Do we know how to be discipled in the area of purity and disciple others? What does that look like?
I was recently asked out by a non-Christian man who was looking for a casual dating relationship. People who know my past of being weak to attention from men expressed concern, especially because I had recently shared my struggle of trusting God in this longing to be married. But ever since God set me free, I walk in the light before Him and before the people He has brought in my life. To fall again would take several subsequent intentional choices to keep out of the light. I keep this area of my life open to these discipleship relationships.
When I shared about my sexual struggles as a teenager or even when I shared moments of struggling against temptation as an adult, so often the people I shared with didn’t know what to do or say.
I am thankful for that teacher who I felt comfortable to share with, and who spoke into my life in the midst of my struggles as a teenager. I am so thankful for that short-term missions team member who came with her team to visit our missionary-kid youth group, who I shared openly with when I was right in the midst of my struggle. I had written in my diary how I strongly felt the love of God through that – that of all the team, the particular one to sit down with me happened to have also started dating the world’s way at 15. I am so thankful for one of my parents’ friends who gave me a call one Sunday after not seeing me for a while, just to see how I was doing during the peak of my rebellion. I am so thankful for the person who advised my parents when they were at a loss of what to do with me. He advised them to get on their knees and cry out to God for me, and my life was literally changed by their prayers.
But there were times, such as during high school when my crush and I were sitting in the small church sanctuary before the service began, flirting and writing notes to each other making plans to hook up. There were so many adults who cared about us walking around us in that moment. But I wonder what might have been different if a couple of them had thought, ‘Hey those two need discipleship,’ and if a woman had begun to walk alongside me and a man with him.
As an adult, during these 12 years of following God’s ways for sexuality, of course I have experienced moments of struggle. I have been so thankful for the sisters in my life who have been willing to hear me share, and challenged me when my thinking was off, encouraged me, and prayed with me and prayed for me.
How about you? What sort of discipleship in the area of dating and sexuality did you experience? If none, could you think back and share what would have been good for you to receive? In sharing about any shortcomings of your past discipleship experiences, it is in no way intended to dishonor any mentors, church family, parents. The point of talking about these things is only to learn to disciple and be discipled.
I want to share some thoughts on discipleship in purity, and would love to hear your thoughts too!
Discipleship requires walking in the light. Confessing sin. Confessing struggle before sin.
I believe strongly in sharing. I have always been the type of person to process my experiences outwardly, so it comes pretty naturally for me. It goes against the human inclination to share something embarassing or shameful. But as a young adult, I began to learn that keeping things in the darkness results in the problem growing, and after learning that, I never wanted to keep anything from the light again. I have experienced multiple times of sharing with someone in a time of temptation, and as soon as that message is sent, the battle diminishes. Discipleship requires walking together with one another. Discipleship is not just a one-off conversation.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Be a trustworthy person in the lives of those who trust you with these things. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there – those moments are Holy. Don’t gossip. Don’t share about the person, especially their name, especially with people who know them. Your perception may not be fully accurate and this can become slanderous.
Don’t be aghast when a single shares of a sexual struggle. Yes, Christian singles think about sex. God created sex and created us as sexual beings, and His creation is good. Walking out celibacy as a sexual being is an interesting challenge to say the least! But we have One who went before us.. a celebate Single.. tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Married friends, be family to singles in your life. Open up your lives to them as they open their life to you. How will we learn about real marriage unless married people show us? I learn so much about marriage from the life-on-life community I am part of. They have invited me into their home – that’s where this life-on-life mutual discipleship can naturally occur. If you spend time with someone in their home, real life can’t be hidden! Because of that time spent ‘just as we are’, we get to really know one another. That came in handy one time when I shared a ‘yikes’ thought I had when I was struggling, and my friend said right away, “That’s not your thought! You have shared the very opposite with me many, many times.” Because of that relationship, I was immediately able to see that that thought was a lie and not something I had to accept!
Not in a type of relationship like this yet? I believe that God’s heart is to put the lonely (could be singles) in families (Psalm 68:6). Look around, who has God placed into your life?