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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Echo

Stop pretending and get serious

By Zack Carter| Contributor

I'm a balance between emotional feeler and logical thinker. Thus, I have a creatively analytical imagination. As a young boy, I carried one of my Dad's old briefcases around the house, pretending to be a businessman, just like him. Stocked full of scrap paper, a few old pens, even a stapler, in my young mind, I was, through the imaginative element of pretend, a businessman.

Pretend is defined as speaking and acting so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it's not. Whether you're more of an emotional feeler or logical thinker, one's imagination can easily deceive.

You likely have a divine longing to marry. The marital covenant will be the closest human relationship you'll have to the union you have with Christ. Beforehand, however, you may inadvertently disrespect and dishonor your future spouse prematurely by "playing house."

Pretend can manifest itself through words and behavior in a dating relationship, so much so characteristics may deceitfully reflect a marriage covenant. Secular dating often embodies marital fragments of emotional vulnerability coupled with sexual intimacy. A world saturated in sexting, flirt-apps, self-objectifying selfies and media messages proclaiming, "do what feels good" it's expected the incurable cancer of a fallen world would infect dating with cohabitation and sexual immorality. However, it's severely naïve to believe those within the Body of Christ are immune.

Pretend is a deceitful serpent hiding in the tall grass of Christian dating couples' blind spots, feeding the lie that God's commands are archaic, and total intimacy before marriage is entitled. Vulnerability and self-disclosure, while critical for relationship development, when mishandled and unprotected, prematurely catapult emotionally compromised feelings over the fortified wall of righteousness into sexual intimacies. Often, sexual behavior's tolerance is manipulated through loyalty obtained through emotional vulnerabilities. Then, as behavior reoccurs, many Christian couples jointly fabricate Biblical loopholes justifying their flesh-satisfying behavior.

Biblically heretical statements, "That's not how we interpret Scripture," "We're married in God's eyes," "It's only sexting," or "That isn't sex" are typically results of physiological arousals prompted through psychological justifications driven by egocentricity, lacking inerrant reverence for Jesus Christ's shed blood.

Consequences of irreverent living are reflected in research. Cohabitating before marriage increases odds of divorce exponentially. Furthermore, cohabitating or not, the array of premarital sex acts, sexually-explicit conversation and even sexting, activate the brain's stimuli responsible for sexual arousal often damaging relationship growth.

Dr. Carter believes that couples need to set boundaries. Photograph by Jerusha Lindsay

The range of sexual behaviors are explicit reflections of sexual immorality. Loving Jesus requires obeying His commands (John 14:15): Sexual immorality is sin (1 Thes. 4:3-5); sex is reserved only for marriage (1 Cor. 7); exercising cognitive and behavioral self-control (1 Cor. 6:12-20) to respect and honor one's future spouse ordained an eternity ago (Gen. 2:18-24).

Cognitive self-control requires active self-monitoring (Phil 4:8), to produce instinctive obedience garnering behavioral submission (James 4:7) to God's authoritative Word (1 Tim. 3:16). Breeding heretical justifications for satisfying the flesh rips sexuality out of God's creational context. Therefore, when you seek loopholes in God's Word, you abuse God's daughter or son for egotistical flesh satisfying resolves.

So, stop pretending and get serious. Loving the opposite sex demands dual responsibility (Rom. 12:5). If dating, ask: "How can we respect and honor our future spouses?" (If you two marry, it's a win-win.) If dating or single, ask: "How can I respect and honor my future spouse through what I speak, text, think, share, snap, click, post, wear and view?"

Past sexual sin? God forgives, redeems, and restores (1 John 1:9). Dying to existing sin, however, is vital (Eph. 4:22).

"Without a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, we just continue to manage external and internal darkness." -Pastor Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel