Question: Can God Make An Exception For Me?
I love reading your blog as always, and wanted to get your take on something. I’m currently in a six month relationship, and for the first few weeks I’m staying at my girlfriend’s apartment in NYC because I have an internship just north of the city. It is so much easier to commute from there than all the way from central Jersey. She has a small room, so it doesn’t really make sense to blow up the air bed every night, so is it wrong if we sleep on the same bed if we aren’t cuddling and have a pillow in between us? What are the boundaries we must know about and keep in order to be good Christians? We both want to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ and be appropriate always. Thanks for answering and God Bless!
Thank you for your kindness and your encouragement. I’m humbled you’d ask me such a serious question about that sort of life decision — I can see you really want to honor God.
You must know that I’m not so legalistic to think certain exceptions can’t be made. For example: I’ve heard of a married pastor who would never ever be alone with a woman, which is a super-wise necessary policy, but at one point when a girl needed a ride during near-hurricane weather, the pastor left her standing in the rain. I think in this case, her safety should’ve overrode other concerns.
Yet I also commend this pastor’s seriousness about his commitment to no-questionable-activity. While ultimately I do think he could’ve taken her home or at least waited with her until another ride was made available, I also understand that the pastor was humbly aware of his own humanity and could not trust himself to his own sinful inclinations.
No one, and I mean no one, has so far progressed in their spiritual journey that they can resist everything thrown at them. There doesn’t come some point when suddenly you’re bulletproof to temptation.
Any one of us — from Billy Graham to Francis Chan to the esteemed Secret Service — can fall in five seconds. The very reason we can pursue God so long without falling is because we keep safeguards, not because we’re strong enough to be without them. See the difference?
Having said all that, I’m sure you could go a few weeks without dishonoring Christ and your girlfriend’s purity (yes, I turned the screws a bit there). I’m sure that a pillow between you both might actually work (though why not the air mattress? — it’s a great idea no matter how small the room is). And perhaps you are both just super-awesome Christians who can seriously kick each other off if the hormones get amped.
But — Have you considered the extreme radical Christian alternative?
Because Jesus does call us to be absolutely radical.
Imagine the testimony of raising enough money to where you could stay at a hotel for a month, or find a random person to room with, or stay at a parsonage/halfway-house/duplex. Do you think that’s something your church would love to help you out with? To see you honor God? And if your church won’t raise or donate some of that money, how about you cut some lawns and wash dishes and babysit kids and bake cookies and sell some of your stuff to be able to find your own lodging?
Imagine that testimony. That’s better than leaving a girl in the rain.
I think at some point you’ll need to be super-dead-honest with yourself and see if you can really man up for this. I understand what’s easier here, and the reality of your situation. I just want you to see that the not-easy, God-honoring decision is probably more worth the trouble.
Imagine the look on your girlfriend’s face when you show the capacity to really respect her space. Imagine years later, re-telling this story to your kids and other church folk and other couples. Or telling it at your wedding (!).
I’m not talking about “avoiding sin.” I’m talking about: Go for the better testimony.
It doesn’t make you “bad” to push the boundary, but it’s so much crazy-better at the end when you keep that boundary like Jesus would. You’d fit right in the Bible.
Please don’t try to be the exception to God’s reign. Don’t try to find some way to compromise to appease your conscience. Again, I get it: it’s more convenient. But following God is not always convenient. It’s tough, but it’s totally fricking awesome.
I’m really hoping you go for awesome.