Posts Tagged ‘ women ’

A New Take on Emotional Purity

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

A close girlfriend and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about Godly relationships, singleness, and Christian friendships. When we got to the topic of male-female friendships, she posed an interesting question to me:  “how would you rate your emotional purity in your relationships with male friends?” This was a concept about which I had never heard or thought. I inquired more from my friend, but she encouraged me to search the Word on my own, something for which I am so grateful.

Side-note: I think we need to do this more often with each other. It is so easy to just rely on each other for explanations of the Word, instead of finding the truth ourselves. In encouraging each other to independently meditate on the Word, we encourage growth in our brothers/sisters’ relationship with Christ. Now that is love.

Back on topic: So, in thinking about emotional purity and comparing it to physical purity, I garnered that the basic concept is not revealing too much of your emotional self or fostering too much emotional intimacy with male friends, so as not to raise one’s expectations (for singles) or the temptation (married) for a committed relationship. It seems especially important for women, since we are the more emotional sex. But I’m not going to get into emotional purity for married women in this post… I’m single, so I will mainly address the emotional purity of single ladies (“all my single ladies, now put your hands up!” – sorry. i couldn’t resist, haha).

Not Your Buddy

By chance, I found an article on Boundless.org, which describes the reasons for this purity:  Not Your Buddy. At first thought, this explanation of emotional purity made sense to me, especially given that I had begun harboring some similar concerns in my own life. It made sense to just avoid conjuring any emotions by keeping distance between yourself and guys and not revealing anything too personal to them. However, new clarity came through a discussion with my mom and challenged this notion.

When I described the above definition of emotional purity and how it may be wise to back away from friendships with males, she immediately looked dubious. “I don’t think I agree with that,” she said. “It seems to me like the problem is expectation.” She left it at that, giving me something more to think about on my own. After pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that I agreed with her more.

The real problem isn’t having relationships with guys or even opening up to them. I think guys can teach us women a lot and provide us with different ways of thinking and seeing our situations (and vice versa!). Yet, we say that we should limit our emotional selves regarding our friendships with men because we as sisters can start to expect more from our brothers… and by more, I mean a romantic, committed relationship. We start interpreting their communications as laced with romantic interest and start expecting that they should return our friendliness and interest with an advancement toward a relationship. I have personal experience of this. I know, I’ve done it too. But I would encourage you to consider what is going on in this case… to consider how we as ladies may be contributing to this potentially hurtful situations with our expectations.

It seems like we ladies are always one step ahead of ourselves. If we have something good, we wonder what the next step will be and try to put a rush order on getting there, rather than enjoying where we are and what we have now. And even as the Boundless article said:

“You never have to wonder if your brother is romantically interested in you”

… because, being a Godly man, if he’s interested in you, He would let you know. So what are we doing by feeding our expectations and getting frustrated when the guy in mind doesn’t fulfill them? If he hasn’t explicitly expressed his interest, then that means he’s not interested in that way. <– now, there may be aberrations to this if we consider the shy guys who are too afraid to be open and blunt with the girl they’re interested in, but that’s more than I care to get into right now.

To further this point about the danger of expectation, I would encourage you to think about our female-female relationships. Oftentimes, when we become close to another female, spend more one-on-one time with her, and reveal more about ourselves to her, what do we begin to develop? It’s the same deal here:  Expectations. Oftentimes, we ladies find ourselves hoping that she’ll call so we can chat or disappointed when she doesn’t pick up because we have something from our day that we’d like to share about. We expect her to make time for us when we need her, or hang out with us, and are a little disappointed when she can’t. Expectation also arises in the development of a close, female friendship, not just something that we must face in our friendships with men.

I guess I just can’t help but think that we are restricting ourselves from what could be a spiritually beneficial relationship just because the person we would share it with is of the opposite sex. Must the rules really be different just because he is male? I think it is better that we recognize our tendency to expect more than we have and challenge ourselves to grow emotionally and spiritually.

And if you find yourself developing expectations or confused by his behavior with you, then you should be mature about it and talk about it with him. If he’s a brother in the Lord, I would think that your feelings would be important to him and that he would be more than willing to curb his actions in a way that wouldn’t suggest that he wants more than a friendship. I know, I know. “Easier said than done.” Trust me, I realize that. But I just have a hard time accepting the easy way out of avoiding meaningful spiritual relationships with men altogether. I think we as Christians should strive to harness our own weaknesses and grow beyond our faults.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life”

– Proverbs 4:23.

This verse is often quoted as a defense for the first definition of emotional purity that I shared at the beginning of this post. However, I think this verse can also be interpreted as a warning to guard our hearts from ourselves and our own actions. How are you contributing to your heart’s unhappiness and vulnerability? Why are we so quick to point the finger?

When I continued this talk with my mom, she said something to me that stuck out. I really want to adopt this type of living for myself:

“Don’t expect more. Only give more. If you give without expecting return, then your giving is great and you are never disappointed. Because the only person you can control is yourself.” ~ Mommy 🙂

There is joy in giving, and only disappointment and dissatisfaction in expecting. Only you have the power to control your mind, your will, your emotions, and your worldview. We must be constantly striving to place these things in the Lord. He is the only One from which we should expect anything because He is the only One who cannot disappoint us.

How are you seeing your situation? How are you approaching your male-female relationships? What changes can you make within yourself to improve them?

And yes, I realize this may sound idealistic to many. We are human and therefore fallible. But what are we doing when we use that as a crutch? When we focus too much on our flesh, we face the danger of using the fact that we are not perfect as an excuse for not trying to live up to a higher standard. In striving to be like Jesus, are we not aiming for perfection? This is the same thing. And like I wrote in another post, when you focus on the limiting factor, that’s the thing toward which you begin gravitate. So I will set my eyes on the Lord and focus my sights, and thus the direction and movement of my whole being, on His ideals and on becoming the person that He says I am in Him.

But by all means, I am not an expert on emotional purity. These are just thoughts of mine and I would love to hear your views as well! I’m always open to differing perspectives.

4/15 – Today, I found a blog post on Emotional Purity by a fellow wordpresser, Dan. I thought it was excellent! I totally agreed with his emphasis on having self-control. You might want to check it out:  Sparky Danny Man’s Take on Emotional Purity

Garden Principles IIb – Eve, Women, and Wives

In the moment of temptation, Eve acted as the leader in her relationship with Adam and led him to eat the fruit. In this moment, she was the chief counselor in their relationship and advised Adam on what to do. Thus, we see that God commanded the opposite for women: In Ephesians 5:22, wives are to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” In v. 24, we see that they are to “submit to their husbands in everything,” and in v. 33, “must respect her husband,” who will “rule over her” (Gen. 3:16).

Now this is very unsettling for secular and Christian women, who interpret these verses to be anti-feminist by intimating that women are to act as doormats and do whatever their husbands command. They apply such sterile interpretations of these verses, as though the relationship between a husband and wife is like a master to his slave. But this is incorrect thinking and thwarts the growth that is intended for both spouses in a Godly marriage.  Women are not to be subjected to the dictatorship of men. No, rather, I believe “submission” is synonymous with “trust.”

Let’s again look at Ephesians 5. After it states that wives are to submit to their husbands (v. 22), it immediately relates the husband to Christ and His relationship with the Church. I think this is done to discourage us ladies from interpreting our submission as subjugation. As the Church, we are not forcefully dominated by Christ. Rather, we must submit to His rule. And how do we do this? By trusting His ability to guide us. Thus, in the same way, we as wives are to trust our husbands’ ability to guide us and advise us in the way of the Lord.

Here’s another way I thought about this. Since husbands are related to Christ’s relationship with the Church, I thought it would make sense to look to Christ and His Bride (the Church) and consider what He most desires from her (the Church). The answer is her Love. Mark 22:37-38 states:

“you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Thus, Christ most desires our love for Him, and how is love fostered and achieved? Through intimacy. And what is required and developed through intimacy? Trust.

Thus, if Christ and the Church represent the model to be followed in marriage, then all of these elements (love, intimacy, trust) should exist between a husband and wife.

Let’s look again at Ephesians 5. I think it is extremely significant that in God’s description of a husband and wife’s relationship, He describes intimacy. It’s as though He built the same case as made above (love <-> intimacy <-> trust) so that we women would understand that trust is what is expected of us in our marriages. In Ephesians 5:28-31, it states:

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – [30] for we are members of His body. [31] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ [32] This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. [33] However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

These verses point to the unity and intimacy that should exist between a husband and wife, that he should “love [her] as [his] own body” and both should “become one flesh.” And as aforementioned, in intimacy, trust is essential to a relationship and further fostered as the relationship deepens. I think this is intimated by the fact that these verses on intimacy end with the commandment that “the wife must respect her husband.” I don’t know about you, but personally, it is much easier for me to trust and take the advice of someone that I respect.

This was a looong description, but I think it’s much more difficult for people to understand the concept of wives’ submission to her husband, so I wrote more for this section. Moral of the story:  Eve led and counseled Adam when they were tempted. Therefore, women are now challenged to trust the counsel of their husbands.

Now, this is obviously not an easy commandment to follow. Of the three elements (love, intimacy, trust) that must be cultivated in a marriage, trust will certainly be the most difficult for women. As the curse indicates:  Gen. 3:16 – women will have desire for their husbands – i.e. will strive to control them. But sisters, I would challenge you to be aware of your desire and strive to grow in the Lord by trusting the guidance of your Godly husbands.

But in a future post, I plan to elaborate on the ways in which women communicate love, how Eve’s curse provides an explanation for the ways in which women expect their husbands to love them, and how women’s understanding of male communication/love can help them convert their idealistic expectations into realistic ones.