As a 28-year-old, it feels childish to hide my face in a movie theatre during a bedroom scene. Sometimes, the devil on my shoulder says, “You are an adult – pull yourself together!” Shortly after, my mind jumps to an image of my mom (who could never find the remote) running in front of the ancient TV in our living room with arms flailing and singing, “Lalalalalalalala” to cover the sounds of a married couple walking towards the bedroom in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
You can imagine my horror when I went away to college and realized the extent to which I’d been “sheltered.” I bet my friends thought I had a skin condition that caused a permanent rose tint to my cheeks. It was a strange thing to struggle through – trying to understand if there would be a time to grow out of my childish ways and into a more “experienced” phase of my life where I was more comfortable with sensuality.
The struggle was complex because my innocence got entangled with pride. Innocence, of course, is a beautiful thing but pride is not. Pride is sin. When my face burned guilty red around brazen sexuality I wasn’t used to, my soul had to figure out how to feel about it all. The prick of conscience punctures deep and holding in a response is simply not an option.
I swallowed hard and covered my ears or pulled a blanket over my head. Sometimes I cried. But often my heart chose to be proud about my “innocence” – about my mom running in front of the TV and about my being excused from 8th grade Sex Education class at school and about not knowing anything when it came to third base. I chose to be proud because having cheeks that burned felt… well, right.
I’ve lived a lot of life since then. Turns out, my ears still burn and my cheeks still flare up when I’m in a movie theatre and a sensual scene plays out. I fidget uncomfortably and turn away and shield my eyes and pray for it to not remain in my memory. But, now I have a more humble view of blushing. My tender conscience is not something I can take pride in, but it is something I must try to preserve. Though I don’t claim to know what causes others to stumble, my red cheeks are sometimes a sign that my heart is getting pulled away from “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
We’ve really done an unfortunate thing in making sensuality something that females grow into – we can watch certain things or hear certain things or do certain things when we are “mature enough” to handle it. This kind of thinking sets up a threshold that the world is constantly pushing to a younger and younger crowd. The real deciding line for “mature enough” is sometimes never.
God’s desire for our hearts and eyes and lips and minds is to experience the most satisfaction in this life and this will only ever come about as He protects us in our pursuit of holiness.
I am now not ashamed to blush, but I will not boast that I’ve created the conscience that reveals sin. As God humbles my heart and draws me into a pursuit of holiness, I know He is the cause of my conviction and must also be the goal of my turning from evil.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:9-21 ESV)