struggling, but without going towards something. They’re fighting sin to fight sin and it never works. Reaching for purity never gets purity. Lust is not even really the issue.
Have you ever noticed Galatians 5:16?
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your flesh.
In other words: Choose the things of God, and you will have no room to choose anything else.
So what do we choose? Because this isn’t as easy as “behavior replacement” or “staying busy.”
Here’s what I’ve learned about choosing the things of God.
I’ve noticed that after I disciple a young kid and see his eyes light up from the truth of the Bible, I can’t go back to how I was. It’s too good to give up. After I serve food at the homeless ministry, after I volunteer at a retreat, after I go on a mission trip, after I serve at an orphanage or a prison or the projects — the attraction of sin loses its grip on me.
Because the things of God are so much brighter and bigger and deeper than the things of this world. This is what Thomas Chalmers called the Expulsive Power of a New Affection.
Ever notice that after the gym, you’re too tired to fight anyone? Ever notice that after a healthy meal, you’re much less willing to eat a bag of Cheetos? And whether you “feel like” going to the gym or eating healthy, you choose it anyway: because not only is the alternative bad for you, but it makes the alternative less attractive.
Sometimes people wait to “feel right with God” to go serve Him. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to be qualified or clean or deserving to serve. Your choices change your heart just as much as your heart changes your choices. What you do comes out of who you are, but who you are also comes out of what you do.
Are there some people who get away with hypocrisy? Sure, there are hypocrites who lead double lives. But at some point, the cognitive dissonance becomes too much to bear, and they either settle into their faith or walk away. I pray you settle in for good.
Does it mean we’ll do this perfectly? No way. What I mean is: Small victories are worth celebrating. Let’s say you’re just about to mess up. You’re in that space where it feels like there’s no return. The lights are off and you’re both alone and it feels like it’s a done deal. But it’s not too late. You can still choose. You can grab your clothes and run like hell. And while this isn’t some perfect victory, you still fought the gravitational pull of a bad choice. That’s worth celebrating. Jesus does.
So make some plans. Get accountability. Talk to a pastor, together with your other half, and say everything. Ask for prayer. Be open to taking a long break or breaking up, because that’s not the end of the world either. And think of this time as fasting until marriage — because fasting is both preparation and increasing depth, and this is how couples stay strong.
I will pray for you. Can you pray for me too? Because we all need prayer on this. Much love for you, my dear friend.