As intent as we are at becoming women of sexual and emotional integrity, the company we keep can undermine our sincere efforts. While we must take responsibility for our own actions, we must also ensure that others take responsibility for their actions as well. When responsibility is refused or not taken seriously, the friend quickly becomes a foe. That’s what happened to Pat.
In her mid-forties, Pat never expected to find herself single again. When her husband left her for another woman, she swore off men altogether. That lasted all of about three years. Then she began to feel that if a single, mature, committed Christian man crossed her path and expressed an interest in her, she would be open to exploring a new relationship.
Most of all, I was looking for companionship. I wanted a man who enjoyed being with me and made me laugh. When I met Michael, I felt as if he fit all my expectations. Since he was a committed Christian, I thought surely we would have the same values, including sexual boundaries. I assumed things would move slowly without pressure to get physical. Michael and I were very attracted to each other, and we talked about how it wouldn’t be right to have sex outside of marriage, but we really didn’t discuss any other boundaries besides that.
It became clear, however, that Michael’s view on what other sexual activities were acceptable outside of marriage didn’t line up with my own convictions. His gentle kisses gradually became much more passionate, and I sensed subtle pressure with his roaming hands and body massages. I realized it was up to me to draw the line and enforce the limits. But as I tried to do this, he would try to argue me back to his line. I really liked Michael, but I felt frustrated and resentful that he kept trying to wear me down. Wasn’t he reading the same Bible I was? As clear as God’s Word is about avoiding even a hint of sexual immorality, I wondered why we were even having these discussions!
I finally had to walk away from this relationship. Unfortunately, by that time I’d given him my heart, and walking away, although it was the right thing, was incredibly hard to do. He calls every once in a while to see if I’ll give him another chance, but I just don’t think he’s good company for me to keep if he can’t respect my personal boundaries.
Pat valued herself too much to be totally taken advantage of and coerced into completely abandoning her morals and values. She says, “I’ll be a lot wiser next time, not just about my body, but also about my heart.” Fortunately, Pat realized that Michael was taking her for granted by trying to push her further than her personal convictions would allow.
When you spend time with someone, you are giving that person a gift: your presence. It’s true. The gift of your company is very precious and of value beyond description. Underneath your breasts lies a beating heart where the Holy Spirit makes His home. Behind your face is a brain that possesses the mind of Christ. Be wary of men who are intrigued by the wrapping but fail to see the value of what is inside the package. They may want to play with the bow…untie the ribbon…peek through the wrapping.
I’ll never forget my daughter’s first Christmas. At nine months old, she was enamored with the packages and bows. We had to put the Christmas tree in a playpen to keep her from unwrapping every present. With each gift given by family members, Erin would rip into the package with utter delight, toss the gift aside, and play frantically with the paper, bows, and ribbons.
Many men do the exact same thing with women. Although the gift inside is of great worth, the wrapping is what holds their interest and motivates their actions. Men who value the wrapping more than the gift inside are bad company. As women of great worth, pearls of great price, we have every right to refuse to grace them with our presence, and we must learn to exercise this right.
Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.