(If you are a Christian who has this whole purity thing figured out and locked down, then this blog post won’t do much for you. If you are a Christian who gets offended easily when you’re told you can’t do something, ESPECIALLY when it comes to this purity business, then this blog post might not do much for you either. But, if you are a Christian who has at some point questioned what purity is all about, then you might just enjoy this…)
As we close on a week since Valentine’s Day weekend, also known as the opening weekend for the trending movie 50 Shades of Grey, I find myself weirdly inspired to talk about a subject that I’ve seen circulating on the internet near recently. Blogging and social media have kept this conversation going for a while now:
“What the Church didn’t teach me about Sex…”
“Misconceptions about Sex and Waiting…”
“Why I wish I had not waited until my wedding night…”
Meanwhile, I’ve wrestled with my own inner conversation about what purity has to do with sex and the Christian life. You see, for a long, long time I wanted to use the words “purity” and “virginity” interchangeably. I am a virgin; therefore, I must be pure.
My mentor once said it best to me in this way,
“There may be a definite line between sex and not-sex, but there is a much, much grayer area between pure and not-pure.”
So what does this mean for the girl who was sold the lie that ‘technical’ virginity is purity? What does this mean for the girl who gave away her virginity years ago and has rode the roller coaster of emotional damage ever since? What does this mean for the girl who has her purity ring from that night at youth group but can’t decide if she’s worthy to actually wear it?
Scripture makes it clear that we are to flee from sexual immorality, a term that I think really covers any of the “what about…” scenarios our justifying minds can come up with. Scripture reminds us that our bodies are not our own, that we are temples of God purposed to glorify him and not ourselves. And yet, faced with our culture and flesh nature, we find ourselves stumbling all over the “gray area” that separates purity and impurity. Or, out of frustration, we give in to our temptations and completely ignore this gray area to save ourselves the headache of trying to figure out what’s actually “permissible.”
Aren’t we taught that it’s better for us to ask for forgiveness later rather than permission upfront?
I really believed this for a while with God. I thought that it was better if I relied on God’s unconditional, unchanging grace for later when I knew I would return to Him seeking forgiveness than it would be if I came to him each and every time I was tempted to dance on the gray area of purity.
I know that some would argue that this gray area is not nearly as gray as I’m making it sound right now—they are the ones who author books about christian courtship and only holding each others’ pinkies until marriage. (Forgive me for what I’m about to say: You are almost as extreme as 50 Shades of Grey is considered in today’s culture. Your ideas are not realistic but rather perpetuate the frustrations that come with being bound to a set of rules to follow. If you really want to help save our generation from sexual sin, you have to first meet us where we already are.)
I argue instead that whereas virginity is a biological state of the human body, purity is a practice that must be practiced continuously in order to improve. Purity is a practice that can become a glorifying art. Although purity is not so much relative, I do believe it is personal and like other spiritual disciplines requires having personal conversations with God to determine how it can be practiced in your life to glorify Him.
For example, the single woman who loves a good romantic comedy might have to be mindful of what images she allows to enter her mind based on convictions from the Holy Spirit. Or, the married woman who finds herself reminiscing on past relationships might become aware from the Holy Spirit’s promptings that her thoughts are the breeding grounds for sin. Or further, the bubbly girl who catches boys’ attention with a few, strategic giggles might have to listen closely to when the Holy Spirit reveals that her flirtatious nature is causing no good. None of these examples involved sex. Yet, all of them dance on the gray area of purity.
To practice purity, we must be willing to do the very things that we as Christians are told to do for every other part of our lives. We must be willing to walk closely to our Savior, holding His hand and listening for his whispers of kindness that lead us to repentance. When we do this, when we are willing to be sensitive to his nudges when we find ourselves near the gray area of purity, we can be guided away from it without harm.
To practice purity, we must be willing to have the hard conversations with our loving and patient Father about the behaviors that He considers impure and damaging rather than pure and glorifying.
To practice purity and make it an art, we must accept that purity is a beautiful expression of our heart’s desire to see God more clearly in our lives through our actions. Purity is not simply a list of sexual don’t-do’s. It is an active practice of looking to God in our obedience to His guidance on all matters of the heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
And what if we find ourselves in a shade of gray area that looks more impure than pure?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Seriously, if you had the time to read this blog post, then you need to take 7 minutes and watch this video.
“…I tried to TOLD YA’LL.”