The Power of Protecting the Sacred
By LESLIE LUDY
A friendly, pleasant warmth filled the kitchen as the group gathered around the center island, filling their cups with tea and hot apple cider and talking congenially. It was time for another Thursday evening Bible study and everyone was looking forward to a time of Christian fellowship and encouragement. As the friendly greetings and socializing progressed, one of the young men began telling some nearby young women about an embarrassing-yet-funny experience that he had at work that day. Since the young man had a loud voice, it was easy for me to hear him recount the details of the story, even from the other side of the room.
It started out as a harmless anecdote, but quickly progressed into the “awkward” category. Though it was a Christian gathering, the young man began sharing details that were uncouth and inappropriate, especially among single young women. I stole a glance at the three young women who were listening to the story, to see how they would respond. I knew that each of them had high standards of purity and decorum, and that what the man was talking about must certainly be making them uncomfortable. But surprisingly, none of the young women were showing any outward signs of awkwardness or discomfort. Instead, they smiled and laughed along as the young man talked, even throwing in a few witty comments of their own.
Later, after the Bible study had ended and most of the guests had gone home, I talked to the young women about what had happened.
“It was so awkward, I couldn’t believe he was telling us all of that,” one of them commented in disgust.
“I know,” another said, shaking her head in bewilderment. “I can’t believe he shared that story! It was just so inappropriate.”
“Then why did you smile and laugh while he was talking?” I asked.
There was a moment’s hesitation as the girls thought back over the incident.
“I guess I just didn’t want to make him feel bad,” one of them admitted.
“Yeah,” said another of the girls, “it would have felt really awkward just to stare at him and not even smile when he was trying to be funny.”
The three young women who’d been present for the young man’s story each felt “slimed” by his inappropriate comments. And yet, he had left the meeting without even a clue that he had acted crudely and disrespectfully. Why? Because the young women’s sense of social expectations had overruled their conscience.
I couldn’t help wondering how differently things could have turned out if the young women had remained true to their convictions. What if they had refused to laugh at his crude jokes or had quietly excused themselves when he tried to engage them in an inappropriate conversation? Yes, it would have been a little socially awkward, but I guarantee he would have thought twice about sharing a perverse story like that again! He might have even become convicted about his lack of decorum, and become motivated to change.
Throughout the past decade, I’ve encountered this phenomenon time and again. Many women who believe they have strong convictions about purity and honor all too quickly toss their standards to the wind when they find themselves under social pressure. For example, I knew a single woman who was committed to guarding her heart and purity for her future husband. She was not part of the dating scene and she didn’t flit from one relationship to the next. She was waiting for a godly, Christ-centered man. And yet, one day when a prowling non-Christian guy in a coffee shop asked for her phone number, she gave it to him. Why? Because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings or seem snooty.
Other young women I’ve observed frequently complain that today’s men don’t know how to protect a woman’s purity and show respect for feminine mystery. Yet many of those same girls wear sensual clothing, post provocative selfies, and openly flirt with guys. Why? Because they want to be connected with cultural trends and attractive to the opposite sex.
Sisters, here is an important truth we must not overlook: if we want men to become better protectors of feminine honor, we must start by guarding our own.
This certainly doesn’t mean that men aren’t responsible for their own actions. Men are called by God to keep their thoughts and behavior pure, no matter how the women around them choose to behave. But by the same token, we as women also have a calling upon our lives: to guard our feminine mystery, live in purity, and conduct ourselves with godly honor — no matter how the men around us choose to behave. Only when we are willing to place purity above social pressure will we be able to inspire the men around us toward a higher standard of honor.
Something Worth Protecting
A truly godly man will not try to conquer a woman’s purity; rather, he will give his life to protect it. But when men only see women who take purity lightly and who carelessly toss their feminine mystery away, they lose sight of what they are called to guard and defend. So don’t just complain that men aren’t good protectors g ive them something worth protecting!
Protecting purity goes far beyond a physical commitment. It also means keeping your heart, mind, and emotions pure from ungodly mentalities and attitudes, and refusing to lower your standards because of cultural pressure. It means keeping a vigilant watch over your media choices, the jokes you laugh at, the behavior you endorse, and the conversations you participate in. Remember: If a comment, joke, behavior, or conversation is sensual, crude, or impure, there is no reason to entertain it or participate in it.
If a guy is pressuring you to lower your standards for purity (whether it be mental, emotional, or physical), then stand your ground in a firm but loving way. Yes, this might lead to some “hurt feelings” or socially awkward moments, but remember that by keeping your standards high, you are protecting what is sacred to God. By allowing a guy to feel awkward about his dishonorable behavior, you just might motivate him toward something better!
This doesn’t mean you should nag, criticize, or belittle guys who don’t share your standards. Instead, guard your feminine honor by interacting with guys in an honorable way that points them to Christ and His standards. Even if you never open your mouth to speak, let them see by your example that your purity is sacred, and not to be tampered with. A woman who guards purity may be mocked by the men of this world, but she will win the respect of a man who truly has God’s heart.
When Men Don’t Seem to Change
While a woman’s example can have a profound impact upon a man’s behavior, this doesn’t always mean that every guy in your life will suddenly become a gallant, godly gentleman simply because of your influence. Sometimes, it may seem like the men in your life have no interest in adopting higher standards for how they treat women, no matter how diligent you are in guarding purity and setting a godly example. If this happens to you, don’t give up hope. Remember that with God nothing is impossible! So don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Pray diligently that the men in your life will catch a vision of the high standard for honor and purity that God has called them to.
Be patient, and let God do His supernatural work in their souls. Continue to keep your focus on Christ, not on the behavior of the men around you. Remember that you are responsible before God for your own decisions and actions — not theirs. It is not your job to convict or change a man’s heart — only God can do that. So live as He has called you to live, and leave the rest in His capable hands.
One of the worst things we can do as women is to throw up our hands in defeat and declare, “Oh well, guys will be guys. I guess there is no point in expecting them to change.”
Men need women to champion God’s best for their lives, not to label them as “crude, selfish animals” who will never become anything more. All too many men who would have otherwise risen to a higher standard have become stymied and paralyzed by the attitude of women who don’t believe they can ever change. No matter what disturbing trends we see in modern manhood, we should never participate in our culture’s scornful bashing of masculinity. That arrogant attitude only creates guys who shrug and say, “Well, if that’s all she thinks I can be, then why would I bother trying to be anything different?” But when women actually believe that men can become the heroic men they were meant to be, it causes guys to actually want to respond to that vision. Remember we are not called to have faith in men — but in what God can do through men, by His power and grace.
I love the example of Ruth. It was not through demanding, nagging, criticizing, or complaining that she motivated Boaz to action. Instead, it was through her humble, patient, virtuous example. Her godly conduct, faith, and purity paved the way for him to hear her request, and respond with favor.
He told her, “Do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11).
Can the same be said of our own lives?
Honoring God’s pattern always leads to great reward — even if it is not evident immediately. There is no better way to start inspiring men toward something more than by following Ruth’s example of virtue — believing that God can and will do “exceedingly, abundantly beyond” all that we ask or think when we put our hope in Him alone (Eph. 3:20).