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and the Bride Wore White Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity
By DANNAH GRESH
MOODY PUBLISHERS Copyright © 1999 DANNAH GRESH
All right reserved.
Deciding to Live a Lifestyle of Purity
[God's grace] teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and wordly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of
The day I met the man who would become my husband he had just returned from Florida, where he and the rest of the varsity tennis team had spent spring break practicing endlessly. His white teeth contrasted sharply with the deep tan and his dark hair. His nose was peeling just a bit as he began to flirt with me. That profile of his cheery countenance is etched in my mind forever.
On my wedding day and at my request, his tan was there to contrast with the clean white shirt and bow tie we had chosen for him to wear under his long black tails. He was the man of my dreams, and this day was a fairy tale come true. And me? I wore a white hand-beaded dress with a nine-foot train and a sequined tiara veil. I marched across fresh rose petals as violinists, stretched along both sides of the sanctuary, played the wedding march. At the front of the sanctuary, we faced our guests so that they could see the joy on our faces as we exchanged vows. The kiss was sweet and simple, ending with a knowing glance. There would be more time for tenderness that night.
At the reception, guests munched on hors d'oeuvres as an orchestra played in the background, pausing only for the announcement from the master of ceremonies, "Ladies and Gentlemen, our bride and groom have arrived. I present for the first time in public Mr. and Mrs...." I was a Mrs.! Applause filled the room as the strains from the orchestra ushered us to our head table. I waltzed beautifully with my father, who returned a bow to my groom a few minutes into the waltz. As my new husband and I started to dance, we succeeded in royally ruining the graceful presence my father had established, but it didn't matter. We were the prince and princess of the ball, and anything we did would charm the guests.
Hours later, the princess found herself locked in the bathroom of a honeymoon suite trying to decide how to make her grand entrance. (If I had it to do over again, I would claim the room for myself and lock him in the bathroom to decide when and how to enter!) Was it too soon for the lacy negligee? Were the full-length satin pj's too modest for tonight? Should I put my hair up? Would it seem too vain to freshen my makeup? We had not discussed lights-would they be on or off when I came out? In the end, I opted for the modesty and the vanity. (And hoped the lights would be low!)
But when my eyes met my husband's deep blue ones ... full of compassion and true love ... the nervousness was replaced with a knowing. We had waited. We had made it through the maze of temptation, and now a warm and comforting Presence was with us, assuring us that this covenant into which we were about to enter would be blessed.
And the blessing was more than we had hoped for.
How did we make it? God knows that I was not perfect. How did I wait for the wonderful gift of being one with a man I so tenderly loved? Well, it's a wonderful, romantic story that includes moments of critical decisions ... some I am proud of and some I wish I had made differently. I am going to share it all with you. Through it I learned seven special secrets that gave me the strength to make it through a lot of temptation.
It all started with the truth of Titus 2:12-13. Those verses say that God's grace does not automatically keep us from worldly passions. In all of your love for God, you could be blindsided by worldly passions. When I realized how difficult the path of purity can be, I stood before God and I said, "OK, teach me to say no. I know these worldly passions exist, but I know the only way I will be able to say no is if You teach me!" And from that moment on, God worked in me and gave me a resolve that I did not even know that I could have within me. The path ... and the waiting ... were much easier. The difference was that now I had placed myself in God's presence to be taught how to say no to worldly passions.
If you didn't go to class, your teacher could not fill you with all of the knowledge that he or she had to give. The God of the universe won't teach you either, unless you place yourself in His presence. I have been praying for you. I want so desperately for you to stand before God and to ask Him to teach you to say no to worldly passions so that you can live a self-controlled, godly, upright life.
You cannot attain purity all on your own.
I cannot unveil to you some formula of protection.
Your parents cannot tell you something that will keep you innocent.
Only God can do that!
Won't you stop right now and ask Him to teach you as you read this book to say no to worldly passions?
Write Your Story
Now, here is the most important part of this book. You need a journal or notebook to really make this book change your life. You see, it's not what I write that is important and can protect your purity. It is what you write that will knock Satan between the eyes.
Get out your journal and write a letter to God. Explain to Him where you are in your struggle to stand pure before Him. It could be any area of your life-sexuality, substance abuse, language, anger-anything that is causing heartache in your life. Give each part of your history over to Him. Tell Him you are sorry if you have failed. Pray that He will keep you shielded from worldly passions. And specifically request Him to be your teacher while you are reading this book.
Go ahead. Write!
I have prayed for you and for this very moment in your life.
If you feel God telling you to ponder what you've written or what you have heard Him saying, then just be quiet for today, but come back soon! You and I are going on a complete journey of our sexual lives-that is, yours and mine. For me, we're going to go back a few years, and I am going to tell you about some of my most intimate moments-some shameful and some quite beautiful. For you, we are going to build a complete godly vision of your love life to come. Let's go!
As you will soon see, not every choice I made about my sexual purity was governed by God's plan. I never dreamed of having a ministry to encourage young girls to treasure their purity. God pushed me into doing my very first purity retreat when a conflict arose in my church over whether or not a junior in high school should attend a women's retreat dealing with sexual healing. Since I was a corporate trainer, the women of the church asked me to put together a purity retreat specifically for the junior and senior high girls. I have to admit, my pride pleaded with the Lord for another assignment, but I eventually gave in. I did not share any of myself on that first retreat, but I saw women who did, and I saw how incredible the response was to how "real" they were. I cautiously walked into the arena of exposing myself and found junior high, senior high, and college-aged girls who were incredibly challenged by my story, much to my humility. It made them eager to explore God's heart on the matter of sexuality. And so, I offer you my story in these pages. It has been rewritten through meticulous retrieval of my memory through sixteen years of diaries and journals. I present it in a narrative format at the beginning of each chapter. Not one detail written about within these pages was made up. They were all carefully recorded within my journals. God must have known they would be used for this book.
My Friends' Stories
Laced throughout this book are many short stories about friends I have known for years or have met at my purity retreats. Not one of these stories is made up either. In many cases, I use just a first name or I have changed the name to protect the person's privacy or the privacy of someone else who may have been involved in the person's story.
The devil ... was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
Hot, thick air engulfed the camp where I had gathered with dozens of other Christian teens to be trained as a "summer missionary." We would be spending the summer teaching Bible classes in underprivileged neighborhoods. We eagerly dug into stacks of visual aids and endless pages of mandated Bible stories, hoping to impress our teachers, who would rigidly scrutinize our delivery and memorization.
Laying my chin down on the picnic table, I pondered the others studying among the trees.
Good thing I'm not lookin' for guys here, I thought, reflecting again on the near absence of them. Anyway, I've got the greatest guy of all waiting for me at home.
I reached into my pocket for the letter, which I'd already read a dozen times. I hoped another letter would come today. As if God were monitoring my distracted devotion, thunder rumbled in the distance.
Moments later, the clouds burst suddenly and quickly flooded the tiny stream that ran through the camp. Dozens of us frolicked and romped in the water up to our hips. We played football, tackled one another, and floated in the gentle current as the fresh June rain poured onto the ground and into our spirits.
When the sun authoritatively returned, our soggy clothes suddenly weighed us down, and we gave in to the cries of our sponsors to come inside. As I stepped onto the dorm steps, Jenny gasped. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"You're bleeding," she said, pointing to my foot.
Lifting my foot, I could see a small piece of glistening glass.
"Doesn't hurt," I assured my tenderhearted friend as I pulled the glass from my foot.
Within hours, I had a red line climbing my leg-the beginning of blood poisoning. Much like an undiagnosed, growing deadly cancer, it did not hurt. I spent the next twenty-four hours soaking my wound to extract the poison.
I did not know it at the time, but that day would be a portrait of the next few years of my life. Those years would prove that the most blissful moments often have deadly potential-even if it doesn't hurt at first.
I was channel surfing and was stopped dead in my tracks by a program called "Guys and Sex." It was a string of interviews with young men talking about sex. I was intrigued. I have often wanted to get into the heads of guys to see what they were really thinking.
Two handsome brothers seemed to be the hunks and sexual bravadoes of the program. Their shoulder length, wavy hair gave them a sort of Fabian look. They spent the nights prowling for women. Their goal? To have a new "lover" every evening. And with their looks and charm, they did.
They talked of their conquests with laughter and freedom. They were having fun. But the last take was what intrigued me.
As they sat in a hot tub sipping beers, the interviewer asked, "Do you think you'll every marry?"
The brothers laughed. "Yeah, whatever," said one.
"Doesn't everyone?" boasted the other.
"But, seriously," pushed the interviewer, "will you marry?"
The laughter stopped. One set his beer down and ran his fingers through his hair nervously. He then looked pensively into the distance.
"Yeah, but not for a long time," he said.
"Who will you marry?" asked the interviewer.
"Not any of these girls," he spoke with assurance. "I want my wife to be pure."
The beauty of sexual love is being camouflaged by big fat lies. That, of course, is because Satan has entered onto the scene. John 8:44 tells us the true character of Satan. The devil "was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." What is Satan? He is a big fat liar. And I think his favorite lies relate to your sexuality because of its powerful symbolism. (We will talk more about that later. For now, know that the true meaning of sex is so far beyond the pitiful meaning this world offers that it'll blow your mind if you've never heard about it!)
I like to compare the way he lies to you and me about sex to the way he lied to Eve about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? God's Word tells us that everything in the Garden of Eden was created by God's own hand. It also tells us that He is incapable of making anything that is not good. So, it is very possible that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would have had quite an interesting and noble purpose had Eve simply waited for God to reveal it to her in His time. Interesting thought, don't you think? My friend, sex is like that. It is such a good and wonderful thing that God has created if we wait for God's timing to enjoy it. Satan knows that one of the most beautiful things in our world is the sexual union between a husband and a wife when they wait to enjoy it after their wedding. He wants to rob you of that, so he lies to you.
I think he told those brothers on TV that it would give them power and fulfillment. But you can tell that deep down they have some sense of the deception. Why else would they need so many conquests?
He told my friend Aimee that a sexual relationship with her boyfriend could heal the pain she felt from not having a good relationship with her dad.
He told my Christian friend Jennifer that she would lose her boyfriend if she did not provide for some of his sexual needs-though she told him she would not have sex with him. He raped her.
He told my Christian friend Leeza that if she did everything but actual intercourse, she was still "pure."
When I was fifteen, he told me that I was protected in a strong Christian dating relationship. I did not feel that I needed to be watchful. I lost a great deal of my innocence through that deception.
One of Satan's lines is "everyone is doing it." What a lie! Everyone is not doing it. In The Glory of Sex, Edwin Louis Cole refers to a survey of one thousand teenagers.
Excerpted from and the Bride Wore White by DANNAH GRESH Copyright © 1999 by DANNAH GRESH
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.