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Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. I leave you with the words of a very wise man:“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Instead, we will teach our children to love God with all that they have, all that they are; and to love and respect others as they love themselves. You can do everything “wrong” and still be blessed. We will not be passing on these things to the next generation.It somehow validates my belief that some of the teachings I grew up with were very wrong. I rejected the teachings of courtship and emotional purity when I was 19. In fact, I have identified several ways that these teachings can damage a person’s heart. Shame because that’s “sinful” and “emotionally impure.” Shame because it sets a standard and proclaims that you are somehow shameful if you cannot keep it. Because your heart is whole and she just gave a piece of hers to a guy she isn’t married to. You have more to give your future husband than she does. This has nothing to do with the righteousness and grace of God, and everything to do with the accomplishments of man. I was trying to explain this to my friend, and it came out sounding so . Lately, I’ve also started facing the ways in which the teachings of “emotional purity,” (a la Josh Harris, the Ludys, and others) have damaged the part of my brain that makes healthy relationships function. You are considered damaged goods if you have fallen in love and had your heart broken. I remember watching a video in which one of the biggest names in the courtship movement bragged with obvious arrogance that he didn’t tell his wife he loved her until their wedding. We took something as simple as saying ‘I love you,’ built a straw man rule around it (‘saying I love you is defrauding’), then hung it like a trophy on our walls.” Job well done, folks. They create skewed views of relationships which lead to dysfunction. Where others see nothing wrong, I am suspicious of every look, every situation, every witty exchange. I feel ill at ease sometimes even talking to other men. I’m really good at pushing those feelings away and acting “normal.” But I am bothered by my reaction to everyday situations. As I laughed, I felt myself looking down on the situation, amazed that nobody thought twice about it. I had to push away feelings of guilt because what if someone thought I was *gasp* flirting?! I will trust Him whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway.” Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. We don’t take a step unless we can see where we’re going. They were new in my generation and now I, and others like me, are reaping the fruit of them. I’m sure those who promoted such ideas had good intentions. Without Truth and Grace they do more harm than good.

The start of all this, on God’s own words: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day”. Purity and integrity in relationships can exist without unnaturally freaking out about it. Formula says, “I will follow a God that I’ve put neatly in a box, and He will give me the desired results.” Faith says, “I will follow You even when I can’t see where I’m going, even when the world is collapsing around me.” Formula says, “I will not risk. To the rest of the world, there’s nothing wrong here.” I then calm down, act normal, and hope nobody noticed my crazy internal battle. They are not naive but they are not afraid of their own shadows. I don’t think God likes formulas, because formulas run contrary to faith.The topic of dating and relationships came up and we started talking about my story. In my life it meant never having a crush on a guy, never allowing myself to “fall in love.” Basically, training myself to shut down a normal, healthy, functioning part of my human heart. I told her if she was to walk out of the room, leaving me and her husband in the same room, my first reaction would be one of panic. Sometimes it’s actually comforting to me to be met with blank or incredulous stares from people I consider “normal,” good Christians. I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been married for almost 7 years. Shame because sometimes you can’t help but like one guy a little more than another. Pride because you are so much more spiritual than that poor girl over there who is crying because her boyfriend broke up with her. They made up laws that God never condoned, then patted themselves on the back for keeping them, while looking down on those who didn’t.

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It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

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