Boundaries in Relationships

Maybe it’s just the rebel in me, but when people talk about boundaries in relationships, my natural inclination is to cringe. “Don’t put me in a box. I’m my own boss.” But when we understand that boundaries are put in place to protect us, that it’s God’s way to protect our heart, soul, and body, it’s a game-changer.

Once you’ve gotten to the point that you know you’re attracted to someone, and you’ve started dating, then it’s time to think about setting some boundaries.

Throughout Song of Solomon, we are reminded in a message by a group of women:

“Do not awaken or arouse love until it so desires.” (Song of Solomon 8:4).

There is no condemnation in Christ. I am not trying to wag a finger or judge people. I’m with you. I know God’s in control. What are some ways to walk in the respect God wants us to have for others and ourselves? God gives us guidelines in our relationships, not so He can be this cosmic killjoy, but so He can protect us. God’s very clear on how we are to approach purity, before and after marriage. God created sex and intimacy to be within the safety of marriage. So when you’re married, He’s not peeping down from heaven like, “Oh no, I wonder what they’re doing down there.” After you get married, He blesses it. He wants married couples to be fruitful and multiply. Procreate and recreate.

On the other hand, scripture is clear that before marriage, having sex is not kosher, it’s not copacetic. If we have intimate relations with somebody, we bind ourselves to them (1 Corinthians 6:16). I’m not talking about just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. So be careful that you’re not engaging in things you shouldn’t be engaging in with a person you’re not married to. Why? Because it complicates things.

Scripture is very clear that there are things we shouldn’t engage with. I feel like there’s this next generation of Christians that say, “Well the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that I can’t do this or that in my relationship…” Here’s a piece of free advice: If it’s something you’re not comfortable doing in front of your mama, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I recently read an article that said there was a group of guys who vandalized a church. I was outraged. It wasn’t even a Christian institution, but it didn’t matter to me because it was somebody’s place of worship, and they vandalized it. Now listen, I grew up in east LA, my dad’s church is in the hood, and there’s graffiti everywhere. I’m anesthetized to it. But when I read that they went inside the church, that they threw around the pews, and they graffiti’d their names on the wall: Johnny was here. Peter was here… I was outraged. Then I felt convicted. I was more upset that people broke into a building than I was about my friends being entered in by people who were also leaving marks: Johnny was here. Peter was here.

Our bodies are temples of the living God. 

I’m seeing this phenomenon of Christians having pre-marital sex. Just because the Bible doesn’t spell it out for us and say, “Pre-marital sex is wrong,” doesn’t mean it’s okay. It still makes it clear that sex is meant for marriage.

So in your dating relationship, set clear boundaries. Decide what’s best for yourself and your boyfriend or girlfriend: “I can’t cross this line because I don’t know where it will stop.” Can we go into it like that and have God honor it? So even though I’m telling you not to have sex before marriage, after marriage it’s a different story. You can make up for lost time. God wants to bless sex inside of marriage. After all, it was His idea in the first place.



Redefining Purity

“I believe you carry purity,” a fellow student said to me at church a couple years ago. I nodded my head and smiled politely. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that. People often said things like that when they prayed for me or encouraged me. I was hoping to hear something like remarkable intelligence or incredible boldness. Truthfully, I was kind of disappointed to keep hearing purity.

I didn’t mask my true feelings too well though, because the student saw my reaction and said, “Not the ‘Aw you’re innocent, good job,’ kind of purity. But the kind of purity that can change the world.

That caught my attention. If there’s a kind of purity that can change the world, I will take it.

As I dove deeper into this idea of purity, I began to realize it’s actually an invitation into freedom. We can sometimes get caught up in all the “no’s” of the bible and think that God is just another authority figure looking down on us and waiting for us to please Him. The truth is, God doesn’t say no to certain things to take away our liberty, He actually says no to protect it.

God invites you to partner with Him to keep yourself free.

God wants freedom for you, not bondage. He wants you to wake up in the morning and feel hope and expectation for what’s to come, not regret about the night before. He wants you to find the man or woman of your dreams and feel loved by them, fully loved, because you learned to receive love in its purest form. He wants you to live your life knowing that who you are is enough. He wants you to be in places of influence, walking out the deepest dreams and desires of your heart, without worrying about anything stopping you.

Sexual purity is a subject that can trigger shame for some people, but it’s not actually about what you did or didn’t do in your past. Your mistakes don’t disqualify you from carrying it. When you asked Jesus to come into your life and His blood washed you clean, you were called to become a carrier of freedom. Your past mistakes cannot be held against you or disqualify you anymore. Purity is evidence of God’s redemption story in your life. It’s deciding that nothing’s going to hold you  down, nothing’s going to hold you back, and nothing’s going to steal beauty, wonder, and goodness from your life. You’re free to live abundantly.

Purity may not get a lot of credit in our culture, but it is something worth fighting for. I see it in the faithfulness of a man who chooses to go home every day to his wife and kids and be a father and a husband. I see it in the courage of a young girl who asks her date to take her home after the dance, even though he’s dreamy, because one day she’s going to be someone’s wife and he’s going to be someone’s husband. I also see it in the young lady at the altar with tears in her eyes, asking a kind Father if He restores innocence that’s been lost, and finding that He does.

It may take every ounce of courage you have to live counter-culturally. It may take strength you never realized you possessed to say no to things the world places at your fingertips. If you do, you will definitely change your own life, and you might even change the world.

-Andrea Alley



Star Wars, Four Boys, and the Battle for Purity

Having four boys has taught me a lot about the world of Star Wars. When I wake up in the morning, I am often met with light sabers and Storm Troopers and Darth Vader… So when the latest movie came out, we were really excited to see it. I was possibly even more excited than my boys. I had my outfit planned out… because that’s what guys do, right? Wink.

When we finally got to see the movie, I remember sitting there watching the lead character. She’s this strong young woman who doesn’t know who she is yet. She’s hidden, waiting for her family to come back, surviving. I remember watching her as she began to fight her enemy, and as I watched her fight, I could see myself (obviously in her athletic build… wink) but more than just that…

When I watched this movie I was reminded that we’re all in a battle. We’re not just hanging out, waiting for weekends. No, we have been enlisted in a battle to fight for a generation than needs Jesus. The truth is, the day I chose to give Jesus everything is the day I chose what side I wanted to fight for, and the battle was on.

The battle was on for my mind, my heart, and my emotions. I was going to have to say yes every day of my life. It wasn’t about saying yes in just one moment, but it was about the thousand little yeses along the way that would make up one big yes in my life. When I said my yes, I had to give God, not just my spirit, but my body as well because there is a battle for purity.

Especially when we’ve been raised in the church, purity may sound like or look like someone we know. We may have certain ideas about what it’s supposed to look like, but purity in the biblical sense means being free from guilt and shame.

One of the greatest places for shame to hide in our lives is in our sexuality. There is a reason why 7 out of 10 men are viewing pornography on a regular basis, and 5 out of 10 women are. The church is not helping any of us because none of us feel that powerful in it. The truth is, greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Don’t believe the lie that says you’re always going to live this way, be this way, think this way, that this is just who you are, something’s wrong with you, your dad was this way, your mom was this way… No, you have a different DNA. You have the Spirit of God inside of you. He can begin to shift and change the reality of what the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

God wants to put His nature on display in our families and in our purity.

Purity says, “I’m enough and what I have is enough.” I may not have done everything right, but I am enough. There is a quote from a friend of mine, Lisa Bevere, that says, “Purity doesn’t mean being virginal, it means being virtuous.” There are some people that are virginal who are totally perverted. There are some people who love God, and they’ve had a crazy past, but they’re washed in the blood of Jesus, and they’re pure on the inside.

Many of us go to altar calls praying that God would take our sex drive away, but He’s not going to take something away that He gave us. We feel guilty and ashamed and pray “God, give me a sex drive on my honeymoon night. Maybe an hour before. But make me a nun before that, God, so I can serve you.” God says, “No, that’s not how it works.”

He wants to partner with us in the journey, in the story. He’s not afraid to be with you in the struggle, in the success, in the failure, in the confidence, in the insecurity… He’s not afraid, because He’s a good Father and He wants to be with you. What’s even better is that He knows all about it because He created it.

The heroine in the Star Wars movie was in a battle. All of a sudden things changed for her when she started to use the force. Once you realize what’s on the inside of you, you become equipped to live the life God’s called you to live. The bible says that those who know their God will be strong and do great exploits (Daniel 11:32). You are never going to be what anyone needs until you find out what God can really be in your life.

If you’re wondering what to do next, get with God, ask Him to help you. Surrender your mind, your spirit, and your body to God, and He will give you everything you need to be victorious over any enemy that comes against you. You’re not fighting alone, you have His Spirit inside you, and He never fails.

For Her Eyes Only


Our society seems to dictate that men pursue women and not the other way around. This can create a pretty powerless culture for the girls.

Furthermore, if the girl wants to be a virtuous woman, then she must refuse to use sensuality to seduce a man. This theoretically reduces her chances of “catching her guy.”

Yet, the truth is if a girl fishes with shark bait, then she will most likely catch a shark. I mean, if a girl is trolling the “man waters” with the 3 B’s (boobs, butt, and belly button), then she will likely catch a girl-watcher, not a virtuous dude.

It’s hard to keep a guy who was only attracted to your body because there’s always someone with bigger boobs and a better body.



So what’s a girl to do?

1. Realize that most men don’t understand women, and you always fear what you don’t understand!

2. Pay attention to the way he treats his mama because however he treats her, he will treat you in the end.

3. Be beautiful, but not sexy. Contrary to popular opinion, dressing sexy says, “I’ve got nothing else going on.”

4. Take an interest in the things he is interested in. It will dispel a bunch of the fear in him if you can relate to something he loves.

5. Believe in him: his personhood, his destiny, and his ability.

This was the reason I grew in love with Kathy…she believed in me when no one else did. (If you don’t believe in him, you are wooing the wrong dude).

6. Don’t play “hard to get,” play your “I am worth sacrificing for” card!

7. Most girls like the “chase” because they were born to be pursued. But if you’re not interested in the dude, don’t lead him on. Other guys are watching, and a trail of male tears builds a rough road to your front door.

8. Hang out in a group before you date. Guys gain courage as they gain understanding.

9. If you do your “sister act” with him, he won’t think of you as a lover. Many guys have close friends who are great girls, but asking them out feels like they are dating their sister.

10. Be subtle, but let him know you are interested in getting to know him. A note works great.

But what if he doesn’t choose to pursue me? Then you will know pretty quickly, and you won’t waste your time with a dude who’s not interested!  

11. If you like someone, ask a friend who knows him to introduce you. This helps break the ice.

12. Don’t date a guy with a bad reputation. Reputations are built on repetition (repeated behavior). It may sound exciting to date a bad boy, but marrying one will ruin your life.  

13. Find some old, wise people to be accountable to in your romantic relationships. Love is blind, so listen to their input.

When my mom met Kathy for the first time, she told me, “Now that’s the marrying kind.” Kathy was 12 years old at the time. Five years later, I married that girl. That was 40 years ago!


Originally published on





8 Things I Would Tell Someone Who is Struggling With Porn

Pornography can feel like a python squeezing the life out of you. I know first hand, I was caught in the trap for years. The struggle can feel like a vicious cycle that pulls you deeper into hurt and isolation. We need lifelines, rescue ropes, and voices of strength that push us to endure and fight for our freedom. Advice while struggling with sin can be well intentioned but poorly executed. We can leave with condemnation, more rules, and less hope. This isn’t one of those times, this is a lifeline, a piece of advice that will help you. Let’s dive in!


Don’t believe the lie that you will struggle with this forever


The intensity of a struggle should never determine your hope. You could be struggling with sin for 2 years or 10, it doesn’t matter, our hope rests in Jesus came to set us free. Freedom is God’s standard and we should line up our perspective with His. God has paved a way for freedom and the first thing we do is believe it’s possible despite our experiences. As a man walking in freedom for over 7 years, I want you to know it’s very possible to live free.


Don’t hide it, talk to someone who isn’t struggling


Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It can be a terrifying to talk about your struggle but it’s a necessary step on the road to living completely free. Jesus breaks all our shame so that telling our struggle can be liberating. God has designed our lives to be healthiest when we’re in community. When we open ourselves up to healthy community we begin to receive their strength. Isolation is never the pathway to healing rather, community is essential to freedom.


Don’t live by rules but by your identity 


Rules and plans can appear wise but they fail because they’re built around the assumption that our behavior is the problem. This is a revolutionary idea for many but your struggle with pornography isn’t the problem. It’s the fruit of the problem and the real issue is how you see yourself. Do you see yourself as loved by God? Do you see yourself as forgiven by God? Do you view your past as your past? When we give our life to Jesus, the Bible says we become a new creation. Our identity is no longer defined by what we do but what Jesus has done. We are not pure because we stick to a purity plan. We’re pure because Jesus has made us pure. This is the origin of healthy behavior. Proverbs says that “as a man thinks in his heart so he is.”  How we view ourselves is crucial and Jesus gives us a new identity that will change our behavior. We’re not recovering, horrible sinners anymore. Jesus has transformed us into new people and we need to start living like it’s true.


Don’t be foolish, get some boundaries


Boundaries are tools that when used well promote health. Boundaries are not just a list of things you can do. Boundaries protect what you have said yes to in life. You can make boundaries that say “no computer after 10pm because I don’t want to look a porn” or you can make boundaries that say “I don’t look at my computer after 10pm because I value the purity God gave me.” Boundaries work best when they protect what you value not what your afraid of doing.


Get your needs met in healthy ways


We all have needs in life, for example we all need to feel loved. Now, if we don’t know how to meet that need in a healthy way we can fall into sin. Most men who fall into pornography have had a hard time finding love. Not love like a girlfriend but unconditional love that gives them worth and value outside of what they do. The need to feel loved is the need to know our worth. If you can find healthy ways to find your worth you will start beating pornography to the ground. An example would be to get worth from God and know how much He loves you.


God is good and he is for you 


How we view God determines so much about our life. Once I discovered that God is good and wasn’t out to punish me then I leaned into Him. I stopped being afraid of Him and started to trust Him. This led me into living in His strength. I now could approach Him because I knew He loved me and was for me. He not only had the power to help me but he wanted to help me. This was crucial in my journey to living free from pornography. I no longer felt God was angry but that He loved me and was there for me.


Temptation doesn’t mean you’re broken inside


Temptation is real, Jesus dealt with it. Most of us however deal with it very different than Jesus. The moment we’re tempted we think it’s because we have a problem inside of us. The bible says Jesus was tempted in all ways but without sin. This is huge; temptation isn’t a sin. Temptation can lead to sin but it doesn’t start as sin. We have to remember that the enemy tempts us and we always have a way out of it. Does that mean all temptation doesn’t come from within? No, some temptation comes because we perpetuate it through sin and poor thinking. But not all temptation comes from within us as Jesus revealed with being tempted by satan.


Don’t believe the lie that because you’ve looked at pornography now you wont have good sex when your married


I have had so many questions and sometimes statements about sex in marriage after being addicted to pornography. The concern is that now you won’t be able to get the images out of your head or you’ll be triggered by it. I am here to tell you that it’s possible to have a great sex life in marriage and not let any of your past affect you. Does it mean the enemy doesn’t try? No, he does try but his success is determined by me and I don’t let him win. God loves sex and He designed it for marriage, so you have more support than you think.


Chris Cruz is currently a full time Pastor at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, CA. It’s a school of over 1800 students that’s dedicated to equipping revivalists to pursue worldwide transformation in their God given sphere of influence. Along with BSSM, He speaks at Bethel Redding on Friday nights and helps lead Tribe Young Adults.
Twitter: @chrisjosephcruz
Instagram: @chriscruz


Restoration of Love

About three and a half years ago, a sequence of events began that would ultimately change my life forever. About that time, I was living with my girlfriend who, in all honesty, I hooked up with in a one night stand. We both grew up in church and knew that how we were living was wrong, but we wanted it to work so we made up every excuse we could to make it seem ok.

Fast-forward to right now. We are still together, we are madly in love with each other, and even greater, we are insanely in love with God. We have huge hearts to help others transform their relationships to allow God to be at the center. How did all of this happen? God. Only God could pour out enough grace in our relationship to completely transform it to one of purity, honor, and covenant.

We allowed God to basically put our relationship in reverse and then slowly rebuild it, all the while changing our beliefs and mindsets. This isn’t an easy process, especially when couples stay together like Libby and I did. We moved out and became physically pure with each other, which meant no sex, no foreplay, and during certain time periods, no kissing and no hand-holding. During this time God taught me I needed to know myself before I could attempt to understand someone else. I had Libby in my “God spot.” I looked to her for everything—joy, happiness, value, confirmation, and even guidance. I had to come to the understanding that only God can be in the God spot. I had to learn what it meant to have an identity as a son to God.


– John, 23, Florida, US

Managing Your Thought Life


I want to know, is it normal to fantasize sexually about my future wife?
If not, what steps do I need to take to stop?




It is perfectly “normal” to have sexual thoughts come on your radar about your future wife. In fact, we’d sort of be worried if they didn’t! It’s all a part of having a normal, healthy sex drive. It’s normal for thoughts to enter our heads about any and all kinds of things; however, it’s what we DO with those thoughts that make all the difference in the world.


We will say this: fantasizing is not a good or healthy idea when you’re single, dating, or engaged because it doesn’t keep you in the reality of where you are at in your relationship status. There is reason it’s called a fantasy. If you aren’t connected with the reality of where you are and what you have decided your personal boundaries to be, then it becomes a “tease” to your heart and mind. Why entertain thoughts you aren’t allowed to act on until you are married? It only makes it more difficult to maintain purity if you are constantly imagining things in your mind.


Another thing to think about is – whether you are single, dating, or engaged – you are practicing staying pure for when you are married. Believe it or not, we need to fight for our purity even more when we’re married because we have now entered into covenant with another person and with God, to love and honor that person. The truth of the matter is there will always be other men and women to “look at,” but what you practice when you’re single; you’ll practice when you’re married. If you haven’t learned to manage your sexual thought life and/or appetite when you’re single, it won’t be any easier when you’re married. Trust us.


Managing your thought life really comes down to you and your choices. What are you choosing to think about? What do you do when a sexual thought comes up?


The main thing when it comes to managing your thought life, whether you’re single, dating or engaged is this: you want to honor the woman in your life, or your thoughts. Always. Honor, love, and respect within a relationship are huge.


Are you honoring this woman’s purity and your commitment to stay pure in the natural if you aren’t doing it in your thought life as well? Fantasizing usually involves desiring, connecting, taking pleasure in, and sharing intimacy with the other person involved. We aren’t meant to do that outside of covenant with anyone but our husbands or wives. You might just want to ask yourself the question: Am I honoring her purity with this thought?


Thank you for asking this tough question and for being honest and real. We also appreciate that you desire to love, honor, and respect your future wife. We bless you in your future marriage!

Top Healing & Restoration FAQ

Forgiveness is key


As an introduction to this FAQ, we need to discuss the importance of forgiveness in the healing and restoration process. The Bible shows us that repentance (a change of heart that leads to a change of action) and forgiveness result in restoration and healing of many kinds. If you are seeking a personal victory or freedom in any area of struggle, this is a great place to start.




Forgiveness is an act of mercy. It is the releasing of someone from the judgement you think they should receive because of an offense they committed (knowingly or unknowingly). When you’re forgiving an offender, you must remember this: A person doesn’t have to apologize, repent, or prove their trustworthiness to you in order for you to forgive them. It is not something they can earn from you. The gift of forgiveness is a selfless gift, and like any gift, it’s free.  For example, you did nothing to earn Jesus’ forgiveness. It was a free gift to you.


By no means are we saying that forgiveness won’t cost you something. In fact, it may be one of the most costly things the Lord ever asks you to do…much like the Father asking Jesus to give up His life for you.


Forgiveness wipes the slate clean. It says, “You are free to go. You owe me nothing. I release you.” That, in itself is incredible, but there’s more to it than just releasing your offender; forgiveness frees you as well.




No one deserves forgiveness, but it is essential we give it in order to live the life God has called us to live. There are consequences to not forgiving. When we refuse to forgive, we are standing in God’s place as judge over a situation, and we must remember, the measure that we use to judge others, God will use to judge us (Matthew 7:1-2). This is why Matthew 6:15 says that if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you. In other words, if you judge…you set yourself up to be judged. This is why it is so important that we forgive: Without the flow of forgiveness, from us to others, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness.


Judgement is not the only consequence of withholding forgiveness. Unforgiveness acts likes poison in our soul and causes bitterness, anxiety, fear, anger, pain, physical illness, and broken relationships, among other things. We also know that we reap what we sow; don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeating the same actions you didn’t forgive others for. You can’t push forgiveness off until your deathbed and expect to live in joy and freedom now.


Forgiveness will also increase your ability to love. If you want to grow in your love walk, learn to practice forgiveness (Luke 7:47). Be quick to forgive, and keep short accounts with people.




Any person, or thing (circumstance, culture, motive, process, etc.) that caused you pain or disappointment can be a territory in your life that needs forgiveness. Remember, forgiveness isn’t just limited to people. And it’s not just about releasing them, but finding closure for yourself. One indicator that you are free is that you don’t have a strong reaction when the person/situation crosses your mind. For example, running into them at Target no longer spikes your anxiety and interrupts the rest of your day.


If you know you need to forgive, or if you feel like Holy Spirit is prompting you to, you can do so by saying something like this:

“I forgive __________ for _____________. I give him/her/them/the situation the gift of forgiveness. They owe me nothing. I let it go to the foot of the cross. I give them to you, Jesus.”

Example: “I forgive Joe for ditching me on Friday night. I felt disrespected, angry, and rejected. But, I choose to forgive, bless, and release Joe, to You, Jesus. He owes me nothing. I let him go, and I receive the truth that I am loved, seen, valued, and accepted by You. What Joe did, says everything about Joe, and nothing about me. So, I give him to You, Jesus, and I trust You to lead me as Your daughter.”

Example: “I forgive myself for going too far with my girlfriend tonight. I’m disappointed with myself, I didn’t do what was right, and I didn’t lead well in our relationship. I feel the temptation to partner with guilt and shame right now, but I will choose to lean into the conviction of the Holy Spirit and not let shame and guilt be my teacher. I thank you Lord, that I am convicted about what I did. It shows that I am a son of Yours. God, please forgive me for what I did, I repent. Help my to clean up my mess with my girlfriend, and to lead her well. I also forgive myself, and forgive your Grace and mercy. Thank you Lord that your Word says that you make all things new, and I lean into that truth and that grace tonight. Amen.”




All of us experience times when, though we have forgiven someone, our strong feelings resurface, and we find ourselves having to forgive the same offense over, and over, and over again. If you identify with this, we would suggest you explore the following ideas:


1. Ask God if there is any other offense you need to forgive. There are often layers to situations, and though you may think you have fully forgiven, you may not have gotten to the root yet. There may be more resolution to be had. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you as you explore this. Simply ask, “God, why am I still hurting? Why do I feel like this still has power over me?”


2. Consider if you are truly forgiving from the heart, or if you are simply going through the motions. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” What we have found, is that those who still feel locked up due to unforgiveness, oftentimes have not acknowledged the pain/disappointment of what actually happened to them. In other words, they haven’t let themselves really feel what happened to them. In short, if you don’t process through your pain, and acknowledge what you feel, you can’t experience freedom. In addition to forgiving with your words, we invite you to forgive with all your heart. It might be the most painful thing you do, but the Word promises you will be comforted.


3. If you still feel a strong emotional connection with the individual or situation, you may need to break soul ties that may have been formed. “Soul ties” is a way of referring to the physical or emotional bonds we form with the people around us. They are not all bad. In fact, God created us with the ability to bond with one another so we would have tight-knit relationships and communities. You can read more about soul ties later in question 8.


4. Find compassion for your offender. Ask God how He sees them and/or the situation. For example, a young man had bitter unforgiveness toward his father. When he was a child, his dad would tie him and his brothers up and beat them. As an adult, he could not forgive his dad, who should have known better than to abuse his innocent, helpless children.


In a counselling session, he asked God to show him the truth about his dad, to show him how He saw him at that time. God showed him a picture of his father as a helpless baby. In that moment he understood that his dad, at that time, didn’t have the ability to parent him properly– that he himself, was still a child inside. With this understanding he was able to have compassion on his dad, in all of his mess, and truly forgive him for the first time.


Once you can connect with compassion, you’re more able to forgive and release your offender genuinely. How do you know you’ve truly released them? The fruit of forgiveness is peace. You are able to think about that person or situation with no ill will.


5. You still want justice.
The truth is, some of us are born with a bigger “justice button” than others. For some, the values of right and wrong weigh more heavily than heart and intuition. If you are one of these people, we invite you to ask God for His perspective on grace, mercy, and compassion. Ask Him to remind you of the person you were before you met Him. You need to connect in humility with your own humanity; you are just as in need of grace as your offender. We all need a Savior.




No. Forgiving does not mean that a violator is welcome back into your life. You do not have to trust him/her. Trust and forgiveness are not the same thing. You can forgive someone and choose to no longer have relationship with him/her.



Guilt and shame are a part of our natural moral compass. These feelings let us know that we have done wrong, or have violated our standards. These feelings, in this context, can highlight when we’ve strayed off the moral path. (Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t murder, etc. These are things that would trigger any normal person’s moral compass.) They are the part of our conscience that says, “This is wrong!”


With that said, guilt and shame, can keep us out of danger when we are learning the difference between right and wrong. The danger in depending on guilt and shame to be our  teacher, is that a person adapts to being motivated from the outside-in, instead of the inside-out. In short, they are externally motivated.


For example, their internal dialogue might sound like, “I won’t eat that entire pizza tonight, because I know I will feel guilty and ashamed afterward.” A healthy dialogue would sound like, “I am a healthy person, and a healthy person does not eat an entire pizza in one sitting.” Did you catch the difference? One is rooted in the internal identity of being a healthy person, versus the external consequence of not wanting to experience guilt and shame.


When it comes to our guilt and shame relating to our sexuality, our internal dialogue might sound something like: “I hate masturbating. As long as I feel guilty about it, I won’t do it again! As long as I feel ashamed of myself, I won’t feel tempted.” Or, “If I feel guilty, at least I know I still feel conviction. If I’m a child of God, I’ll feel guilty, and that’s a good thing.” In both of these cases, we embrace shame and guilt and use them as tools to tell us who we are and how to behave.


So, in short, you may have thought that guilt and shame were great teachers in the past, because they kept you safe. But now, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach and lead you. You can now be led by love, instead of fear.


In a different vein, it is also worth mentioning that it is not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to live with massive guilt and shame issues. Though they were victims, a part of them may have enjoyed a small part of their experience — the attention, the sexual experience, the secrecy — even though they hated what happened to them. These individuals live feeling greatly conflicted and/or overly responsible for what happened to them.



Firstly, acknowledge that guilt and shame have been a friend and a teacher to you. Secondly, ask for God’s forgiveness, and don’t forget to forgive yourself. This simply could look like, “Lord, I acknowledge that I have let guilt and shame be a leader in my life and I repent. I ask for your forgiveness. I forgive myself. Today marks a brand new beginning. I will no longer partner with shame and guilt in my life.”


Remember, when you wake up tomorrow morning, you are starting anew. Don’t fall prey to the enemy’s lie that you are your old man. Forgiveness restores the standard. Jesus has forgiven you. You are moving on and God only holds you responsible for your actions today. Everything in your past is under the blood of Jesus. When you asked Him to forgive you, He took you seriously. It is finished. The enemy doesn’t get to bring it up anymore, and neither do you.


Thirdly, ask for a new teacher.
As we said, the Holy Spirit is with you to teach and lead you. You can now be led by love, instead of fear. So ask Him daily for help, guidance, and submit to His leadership.


Replace whatever lies you’re believing about your identity with the truth of who Jesus Christ is in you, and who He knows you to be. What you have done does not get to tell you who you are. Jesus does. If you believe you are bad, worthless, hopeless, or a failure, you need to begin renewing your mind to truth.


Let it out. There is power in getting it all out into the light. If you have gone through the above process, or are still working through your process, we encourage you to let others in. Whatever is in darkness, must come into the light if you want to be seen, known, and fully loved. Part of your healing process may be talking to a trusted friend, leader, parent or mentor about whatever it is you felt shameful or guilty about (James 5:16). There is power in confession.


And lastly, if your behavior is bringing on your guilt and shame, stop doing it! If you are doing something wrong, you can’t expect to get away with it without your spirit (your conscience) and God’s spirit in you reacting to it! In short, guilt and shame are a consequence of a behavior that violates who you are. If you’re tired of feeling guilty and ashamed, change your behavior!




Condemnation and conviction are not the same things. We want conviction in our lives– it is the plumb line that shows us that we are in line with what is lovely, true, and faith-filled. It shows us the way to freedom. Condemnation, on the other hand, leads us into bondage and makes us feel like we deserve punishment. It is the cousin of guilt/shame, and keeps us stuck in the cycle of always trying to earn forgiveness or give recompense to God for our sin.




First of all it’s important to know that your past decisions don’t have the power to tell you who you are today, or what your future relationships will look like. You made some poor choices and it hurts, but there is hope for you. You have an opportunity to choose a different path and start again… so let’s get started!


First and foremost, recognize that this is going to be a healing process, and probably not a healing moment. Second, be wise; know that the enemy is going to try to give you an identity based on your past mistakes…but you are not your past mistakes! This is why knowing the Word is so important (who God says you are, what God thinks about you, the reality of your forgiveness and redemption at the cross, the fullness of Christ’s power working within you, etc.).

With that said, here are a few simple things we’d recommend:

– You need to forgive yourself.

– You need to forgive, bless, and release (cut soul ties) your ex.

– You need to grieve the loss of the “dreams” you had of spending the rest of your life with your ex-boyfriend and let go of any fantasy that he’s going to come back. You need to cry it out, process through your pain, and then (bravely) get rid of everything that you’re hanging onto (letters, movie ticket stubs, pictures, memorabilia, etc) that ties you to him.

– You need to surround yourself with healthy friends to do life with – laugh, cry, make memories, go on adventures. You get the idea. Isolation will not be your friend in this season.

– You need to get spiritual mothers and fathers in your life (ie, older/wiser/loving people – doesn’t have to be your pastor).

– You need to begin renewing your mind (listen, read, watch) and feeding your spirit with life giving things. Not magazines, romance novels, movies, or music, etc.

– Figure out who you are, what you want, where you are going in life, and how you are going to make those dreams come true.

– Begin to dream about your future husband. Eventually (maybe not now) you will be able to do this and you’ll be able to do this with joy, hope, and expectation.

– Know that it’s okay to have a bad day. Give yourself grace. You are healing and being restored and that probably won’t happen in a week.

– Give yourself time to mend. You let your heart and body go places it’s never been before and so it’s going to take time for them to come back into alignment with your spirit … so be gentle on yourself.

– Ask for help and be okay with taking things one day at a time.


Finally, you’re going to need to figure out your WHY:

– Why did I cross those lines in the first place?

– Why did the value of my virginity become something that was up for negotiation?

– Why did I decide to let someone else violate the boundaries and standards I set for myself?

– Why did I let myself be violated?

– Why did my value decrease in my own eyes?

– Why do I think the words boyfriend and husband or girlfriend and wife mean the same thing? (They don’t, by the way.)


Take your time to work through the above questions. Healing is a process. Allow God to continually remind you who you are and what you are called to; He has an incredible future for you. Know that no matter what brought you to this place, you can decide how you want to live from now on.




Bring it into the light. Start telling people. Schedule a meeting with your pastor. Confess your sins, one to another, so that you may be healed (James 5:19).


“Light is silent, brings warmth, and is a necessity for life. But darkness is cold and drives us to hide behind walls of self-protection, where we are unreal, or to pretend to be more spiritually mature than we really are. One general proof of heartfelt sincerity before God and man is our openness and transparency.” – Jack Frost


When Adam and Eve sinned, their first response was to hide their sin from God. They were afraid. If you feel like Adam or Eve, know this: God isn’t mad at you. He’s actually longing to help you put things back together again. And it’s going to start when you bring it out into the light. You (probably) started this relationship trusting God, so you need to trust Him with this confession. We would implore you, as leaders, to be courageous, and will gently remind you that it’s going to come into the light eventually.


Understand this: once you bond with someone in this manner, the pull to continue is very strong. This is absolutely natural, a part of how God made you! Some couples have found that the healthiest way to go about restoring their relationship is to break up and take some time apart; in doing so they are able to work through their individual processes. Breaking up now doesn’t mean that you’re breaking up forever; you’re making a short term investment into a long-term payback.



Let’s start here: you may need to take a good, long reality check. If your relationship has been over for a while, and your ex is still a constant center of your thoughts, ask yourself, “Am I doing anything to feed this attachment?” Do you ask mutual friends how he/she is doing? Do you check in on them on Facebook or Instagram? Do you secretly hope to run into him/her at social gatherings? Do you soothe yourself with thoughts that he or she is going to come back? All of these are red flags of a soul tie, and good indicators that you are not connected with reality that it is over.

After asking yourself these questions, we’d encourage you to work through forgiveness and break soul ties, as necessary.

If you feel waves of anger, bitterness, resentment, or other negative feelings toward this person, we would encourage you to work through forgiveness. This is essential to you moving forward.

The first step is to forgive the ex that hurt you and release him/her from the offenses that he/she inflicted on you. Get quiet before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any damaged area of your life that resulted from this relationship. Write a list of any incidences that come to mind. This could start like, “Lord, I release ________ from taking advantage of me. I forgive the ways she used me, dishonored me, put me in situations that devalued me. I release her from every offensive action that she has had in my life.”


The next thing to do is to ask the Lord for His forgiveness for your reactions to him/her. An example might be, “Jesus, please forgive me for my participation in anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness in my heart. I ask you to release me for speaking and thinking malicious thoughts about her when she made me feel powerless and worthless.” Again, write down any feelings that you experienced while you were dating.

In addition, you may need to forgive yourself. Again, your conversation may sound like, “Lord, I forgive myself for getting involved with someone whom I had reservations about, but continued to pursue. I forgive myself for not having clear boundaries in place and responding with my emotions instead of my core values.”
Finally, verbally bless and release your ex. This shows that you have a repentant heart and a desire for his/her well being. “Lord I bless ______ with healthy, fulfilling relationships in the future.”


This next step may be the place to start if you have constant thoughts about or a strong emotional attachment to your ex. You can say something like this: “God, forgive me for connecting with someone who wasn’t my spouse. Forgive me for making a connection I wasn’t supposed to make. I want to be free from these soul ties, so I’m giving them to you.”

Next, you may want to address that person in your imagination (in spirit). Apologize to them and ask them for forgiveness. If necessary, specifically forgive them for anything they’ve done to hurt you. You’ll want to release anything you’ve taken from them or anything you’ve been given. Be sure that in your heart you’re ready to let go of them. At this time, you’ll say something like this:

“I break any ungodly, unhealthy soul ties between myself and __________ in Jesus’ name. I send back everything that was given to me and any piece of him/her that remains with me. I release you from any bond or connection that was made. I release you from all promises, obligations, expectations, and desires.”

If you feel prompted to be specific about anything, feel free to speak that as well. Whatever helps you to find resolve is good. Explore that with Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Finally, call back the pieces of you that were given or taken by that person. Follow the same pattern as before:

“I call back every part of me from ____________, every part of my heart, my soul, my mind, washed in the blood of Jesus. I thank you, God, for returning all aspects that were lost. I thank you for making me whole again.”

After you’ve broken each soul tie, thank God for making your soul whole again. Invite His Spirit to fill you in all areas. You may feel lighter, and some even experience a physical sensation. Be sure to take time with God so that His presence can heal you. You should feel freer than you did when you started.

Oftentimes people fall prey to the lie that their future relationship will never measure up to their past relationship. They idealize their ex, remembering every good memory, and forgetting every bad memory; they romanticize their ex and forget why the relationship ended in the first place.

If you think this might be you, simply ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? What do I have to lose by letting go of my ex? Am I afraid to let go? Am I ready to let go?” If you’ve never thought about these questions, and you find yourself being triggered, we invite you to courageously answer them. You owe it to yourself and your future spouse to be honest. It’s time to start living.



Facing fear and risking rejection is something everyone experiences in their life. Well, let us clarify: If you want to live a life of exciting adventures and exploits then you are going to have to take some risks and cross some chicken lines — probably more than once. We also understand the outcome isn’t always what we hope for!

If your latest risk ended in the sting of rejection this time around, we are sorry. Getting a no-thank you from a person of the opposite sex is never any fun. Here a few things we can suggest as you work the sting out and move on.

Forgive. Forgive whoever you need to. Forgive her/him. Forgive yourself, and don’t beat yourself up or go into introspection mode. Just because this didn’t work out the way you thought, it doesn’t mean anything about you– your value, your intelligence, your beauty. That is why you have healthy friends and family around you. Pull on their strength and encouragement right now.

Forgive God, if you need to. Sometimes we find ourselves in places of pain because we were just trying to be obedient and follow His leading. Remember, He has your best interest at heart and He wouldn’t have led you to take the risk if there wasn’t gold in there for you somewhere. Don’t blame God. You may never know until you get to heaven why He wanted you to take that risk. The bottom line is He spoke, you obeyed, and you will reap a great reward for your obedience. Period. Obedience is always rewarded with a great blessing, so don’t let the enemy lie to you and try to get you to believe otherwise.

Process through your pain. One of the worst things we see people do when they’re hurting is stuff down their pain and never address it because they are told, “time heals all wounds.” Wrong. Time doesn’t. Time makes you forget why you were hurting in the first place, but time doesn’t heal, and you want to be a healed and whole person. Do whatever you need to do to get to a place of victory.

Don’t stop risking. That’s it. Plain and simple. Don’t stop taking risks. Determine in your heart that you will be a man or woman who continues to take risks and heads the voice of the Lord, no matter what.



There are many things that can cause trust to be broken in a relationship — disappointments (unmet expectations), misunderstandings (miscommunication), abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual), unfaithfulness (flirting, porn), adultery (emotional, sexual) — just to name a few.

Very basically, trust has been broken when you feel unprotected, unsafe, or hurt and connection has been lost. In some instances, trust can be restored by a simple apology, or the clearing up of a miscommunication. In other instances, trust has been so severely broken that both parties must go through a healing process in order to restore trust and connection in their relationship.

Here are a few general guidelines to get your relationship started if you feel stuck:

If you were the one who broke trust:

Own it. Repent before the Lord. Ask for forgiveness. Begin moving forward to start rebuilding what was broken. Recognize that this season may take time and remember that your feelings are your feelings, and their feelings are their feelings. One party might be experiencing grief, loss, and deep sadness one day, and the other party might be experiencing anger and frustration. It is very important for each party not to take responsibility for how the other person feels, not to try to rush the rebuilding process, and not bring up past offenses. If both parties have truly forgiven one another and have agreed to move forward, then the offense needs to be left in the past. By this we mean, don’t keep re-opening the wound in order to punish or otherwise manipulate the other in the heat of the moment. As you do this, consistency will be built, and trust will be re-established.

If you were the one whose trust was broken:
Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel (anger, pain, sadness, disappointment, shock, embarrassment, etc.). Secondly, forgive (whether the other party apologizes or not). Third, seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, godly counsel within your community, and your own heart as to how to move forwardor if you even should move forward in the relationship. Be courageous; don’t let the voice of pain speak louder than love. Remember, love is patient, kind, and willing to go the extra mile.

Clearly, there are some types of offenses (abuse) that are illegal. There are other types of offenses (adultery) that carry lifelong consequences (pregnancy, STDs, job loss, etc.). Both of these should be handled Biblically, legally, wisely, and within a safe, godly community.



Our team would highly recommend that any victim of abuse seek an educated, licensed, Christian counselor. In some cases, a sex therapist may be able to help as well.

What Resources Do You Suggest For Children?



My wife and I are children’s pastors and we wanted to see if you had any resources or curriculum for teaching children about purity, sex, etc. We have seen the need in our 6-12 class to have the “talk” and with the permission of our parents we are going to. We just need the right tools.





What a great question and we are so thankful you inquired with us!


At this time Moral Revolution does not have any resources for children ages 6-12 specifically, however, our Sex Therapist does recommend the following books for parents so they may be a good place for you and your team to start:

How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex by Stanton and Brenna Jones
Talking To Your Kids About Sex by Mark Laaser
God’s Design For Sex Series by Jones and Nystrom
The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones
Before I Was Born by Nystrom
The Wonderful Way That Babies Are Made by Larry Christenson

You can find any of these books on Amazon.
You may also want to check out Focus on the Family’s website regarding Sexuality here.


That being said, we do not think a 12 year old is too young to use our existing Moral Revolution resources:

The Naked Truth About Sexuality by Havilah Cunnington
Let’s Talk About It: Sexuality course, written for use by leaders.
Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity by Kris Vallotton
40 Day Journey to Purity for Guys/Girls

According to BYU’s Women’s Services and Resources the average age of first Internet exposure to porn is 11 years old and the largest consumer of Internet pornography is 12 – 17 year olds. You’d probably be doing your 12 year olds a favor by opening up the conversation for them now rather than later so they have a safe place to process, ask questions, and get honest answers on how to manage their developing sex drives.


Can you tell me a little more about the Let’s Talk About It: Sexuality course? What age group would you use it with?

We generally recommend ages 12 and up (including use in adult small groups, home groups, leadership training, etc.), understanding that some 12 year olds are more than ready for it than others. We believe that the content is appropriate, respectful, and educational, and a discerning teacher or communicator will be able to present the core ideas (identity, personal values, covenant, etc.) to children in that age group, should the need arise.


Do you have any tips about presenting this course in your youth group?

If you have a mixed group of junior and senior high students, it may be wise to separate them; they are at different stages of development and are interacting with and assimilating the information differently. Jr. high students may still be giggling at the idea of sex and relationships, whereas some of the older ones may have serious questions about it. Follow up your lessons with small group time, or other opportunities for your group to ask questions, talk, get prayer, and process through what they’ve just learned.


What about parent involvement?

For a younger group, you may choose to invite parents to sit in during the lessons, bringing a sense of security to all parties. Older students may not engage when mom or dad is sitting in the seat next to them, so a letter home may be sufficient and effective for these. (The course comes with a parent-letter and lesson synopsis that you can send home for review before starting the course.) We may even recommend going as far as inviting the parents to go through the DVD or lesson plan themselves ahead of time so that everyone is comfortable and on the same page.


You know your children/students best, so in partnership with their parents, review the materials and decide if it would be suitable for your particular group. Again, whether your group is more sensitive than the average 12 year old, or maybe they’re already exploring sexual activity, review the materials and feel free to give your students what they need out of it.


We hope this helps and blesses you as you father and mother these children into greatness!



Want to Get More Resources On Parenting Sexuality?

Trust Is Key

A while back I dated a girl who was extremely insecure and for some reason I took on the responsibility of “fixing” her. I made it my goal to make sure she knew how incredibly beautiful and lovely she was. The problem was, I was very insecure myself and we had both put each other in a place that only God should have had in our lives.


No matter how much I tried to love her, she struggled to receive it because she didn’t think she was worth it. And to add to that, I had some trust issues that weren’t helping matters. I recognized that there were various things damaging our connection, but I never addressed them because I was afraid of hurting her feelings. I also realized I had gotten into the relationship for the completely wrong reasons. It was unhealthy, co-dependent, and smothered by insecurities. I began to build a case and get frustrated, and she didn’t seem be getting any less insecure. With insecurity comes a lack of trust. There was such a low level of trust that we didn’t feel safe, which makes sense, because when you don’t know who you are, it is impossible for someone else get to know the real you.


Trust takes time to build and should increase as the relationship progresses, but there was very little in this relationship. Not only were we individually not whole; we didn’t trust one another enough to protect the other’s heart. The relationship became stagnant and did not develop. For a relationship to work, you need to fully trust that you are seeing the real person and that you like the real them. I learned this the hard way by entering a relationship with little trust already built. Since learning my identity, not taking on other people’s responsibilities, and choosing to trust, my life looks, and is, so much healthier!


Ashley-James, 24, California, US