Today I wanted to talk about boundaries in dating and with the opposite gender.
I read a quote that has followed me through life. It is as follows, “Build a fence around your heart, not a wall. So people can see it’s beauty, yet only invited guests are invited inside.”
God expects us to guard our hearts. I have seen people blame God for a lack of protecting their own hearts. I used to become upset at the way people treated me, then I realized I set myself up to be treated poorly with a lack of steady boundaries. People treat us, for the most part, how we let them.
Guard What Is Valuable:
We are responsible for what we allow into our hearts and lives.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life,~ Proverbs 4:23.
Look at the heart like it’s a priceless rare diamond. Look at your body like it’s even more valuable. Both were worth dying for, according to Jesus. Why offer them to just anyone? Not every person we encounter is worthy of our heart, deep inner world, nor our body.
God says, “Reserve your body for holy, committed, loyal, invested, mutual love.”
Our culture minimizes intimacy to one night stands, random hook ups, experimentations, chemistry that leads to immorality, or reducing humans to objects to be objectified for personal pleasure. It sets up instant intimate relationships.
Prudence says, “Get to know this person’s character before opening up your heart and life to them.”
Lots of drama, heartache, and pain can be avoided if we understand boundaries and we grow into intimacy. The level of intimacy should increase with the level of commitment and the character of the person needs evaluated. Why?Because the more of ourselves we give away, the more damage can be done to the heart, soul, spirit.
We should be the most vulnerable with those committed to love us and steward our hearts well. The world says, “Be intimate with whoever you wish.” God gives us wisdom to be intimate with those who will steward our hearts well and are committed to love us.
Note: Lust is cheap. Love is expensive and worth doing God’s way.
1. Give people access based on the level of trust, committment, and assessment of their character. This means we do not invite strangers into our inner world or just hook up with anyone. We value ourselves. You do not just give rare, priceless diamonds away. We grow to know people before letting them into our inner world.
2. We do not treat boyfriends or girlfriends like spouses. Spouses have privileges and rights that dating partners do not. Please do not give yourself away or build your life/excessive time around someone who is not your spouse. I am talking about enmeshment that does not lead to marriage. It leads to heartache.
3. Understand interactions with the opposite sex can be tricky. I am including some of my boundaries, yet just as illustration. Each person sets their own boundaries.
These are my current standards so I can not be accused of being inappropriate:
I am a kind hearted person. My intentions are to love people, yet understand boundaries are necessary for opposite gender relating.
- I do not correspond with married men or encourage them without a witness. I realized though I am just trying to honor Hebrews 3:13 and John 13:34-35, some do not see it that way. If I can, I send things through their spouse or mainly deal with their wives.
- I do not minister to males by myself. The only exception is if I see someone begging for food and I can hand them materials outside the window (in public).
- I do not correspond with single men I do not know. I copy someone else. The exceptions are it is related to business, it’s necessary. Several of my mentors and coworkers are male. Our communication is brief and about work/business.
- I do not meet with married men without a witness.
- I do not listen to married men discuss their marriage or emotional/inner life. They need a male or therapist/counselor. I will take brief prayer requests, I do not set myself up to be their go to person to vent.
- I do not discuss my deep inner world with men. I have girlfriends for that and Jesus.
For dating, I do not invite men into my home alone for dates. We meet somewhere else. I am not stating we can not be alone, I am stating I do not invite men into my home for one on one alone evening dates. Why? My goal is not to give anyone the idea I am looking for something I am not. It’s not because I have a purity problem. It’s because I choose to set this boundary. I also do not devote my entire life to men expressing interest. I do not drop plans for them nor share my deepest thoughts immediately. I have physical boundaries as well. It is not because I am a prude. I honor my heart and body. It belongs to Jesus. Why give it away to just any man interested?
4. Refuse to allow disrespect, dishonor, or abuse. The first time someone disrespects you in relationship, address it. Turning the other cheek is about refusing retaliation, not being a doormat. You are empowered to say to people, “You may not speak to me this way, treat me this way, touch me this way.” Allowing people to disrespect us is devaluing ourselves.
5. Follow through on boundaries. If you tell someone what your boundaries are, do not back down.
Boundaries express value. When we do not set boundaries, enforce boundaries, or adhere to boundaries we set ourselves up to be devalued or disrespected. Jesus had boundaries. We need healthy boundaries.
Love in Christ,