“The person you’ve become would never have had premarital sex with me.”
My husband said these words to me this morning shortly before I left for church. First, allow me to give a brief explanation – yes. My husband and I had premarital sex. In fact, I was 2 months pregnant with my eldest child on my wedding night 20 years ago.
Growing up, I was a firm believer in waiting for marriage…. Even after I was raped at 16, I still tried (and succeeded for a couple years) to keep my biological desires in check. But as my mental instability grew (partially from the rape, partially from other abuses I suffered, partially because I was just simply an unstable teenager) and my faith in God dwindled (again, partially from the rape, and partially from other abuses), my resolve to wait for marriage became less and less important.
And now? As most of those who even remotely follow my blog know, this past year has been a year of spiritual growth for me. So, my husband’s words this morning definitely were not far off. Of course, I can’t for certain say they were dead on, either. If I found myself in a position of being single again… would I engage in premarital sex? I would love to say no. But hey… I’m a sinner. And let’s face it – with the right person, married or not, sex can be great.
But, this isn’t the point.
The point is the possible change within me. The change that happens within all of us when we truly decide to follow Christ.
I’ve heard some people say that when you choose to follow Christ – when you choose the path of righteousness – you don’t sin. You consistently avoid sin and kick sin on its ugly rear end. What a crock! I’m sorry, but this is so not even remotely close to truth – and is why so many people who try to follow Christ end up falling away from Him. The guilt and shame of not being able to live up to impossible expectations – that is what pushes people from Christ… not sin.
So what does it mean to follow Christ? What change does occur within us? Why bother following Him if it isn’t going to make us perfect?
Woah! One question at a time…
What does it mean to follow Christ?
To me, this means that we recognize and accept Christ as our Savior. We understand and truly know that we are sinners, and we cannot ever be perfect while on earth, and that we need the saving grace God gave us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It means we believe that God is with us, granting us courage and strength, guiding us, loving us, holding us, and preparing a place for us with Him.
What change does occur within us?
Love. There is an incredible exchange of love that is clearly noticeable when we make that conscious (or even subconscious) decision to have a relationship with God. We know God loves us. And we return that love – not out of necessity, but out of a natural reaction to the love given us. And we want to obey and spread that love, again – not out of necessity but out of a natural reaction.
My children love me… I have no doubt of this. They also really have no fear of me (I’m the parent who lets them get away with murder… or, well, at least let them get away with quite a bit). But they still usually listen to me. They respect me. They try to do right. They don’t try to do right out of fear of punishment… it’s simply an extension of their love and respect. But, this also doesn’t mean they don’t screw up. They aren’t perfect. They never can be perfect. But they know my love is still there with them, no matter how bad they mess up.
Why bother following Him if it isn’t going to make us perfect?
Because some day, I believe anyway, we will be perfect. Some day, we will be with God in Heaven. And, because today, even if I am not perfect, following Christ opens my heart to a love no one can understand until they’ve felt it.
So, choose today to follow Christ. Choose to accept the love and grace of God. Choose to accept that change that will happen naturally within you while understanding this change does not equate to sinless.