The Dark Side of Perfectionism: How to Hold Onto Jesus While Making Major Life Change

A young woman recently asked me, "How far is too far?" when it comes to maintaining purity in a Christian dating relationship.

This is an important question... because the wrong answer can make someone feel like a failure, and even totally leave the Christian faith, and the right answer can point them into a deeper relationship with a loving and merciful God.

I just finished reading the book "The Scarlet Virgins" which is really getting a lot of attention right now as an answer to books like "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." It helped me to understand why it’s so important to point people to an authentic relationship with Jesus, rather than rattling off a list of do’s and dont’s.

See the full video interview with the author, Rebecca Lemke, right here: Purity Culture and Turning Horror into Hope

Whatever it is you set your mind to... when we decide to put God first, it’s easy to get stuck in perfectionism which is such a death trap...

Feeling like we failed.... makes us fail to get back up when we stumble!

We are so mean to ourselves sometimes - tricking ourselves into thinking God’s love and acceptance is contingent on what we do (or don’t) watch, what we read (or don’t read), how we dress, and especially what we do (or don't do). We find ourself clinging to a few scriptures as behavioral law and not considering the context of what Jesus has done!

It’s so easy to stray away from the heart of Jesus when we start taking score on ourselves and our goals...

So when that young woman asked me “How far is too far?” I began by asking her what she believed and wanted... 

  • Do you believe God wants you to wait to have sex until marriage? Does he? She said yes on both counts. 
  • I asked her about the goals with the relationship, and she said she wanted to honor God by making this one different!

  • Then and only then did I give her personal advice based on my own experiences, and I made sure that she realized it was my personal advice and *not God* telling her what to do. 
  • I told her the most kind and loving thing she could do for her boyfriend was to let him know through words and actions this relationship is different, special, and God is really in it… helping him and joining him in guarding that conviction. Because in order to be in a successful relationship, you need to define success, set clear boundaries, and guard it like the relationship depends on it- because it does.
  • Lastly, I let her know the Holy Spirit will help guide her into the pure and God-honoring relationship she seeks, but there is no perfect formula.

  • And most importantly, I let her know that when she fails she needn’t have feelings of shame, or even engage in self-harm. And as Rebecca shares in her book, legalism really can lead to far worse behaviors showing up down the road.

All this echoes Rebecca’s advice on the topic, which she shares in the book:“My best advice is: stay in Scripture. instead of asking ‘How far is too far?’ Pray, listen to your conscience, and ask yourself throughout the relationship, ‘Is this action truly loving to this person, or am I trying to gratify desires of the flesh?’ Once you have an answer, act accordingly. If you fall short, seek out private confession and receive forgiveness."

Rebecca shows how people have twisted the gospel, leaving out sections of scripture and losing context. She takes aim at the prosperity gospel, and I’m so grateful more Christians are speaking out against that, because we all know that bad things happen to good people!

If you come from a Christian background that says God won’t tolerate certain music, shows, styles of dressing, celebrations etc etc, you will love the section in the book called “Unlearning Legalism” and the following chapters which teach you how to view sexuality in a healthy way again, identify areas where culture may have misled you, and read scripture in full, understanding God’s heart.

Want to dig in to this book yourself? It will help you deal with not just sexual issues, but challenges regarding all forms of striving and reaching for a goal. Purchasing the book through my link will financially support this blog and my video ministry, at no cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

You can find the book here: The Scarlet Virgins

Never stop learning, growing and reaching.

Content by Laura Gabriele