FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Embracing Boundaries

with Leslie Ludy | September 11, 2009
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Where do you draw the line physically? Today author Leslie Ludy recalls the series of shallow relationships she had as a teen that bruised her heart and compromised her morals. Hear Leslie tell why just drawing physical boundaries isn’t working and why we need to teach young women to guard their hearts first and foremost. Leslie also shares why she thinks it’s good that a man initiates the relationship with a woman and why that strategy proves beneficial in the long run.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Where do you draw the line physically? Today author Leslie Ludy recalls the series of shallow relationships she had as a teen that bruised her heart and compromised her morals. Hear Leslie tell why just drawing physical boundaries isn’t working and why we need to teach young women to guard their hearts first and foremost. Leslie also shares why she thinks it’s good that a man initiates the relationship with a woman and why that strategy proves beneficial in the long run.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Where do you draw the line physically?

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Embracing Boundaries

With Leslie Ludy
September 11, 2009
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Leslie Ludy:  It was!  Actually, and I lost a lot of my friends because of it.  They just said, “Well, you’re not doing all these things that we’re doing; and you’re not fun anymore.”  But one of the things I encourage young women is that you really don’t want those kind of guys anyway, the kind of guys that are after you to conquer your purity.  If you really want a heroic knight in shining armor, set your life aside; and those guys will come out of the woodwork.  I never met a guy that was truly a noble gentleman until I made this choice to live this way. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 11th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. 

Bob:  What can we do as parents to encourage our daughters to pursue set-apart femininity?  Everything in the culture is pressing them in a different direction.  We’ll talk about that today.  Stay tuned.

Bob:  Welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  My sonsare really sick of hearing me say this.  But for years I have been saying to them--I’ve said, “You need to look ahead.  Just find someone 10, 15 years ahead in life, somebody that you look at and say, “That’s what I’d like my wife to look like when I’m that age.  And get a picture of  it.

Dennis:  I’m just trying to get a picture of what most young men would do.  They would pick a movie star. 

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  Or a sports figure.

Bob:  I’m thinking about somebody that they know.  So it’s got to be somebody you can go to and talk to and have a conversation with.

Dennis:  Alright.

Bob:  Somebody that you look at and say, “I’d like my wife to look like that.”  All I’m trying to do is raise their sites to have a little vision for where they are going in life.  Right?

Dennis:  Yeah, and also maybe connect them with someone who is ahead of them in the race of life.

Bob:  Because they need a vision, and they need a model.  They need somebody who can help mentor them.

Dennis:  That’s right.  And it begins with parents.  You’ve got to have parents connected soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart, life-to-life with young people today.  I just want to put in an unashamed plug at this point—

Bob:  Yeah.

Dennis:  For Passport to Purity.


Bob:  The resource that we created to give parents a tool they can use to work with preadolescents to help establish some standards and boundaries, to help get them ready for what they are going to face during their adolescence.  Right?

Dennis:  That’s right.  It’s for 10, 11, 12, 13, maybe 14 years old.  But it’s all about helping them make up their minds in advance.  What their standards and boundaries are going to be before they face the issue.  Our guest on today’s broadcast knows a little bit about these boundaries.  She struggled with them as a young lady growing up.  Decided to write a book about them, called Set Apart Femininity, which is God’s sacred intent for every young woman.  Leslie Ludy joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Leslie, welcome back.

Leslie:  Thanks for having me.

Dennis:  I just appreciate your honesty.  You kind of bared your soul and told us about your struggles as a teenage young lady.  And honestly, I’m glad you did that because in doing so, you helped parents understand you know what, their daughters really are facing issues every day in the hallways with the opposite sex and that’s what I want to talk about today.  I want to talk about boundaries and the opposite sex.  As a young lady you struggled with that, right?

Leslie:  Absolutely, especially a Christian young woman because I talked about earlier this week looking at purity as the edge of a cliff or a line that you are not supposed to cross.  It becomes this sort of technical thing.  As long as I’m still technically a virgin I’m still pure.  I had so many problems with boundaries because I would give so much of myself to these dating relationships with guys.  I would see a guy and we’d flirt a little bit and then a week later we’d be in a relationship.  I’d be giving him my heart and my time and my emotion and my affection.  Physically we’d be involved up to the point of falling off the edge of the cliff and I told myself the whole time that I was obeying God’s standards.  But I felt very dirty and impure and guilty on the inside because I didn’t know where those boundaries really were. 

Bob:  So you had a boundary.  The boundary was the edge of the cliff and what you were hearing at church and in the culture was that’s the biblical boundary.

Leslie:  Yes, and I think it’s sad how often as Christian leaders we just emphasize that one boundary.  That one edge of the cliff.  And think as long as they aren’t having sex then they are not in danger of STDs and pregnancy.  I think young people are going to look for any loop hole that you can possibly give them.  If you only talk about don’t have sex before marriage they are going to say then I can do this and I can do this. 

If you’re not talking to them about what real purity looks like and what it means to set your life aside for one person for a lifetime and to honor them and be faithful to them not just outwardly but inwardly.  If you are not addressing those issues then you may end up with a child that doesn’t get pregnant out of marriage but not someone who is really understanding purity.

Bob:  So what caused you to reevaluate where your boundaries were?

Leslie:  It was a series of heartbreaks that I went through as a teenager.  Being dumped by one guy after the next.  Just jumping into these shallow relationships and building my life around a guy and then every time a guy would see someone else he liked better he would dump me and I would feel rejected.

Dennis:  I want to stop you there because you said your parents weren’t going to let you date until you were 16 and yet you confessed here on national radio that you were dating.  How did you pull that off?  I act like I don’t know what’s going on as a parent but I was amazed how sneaky my kids could be in terms of dating and getting around it.  They’d call it just a friendship or going out.  In fact I have a friend who’s daughter said, “Look dad, we are just going out to get  a coke.  It’s just a couple of friends.”  It just so happened that she was 14 and he was 17.  He had a car and he was coming over to the house and it was just going to be them by themselves. 

Bob:  That sounds like a date to me.

Dennis:  What is there unclear about what this looks like?  This is a date!  Right?

Leslie:  I would go to the mall with my friends when I was 13 and my parents thought I was going to be browsing and shopping.  We would go and look for guys and guys would look for us.  Pretty soon we’d be pairing up with guys and I’d be going off at the mall with a guy I had just met.  In fact that was the first time that a guy approached me and asked me if I wanted to have sex when I was 13 and he was 15.  We’d met at  the mall and we’d known each other for two days and I knew enough from my Christian background to say no to that but my parents just really didn’t know and I was very clever in getting around that. 

By the time I was 16 I had been in about four or five fairly serious relationships even though I hadn’t officially started dating where the guy comes to the house and picks me up and meets my parents.  I hadn’t done any of that but I had been in enough serious relationships that I had had my heart tramped on several times. 

For me the way that I ended up giving so much of myself physically to these guys was starting out giving myself emotionally to these guys.  We would start telling each other that we loved each other from dating for two weeks.  We’d act like we were married.  We’d talk on the phone for five hours every night and plan our futures together.  I would tell him every deepest secret of my heart.  I would pour my emotions into him and revolve myself around him and come to the point where I was dreaming about him and fantasizing about him.  That is what led to me wanting to give more of myself physically. 

To really help young people understand that it’s starts with a decision to be inwardly pure and set apart.  To guard your heart and who you are on the inside and not to just throw yourself and everything you are inside into this relationship.

Dennis:  The assignment is to parents.  For moms and dads to explain to their daughters and their sons how a relationship works outside of marriage.  I think many times we may have the sex education conversation, Bob, we may talk to them about the birds and the bees but we haven’t had a conversation about matters of the heart and emotional transparency.  The danger in  becoming too honest too soon and without a commitment being made and especially at 16 years of age those conversations really need to be reserved for relationships that are going toward the altar.

Leslie:  My husband, Eric, his parents always told him never tell a girl you love her unless you plan on asking her to marry you in the next breath.  Those words are sacred and they can play with a girl’s heart and awaken her emotions.  In our relationship he actually didn’t say the words “I love you” until he proposed to me.  Towards the end of the engagement it was getting a little awkward because we were not sure how to express what we were feeling to each other and not say those words. 

I remember feeling so honored by him that he had respected me enough to save those words and back them up with his life.  As a 16 year old there really is no such thing as holding anything sacred where it used to be at the end of a date you gave each other a good night kiss.  Well now usually on the first or second date  you are doing almost everything you can do physically with someone so you’ve lost every sense of decorum and honor.  To bring that back is what is going to bring back the beauty in romance that every young woman really longs for.  

Dennis:  You talk about a second struggle that young people have today and especially young ladies and that’s letting a young man initiate and letting him lead.

Leslie:  That’s right.  That is looked at as such an old fashioned concept.  It’s like Oh, come on.  Let the guy be the one to take the initiative in the relationship?

Dennis:  So how are girls thinking about guys then?  Are they thinking that they are not merely equal but maybe they should initiate.  And even initiate physical matters with them?

Leslie:  Yes.  In fact there is sort of a phenomenon happening in the secular world on college campuses around this country where the way you prove that you are strong as a woman is to just sleep with random strangers and not ever even care about a relationship.  You are the one who is very aggressive sexually and you are the one who goes after guys and conquers them and then dumps them.  It’s sort of this backlash and girls got tired of being mistreated by guys and dumped by guys.  They took that reverse role and said I’m going to go after guys and conquer them physically and then dump them. 

It is really, really sad because it complete removes that sense of a man pursuing a woman and opening her heart and winning her heart.   That is what every woman longs for but unfortunately young woman aren’t giving guys the chance to be men anymore.  If you talk to a lot of married women and one of their biggest complaints is that their husbands aren’t leaders.  They don’t take the initiative in the relationship. 

A lot of times the relationship started out with the woman approaching him and starting the relationship and pushing it to the next level.  Even like you said physically the woman being the aggressive one our culture sends the message is that what makes the woman appealing the more aggressive and aloof she is.  In reality that is not God’s pattern. 

Bob:  It’s interesting because Dennis wrote a book a few years ago on how a dad should and could interview his daughter’s dates.  How he can be a wall of protection there and be involved in that process.  Part of the feedback that we got after the Dennis wrote that book was this is helpful but here’s the book I need as the mother of sons. 

I need to know what I can do to protect my teenage boys from the aggressive girls.  The ones who are texting them and the ones who are sending them e-mails with pictures of themselves.  It was astounding to us to hear just how much a part of the culture it has been.  Not for a woman to maybe flirt with a guy or initiate or show any interest but to come on so strong that a young man has to be trained and prepared in defense because the girls are coming after him.

Leslie:  Yes, exactly and it’s not just a matter of young woman dressing immodestly to draw a guy.  Now it’s girls going up and tackling a guy in the hall and touching them sexually in the hall and making sexual comments to them at school.   It’s very much out of control.  If you study the harlot in Proverbs that they warn you against.  She pursues the guy and she seduces him and is aggressive towards him, and brazenly speaks to him.  That’s the way the culture has gone with young woman.  Unfortunately even Christian young woman are falling into that.

Dennis:  It sounds like the movie which I have not seen Sex in the City.  It portrays a group of women who are all about conquering young men. 

Bob:  You know there are a lot of girls who are 16 like you were 16 who think okay if I’m going to let a guy initiate then I will be single for the rest of my life.

Leslie:   Right.  Because you see all the girls around you getting guys that way.  Guys are thinking hey this is easy.  I don’t have to do any work and I get these girls who are giving me all this pleasure and throwing themselves at me.  This is great.

What a real man of God desires is to be able to be the man and to be the one who pursues a woman and wins her heart.  But when you see the majority of men in this culture esteeming the opposite of that and you see girls actually getting all the attention by doing this you do have that panicky feeling like I’m never going to get  a guy if I don’t take this into my own hands.

Bob:  But you promise that if a woman will pull back and let a guy initiate and make that a pattern.

Dennis:  Promise what?

Bob:  That there are guys out there.  I’m not coming up with a guarantee that the guy is going to show up…


Dennis:  I was trying to see what Leslie was getting ready to promise these young ladies. 

Bob:  But you are promising that there are guys out there who are pursuing God and who will step up.

Leslie:  Absolutely.  In fact we often think that it is mostly girls who are complaining about the lack of godly guys out there who value purity when in actuality my husband, Eric, and I have heard from just as many young men who are frustrated that there are no young woman who are truly waiting and living in purity and letting the guys initiate with them.  They are writing us asking us if women like this even exist. 

As we’ve traveled the country and interacted with young people we’ve seen God raise up an amazing remnant of these godly young men who are not at all desiring that in your face aggressive type of woman.  They desire a woman of virtue who will truly let them be the one to win her heart.

Dennis:  Okay, Leslie.  You were how old when you met your husband.

Leslie:  I was 17. 

Dennis:  So it was a year after you made the commitment.  Did you flirt with Eric?

Leslie:  That’s a very good question.

Dennis:  Hold it.  Eric is watching right now.  I want you to come into the studio and ATQ—answer the question.

Bob:  We’re going to find out from him whether you flirted with him.

Leslie:  Wow, I’m really in the hot seat here.

Dennis:  Leslie, just move over on your seat.  Eric come on in here.  Here we have it.  An eye witness.  Did she flirt with you?

Eric:  My wife has been marked by a decorum from the day I met her that was other worldly.  So what happened in her heart happened before I met her.  Our entire relationship wouldn’t you say Love, has been marked by whatever the opposite of flirting would be.  We have it and I want to promote it to the high heavens.  I’m really glad because if they had said a year before did you flirt you would have been caught. 

Leslie:  That’s right.

Bob:  With you she didn’t smile at you that kind of smile that says to a guy. 

Dennis:  Now, wait a second Bob.  

Bob:  You know how a …

Dennis:  There’s a wink and a smile.

Bob:  There’s a young woman who can smile in a way to say I find you interesting and attractive.  You never saw that from her?

Eric:  No.  The nature of our love story was so unique.  One of the first things she probably even picked up on from me was that I was not interested in a girl that would flirt with me.  So you had to realize the context of this.  If she was interested in Eric Ludy who is five years older than her she wasn’t going to win Eric’s attention that way.  So there is an extra little caviot there and that was the Eric wasn’t the typical guy strolling around in her high school hall ways either.

Dennis:  So Leslie how did you relate to Eric?  Eric you can go back.  You are dismissed.

Leslie:  Good answer.  Thank you.  


Dennis:  How did you relate to him though and do your best to describe your countenance and how you related to him as a young lady who liked him but who protected the feminine mystic. 

Leslie:  It was really a challenge honestly because I had never related to guys in any other capacity other than flirting.  I walk into my youth group and we’d start teasing and tickling and doing all the things that guys and girls do.  God got a hold of my life and convicted me about the way I was living and started speaking to my heart about true purity and I made a commitment that I wasn’t going to be just physically pure but emotionally pure. 

And then Eric came into my life and he was one of the first young men I’d ever seen that valued that in a woman and was living that way himself.  He didn’t flirt with girls.  That was really one of the very first things I noticed about him that he was actually far more interested in things of God than in pursuing the opposite sex.  Like you said I knew that flirting was not his language at all.  We were friends for quite a long time before anything happened between us.  Like he said he is five years older than me so at that time it seemed like it definitely wasn’t going to go anywhere. 

We were able to develop a friendship.  We were around each other in a little different context than the typical dating mode.  We were around our families a lot.  You can’t really get away with that much when your younger brothers and parents are there.  It was very healthy.  A lot of people say that is so unromantic that your love story happened by you having your families around.  Our families were close friends so we would get together for picnics and church things.  We would talk but our families were there. 

Dennis:  Let me tell you something on behalf of families.  This is a good thing.  If you had brothers and you’re a young lady they are checking out the guy.  They are seeing if the guy is blowing smoke or if he’s really the authentic deal.

Leslie:  One of the things my dad said he observed about my friendship with Eric.  He said, “You know I really feel God has brought Eric into your life whether it’s for friendship or more than that.  I really feel like God is behind it because ever since he’s been in your life you have drawn closer to Jesus Christ as a result of the friendship.”  I realized wow that is true.  Every other friendship with a guy I drew closer to the guy and further away from Jesus Christ.  But with Eric he encouraged me to get closer to God.  As I observed his passion for God it was contagious.  I found myself not really thinking how can I woo him?  How can I win him?  But I was thinking how can I have what he has with God.  I want more of that.  Our friendship was very different from the flirting game that most people are used to playing.  It was marked by purity and beauty that we could never have even imagined.

Dennis:  And it was marked by authenticity.  True intimacy and true relationship is two people being real within the safety of a growing commitment.  As Leslie shared here there are far too many young people today giving away their purity and they are giving away their hearts in the process and are missing God’s best.  Leslie I appreciate your work on your book, Set Apart Femininity because I think  there are a lot of young people today both men and woman who need to know what true femininity really looks like.

Bob:  And those who would like to know the whole story of your courtship and your relationship you guys wrote about it in a book called When God Writes Your Love Story.  It’s interesting because I’ve reflected back on the conversation we had with Elisabeth Elliot years ago and she talked about the day that Jim Elliot sat down with her as he was graduating.  He said, “I guess you know that I’m attracted to you.”  And she said she had no idea.  She had always been attracted to him but she had no idea that he was attracted to her.  There is something about discretion and wisdom when it comes to relationships.  It is something that you and your husband have focused on in the resources you have written.  You touch on it in the book Set Apart Femininity that we’ve been talking about today.

We’ve got copies of it in our FamilyLife Today resource center.  You can find out more about these resources by going to our, or call toll-free 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-FLTODAY. 

There are days I pull back from conversations we have here on FamilyLife Today and I think there’s a lot of counter cultural stuff that we are talking about.  Subjects like we’ve talked about today are not the kinds of things that are being promoted in mainstream media.  In fact there’s not a whole lot of conversation on radio about things like this. 

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We hope you have a great weekend.  We hope you and your family are able to worship together and we hope you can join us back on Monday when we are going tackle a provocative issue.  Is it okay biblically for a couple to decide that dad is going to be the one to stay at home and raise the kids and mom is going to be the one who steps out in the market place to provide for the family.  We’re going to explore that issue Monday and I hope you can be back for that conversation.

I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine.  Have a great weekend and we will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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