We’ve all heard the purity metaphors – the sticky note, the cake, the sucker… As I wrote this post at Starbucks I came up with another. (Bear with me.)
It was nearing lunchtime and I was hungry. Starbucks doesn’t have any gluten-free options, so I really wanted to drive over to McDonald’s and get myself some fries (because fries are my one weakness – they’re so good but so bad). However, I know they’re not gluten-free (which I have to have because of thyroid problems), so I know they’ll ruin my stomach. Plus, I didn’t have any money to spend at the moment because I’m a poor college student, so I decided to wait. I knew my mom was cooking a big Sunday lunch and that it would be delicious and healthy and fill me up and – best of all – it’s FREE! (Bottom line: Instead of filling up on junky stuff, I waited for the thing that would truly satisfy me.)
As stupid and imperfect as that analogy is, it works. (Sort of.)
I’ve been thinking about my convictions a lot recently (as you have probably noticed) and really trying to figure out what they mean to me. I’ve always understood that your parents’ convictions aren’t grandfathered into your own life, just like your parents’ faith isn’t. It has to be your own.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about purity and what it means to me. I shouldn’t blindly hold to what my parents think about purity and abstinence or else I’ll be swayed when a better opinion (or temptation) comes along. I have to OWN my convictions so I can stand when temptation comes. (See Ephesians 6:10-18. Paul uses the word “stand” three times in the space of twelve words – I think that means something!)
There’s nothing wrong with thinking critically about your convictions, guys. I thought there was when I was in my teens, but then I realized that it’s just a part of growing up. It’s hard and it’s confusing but it’s what proves you’re maturing. Owning your convictions – really knowing what you believe – is not something to be taken lightly.
Because of how much I’ve examined my convictions, I have some beliefs that my parents don’t have, just like they have some that I’ve let go of. As my siblings and I have gotten older, we’ve ALL – as an entire family – let go of some things that we used to think were mandatory. For instance, I wear shorts outside the house now, as opposed to up to a few years ago, when the girls in my family mostly wore skirts. And even though we grew up completely sold on courtship, my sister – with my parents’ blessing – recently went out on a few dates with a guy to get to know him. It didn’t work out, but neither she nor the guy were emotionally damaged or anything, and they both know a little more about what they want and need in a significant other now. I’d say their experience wasn’t a “failure” at all.
Some of my family’s convictions have changed simply because my siblings and I have gotten older, and some have changed because our opinions have changed. For instance, in the above paragraph, the shorts thing was a change of opinion, whereas the dating thing was a change in situation. (The dates my sister went on would’ve looked a little different had they happened when she was sixteen or eighteen.)
Taking a closer look at my convictions has helped me understand the faults in modern dating and modern courtship and know what I want my relationship life to look like. It’s not going to be perfect – far from it, knowing myself – but I’m learning from what other people who are, or were, in relationships have to show me. And even though I was homeschooled most of my life and am now finishing my degree at home, I’ve still made some mistakes. Shocking, right? (Sarcasm.)
(And, yes, I think there are some faults in the idea of courtship, just like there are in dating. HERESY, I KNOW. I can explain my thoughts in another blog post if you guys want to hear them. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Katelyn knows this.)
Rest assured, I haven’t given up on purity because of all of my thinking. In fact, because of my research, both in the Bible and through mentors, I’ve become more firm in my convictions. We all know the verses about how “your body is a temple” and how we should “set an example in purity,” but do we – and do I – really live like we know it? And if we do, what does that look like?
I’m not saying it has to look the same in everybody’s lives. Over the past few years, I’ve had dozens of conversations with people about what relationships look like to us. Dating, courting, half-joking arranged marriage – I’ve heard it all. I’ve talked to girls who have courted/dated several guys with no luck, girls who are nearing (or in) their thirties and don’t have any prospects, and girls who are married at or before twenty. And I’ve talked to guys who have had good and bad experiences with dating, too, but mostly courtship (which I’m planning on talking about in a future post).
Here’s my main question: Does it matter whether you call it dating or courting?
When it all comes down to it, I really don’t think so. What matters the most is glorifying God through your relationship. What that looks like is between God, you, and your significant other. Nobody else.
Who cares if somebody thinks you should always or never have a chaperone, or if somebody else thinks the parents should or shouldn’t be involved?! Courtship, dating, whatever you want to call it and however you do it – it’s going to look different for every. single. person. and. every. single. relationship. If that’s what God wants your relationship to look like, that’s what it should look like.
People are too judgmental sometimes, including myself. Too often, I give unsolicited advice because I think I know best, even if I really don’t. Just the other day, I found myself thinking, Well, she shouldn’t think that way because… And then I just had to stop and tell myself, Who the heckydizzle am I to decide what’s right for her life?! I’d hate it if she were doing this to me, so why am I doing it to her?!
Well, this post kind of derailed, but that’s what my brain is doing constantly. Blame it on the stress of college. Anyway, thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. I love talking with you guys. 🙂
P.S. The title is a quote borrowed from one of my new favorite rom-coms, She’s the Man.
P.P.S. Thanks for all of your help on my last post! I was able to revise the short story based on your feedback (and other stuff I needed to change), and submitted it yesterday. I’ll post the final version later when I get my grade!