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“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife.”

Those sobering words are from Proverbs 6. I had a chance to see the truth of those words not long ago when a group of friends and I met with a man who was trying to carry fire next to his chest. He was in the middle of an adulterous relationship.

When he first got involved with this other woman, he figured he could break it off at any time. Then he told us, “What I didn’t count on was that I wouldn’t be able to get out.”

Sin had promised this man happiness, but instead, it made him miserable. His thinking was twisted, and he was losing his family and his job. But he was so attached to his sin that he was willing to live with its consequences.

Are you playing with fire in some relationship? I promise you, you will get burned. Let it go before it’s too late.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Carrying Fire

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Proverbs 7 tells us the story of a foolish woman and the young man she ends up seducing. It says he was “passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house.” It says this happened, “in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.”

Both the man and woman in this story made choices that led them to the wrong place at the wrong time. This passage tells us how important it is to stay away from situations where it would be easy to do something wrong.

Do you avoid situations where you could be vulnerable to sin? For me, that means leaving the door open if I’m meeting with a married man. It means not driving alone with a married man. It means that if I’m emailing a married man, I stick to business topics and copy his wife if the subject gets more personal.

What are some commitments you could put in place to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Wrong Place, Wrong Time

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[The] foolish woman does not understand the nature of genuine love [Prov. 7:10-20]. You see, genuine love has everything to do with giving; it has nothing to do with getting. Someone has said that, “Lust can’t wait to get, but love can always wait to give.”

Here is a woman who is lusting after this man. She doesn’t love him. She talks about “taking our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves,” but it’s not love that she’s talking about. It’s lust.

  • She’s wanting to receive.
  • She’s wanting something to satisfy her needs.
  • She’s not thinking about her husband.
  • She’s not thinking about any children they may have.
  • She’s not thinking about this young man’s future.
  • She’s only considering her own immediate gratification, and that’s highlighted by the words “until the morning.”

Lust only lasts until morning. Love lasts through fire, through water, through floods, through danger, through better and worse and sickness and health. Love never fails. She’s settling for a cheap substitute of what God intended for her to have with her husband…

You see, the foolish woman doesn’t think about what’s after the morning. The foolish woman just thinks about what will make me happy now.

Let me say, if you’re living in a difficult or painful marriage, you’ve got to be willing to look past the morning in that marriage, too, and to see what God, over the long haul, can do by His grace. Oh, maybe you can’t see it yet. Maybe there’s no evidence of your husband ever becoming a real man of God, and there is no guarantee that he ever will. But ask God to give you faith for what that man could be if you’d be willing to make a long-term commitment and investment in that man.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s a whole lot easier to go out and find a stranger who will satisfy you until the morning. But that’s not love, and it won’t satisfy. 

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “A Long View of Relationships

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A girl putting on an immodest outfit will think she just looks good–because that’s what fashion dictates. Her outfit may not be the true reflection of her values, but it’s what she can buy. So she continues to add to the daily accumulation of the raunch culture’s visual impact. In the same way, I think many young women imitate porn stars (on a variety of levels–from dress to personal grooming to relationships) because it’s what they believe is attractive to men. If it’s “hot,” it must be good. In the absence of other teaching, there is a certain perverse logic to this.

That’s why we must proclaim without apology the beauty of modesty and restraint. As one of my married male friends tried to explain to my sexually active fifteen-year-old acquaintance: “The price of a candy bar is one dollar because that’s all that it costs to get it. You don’t pay two dollars because you don’t have to; one dollar is sufficient. Well, the price of my wife was everything I had and then some. She was not going to part with the treasures of her sexuality, her affections, her romance, and her support apart from my pledging my life and love to her until death do us part. She was priceless, in some ways. And I knew that going in–she demanded my respect and honor. And it’s been completely worth it.”

I long for young women to understand this principle. It is natural for us to want to captivate a man’s attention. But a Girls Gone Wild T-shirt is no symbol of love. It’s simply a badge of a tawdry performance. It conveys no lasting security or honor or even attraction.

The bride in the Song of Solomon speaks of something far more precious: “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song 2:4, NIV). This bride has received public affirmation and acclaim, and she wears her husband’s love like a banner. Instead of insecurity or disappointment, this woman revels in her status: “Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love” (v. 5). She is no hook-up casualty or discarded sexual partner. She is celebrated and prized and intoxicated with her husband’s sexual attention.

This is the message that young women today need to hear. God’s original design for sex is still the best.

~Carolyn McCulley in “Raunch Culture Rip-Off

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As we indulge in sexual sin, the first thing we do is distance ourselves from our creator. It’s hard to be close to the Lord when we are indulging our flesh. I have seen my own spiritual life set back immensely during times when I have indulged even in the “minor speed limit violations” of immoral fantasy. Those I have known who had serious sexual sin issues have always started the same way: First it was lustful thinking, then “soft” pornography (like “the famous swimsuit issue”), then hard-core porn, and finally acting on their sexual desires. The details may change, but it always starts with “little” sins that grow over time.

This happens because the first, “small” sins dull our senses, and leave us vulnerable to committing “bigger” sins. I’ve never met a homosexual struggler, for example, who simply “one day” decided to try homosexuality. No, it always starts small and moves on as the sinner’s senses become dulled by their activity. It’s a gradual enslavement. That’s what sexual sin does; enslaves the sinner. I have known many Christians who, even when they wanted to stop sinning sexually, could not do so on their own. They are prisoners of their own lusts, and it takes a work of God’s grace to free them.

Fortunately, God’s grace is available to do just that. Jesus said those who sin are slaves to sin. But he also said that the truth can set us free. For those struggling with sexual sin, even when it’s at its worst, Jesus offers hope and freedom!

~Jim Hendershot in “Sexual Immorality and Speeding – Why Obey the Limits?

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Mary Was a Pure Woman

Though she had grown up in a community renowned for moral corruption, she was a virgin. Undoubtedly, many of Mary’s peers had not kept themselves pure. But when God was ready to send His Son into the world to bring about His eternal plan of redemption, He chose to place the seed of His Son into the womb of a pure vessel. He selected a woman who had not given in to the lure of the world but had kept herself for the Master’s use.

In a world that flaunts perversion and scoffs at purity, women of God must be willing to go against the flow–to walk in purity and to teach their daughters the importance and value of a commitment to personal and moral virtue.

You may be reaping the blessings and benefits of a lifelong commitment to personal purity. On the other hand, you may be living with a deep sense of loss and regret from having made wrong choices. Perhaps you feel that God will never be able to use you because you have not kept yourself pure. The wonder of God’s grace is that He can and will restore purity to those who come to Him in contrition and true repentance. He cannot restore the virginity you sacrificed, but by His grace He can restore true virtue.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Portrait of a Woman Used by God,” Biblical Womanhood in the Home

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Modesty is certainly important when it comes to our clothing choices, but there’s a lot more to it than merely not revealing too much skin. We are just as prone–if not more so–to overexpose what’s under our skin. Revealing too much about ourselves is immodest too…

Sharing verbal intimacies with a man is the exclusive right of his wife. It takes something away from her when we focus her husband’s attention onto ourselves. The best of marriages takes work, and because of that there are certainly seasons where the monotony of daily life can tempt a man (or woman) to be attracted to something or someone novel. The new and different is exciting to almost everyone, so even the most innocuous revelations about ourselves can be distracting.

And, of course, there exists the very real possibility that friendship with another woman’s husband, however innocent at first, will quickly (or slowly) morph into something more. Believing in your mind that this can’t happen makes the possibility of it happening even greater. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Our only safety lies in the humble acknowledgment that it could indeed happen in our case. We’re not above it. None of us is. I doubt that many affairs begin because a husband or wife wakes up one morning and decides out of the blue to seek out an adulterous relationship. They typically develop one conversation, one shared laugh, one lunch meeting at a time.

A woman who knows the modesty of personal restraint glorifies God and lives in love.

~Lydia Brownback in Purity: A Godly Woman’s Adornment

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Answering the Age-Old Question

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from
sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control
his own body in holiness and honor”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

In his booklet, “Sex Before Marriage: How Far is Too Far?” Tim Lane of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation addresses the issues of sexuality and purity from a biblical perspective: 

Why does it seem like the Bible is so narrow in how you practice and enjoy sex? The answer is that God knows how powerful sex is. When sex is practiced outside of marriage, you are misusing it and there are personal and interpersonal consequences. Sex outside of marriage is incomplete, because it doesn’t have a binding union as its basis. So when you have sex outside of marriage, what you are really saying is, “I want to have physical union with you, but not the entanglements of any other kind of binding union.” Most people don’t consciously think like that when they are having sex before marriage, yet, that is what they are doing and communicating—no matter how much they say they care for their partner.

Married sex is very powerful. It communicates the intense, personal nature of the marriage bond. The Hebrew word for sex is yada, which literally means to know someone personally. Sex is a form of disclosing yourself to another—becoming vulnerable and open in a very personal way that leads to an intimate knowledge of another. Every time a husband and wife have sex, it is a way of recommitting themselves to one another. They are saying that they belong exclusively to one another and no one else. To have sex in a casual way goes against the grain of what sex was intended to communicate. It was never intended to be a casual, recreational activity that can be done with someone outside of the context of deep commitment and love. When you use sex like this, even though it might feel great, in the long run there is bound to be hurt and pain.

Tim Lane discusses the purpose and content of the booklet…

You can read the text of “Sex Before Marriage: How Far is Too Far?” HERE or you can purchase copies of the booklet from CCEF to share with others HERE.

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To plan ahead for a great sex life, we have to realize that the message of Scripture is not for us to disdain sex, but to love God’s original design so much that we see the world’s perversions of it as revolting. “Enjoy pure sex!” God practically shouts in Proverbs 5:18-19: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth…May her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

There’s that word again–captivated. It means to be amazed and taken prisoner by the beauty of something. “Be captivated, be ravished by the body of your spouse,” God tells us. “Be entranced by the true and lasting pleasure of the marriage bed.”

Only when we’re captivated by the goodness of God’s plan can we avoid becoming prisoners to immorality.

~Joshua Harris in Boy Meets Girl

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Godly women must avoid basing their comprehension of the pleasures of sex on what commercials advertise, magazines glamorize, or books sensationalize. These are full of the enemy’s propaganda. Today’s society seeks ultimate pleasure with no pain. But following society’s example usually brings just the opposite. Look to our heavenly Father, your Creator, for the truth. God gives true sexual fulfillment to the lady who waits for this gift. God intended for you to enjoy the fulfillment and pleasure of sex within marriage only. The wonder and joy of this intimate act is maximized through purity before marriage.

~Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall in Lady in Waiting

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Advice on Keeping Sexual Purity a Priority

“Flee from sexual immorality.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares some practical advice on how we as women can protect our sexual purity . . . 

  • Practice discretion with your eyes, dress, speech, and behavior.
  • Avoid conversation, eye contact, and prayer of an intimate nature.
  • Learn to be modest, rather than enticing men and causing them to lust.
  • Keep free from emotional entanglements. Guard your heart!
  • Do not indulge in mental fantasies.
  • Do not indulge in unholy thoughts and desires such as a crush on another woman’s husband.
  • Do not act bold and flirtatious.
  • Do not using sexually explicit or coarse language.
  • Do not be entertained by off-color humor that legitimizes sexual sin.
  • Abstain from physical contact that could stimulate illegitimate sexual desires.
  • Keep the marriage bed undefiled—yours and others’.
  • Do not withhold sex from your spouse (making him more vulnerable to sin).
  • Put high hedges up in regard to email and cell phones.   
  • Do not feed on books, movies, or music that fuels romantic desires that cannot be legitimately fulfilled.
  • Meditate on and practice Phil. 4:8 in your entertainment choices: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
  • Be willing to do battle when tempted.
  • Be accountable.
  • Resolve to be pure and to wait until marriage. It’s a whole lot harder to wait once you have tasted it.

Download this helpful list to share with others HERE

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Pleasures Superior to Pornography

 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Matthew 5:8

In his teaching series for young people, The Blazing Center, Pastor John Piper challenges believers to overcome the temptation of pornography by fighting for a superior pleasure:

More from Piper on winning the battle against pornography: 

Faith is not just an intellectual assent to doctrines. Faith is an affectional embrace of the Savior for my deepest longings.

Unbelief, on the other hand, is a failure to be satisfied in Jesus. It’s a failure to go to him as the living water and the bread from heaven and the light of the world. It’s a failure to go to him as a satisfaction that’s deep enough and strong enough to satisfy me when I am tempted to go in a sinful direction to indulge an appetite—say, an appetite for companionship or food or sex. The satisfaction of Jesus—that is, belief in Jesus, embracing Jesus, loving Jesus, being content in Jesus—is going to be the power that severs the root of that impulse.

Read Piper’s entire answer to the question, “How does unbelief contribute to the need I feel for pornography?” HERE.

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The Woman with Fatal Footsteps

“Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol…”

Proverbs 5:5

Lecrae’s new album, Rehab, includes a song called “Killa” which warns men to watch out for the wayward woman of Proverbs:

Her feet go down to DEATH, so don’t let her consume you
Even though her heart is black, her exterior is beautiful
She’ll take your life away, strip away your joy
Pretend that she gon’ to build you up,
But she’s just gon’ destroy you…

Don’t go near the deadly seductress–It’s a message men need to reminded of regularly. In her book Girls Gone Wise, Mary Kassian has a warning women need to hear just as badly–Don’t be the deadly seductress: 

The Proverbs 7 woman didn’t respect men. She just wanted to have a good time. She didn’t care if anyone got hurt in the process. She didn’t care that her fling would wound her husband, or that her behavior would have negative consequences for her lover. She was too selfish to be concerned about hurting them.

“For many a victim she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng” is military language…The seductress causes the downfall and destruction of many men. From all outward appearances, she’s just a beautiful woman looking for a friend. But in actuality, she’s a “man-slayer.” She uses men. She hurts them. She’s not a builder, she’s a destroyer. She tears her “victim” down and “lays him low.”

[Girls Gone Wise, pp. 242-243]

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Seeing God’s Grace in Guardrails

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

1 Corinthians 10:12

A few years back, one of my relatives (we’ll call him Bob) was traveling home through the mountains of Western North Carolina after spending the day in another city. As his vehicle cruised the winding roads, Bob began to feel a bit drowsy, but still he drove on. Before long, Bob found himself fully awakened when his truck drifted to the opposite side of the road and ricocheted off the guardrail. Although it left an ugly mark down the side of the vehicle, the guardrail served its purpose well and kept the truck from flying off the road. Bob learned a powerful lesson that day about guardrails: as Martha Stewart would say, they’re a very good thing.

In an article entitled, “Personal ‘Hedges,’” Nancy Leigh DeMoss carefully explains to women the importance of establishing guardrails to protect their purity in relationships with men. Here’s an excerpt:     

Over the years, the Lord has led me to develop a set of “hedges” (boundaries) in relation to the men that I have served with and related to in various settings. Those hedges have been a powerful safeguard and protection—for my own heart, for those men and their marriages, for my reputation, and most importantly, for the reputation of Christ.

I have been blessed to serve alongside of many men who have strong hearts for God. But I never assume that I (or they) are beyond being tempted and falling. The Enemy eagerly looks for opportunities to cause God’s children to fall.

Let me explain the concept of “hedges” a bit more clearly. By “hedges,” I mean boundaries we establish in our relationships with individuals of the opposite sex. (My focus in this piece is particularly on our relationships as women with married men.) Just as hedges surround our property to protect and surround what is ours, and define what is not ours, we also need hedges in our relationships. Once those hedges are in place, they need to be carefully maintained.

Each woman needs to know her own areas of weakness and vulnerability— especially if she has not been morally pure in the past—and adjust her hedges as needed, for greater protection. My personal “hedges” have been developed as I have watched others—and myself, at times—deal with difficult or tempting circumstances in relationships with members of the opposite sex.

Another word picture I have found helpful is the concept of “guardrails.” Anyone who has driven on a narrow mountain road knows how crucial a guardrail is for safety. Staying within the guardrails provides protection from falling off the edge of the mountain, but it represents more than that; it represents freedom. Guardrails do indeed “restrict” us, but they also free us to drive without fear…

These “hedges” are not necessarily a measurement of spirituality—it would be possible to abide by a list twice this long and still have an impure heart or be guilty of self-righteousness. No “list” can be a substitute for sincere love for Christ and a heart to please Him…

The following are just a few of the hedges Nancy has wisely established for herself as she interacts with members of the opposite sex:

  • If it is necessary to meet alone, keep the door ajar or meet in a room with a window. Don’t meet in private places; be sure others are in the vicinity.
  • Always have a third party if required to travel together. Don’t ride alone together in a vehicle.
  • Don’t flirt! Be careful about even “innocent” playfulness and teasing—especially when you are alone with each other. (He should have more “fun” with his wife than with any other woman!)
  • Don’t listen to him speak critically of his wife. Praise his wife to him and others. Never criticize her to him or to others.
  • Don’t provide a listening ear for him to share his marital difficulties or tensions at home.
  • Don’t allow a mental, emotional, or spiritual bond between you that is more intimate than what he has with his wife. Ask the Lord to prompt you when you are getting too close.
  • Be accountable. Share your “hedges” with one or more close women friends who will commit to ask periodically whether you are maintaining them.

Just think how many marriages could be protected from immorality or divorce if only believers would commit themselves to following guidelines of this nature. Read Nancy’s entire article HERE and consider sharing it with a friend who may benefit from the wisdom shared in it.

Photo: Alain Fradette

Putting a Filter on Our Fantasies

“Finally…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

As a teenager, there were few activities I enjoyed quite as much as reading. I remember many, many nights when my imagination was so captivated by a novel that I simply couldn’t bring myself to set it aside until the last punctuation mark finally brought me to a halt. My taste in fiction was quite simple–I wanted a good story, and I wanted it to be clean. As a result, I chose mainly from those books marked Christian Fiction, naively believing that anything with a Christian label would serve as quality reading material.

After covering a lot of ground in my local library, I came across a series of novels written by a popular Christian author. Her stories were enthralling, and I quickly devoured one after another. I remember being pulled into each and every drama, imagining myself in the heroine’s place, thinking what she thought, and feeling what she felt. Unfortunately, lacking in discernment as I was, it took me longer than it should have to realize that the thoughts and feelings these stories inspired in me were not always good or pleasing to the Lord. Looking back now on what I remember of those novels, I find that the only images etched in my mind are romantic scenes, some mild and others closer to the hot and spicy side. In my immaturity, I failed to fully recognize that my choice of reading material was enticing me away from the path of purity and down the path of youthful lusts. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being caught up in a great story, but we must carefully guard against being caught by the subject matter of our reading selections. As women, we’re emotionally geared to be fascinated by stories. In general, men love to look, while women love to feel. Just as men must guard their eyes from images that incite lust, so we as women must exercise wisdom by protecting our thoughts not only from actual images, but also from stories which would arouse sinful desires.  

Rachel Coyle tackles this important issue in her contribution to the book Women Counseling Women, “The Taboo Topic: Pornography and Women.” As she addresses the increase of pornography use among women, Rachel also deals with the related dangers of becoming enslaved by sensual reading material. Her words provide wise guidance for women desiring to follow Christ down the path of purity:

Pornography is available in many forms. Most of us associate pornography with what we can see with our eyes: pictures, movies, television, Web sites, etc. Some women do look at such images, which tend to comprise the form of pornography that men use. However, there is another more subtle, more socially acceptable, yet dangerous form of pornography that women are drawn to: reading material. Erotic literature, even if it doesn’t have any actual pictures, is pornography. Scenes and stories that entertain the imagination have the greatest tendency to attract women. Romance novels, magazine articles, and Internet chat rooms may contain contents that conjure up impure images in our minds. They can warp our expectations and beliefs about relationships and sex…

The fact is, our mind’s eye (what we think about or imagine) is just as powerful and dangerous as our physical eye (what we look at). In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus teaches that both our physical eye and our mind’s eye can cause us to sin. Sin is not just what we do; we can have sinful thoughts as well (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). Although Jesus makes reference to men in this passage, the lesson is the same for women: We can commit adultery in our hearts by having lustful, impure thoughts about any man.

Applying this principle to pornography, from God’s perspective there is no difference between watching a pornographic video and reading a graphic romance novel that conjures up an impure fantasy. Both are sinful, both are dangerous, both embed images deeply into our memories, and both can lead to addiction or—in biblical terms—slavery to sin (see Romans 6:12-16; 2 Peter 2:19).

Please understand that I am not saying that every romance novel is pornographic, or that everyone who reads romance novels is enslaved to pornography. Rather, I’m referring to steamy or graphic literature. We need to stop and consider what we are allowing into our mind, and how this may influence our expectations, beliefs, and behavior. Most importantly, we should consider whether or not the books or magazines we read please Almighty God or make us love Him more.

(Women Counseling Women, pp. 281-282)

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