“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