Is There Such a Thing As Emotional Promiscuity?
Is possible to be physically pure but emotionally promiscuous?
I decided to ask an expert.
Let me introduce you to Brienne Murk. She is the author of the book “Eyes Wide Open: Avoiding the Heartbreak of Emotional Promiscuity.” In her book she points out that much emphasis has been placed on the importance of sexual purity, but she believes (and I agree) that true purity is more than just saving yourself for marriage. She challenges teens and young adults to seek Christ-centered relationships, and prepares them to save their deepest emotions, as well as their bodies, until marriage.
I recently interviewed Brienne about emotional purity.
Erin: Define emotional dating and emotional promiscuity.
Brienne: Emotional dating is when we’re more involved in a relationship than we’re willing to admit. You may not be officially “dating” the person, but for all practical purposes you might as well be. Emotional dating could also be described as the “he loves me, he loves me not” blues, and any outside observer would consider you to be an “item”.
Emotional entanglement occurs when we allow events, feelings, conversations, hopes, dreams and emotions to get twisted up in a complicated, confusing mass. When we’re emotionally entangled in a relationship, we are swept along by our feelings and can quickly lose perspective and our ability to discern what we’re doing. And emotional promiscuity is when we are careless with our emotions and allow them to control us, rather than the other way around. It’s also when we give our emotions to someone who isn’t worthy to be entrusted with such a precious gift and give our heart away prematurely, instead of waiting for someone who will spend their life cherishing and protecting us as God’s princess.
Erin: What are the behaviors you see Christian girls engaging in most often that lead their hearts to be emotional compromised?
Brienne: God created us as three-part beings—body, soul, and heart—and when we’re out of balance in any of these areas, our whole state of well-being is threatened. We all know the importance of guarding our bodies, being physically fit, eating right and taking steps to protect ourselves from physical harm. But just how much attention do we give to feeding, exercising, and guarding our hearts and spirits?
What many of us don’t realize is that our feelings produce emotional (heart) and spiritual (spirit) and sexual (body) responses—so we need to thoughtfully reign in those feelings so that they lead to wholeness and purity.
Most often I see Christian girls engaging in emotional promiscuity without even realizing it, by not being careful in their relationships with the opposite sex. It might sound hard, but it really is important to be intentional about everything we think, do, or say. We have to remember that feelings and emotions can’t be trusted. No matter how much we may want to believe them, they are deceptive and will get us in trouble. We have the choice to live according to what is true or according to how we feel, because regardless of our circumstances that trigger our feelings, the choice of how we respond is up to us.
1 Thess. 5:22 says to “stay away from every kind of evil.” The Apostle Paul knew that if left unchecked our feelings can result in evil that affects us in every way—emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And in order to keep those things in check, it is imperative to put God first in all our relationshipsby completely surrendering our desires to Him.
We also have to be willing to take a time out, and tell our family/friends about our commitment to purity. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this word, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Erin: Imagine you are talking to a girl from this blog. She loves the Lord. She is committed to physical and emotional purity. But there is this amazing, Christian guy she can't stop thinking about. Can you give her three practical ideas of things she can do to protect her heart?
Brienne: The bottom line comes down to our heart attitude. Are we focusing our energy and emotions on God or on a guy? It’s all too easy to get caught up in a fantasy rather than reality, which is why I believe that the key to escaping emotional entanglement is to cultivate a heart that is completely focused on God. Remember, true purity is more than just a word: it’s a commitment, a promise and a choice to guard your heart and body in everything you think, say, or do. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts above all else, “for it determines the course of your life.” Something that is much easier said than done, but the secret for doing so is found in Philippians 4:6-8, which says: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Personally, I wholeheartedly believe that if we would follow the simple instructions laid out in these verses, we would never have to experience the pain of emotional entanglements.
Whew! That’s a lot to think about, right?
What do you think of Brienne’s definitions of emotional dating and emotional promiscuity?
Looking back, can you think of a time when you were emotionally promiscuous based on these definitions?
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