#12in12: Naked Women: Where Are You?

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

3. Naked Women: Where Are You?

by Jayson Schmidt – December 30, 2011

Although published two days before 2012, this post still makes the cut. Purity is a struggle for any man, myself included. This was an introspective look at how I deal with naked imagery and if you struggle with that too, you need to read this.


As a man, I have always struggled with purity.

Though never sexually active–––unless, like me, you struggle to define what ‘sexually active’ truly is… and then maybe I was–––I have always struggled with the flesh. I’m sure you have too.

For awhile, I had no idea what purity truly was. I knew not to have sex… but I didn’t know why not to have sex.

And then I learned. I learned that what I will share with my future wife is one of the most intimate things that God has created for this earth. I also learned that this intimacy is multiplied if you’ve stayed true to your future wife… and not gone hooking up with other women like rabbits.

Here’s the cool thing:

 

Read more.

 

Purity: Asking All The Wrong Questions (Plus Giveaway!)

[alert style=”info”] Ed. Note: Today’s guest post is from Ally Vesterfelt. She is a writer extraordinaire and the editor-in-chief at Prodigal. You can follow her on Twitter and scroll below for the chance to win a copy of her new book! [/alert]

I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.

In some ways, I was right.

Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.

There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.

I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.

I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.

Cute, right?

 

During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.

It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?

When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.

I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would. Especially after the fact.

Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?

I was just really, really broken and lonely.

I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.

But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.

“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.

I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”

I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.

So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.

It didn’t come naturally.

 

I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.

Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.

Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.

But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who wants to honor God with my actions, but can’t figure out how to do it. I know I’m not the only one asking, “Why are we waiting anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Is there hope for me?” and “Is it worth it?”

I’m not the only one who needs the answer to “Why should I wait for marriage to have sex?” to be more than just, “Because the Bible says so.”

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed there to be more.

And instead of fighting silently, I want to start the conversation.

So I wrote a book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex. It talks honestly about my journey, my struggle, and the answers I’ve found to the questions I’ve asked. It also admits that there aren’t answers to every question. It highlights the nature of God, and how that helps us fill in the blank spaces.

If you want to commit yourself to purity, but you’re not sure how, or you aren’t sure it’s even practical, this book is for you. I hope it helps you in your process.

 

Book Giveaway!

Do you want a free copy of Ally’s new book, Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? We are giving away one copy of Asking All The Wrong Questions to a random Twitter follower on December 1st!

Make sure you’re following us here and then tell us why purity is important to you for another entry (tweet to @QuarterlifeMan or use the hashtag #QuarterlifeQuestion).

Good luck!

 

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine  where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can keep up with her by following her on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

(Full Disclosure: The link to Ally’s book is an affiliate link, which means that she/they receive a commission if you choose to purchase her book (or anything) at that link. Quarterlife Corporation does not explicitly endorse this link, so if you really feel horrible about helping their cause–––and we’re not sure why you would–––you can buy the book here.)

Singleness, Marriage, and Purity: Sifting Desires Through Scripture

For starters, let’s discuss what this is NOT.

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs- how he can please the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 7:32)

I love love. I love romance. I love unity. The desire for this is natural and innate. I am NOT against relationships, nor am I against marriage. If you know me well, you would know that it is in fact one of the strongest desires I hold. But here, in this season, I am merely a mirror of the apostle Paul in his teaching of singleness, offering up the choice of singleness as a way of life (many times just for a season!) to seek a more important purpose for our life and to stand in PEACE at the center of God’s will. There is nothing like it in the whole universe.

Before reading this, I give you one ‘warning’:

If your hearts utmost, FULL desire is to work for the Kingdom, you will naturally take heed to these words. If you are still on the fence in faith, squabbling between your desire for the world and your desire for Jesus, you will naturally not find anything here helpful. You may find a sentence or two useful for a moments time, but once your emotions or the temptation of the world begins to squeal and yearn for your attention, you will feed that lion the very meat it was asking for. Sitting on the fence gives you leeway to move in either direction, depending on what your emotions are screaming for loudest. I pray in faith that any person reading these words is filled with the all-consuming Fire, drawing you into total submission and dependence upon the Word.

 

We must understand that there is always means for a renewal of the mind and a guidance by the Spirit.

Dating, sex, love… we each have a definition for all three that has come from experience, readings, or things observed. We can be honest here and admit that much of the molding of our definitions are from the world, for we are IN it. We MUST renew if we are believers in our glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.

“…if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body (worldly ways of thinking, actions that aren’t ultimately to magnify the name of Jesus Christ, etc.), you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

I believe the very first step to this rides on verse 8:4 in Song of Songs (also known as Song of Solomon), which says, “…never [again attempt to] stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”

As humans with such a strong desire to do this, we repeatedly stir it back up on our own time and as our desires and cravings ask of us. This is dangerous to our purity. Not just sexually, but the purity of our Spirit in dividing its’ attention between working for the Kingdom and working to appease ourselves. Again, awakening this love is not a bad thing, if it is in the proper timing; the only timing that will bring peace and blessing, God’s.

Seasons of singleness are crucial. I believe our God is intolerant to wasted time. Ephesians 5 talks about seizing the most out of every opportunity in every season. As believers, our focus should not be on becoming someone worth marrying, but our focus should be on the will of God, which is becoming like Christ. In complete focus on this, we lose sight of our tiring efforts on relationships and finding someone. A season of singleness is a time for full attention, full focus, full admiration, and eyes for the only true Romance, that of Jesus Christ.

This romance story teaches us a few things about the REAL definition of love.

Let’s first understand that the world’s belief is that love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self. We seek for someone to go through life with to fill an inner craving and desire- to fill US. The world’s view is a deception by focusing first and foremost on meeting one’s own needs.

“…He began to be deeply distressed and horrified…[He] fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.'”
(Mark 14:33, 35-36)

The second deception I have come face to face with is that the world has fed the lie that love is an emotion. It is not. At least not fully. Emotions are not wrong, and they aren’t even bad. But when we use them as the measurement of love, we put ourselves at the center of importance. Our feelings, by themselves, don’t do others one bit of good. Christ showed us that true love is not measured or governed by feeling. He went to the cross when every emotion and instinct in His body told Him to turn back. “…Then an angel appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood…”  (Luke 22:43-44).

Jesus’ example shows that love is in our control. He CHOSE to love us. Love is not some strange force that tosses us around against our will. We cannot justify our wrongdoings by saying that loved grabbed a hold of us and “made” us behave irresponsibly. That’s not love. That’s what 1 Thessalonians 4:5 actually describes as passionate lust.

Christ, through the Redemption story, taught us that love is not for the fulfillment of self, but for the glory of God and the good of others. So here poses another factor in finding the right significant other. We may have good connection with someone, we may even both love Jesus Christ and serve Him and others well together. But God has a purpose for each individual, and if the other does not fit the bill of His will for you, then they are not for you. So our question then is, how do we KNOW who is then? Scripture tells us that the Spirit searches us and knows us, so with faith we have the freedom to wait on Him and not search for ourselves. The Spirit is faithful in revealing wisdom to those who ask in faith (see James 1:5-8).

Sexual purity is one of the biggest struggles and factors when dealing with desires and relationships.

“‘Sex is pleasure,’ a movie tells us. And on the radio, ‘Pleasure is all that matters’ is sung sweetly into our ears. In the midst of this harangue from the world, God’s quiet message of true love still speaks to those who choose to listen.”
–I Kissed Dating Goodbye

This is a subject that is touchy and uncomfortable. Not because it’s a bad thing, but because often times we crave this intimacy and yield to the craving outside of its intended purpose. Blessing and peace are not found outside God’s purpose. The Word repeatedly talks about the union of two people, and each time inside the covenant of Marriage. But why? What is the intended purpose of sexual intimacy if not just to show mutual affection?

The main and original purpose of sex is to “become one flesh,” meaning a complete union. Tim Keller quotes in his blog ‘The Gospel and Sex’, “Romanticism considers emotional happiness to be the main condition for marriage; if there is interpersonal happiness, sex is warranted, and then comes marriage. But when love dies, it is also allowable to walk away from the marriage. In the biblical view, however, the main condition of marriage is a binding covenant. In the romantic view, sex is self-expression; in the biblical view, sex is self-giving.”

Sex is a God-invented way to say to another person,“I belong completely and exclusively and permanently to you.”

That cannot be said outside the permanent, exclusive covenantal commitment of marriage.

“Purity consists of more than remaining a virgin… Where, when, and with whom you choose to spend your time reveals your true commitment to purity.”

So now, all you who read, take it and go. Remain pure in body, mind and Spirit. Take hold over your hearts desire for a significant other. We have the Spirit of Power, our flesh does not control us. These inner desires may be a working of the Lord, but we must not arouse it before due time. Go do what you are called to live for.

We are sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
–Isaiah 61:1b-3

[alert style=”info”] Sound Off: Singleness, marriage, and purity are all one intertwined mess of God’s love and how we (sometimes poorly) interpret it. If single, how can you focus on pursuing holiness in advance of marriage? If married, how are you balancing your commitment to God and your spouse? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Is Porn Your Problem?

[Photo: Dave Kemp]

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

As men, we need to grow up. We do a ton of things well… and one of them is justifying our actions. I am positive that if every man was a superhero today, our power would be deflecting blame and criticism with a shield of pride and better-than-my-problems-ness. Our addictions are included, and in this case, that’s pornography.

Can I explain it? No. I’m a man. I don’t have an outside perspective. I am in it. But I can shed some light through what I’ve seen and what I know.

The problem is NOT that we love pornography too much. The problem is NOT even that we don’t love God enough. In fact, I have known many great Godly men that fell victim to the crippling effect of porn.

[divider]

I think the true problem is that we don’t love women enough.

Sounds crazy, right? The idolization of the female body is because we don’t love it enough. If you think I’m crazy, I encourage you to read on (it gets better). Jesus says in John 13:34,

[box_light]So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
–John 13:34 (NLT)[/box_light]

“Love each other…” that includes women. All women. Not just the one you’re pursuing or dating or married to. It means the one on the street. The one working the street. The one who struggles with overeating. The one who did you wrong at one point or another. All of ’em.

It’s our responsibility as men to treat women with the utmost respect, because she is a daughter of our God in the highest. She is made in God’s image. Jesus died for her, too–––and he loves her. We grossly fail in loving them because we take the female body for granted.

When we listen to music, how often do we hear a rapper sing about his woman’s purity or her fully clothed body? That’s right. Never. Instead, it’s stuff like this (and, full disclosure, please realize I had to Google “objectification of women in media” to realize this existed):

[box_light]“She wanted me to feed her, so I mixed up the batter and she licked the beater. I scream, you scream, we all scream for her. Don’t even try ’cause you can’t ignore her.” — “Cherry Pie,” Warrant[/box_light]

And we allow it. If we are willing to condone someone’s words, we will condone our own private actions. We can spell out the ramifications of those “private actions” in three ways (assist to Andy Stanley):

1. A real body isn’t good enough.
2. One body isn’t good enough.
3. Your wife’s body isn’t good enough.

Let that simmer.

Because I am single and because I understand the battles of being a single man, this message is specifically for single men: we know not what we do.

You might be saying, I don’t have a wife yet! What I’m doing right now isn’t hurting anybody! You’re sorely mistaken. One day you’ll get married, and you’ll realize something: your wife’s body doesn’t measure up. After all, how could your wife be good enough when you’ve intimately seen hundreds of perfect looking, photoshopped naked women?

You’re setting yourself up for a marriage of no intimacy. And because we’re such excellent deflectors, we’ll blame her for not putting out, and we’ll blame her for not meeting our needs. Besides the fact that no woman could ever meet those needs, we need to adjust our habits before they’re too strong to overcome.

If you have trouble looking at porn, try this: next time your pants are around your ankles and you’re looking at an image, think about her. Don’t think about what you’d do to her, but remember that she is a child of God. Remember that she is redeemed by Christ. Remember that she has parents. Remember that, like your future wife, she is a woman and she just wants to be loved.

All women want to be seen as more than a commodity. They don’t want to compete with an avalanche of images, but I’m pretty sure many have given up hope. These amazing, Christian women think, “If Christian men (the good guys) are struggling, it’ll be impossible to find a man who can’t take captive his lust problems.”

Lucky for them, we’re horrible at controlling lust. Lucky for us (and them), we have a healing Father. If you’re having problems with sexual sin, give it to God. You can try (and fail) and try (and fail), but until you let God have everything, you’re in for a frustrating struggle. I dare you to meet God in the middle… and get ready for the grace and mercy that God has waiting.

[box_help]How have you dealt with sexual imagery and sin? Sound off in the comments.[/box_help]

Naked Women: Where Are You?

Naked Women Where Are You Purity

As a man, I have always struggled with purity.

Though never sexually active–––unless, like me, you struggle to define what ‘sexually active’ truly is… and then maybe I was–––I have always struggled with the flesh. I’m sure you have too.

For awhile, I had no idea what purity truly was. I knew not to have sex… but I didn’t know why not to have sex.

And then I learned. I learned that what I will share with my future wife is one of the most intimate things that God has created for this earth. I also learned that this intimacy is multiplied if you’ve stayed true to your future wife… and not gone hooking up with other women like rabbits.

Here’s the cool thing:

Every time I have taken a leap for purity, God has honored it and blessed me immensely.

For example, years ago I made a stand to not view pornography. I’ve seen the devastation it has done to other people–––the lives it completely wrecked–––and I felt I owed it to my future wife to be clean in mind and heart. Although never addicted to pornography, I thought it would be tough. It wasn’t. God covered me in his love… and what was once a sexual release was now released completely.

God wants us fully. Body, mind, spirit; all of it.


 

How We Kick It Up A Notch

If you had asked me six months ago if this was possible, I would’ve laughed at you.

Do not think about women naked.

Do not think about women naked.

Where are the naked women? Not in my head.

It’s one thing to view, and process. It’s another to absolve from those thoughts completely. You might be saying, “Jayson…J-Dog…J-Money, that isht cray. How do you expect me to do that? Not having sex is hard enough. Not fooling around is hard enough. Not watching porn is hard enough.”

You want purity? You want this. Trust me.

It’s TOO EASY to think about women naked. As men, we’re visual, and we’re presented with imagery everywhere. I know myself: It’s difficult to think for five minutes without letting my mind wander.

But nobody ever said it would be easy. In fact, do you want to talk about torture? For the duration of writing and praying about this article, my mind has been bombarded with female naked imagery trying to creep in. Friends, ex-girlfriends, random women walking down the street. They’re all there. And if I didn’t have the Spirit with me every step of the way, I would’ve succumbed to that torture long ago.


 

Three Quick Steps

Every time you see a woman or think about a woman and want to desire her naked body, try the following:

1. Stop thinking. Let your mind go blank. If you don’t indulge in the thought, it won’t happen. It’s tough.

2. Divert your attention. If not thinking doesn’t work, divert your attention. Look away… do something. If you have to think about something else, instead of thinking about baseball cards or another diversion…

3. Pray for her. Pray that she would be so loved by God that she never has to seek the attention of a man. Pray that her purity would be flourishing as well. If she really is somebody just walking down the street, pray for her faith and salvation.


 

“So let me get this straight. Instead of indulging in my mind and the flesh, you want me to pray for a girl every time I want to think about her naked?”

That’s right.

At this point in time, I feel like God is transforming me in ways I had never thought possible. Remember how I said that God has honored every leap for purity I’ve made? He is renewing my mind daily, and I’ve never felt closer to him. I wonder, how did I ever live that way?

Value-added bonus: It’s also cleaving me to my future wife. When the day comes that I marry her and hold her in my arms, I know nothing (NOTHING) will have distracted me from this beautiful woman of God… not one questionable decision or a stray thought. Our love will be the closest thing to our Heavenly Father’s love we could ever imagine.

It’s incredible. So try it.

For a day… week… month… forever. You’ll never look back.

DEVIANT: Becoming The Right Man.

Deviant

On Thursday, we looked at what your future wife might look like. Today, we’ll tackle what you’ll need to look like to find her. You can pray ALL YOU WANT for Mrs. Right, but if you’re not right when she comes along, it won’t matter.

For a while, I got all kinds of caught up in finding Mrs. Right. Every woman I met or saw underwent an immediate split-second spiritual psychoanalyzation. How messed up is that? Keying in on my future wife became a massive detriment because I didn’t know how to use that information correctly. That’s why this step, for men, is so important. Eventually, I understood how destructive that thinking can be and I said to myself:

“Imagine how much better off you’d be if you spent half the time you do judging women by working to become a better man.” Continue reading “DEVIANT: Becoming The Right Man.”