As a Christian wedding photographer, there's one thing I say to my couples as I pray over them, on our final call before their weddings:
“May the Lord give you peace, patience, and purity during these final days on your journey to the aisle.”
I remember my own engagement and its temptations. My husband, Alan, and I went back and forth between being so intentional as to set bedtimes and make sure there was space between us on the couch, and throwing caution to the wind by cozying up verrry close under blankets, into the wee hours, during date night movie time.
I was personally surrounded by women filled with faith--but only the amount they wanted to be filled with. Many girlfriends of mine were already living with their fiancés Others were being told it was a good idea to test drive the car before buying, and seriously considering doing so.
Maybe you’ve been there and heard those things, too. While we can’t change that we live in a world that so often prioritizes lust, we can change how we react.
To be completely real with you, sexual self-control is often harder than actual wedding planning.
Here, three tips that helped my husband and I stay fixed on the purity of heart we so desired for our relationship.
It’s time to start talking about the sexual weaknesses that silently permeate Catholic culture and stop living on an island of guilt or regret, because you are not alone. If you believe it's taboo to confide in a good friend about sexual sin, know that this conversation will not only help free you from the grip of sin, where it thrives in darkness; it may also help your confidant.
I don’t know if you struggle with masturbation, pornography, or any type of sexual sin, which sometimes tend to become gray areas that are glossed over during your formation, but I do know we are called to flee from these things outside of the marriage room (1 Corinthians 6:18) and outside a full, wholesome sexual relationship between man and woman.
When you're tempted to push the physical boundaries of engagement, turn to Scripture and prayer, knowing no temptation is greater than you can bear: “God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Knowing our God is with us gives us even more strength to back away.
Turn your eyes from each other (Psalm 119:37) and put them on Jesus (Romans 13:14), the author and perfecter of our hearts. With his strength, we’re given the grace to persevere in keeping our bodies holy as His is holy; as He has called us to be (Ephesians 5:3).
By reorienting yourself, I do not mean turning around hypothetically or physically. What I do mean is being honest with yourselves, identifying practical ways to avoid repeating certain regrets.
So reorient yourself. Right yourself. Particularly when the culture exerts a strong pull--pray for God’s grace, and then collaborate with him. Stop playing that CD in your car if your eyes are opened to how many innuendoes it contains. Change the channel when a sexual scene comes on. Change the topic when friends start down the path of raunchy stories from their weekends, or better yet, take a break from time with those friends.
As you plan your wedding and pack for a honeymoon with the man of your dreams, it’s easy to forget why this marriage thing is such a big deal in the spiritual realm. So here’s a reminder:
Your marriage, in particular, has been planned by the Lord that you might shine His Light and be a power couple for Him in the world as His hands and feet.
Because of this, marriage, and its consummation, are to be held in high honor (Hebrews 13:4). It helps to conceive of appropriate boundaries as principles in your mind, rather than simply in where your body parts are or aren’t placed.
I don’t know where you are or what stage of life you are in. I don’t know if you are battling temptation, already living with your soon-to-be spouse, or are even struggling through finding a priest that will marry you if you live together.
Wherever you are, know that you aren’t alone in your struggle. I challenge you to seek God's infinitely loving mercy as you pursue purity of heart and intention, chastity and self-discipline. I challenge you to stay close to the Eucharist and let your heart be convicted.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is a Christian wedding photographer and Spoken Bride vendor on mission to encourage brides with practical and spiritual encouragement on the way to the aisle. She is a lover of all things healthy, early morning spiritual reads, and anything outdoors.