Let’s try to go beyond the typical Christian answer in this post. Typically a warning about emotional intimacy will describe some unsuspecting Christian couple who intended to stay pure but found themselves pregnant before marriage. Then it would give practical strategies to avoid ending up in that situation.
But the issue is deeper than merely avoiding the negative consequences of extramarital sex. You and I are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. God created you to be a unique reflection of his great power, beauty, and love. The issue is about maximizing your joy in being who God made you to be so that his true greatness is seen through you.
Let’s look at how he made you. You are one. Your body and soul are not separate parts of you. You are a body/soul unity. That means your mind is not separate from your heart. Your emotions are not separate from your body. In other words every aspect of your being is intimately connected to each other.
That means nothing happens in isolation. When you have an emotional connection your design makes you want to connect in every other way as well. That is because we were designed for the ultimate human connection: marriage.
Physical intimacy is designed by God to be an expression of a holistic bond. It also strengthens that bond. So when you have an emotional bond with someone or even an intellectual bond or a shared experience, you naturally want to bond with that someone on every other level.
You rob yourself the joy God intends for you when you try to have parts of the marriage bond (emotional or physical) without actually being in the life-long commitment of marriage. That is why Paul commands that we treat all young women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:2).
If you are single or dating or married, you treat every young woman who is not your wife as if she is your sister. If you are dating, you do not treat your girlfriend like a wife that you are not having sex with. She is still first and foremost your sister in Christ. Period.
That does not mean you can’t show affection. But you show affection in a way that is appropriate to your relationship as brother and sister in Christ. There is no marriage relationship between you so you cannot physically or emotionally express your relationship in the same way that married couples do.
This is a reflection of how Christ and the church are. Did you know that we are still waiting for the full expression of our relationship to Christ as his bride? The wedding has not happened yet. The church is still engaged to Christ. The marriage has not yet been consummated.
That means, for those of you eagerly anticipating marriage, that Jesus relates to how you feel right now. He also is eagerly waiting to be united with his bride in every single way. He also is practicing great self-control in waiting for the consummation of his marriage. You get to be a reflection of Jesus’ great love for his betrothed bride.
For those who are married, you get to reflect Jesus’ singular devotion to his bride and his bride alone. Those who are not a part of the church do not get to connect with Jesus emotionally and spiritually like those in the church. Likewise, women who are not your wife do not get to connect with you emotionally like your wife does.
So as you live each day, let your relationships be guided by these three questions:
1. How can I love the young women around me as sisters without any hint of a marriage-like connection?
2. How do my relationships right now reflect the way Christ relates to his people?
3. How can I show others how great Jesus is by how I relate to my sisters in Christ?
Ask God for the wisdom and strength through His Spirit to live pure with your sisters in Christ.
Peter Daniel James runs a blog called From Lust to Love at peterdanieljames.com. The goal of his blog is to show Christian men and women precisely how God’s promises are better than lust’s while offering Gospel-powered strategies for holistic change.