GUARDRAILS IN RELATIONSHIPS: FLEE BABY FLEE.

I had the opportunity and honor to teach my youth group last night.  I have to say a big thanks to my youth pastor Nate Viar and Pastor Mark Jenkins of Mountain View Community Church for giving me the opportunity to do this.   We’ve been teaching on the topic of GUARDRAILS in life, what we need to set up to protect ourselves.  My youth pastor had a conference in Orlando that he left for Sunday night and his wife and I were running youth group.  It turned out pretty well, we had a good time, sugared them up with soda and candy, played stupid games, did a lesson, and sent them home.    “COINCIDENTALLY” the topic I had was GUARDRAILS in relationships,    The dreaded sex talk.  We’re using curriculum from Andy Stanley’s North point church, and a lot of my message is adapted from his.  The original message can be found here.   I adapted and cut some stuff, but the main points are pretty much the same.  I haven’t watched the video of him teaching, but used his outline to a certain extent.  We do a lot with small groups divided into High school boys/high school girls, Middle school boys and Middle school girls so once I was done we dismissed to small groups where each leader led discussion on the lesson.   I had high school guys and for the most part we had a good discussion, I got some “sunday school” answers, and a lot of side conversations, but that’s part of the package.   The parts where it says “Slide” were the media shout points and then whatever else is written in black afterwards was filler that I added in.  I think it went pretty well, I got positive feed back, so here it is.  

Intro:

Welcome to Revolution, it’s been a great night so far.   We’ve been talking the last two weeks on Guardrails in our lives and relationships.  A Guardrail is:

(slide) A system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off limits areas.

Nate spoke last week on Guardrails in our friendship and how important it that we have guardrails and boundaries in our personal friendships.  While we acknowledge the need for guardrails in society, we don’t often have Guardrails in our relationships.  Andy Stanley has quote that I really appreciate:

(slide) “Your greatest regret could have probably been avoided if you had some financial, moral, relational or professional Guardrails”.

We need to consider Guardrails for the most vulnerable of areas in our lives, and that is in our dating relationships.  In this sense a Guardrail in these types of relationships are:

(slide) A standard of personal behavior that becomes a matter of conscious.

Guardrails in dating relationships are a controversial topic.  It’s almost counter cultural.  Everything in our culture points to openness in relationships and the freedom to explore and do whatever we want.  Match.com surveyed Millennials and published it and called it singleinamerica.com.   Here are some of the results of that survey:

  1. 48% are more likely to have “done the deed” before the first date
  2. 48% are more likely to sleep with someone right away to see if there’s a connection.
  3. 40% more likely to believe a strong emotional connection= better sex
  4. 28% view sex as a way to decide if they love someone or not.

Our culture has put the cart before the horse.

Our culture is schizophrenic when it comes topic of teens and relationships.    We have politicians, educators advising a “yellow line approach, to stay within the lines, but if you go outside, just beware of the consequences.   Parents and pastors talk about the importance of boundaries and not rushing relationships and how important it is to save sex for marriage, but then you have popular culture bombarding you with images of unrealistic body images as well as pushing the boundaries of modesty in fashion and relationships.  Who do you listen to?  Why does GOD say wait?  GOD made sex, so shouldn’t we enjoy it?

What you need to realize is, (slide) Every Desire Requires Guardrails, and these need to made of reinforced steel.  Why, you ask?  It’s because we desire physical/sexual intimacy.  I heard a quote recently that defines intimacy as wanting someone to “See Into Me”.  To have that one person that knows you, knows your flaws, and still accepts and loves you.  There are three types of intimacy

(slide)    Physical       

               Emotional    =Fulfilled by

               Spiritual           by marriage

 

Ideally, all three types of intimacy are to be fulfilled in marriage.   

Our culture, however, puts the cart before the horse, and often we separate those types of intimacy and cross boundaries that are placed there for our safety.  We make a bad decision and next thing you know you’ve compromised.   Compromise has consequences and you begin to wonder if it’s possible to recover from this bad decision.    We know it’s possible to recover from bad decisions in other areas of our life, but what happens when we make bad decisions about intimacy?  There are consequences that are far reaching:

(Slide)– Sexual sin not only distances you from God, but it can damage you emotionally & physically.   

– There is generational damage STD’s, reputation, guilt, inability to trust/experience intimacy

– It suppresses itself and resurfaces years down the road

– It complicates things

So how do we protect ourselves?  Let’s go to our authority, the Bible.

Paul writes in I Cor. 6:18

(slide)18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

I love that word:  FLEE.  Flee means to run….very fast and far away from something.  In this case we are actually running to someone, and that someone is to the FATHER.  I love the visual.  It’s like a child who gets scared, so who do they run to first?  Their parent, the closest one, and hides behind their leg, peeking out while their parent confronts what scared them.  It’s the same concept, we are to flee away from sexual sins and hide behind the FATHER and let HIM deal with it.

 This is what every spouse, fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend wants of their significant other.  Parents want this for their children, and even employers expect from employees.   What do we do though?  We flirt with the line.   We flirt with the boundaries, go as close to the line as possible until we stumble across it accidentally, or just cross it outright.  Our culture encourages us, it baits us with false promises, sexy images, and lies of no responsibility or consequences for our actions.   What happens when we do cross that line?  What happens when that 8th grade girls is pregnant?  That 16 year old boys internet porn habit is discovered?  That parent’s affair is found out?  

When we read I Cor. 6, it’s easy to think it’s not relevant to 21st century American culture.  It’s just words from a long ago time.  That things are so different, that Paul or the Corinthians couldn’t possibly comprehend what we deal with in our culture, and that Paul’s advice to Flee doesn’t pertain to us.  1st Century Roman culture was just as as challenging.  In that culture they had slaves that were bred specifically for sex, temples that were dedicated to sex, and the belief that sex was free and without consequences.  For the Corinthian Christians, fleeing may have seemed impossible, if not even unnecessary.  The only thing that has changed about sex, or even sin itself  is the delivery method.   It may be more high tech now, but it’s the same as it was in the 1st century.

Paul’s advice to flee is pretty much common sense.  He gives Christians further incentive in verses 19-20

(slide)19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

What do we see in these verses:

 -God lives in us (keep that in mind the next time you’re in a dark parking, alone, with your boyfriend or girlfriend.)

-Our bodies are holy, sacred, & made in the image of GOD

In the end however, you have to decide for yourself what’s important for you.   Here are some things to consider:

  1.  Have you decided to honor GOD daily w/your body or just during the one or two hour block of church/youth group.
  2.  Your culture will think you extreme and may even mock your stand, even though they may privately respect you.  (By standing your ground and holding on to your values, people will understand that you are someone that can be trusted.  In private they will come to you and seek advice, but never admit it publically.  It happened to me when I was in German on Active duty in the Army.   I was an Infantryman, an all Male unit and sex was everywhere.  They found out I was a Christian and had certain standards and beliefs, and they started chipping away.   There were some compromises, it was there that I developed a huge addiction to pornography, but it was also there that I set my guardrails.  I was mocked, but privately, they respected my stand.  
  3.  Your future
  • How do  you want your future spouse/son/daughter to manage this part of their lives. (because what you do now, affects their futures)
  • What’s the first thing you do when you get into trouble?  You pray, it may not seem like it, but “OH MY GOD” is a prayer?

So what should our Guardrails be?  Well, that’s personal…it’s between you and GOD…and your parents.  But, here are some suggestions:

(slide) 1.  Don’t be alone

When I say that, I mean alone in the house, a bedroom, a car in a deserted parking lot etc.  When you’re alone, you’re more likely to allow your inhibitions to lower.  

  1.  Be careful how deep you share

Spiritual/Emotional intimacy can be just as dangerous as physical intimacy.   While we  preach that sex is dangerous taken out of context, we also have to understand that spiritual and emotional intimacy taken out of context can be just as damaging.

  1.  Accountability (Be accountable to someone.  Your pastor/youth pastor/youth pastor’s wife/small group leader/elder.  SOMEONE that will hold you accountable for how you act with the person you’re dating.  It’s awkward, but if you have that accountability, you won’t end up going over a cliff that the guardrail was protecting you from.  Let me also speak directly to the guys in the room.   It’s a bit of a rabbit trail, but there’s a point.   If you are a guy who claims to be a Christian, they you are to be the leader.  It’s YOUR responsibility to set the standards and have the guardrails to protect her heart.   DO NOT expect or blame her if you are the one constantly pushing the boundaries in the relationship.  It is our responsibility.
  2.  Don’t isolate

Going on a bit of a rabbit trail here, but if any significant other isolates you from your friends, your family, your church, etc, then you are endangering yourself in a great way.   By making you dependent on them, you will lose yourself in the relationship with that person.  I’ve seen it many times in the years of ministry.  The unhealthiest relationships are the relationships that become about only each other and separate from one or both from outside influences.  Usually when this happens, after years of isolation, the one isolated is left helpless wondering where their life went.

  1.  Who you’re seen with is who you’re connected to
  2.  NO SLEEPOVERS (Sleepovers are for 7 year olds.  I’m not talking about girls night with your friends, of having the guys over.  I’m talking about having your significant other sleep over.   “BUT, he/she will be in the guest room down the hall”;  “BUT, he/she will be in the basement guest room, and my room is on the second floor.”  NO!!!  Why open yourself to the possibility of temptation.   

 

  1. Restrict your internet

If you have or had a problem, set limits, set accountability, and set standards for yourself.

If you’ve already jumped the guardrail and compromised on intimacy, is that it?  Can you be forgiven and restored? What is GOD’s reaction?   The answer can be found in John 4 and John 8.  In John 4 it’s the story of the woman at the well, she had been married 5 times and was living with the man she was currently with.  She came to the well at the hottest time of the day to avoid the women that came in the morning who slut shamed her.  He never condemned her, HE in fact told her HE was the savior, and she returned to town and brought others to CHRIST, in a sense she was the first missionary.   In John 8, the pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery naked before CHRIST hoping to trap him.   Well, let’s just put this in perspective first.  It takes to two to have sex, yet they only brought the woman?   What did Jesus do?  He bent down and started writing in the sand.  The BIBLE says that gradually the pharisees disappeared starting with the oldest tile the youngest one left?   When he finished, he asked the woman where her accusers were?  She said they left.   His reply was classic.  He doesn’t condemn her, but challenges her to go and sin no more.  That’s CHRIST’S reaction!!  GO (FLEE), and learn from this and don’t do it again.  CHRIST doesn’t condemn us, but he challenges us.

Conclusion:

Is fleeing practical and extreme?  Yes, but totally doable and worthwhile.   It doesn’t’ mean fleeing from relationships but on the contrary it means you will embrace healthy relationships.  Ones that respect each partner’s beliefs and boundaries.  If your relationship is focused solely on the physical then it’s one dimensional, it’s not whole.   Project yourself 5-10 years down the road.  Will you look back on the relationships you had in high school with regret, or as memorable experiences that taught you?  Flee or flirt?  To flee is to honor GOD with our bodies.  To do that, you need guardrails.

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