Boys and girls are different. And when it comes to the act of love in reciprocal relationships, the different ways they respond to each other is on full display.
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God made Adam a unique male and Eve a unique female. I don’t think this is news to anyone, especially to those who are married.
A man is not affected by love the same way a woman is. The typical guy takes a more physical approach to love, while the ordinary girl takes a more emotional approach. It does not make either one of them wrong; they are just different.
When a boy meets a girl, it is more of a physical encounter than an emotional moment. It is easy and natural for his mind to move toward sexual arousal, while she may be more inclined to entertain romantical thoughts and expectations.
This difference is why a boy kissing a girl can excite his hormones, which can tempt him to fast track to more dynamic and steamier physical interplay. While the act of kissing can just as easily lead to physical interaction with a girl, it is initially about emotional engagement, relational harmony, and a sense of belonging.
Though they both will feel these kinds of things, neither one of them would be able to articulate fully what’s happening. It is rare for a young couple to be that in tune to the intricate dynamics of relational desires and hormonal cravings.
This lack of awareness is where candid conversations and biblical leadership is essential for the parents of a young person who is looking for love in a lasting relationship.
- Dad and mom, how are you doing at walking your child through the realities of dating, kissing, touching, and sex?
- How are you preparing your children by helping them to guard their hearts?
If the Shoe Fits
Most girls want to be married, and they want their guy to romance them. They come prewired by God to be pursued, to be looked at, and to be loved (Genesis 2:22-23). There is a reason Prince Charming has become a metaphor for the pursuer, and Cinderella hopes and prays the shoe will fit.
A girl should not feel odd or different because she desires to be loved by a guy. It is a biblical idea. If she were wired to react repulsively at the thought of a man, marriage would be a problem and procreation would never happen. Perhaps when she was a little girl, she said something like,
That day has passed. She is not your little girl any longer. God made her long for companionship. It is our job as parents to be intentional by predetermining that we will serve our girls in the area of guarding their hearts. The unguarded heart is one of the biggest dangers in dating.
Most young people will not have the discernment needed to keep themselves from crossing the line with the opposite sex. It’s analogous to giving a 10-year-old the keys to the car. Don’t expect them to get it right. And a young 20-something could never fully understand the depths and contours of love, and the accompanying temptations that come with it.
I have counseled scores of 40-year olds who still have not figured out what love is all about–the giving and receiving of mature love. The Apostle Paul appealed to us to refrain from hastily or unwittingly encouraging or expecting our girls to enter into relationships where they unleash inner longings too early.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2:22
He told Timothy to flee youthful lusts and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace–all with a pure heart. Dad, it’s not just about talking to your girls about what they ought not to be doing. It is also about giving them a vision regarding what they need to be doing (Ephesians 4:22-24).
- Do you think a dating relationship helps them flee youthful lusts while enabling them to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace from a pure heart?
- How are you protecting her?
The preceding two questions are not suggesting that dating is wrong. Whether it’s right for a girl to date is not the issue. Discernment regarding the best situation for your daughter is what is at stake, as you factor in the kind of person she is and the kind of person that is best for her?
Sex Is a Leadership Issue
Guys, you have a huge responsibility when you enter into a relationship with a girl. If she likes you, she will have a hard time resisting you. If you cross the line with her, she will more than likely follow you.
God made her so that she would fall in love with you. This willingness to be vulnerable is not a weakness on her part, but a means that leads to something beautiful. But that “beauty” is rendered ugly if either partner is irresponsible, which is why dating is a leadership issue for you.
- How are you going to lead her? To satisfy your hormonal cravings or to put Christ and His church on display by your relationship?
- Are you leading her toward righteousness, faith, love, and peace?
Dating is also a stewardship issue. Your leadership in and stewardship of the dating relationship will have a significant impact on how it goes now and how things will be in the future.
“Is she responsible if she follows my poor leadership?”
Of course, she is.
She is completely culpable if she does not pump the brakes on a relationship that is heading toward biblical boundary crossing. You cannot diminish her guilt and participation in a relationship that has gone too far, as though she is an innocent victim.
But for now, the main issue is to zero in on the role of the guy, who is called to be the biblical leader in romantic relationships. If a man crawls over the Word of God to satisfy his lust-filled cravings, you are getting a peek into his leadership style, his abilities, and his objectives in the relationship.
Let the preceding statement be your warning.
He is showing you his character as he is leading you, regardless of how he is leading you. Though you may feel “lost in the moment” of your love desires, and though your hidden heart cravings may feel satisfied, if you do not make a course correction you will be set up for years of marital heartache.
Parents, did you think about this when you were dating? The majority of us did not. Typically, premarital sex and how it distorts relationships does not cross the mind of a young adult. Most young people do not care.
I could not fully understand the complexity of fornication—premarital sex—before I became a forty-something-year old man. It was after I began helping people untangle their miserable marriages that the impact of sex during the dating years became clearer to me.
Most of the miserable marriages that I have counseled began the very way that I’m warning you about now. They were just harmlessly dating, having fun, enjoying foreplay, and maybe having intercourse.
“Everybody is doing it. What’s the problem; you old stick in the mud?”
You Had Me At Hello
The problem is that sex is a leadership and stewardship issue. It may be fun to you, but it is holy to God. Though we can take any of God’s good gifts and twist them back and run them through our self-rationalizations to soothe our consciences, it does not alter the veracity of God’s Word.
Not one iota.
I can say the 8 o’clock train will-not-come-will-not-come-will-not-come-will-not-come all the live-long day. I can say it like a yoga mantra, and maybe, if I say it enough times, my mind will become convinced to believe the 8 o’clock train will not come.
Think what you want to believe, but please listen to this: Do not stand on the railroad tracks at 8 o’clock. If you do, you will die. You can convince yourself that sex is not a serious matter all you want to, but you will not change this truth: sex is a serious and holy concept.
I’m not just talking about intercourse. I’m talking about the entire romantic road that leads to sex. Unless the girl is a serial sex addict, which is possible in our culture today, she will not just jump into bed with any guy.
Sex begins at “Hello” for a girl. That line is from the movie Jerry Maguire. Jerry and Dorothy had a falling out. The night they reconciled, Jerry began his reconciliation speech, and Dorothy tearfully interrupted him by saying,
“Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello.”
And then they kissed and made up. Dorothy is normal. Dorothy is representative of most girls who allow their God-given wiring to function rightly. They are ready, willing, and able to be loved well–right from the first “Hello.”
The onus is on the guy to lead well. From the “hello” to the altar, and into marital harmony, with gospel-motivated love being the one constant from the beginning of the relationship until the end. That role is the primary responsibility of the man in the relationship.
“We’ve messed up. What do we do?”
There are two types of people who have messed up by engaging in some form of sex before marriage:
- Those who are not married.
- Those who are married and did it while dating.
To the Unmarried
The best-case scenario for those who are unmarried is for the couple to talk to each other about what they have done and repent to God and each other. Then they should let somebody else know about what they have done. The primary reason to do this is that they have proven a lack of trustworthiness with each other and they want to pursue God’s community for help humbly.
- Help to work through what they have done.
- Help to keep them from repeating past mistakes.
They have violated God’s imperatives to stay pure. If they are humble and willing to submit to God, not only will they have a healthy suspicion toward themselves and what they are capable of doing, but they will desire godly care and accountability.
The act of sexual activity before marriage is “Exhibit A” that they cannot be trusted. If they deny this obvious truth, their initial foolishness of sexual activity will be compounded by future folly that they will most assuredly do.
Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? – Proverbs 6:27-28
The first people that they should talk to are their respective dads and moms. But I’m aware that, with the state of too many families, to sit down and have a biblically mature conversation is not remotely fathomable. In such cases, I would recommend their pastor or another primary spiritual leader who has been in their lives.
If your boyfriend does not lead you in this area, you must lead. Don’t incarcerate yourself in a relationship by marrying a guy who will have sexual activity with you, while continuing to fail in his leadership, as evidenced by not humbly leading you through active repentance.
To the Married
If you are married, I recommend for the husband to lead his wife through a discussion about their sexual activity while they were dating. It would not be wise or redemptive to gloss over this. It was a failure in leadership then, and it would be another failed leadership opportunity if he does not lead his wife through it now.
The husband needs to repent to his wife humbly. He needs to let her feel and experience his contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). He also needs to walk her through the guilt and shame of what she did. She was an active participant.
Don’t assume that you can ignore sin; it will always seek its revenge on you if it is not confessed and forgiven (Romans 1:18).
Additionally, he should walk her through any bitterness or anger that she may be carrying in her heart because of his failure in leadership. You must remove of these hindrances from the marriage relationship.
If your husband does not walk you through these things because he is still choosing to lead poorly, my recommendation would be for you to find help so your conscience can be clear, you can cleanse your heart, and find release from what you did when you were young and foolish.
Call to Action
- For the guy: To what degree and how have you struggled with lust or porn?
- Do you need to repent to God and your girlfriend regarding your sexual/romantic activity with her?
- If so, will you do so?
- What parameters have you put into your life to keep you both from engaging in sexual activity before your marriage?
- Who is holding you accountable for these things, while bringing discipleship care and oversight into your lives?
Also published on Medium.