Years ago, when Chris and I were just beginning our three-year long-distance stint, we had some friends do something for us that took a lot of courage. When Chris came to visit me my first year of college, he stayed at the home of a friend from his childhood. I could write a blog post about their kindnesses to us: in addition to a free place for Chris to stay, they fed us homecooked meals, took us on excursions around Eugene, kept us entertained when we were bored, and introduced me to my college-town church, Calvary Fellowship. They picked me up every Sunday and Wednesday for church and ladies’ Bible study. In short, if it hadn’t been for this couple, our first year apart would have been unbearable. After enjoying their hospitality for some time, a conversation was broached at the dinner table. Our friends wanted us to know that they were very happy to host Chris in their home, but they wanted to make a room change. You see, I had been spending those weekends at their house as well, and they were concerned about our purity, temptations, and reproach. So they proposed that we each sleep in separate bedrooms. They set up a second guest room for that very purpose.
As with most sin, the circumstances of our sin had occurred sort of organically. We were up late one night and no one wanted to drive me back to my dorm, so I stayed the weekend too. And then what was easiest just became normal. It’s sort of irrelevant whether or not Chris and I were having sex (we weren’t). We wanted to, and we were struggling with our own promises to God and to ourselves as a result. We liked sleeping in the same bed like the married couple we almost were (but were NOT).
What we experienced when our friends made their recommendation (and sacrifice on our behalf) was relief. We were relieved to be offered a simple way to avoid sin. We were relieved to help our friends feel more responsible as our brother and sister in Christ. We were relieved to be called out in our sin – to have it named and to be called out of it to righteousness.
This experience is one of the reasons I am so passionate about calling Christians to righteousness. Loving Jesus is not just about knowing of the salvation He has provided. It is living according to His ways in spite of the myriad ways we might be able to justify our sins. Sometimes, it’s hard. Chris and I were “making it” in terms of waiting until marriage for one thing, but the temptations and the message we were sending were not honoring to God.
The result of that conversation was so much more than private bedrooms at our friends’ house. We were inspired and motivated to continue to pursue purity outside of marriage. It became easier to avoid situations where we were tempted and we spent more time preparing for our upcoming marriage and less time feeling guilty about how “far over the line” we had gone.
I spent weeks thinking about how embarrassed I would be sharing this bit of my life. But this issue is a heavy burden on my heart. Far too many Christians do not live above reproach in this way because they can justify it by how much time, money and energy they save by living together, or sharing a room or a bed. It’s a worldly justification, and it doesn’t impress God.
Perseverance, on the other hand, He not only calls us to, but equips us and rewards us for.