When I was growing up I didn’t have a purity ring. I didn’t have anyone to teach me the right way to handle situations. I did what I thought was normal even though instinctively I knew it was wrong. As a result I was pregnant for my late, former spouse before we were married and he was not the only man I’d ever shared myself with. I didn’t know why it was wrong until I gave my life to Christ at the age of 21, just a few weeks after I married my first husband.
It became even more obvious to me when I stepped out into youth ministry and began searching for themes for summer camps and youth conferences. Purity was a hot topic. Though the scriptural foundation of abstinence and purity was on target the method of the message was lacking. As I read about and pondered all the ways to illustrate why we should stay sexually pure I became a bit disgusted. The illustrations included having everyone spit into a cup and asking if anyone was willing to drink it. The point being that is what a person who has had multiple sexual partners is equal to: disgusting spit. Really, I could have cared less that this equated me with spit. What I cared about was the message, or lack thereof.
It bothered me immensely because it took the focus off of God and away from the atoning sacrifice of His precious son, Jesus Christ. It put the focus on a night of supposed honeymoon bliss between two sexually pure people. It put the focus on the pride of saying you saved yourself for marriage. It put the focus on self. Self earned accolades. I struggled to find Jesus in this message.
As I grew in my faith I began to see another dark side to the purity issue. The other extreme that says that there is freedom in exploring one’s sexual desires outside of the covenant of marriage and despite what the Bible commands. An extreme where the very essence of who God is, LOVE, is exploited in order to fulfill the lusts of ones flesh. God clearly defines love for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and it has nothing to do with feelings or desires. Both messages failed to point people to Christ but this other extreme was much too permissive about something that Jesus, the Word of God, strictly prohibits:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Ephesians 5:5
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:-18
I could go on and on with the scriptures that command that we abstain from sexual immorality (fornication, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and orgies) but I think those are sufficient. It is a commandment from Leviticus 17-18. This is basic stuff. The problem is that over and over Christians have strayed from the Torah, the commands of God. We rewrite and rework them based on culture, time, preference, psychology, philosophy, desires and emotions. Then we blame God and say, “You made me this way.” Sound like a replay from the garden of Eden? Satan is consistent in his deception.
God created us with the ability to choose: good or bad. For each good decision we are blessed or rewarded. For each bad decision we receive just discipline or punishment. For each repentance we receive unmerited grace. That is the mighty LOVE of Jesus Christ at work. For those like me who did sin, who fell short, and who made the wrong decision – there is HOPE. There is Jesus. And as we seek Him and walk in His ways we are washed white as snow. We become pure not because of ourselves but because of Him. I honor my own body because I honor Him.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1–2
My body is a living sacrifice.
How powerful is that?
After my first marriage ended I didn’t feel like used goods. I felt like a “new creation in Christ” (Ephesians 2) just as He describes me to be. I shared myself with no other man until the night I married my forever husband. I chose to glorify the one I will spend eternity with: Jesus Christ. I chose to abstain from sex for no other reason but to honor Him. This has very little to do with me or sex and everything to do with my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I chose to be obedient to His Word and He enabled me. The rewards, though not all were as I expected, were plentiful and more than I could have hoped for.
There is always hope, always a second chance, for those who repent and are obedient to His Word.
There are so many more women who contributed to this conversation today. I invite you to comment here and then visit the others. You can find links to their blogs here: Pure Hope: Bringing Grace and Truth to the Conversation About Purity