Growing up in the church, we had this thing called, "True Love Waits." Middle and High school church kids would take part in a series of teachings about sexual purity, with a heavy emphasis on how God wants us to wait until we're married to have sex. Those that wanted to accept the challenge agreed in a somewhat pre-marriage covenant, and wore the "purity ring" everyday as a reminder of their vow to wait.
If you're thinking I'm about to bash True Love Waits, you will be sadly mistaken. I'm thankful for the program. By the grace of God, I didn't have sex until I married Ashley, and her likewise. She even had preserved her purity ring and gave it to me on our wedding night, and that was special. So I'm thankful for True Love Waits. But, were we white as snow on our wedding day even though we hadn't experienced intercourse with another person?
In high school and at Clemson, a majority of the people I hung out with were/are Christians. Of the people I knew, I wasn't really hanging out with anyone that was having sex with their girlfriends, and as I already mentioned, I wasn't having sex either. We were a bunch of Jesus following virgins! (Man, that sounds boring when I actually type it out.) However, there was still something inside of me that wasn't happy with the way I treated the opposite sex. And it wasn't until I graduated from Clemson, that it became clear as to why I was unsettled with my relationships with girls.
Looking back, in the Christian world that I was in, around those that wanted to wait to have sex until they were married, I don't look at them as people who gave themselves away physically, but I do see a lot of people who gave themselves away emotionally. And I was the worst.
Unfortunately, I don't remember hearing about emotional protection at the True Love Waits Retreats. I had the concept that sex could ruin my heart, but I didn't have the concept, until after having graduated, that giving myself away emotionally could have as much damage as giving myself away physically.
One of my biggest regrets in life so far is the way I handled relationships with girls in the past. Not just girlfriends, but even friendships with girls. I gave my heart to women that weren't my wife, AND at the same time, while I was so proud of 'protecting' them physically, I was not protecting them emotionally. I wasn't protecting my heart or their heart.
What do I say about all of this now?
Stay pure physically AND emotionally. Don't be one of those people who has a new crush every semester (or in my case every week.) You've heard that giving your body away will affect your future marriage one day, and that's true, but even if you give your heart away, EVEN if you don't tell that guy or girl you're crushin' on them, it will have it's affect on your future marriage as well. Don't be a flirt. Think about how much your joking around with that guy. Why hang out alone so much? You really can't ask someone else to come study with y'all? What do you think she's going to think when you text her all time? What do you think he's going to think when you're always texting him, asking him his opinion on everything?? Confess to your brothers when you just can't stop thinking about that one girl. Not that it's sin to think about the opposite sex, but in order to protect yourself and her, ESPECIALLY if you don't know if you want to be with them or not. Don't play around with them like it's a game. Be clear with your words and actions. Don't leave room for guessing. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
I've been married for three years now and I love my marriage. I was the worst at protecting my heart and the hearts of others. However, as the Lord does, He has redeemed my shortcomings and blessed me with a relationship with Ashley that I don't deserve. And he can do the same for you. If you're the one not protecting their heart, confess to some close friends, and stop. If you're allowing your emotions to be taken advantage of, it may take some real friends to give you a dose of reality, but you can stop as well.
Be encouraged. Borrow our hope.
Side Note: A couple of the best people I've ever known, Clayton and Sharie King, (and LifeWay) are coming out with new material for True Love Waits. It's called the True Love Project, and it hits stores this year. Be on the lookout-it's going to be great!)