How well I remember my hot, flushed face when my former babysitter, a bride that day, caught me making crazy kissy faces at my friends while she and her new husband kissed on command at their reception. She had seen me first, then pointed me out to her new husband, and they were giggling at us as my friends joined in the silliness. For some unremembered reason, getting caught mortified me.
A few years earlier, I’d been a flower girl for my uncle’s wedding, and stood in awe as my beautiful new aunt greeted me in a veil that was edged with lace and was so pretty I’ve never forgotten it all these years. On both of those day, the brides wore a big, white dresses and looked like princesses.
And so a young girl’s heart began to dream…
Wearing a big, white dress on her wedding day is something that most little girls dream of, and I was no exception. I wanted to walk down the aisle and know that I was loved and chosen. I wanted my dad to lift the veil so I could see my groom’s face as we looked into each other’s eyes and made all those promises. After our wedding, I dreamed of my new husband escorting me to the finest hotel where we would fall into each others arms on a bed of rose petals.
Can you imagine if my dream had been more like this: “I’m going to grow up, meet a handsome guy, have sex with him to be sure he knows what he’s doing, if he’s good at it (and he thinks I’m good at it too), then I’ll move in with him to be sure I can live with him (and he can live with me), and then if it all works out, we’ll get married!”?
A good friend recently wrote a blog about her decision not to have sex again until she is married and reading it got me stirred up. When did we (I’m speaking to Christians here) give up our dreams of romance and the right way to do things? When did we decide that it’s okay to wear a big, white dress (symbolizing purity) when we’re already living together “as man and wife” (as Prince William and Kate so openly did)?
Or maybe the better question is – When did we start believing the lie that the love we have to give isn’t worth that one person who will pledge everything to us BEFORE they “test out” the merchandise? I don’t want to be taken out for a test drive before a man can decide if I’m worthy!
I know of a couple who decided it would be a good idea to go through pre-marriage counseling before they got engaged. They thought they were being proactive. They thought they were super-smart, making sure they were compatible before they announced to the whole world they were getting married. They bared their souls to one another, sharing the depths of their hearts, their finances, and their most carefully-guarded secrets (or at least one of them did).
The one who shared so much remembers the feeling of being totally exposed, raw, and terrified, wondering why they had chosen to reveal so much to someone who hadn’t given them any type of commitment. Although glaring problems had surfaced in pre-marriage counseling, they felt tremendous pressure to get married because they’d shared such intimacy. I believe that type of intimacy is similar to what happens with sexual intimacy (and is almost as dangerous).
I find it hard to believe that God would ask us to maintain this standard of purity just to be mean. He is, in fact, attempting to protect us from that terrible, vulnerable place. He wants us to wait until the day we are sealed in holy covenant before Him because then we are protected. When we bare that most private part of ourselves to one another, there is security and comfort and safety. On that day we become family; not before.
We stand before one another truly naked and not ashamed.
I want to walk down the aisle on my wedding day in a big, white dress because it means something. Does it mean we’re perfect? Does it mean we’ve never been taken advantage of or believed Satan’s lies? No. But it does mean that between the two of us there is purity. We have not “taken” our pleasure in one another. On our wedding night, we will give ourselves to one another and stand before the Lord, innocent.
I don’t write any of this to bring shame or condemnation on another. We all have our reasons for what we have done. Jesus is able to offer forgiveness because He understands our reasons and His heart is full of compassion. I just want to encourage anyone who reads this post that it is possible to wait.
It is still done.
And we don’t have to buy into the lies that society tries to make us believe. There is great freedom in obedience to God’s word.
When Rick and I share that most intimate part of ourselves with each other, we will do so within the safety and security of our marriage. We will do so without fear that we somehow won’t measure up or might be rejected. We’ll be stuck at that point and it will be our responsibility to find a way to make things work, even if it takes a while to get it all figured out. Oh, and divorce is not an option. We’ve already committed to one another that we will never threaten that word.
As my dreams continue on these days, a new dream has surfaced. I truly hope that there is a little girl at my wedding who sees my big, white dress, who experiences the joy of a wedding, and in whose heart a new dream is sparked. And Lord, may she value herself enough to know that she is worth the wait.