Sex is a hot topic in today’s culture. I love talking about sex, writing about sex, and having sex… Come on people… I’m married… married people have sex, and it is good for them to enjoy it!
Funny thing is that I didn’t become a popular writer until I began writing about sex. Go figure. To date, I have written numerous articles, but there is one article, in particular, that recently hit one million views worldwide. “I Kept My Virginity, But Not My Purity: Part One” was an extremely vulnerable article that yielded incredible response. It is extremely humbling when you hear from mothers all around the world saying that they are going to save an article you wrote for their children. However, as God has graciously opened my eyes to the truth of the gospel, I have come to believe that there is a better message that people need to hear regarding the topic of sex, virginity, and purity. This article is designed to lead you through how growth and dependence on Jesus provides a more proper and accurate understanding of biblical purity.
WHAT IS PURITY?
The definition of purity is to be morally clean without blemish. We are all sinners. Our hearts are wicked to the core, and we are naturally impure. However, the only way that we can be made pure is through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ – when he shed his blood on the cross and died for our sin. Jesus makes us pure. Sexual abstinence is great, but your purity is not defined by your personal discipline to abstain from sexual behavior. Purity is not defined by whether or not you are a virgin on your wedding night. Biblical purity… true purity… is a free gift that was purchased for us by the only One, who was ever truly pure. This does not mean that we should not strive to behave in certain ways that display purity. But first and foremost, purity is the standing we have before a righteous and holy God because of what his Son has done on our behalf. For the believer, purity is a mode of being. It is not a choice.
Sexual abstinence is great, but your purity is not defined by your personal discipline to abstain from sexual behavior.
So, if purity is a free gift, by God’s grace and a beautiful form of worship, how does that apply to sexual purity? All of this is about examining the heart. Before we ever do anything, we must realize that all of our actions (whatever they may be: lying, cheating, sexual immorality, etc.) originate from our emotions. The reason we do the things we do is because of how we feel. And our emotions originate from our thoughts. The reason we feel the way we feel is because of how we think. And our thoughts originate from our desires. The reason we think the way we think is guided by what we want. Ultimately, all of our desires are shaped by what we believe.
Belief is the deepest core of the human heart. This core shapes every aspect of our lives. What you and I believe about Jesus, purity, sex, pleasure, and satisfaction will influence our desires, thoughts, emotions, and eventually our actions. The root of all sin is unbelief. Your sexual purity begins in your heart. Do you believe that God will satisfy you? Before you were kissing, before you were holding hands, before you were flirting. What were your intentions? Are you masturbating? Do you look at porn? The deeper question behind all these surface questions is, Why? Why do I do the things I do? What do I believe about purity? More importantly, what do I believe about God? A life of purity begins in the heart, and it begins by having an understanding of who God is and what he has done for us.
WHY WAIT FOR SEX?
A lot of people will try to cheapen your view of sex: It’s not as great as you think… it’s just sex… you will never know if you have chemistry with someone unless you are being sexually intimate. Our culture today is extremely sexually driven, moving us to believe that because sex is so natural then waiting until marriage would be extremely unnatural. If sex is so natural, why do we restrain from it until marriage? John Piper, pastor and theologian, responded to this question by saying,
“We save sex for marriage precisely because it is natural, normal and beautiful. We save sex for marriage to keep it that way, so that it does not become common, sorted, manipulated, cheap. This way sex is kept precious, personal, clean, and sacred. You don’t put dirty socks under lock and key in the hotel room. We put wallets and nice jewelry in the safe to protect it so it does not get lost or stolen. Saving sex for marriage does not make it unnatural, it makes it priceless.”
Another reason we save sex for marriage is because marriage is a picture of the covenant that Jesus made with his Church. Sex in this picture points beautifully to the covenant relationship Jesus has with us. Our culture tells us that sex is the ultimate pleasure, joy, and satisfaction. This couldn’t be more false. Sex outside of marriage is a lie about Jesus and his relationship to his Bride. It is a lie about where ultimate joy and satisfaction is found.
There are three truths about sexuality: One, God created it. Two, God created it for a purpose. Three, God created it for a context.
GOD CREATED SEX
The book of Genesis says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Sexuality is a by-product of God’s perfect creativity. The physical intimacy that takes place between two people is natural and of a divine design. Of course, it feels good! It is natural that holding hands leads to hugging, which leads to kissing, which leads to touching, which leads to oral sex and sex. It is natural for man and woman to want to further explore the nakedness of one another. God designed our sexuality and believe me, I am thankful for it!
GOD CREATED SEX FOR A PURPOSE
In these verses, God also reveals the purpose of sex when he says to Adam and Eve “be fruitful and multiply.” God created sex for us to enjoy; that is why he has given us body parts that were specifically made for sexual pleasure. Additionally, he created sex for the purpose of reproduction.
GOD CREATED SEX FOR A CONTEXT
Lastly, God reserved sexual intimacy for the marriage relationship, and it is approved and blessed by God only in this context. Genesis 2:23-24 says, “This one is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Then Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Through marriage, the husband and wife become “one flesh.” Sexual activity represents a deep and powerful level of intimacy and vulnerability. By God’s intention, the only relationship God designed to thrive on and sustain this level of intimacy is a devoted covenantal relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, marriage.
HOW TO BE PURE?
Growing up, I believed what made me pure was being a virgin on my wedding night. Purity was all about what I did, and my desire for purity was only motivated by shame and guilt from the moments where I messed up. In the heat of the moment, it did not matter how much I loved Jesus… sexual pleasure satisfied me, and I bought into the lie that I could not control my sexual nature. The truth is that God created the desire for sex for both man and woman, but he did not create a desire for sex that cannot be controlled.
What I’ve learned is this: If you desire for your body, mind, and spirit to remain pure, strive for God-gratification instead of self-gratification. We choose to put ourselves in these compromising situations, in which temptation is inevitable, and then seem to not understand how we ended up naked in bed together. “It just happened,” is something we hear all the time about sex, but it did NOT just happen. Watching a movie late at night on the couch usually does not end in an epic conversation about the harmonic structure of the violins in the motion picture score. It is a wide open door for sexual temptation. Your temptation never becomes your sin until you give it permission. We always have a choice. You can tell your flesh NO!
Your temptation never becomes your sin until you give it permission.
In my original article on purity, I shared how one of the ways I displayed this gift of purity was by not kissing my husband until we got engaged. Now, am I saying don’t kiss until you are engaged or married? No way! Remember, purity is not about what you do or don’t do. Purity is about what Jesus has already done. My personal belief is that choosing not to kiss at the beginning of a relationship will simply aid in being more mindful of the purity that Jesus has already given you. However, when my husband and I committed to not kissing it was extremely difficult. Imagine being with the man or woman you know you will marry. Your heart pounds whenever you are around them. You feel things you have never felt and all you want to do is press your lips against theirs. In moments like this, we committed to not kiss. It was by the grace of God that not kissing somehow became easier, more romantic… displaying the gift of purity in a way that glorified the Lord. There is a verse that describes this miracle: Galatians 2:20-21 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
In not kissing, Rony and I were not motivated out of guilt (that crappy feeling you have after the last time things got heated up). We were motivated by Christ living in us and what Christ has done for us. How is that possible?
Paul continues in Galatians to say, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We live by faith in the Son of God. We must trust God with this struggle. We must admit that we need him and cannot do it without him. Even if by some human miracle we find a way to muster up enough resolve to be pure on our own we will not be honoring God. All we will be doing is proclaiming a testimony of the power of humanity and how self-discipline, rather than the gospel, is what people truly need.
Remind yourself daily that God loves you and gave his life for you. God gave himself up for you to secure for you an everlasting place in his presence that is more satisfying than anything this world could ever offer. God gave himself up for you to purchase the purity that you could never earn. Whether your actions are pure or not, does not change your status of purity. When God looks at us, he sees us as pure because of Jesus. His perfect record of purity has been attributed to us through the power of what was done on the cross. What I’m saying is this, we do not choose to avoid sexual immorality in order to be pure, we do it because we are pure. Our motivation for purity comes from what we have already been given rather than something we are desperately trying to earn.
We do not choose to avoid sexual immorality in order to be pure, we do it because we are pure.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that regardless of your past God sees you as perfectly pure? Do you believe that in the hand of God are pleasures forevermore? Do you believe that God could love you more in one moment than all other lovers could in a lifetime? If you really believe these truths, your beliefs will influence your desires, which will influence your thoughts, your feelings, and ultimately your actions. For me, it was these beliefs that led to cleaner, purer, more heavenly focused thoughts, motives, and actions regarding my sexual purity. What do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe that he satisfies? Do you believe that he is the One who makes you pure?