Thrift Store or Saks Fifth Avenue

Of all sins, sexual sin is the most physically rewarding and brings instant gratification, therefore making it extremely tempting. It is also based on a natural desire. However, this desire, this gift from God, must be used properly and in accordance with God's will. We all want and need food, and God approves of our nourishing our bodies. But God will condemn us if we eat food that doesn't belong to us. Many and varied foods are readily available and we can buy them, so this natural desire is easily filled.

These thoughts may be obvious, but I wanted to preface my remarks this way for two reasons. First, we sometimes forget when we talk about sexual sin that sex, like food, is of itself a very good thing and not something for which we need to feel shame or embarrassment. Second, most of us probably seldom think about the fact that the person we are dating is going to be someone else's spouse if he turns out not to be ours.

We need to regard the man we are dating with respect because he may someday belong to another woman. He does not belong to us yet and may never be ours. We need to behave toward him in the same manner that we hope our future spouse is being treated by the woman he is dating.

With respect to most sins God tells us to stand and fight. But when it comes to fornication He tells us to flee. My guess is that He knows that we will not fight once we get caught up in the situation. He knows that our brain will fly out the window when a handsome, eloquent man starts whispering sweet nothings into our ear.

We need to plan ahead and learn to give no occasion to the flesh. We should keep ourselves out of situations where sexual sin is likely to happen. If we see a man only in our parents' living room with our parents nearby (or in our own living room if we are older, and with our children nearby), we will not have the same temptation that we will have if we go park on Lovers' Lane at midnight.

But often, instead of providing ways to help keep ourselves pure, we plan outings that create an environment that promotes sin. We put ourselves out on the fringes--living on the edge--and hope we can taste some of the pleasures of sex without "going all the way."

But whether we fornicate or simply engage in activities that we would consider to be lesser sexual acts, we sin; and we need to avoid all sin. As James 1:14 says, we are tempted when we are drawn away of our own lust and enticed. We get ourselves into situations where even a dead man would commit sexual sins and then wonder why we have so much trouble refraining from illicit sex.

Paul told Timothy to treat younger women as sisters, with all purity. Paul did not tell Timothy to remain a technical virgin until he was married. He told him to treat women as SISTERS, WITH ALL PURITY. If we make up our minds to insist that men treat us as sisters, we will have a much easier time avoiding sin.

The problem is, we do not WANT to be treated that way when a good-looking, intelligent man is wooing us. Our natural desires are to give in to him. God wants our desire to be to our husband, so even this tendency in us is natural. But again, we must use it properly and save our love and obedience for our husband.

We must respect ourselves and the man we are dating, and we need to have a heart to obey God. We have to make up our mind that we will obey God and not man. It's just that simple. Sex builds an emotional bond. Once you have formed that bond it is hard to break. Even if the man shows himself not to be the caliber of man you should marry, you will want to marry him anyway because you have created that bond with him. And if he refuses to marry you, your heart will break in two. Even if you KNOW he is not the right one for you, your heart will break in two. We should not develop strong emotional bonds that put a strong desire for sex in us until we are ready to be married. That will help protect us.

But the main thing we need to do is value ourselves. In her book In the Meantime Iyanla Vanzant writes:

"You are a valuable and worthwhile product, full of love, consciously making choices. You have full confidence in your product. So are you going to price it for bargain hunters? Or are you going to price it like a designer item? The value and worth you place on yourself will determine the people you attract. Those who shop in the high-priced markets know exactly what they want and how to treat it once they get it. They know a masterpiece when they see one, and they are not afraid to pull out all the stops to be in its company. Basement bargain hunters are not as clear or conscientious. A bargain hunter could have a rare piece of art and not even recognize it."

Do you want to sell yourself at the thrift store, or do you want to sell yourself at Saks Fifth Avenue? Only you can make that decision. Only you can determine your worth. Price your love high. Price yourself high. Don't go in an auction to the highest bidder. Don't go to any man who is not willing to commit himself totally to you by taking you as his own--to cherish you, provide for you, protect you (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and love you as Christ loved the church.

"It is easy for a magnet to attract metal pieces or things cleverly disguised as silver and gold" (Vanzant), so you must be careful. But if you value yourself and wait for God to bring you the right man and you don't settle for anything less than a godly man who will respect you and your body as he also respects his own, God will provide the right person for you.

Quoting again from Vanzant, "You can't make platinum from tin fibers." If the man you are dating doesn't love the Lord enough to obey Him when he is single, he will not, after marriage, suddenly turn into a godly man who will love the Lord enough to obey Him. And he will not love you as Christ loved the church.

Pray. Ask God for guidance. Ask Him to lead you to the man who will be best for you, the man who will love you and whom you can love the way God intends. Fast often. When you fast you deny yourself food and it makes it easier to deny yourself sex. You are married to Christ. Let Him sustain you, and remember that you can do all things through Him, who strengthens you.

You are a pearl of great price. Wait for the man who recognizes you as such and is willing to give up all he has to make you his. No man buys what he can get free, and no man values what costs him nothing.

Tina Rae Collins