Disclaimer: This article on sexual purity is far from complete. This is just what I’ve observed and seen within the Church as of late. It is also coming from my interpretation of Scripture and what it says about sexuality, a topic I feel we as the Church have hammered down people’s throats (whether for good or bad.)
It’s a topic that I never thought I’d be discussing on this blog, but with everything going on in the world, from the backlash of Christians criticizing Little Naz X’s music video to everything going on with the Equality Act and the LGBTQ+ community, it’s got me thinking: Where has our understanding of sexual purity gone?
I don’t mean, in terms of just “saving one’s self till marriage” but also in terms of how we as Americans, as a people have drifted away from what is Biblically sound in terms of sexuality in favor or embracing whatever suits our desires. At the very beginning of the Bible, God set up the “rules” about marriage and while that doesn’t deal directly with sexual purity, it should be a good reminder for us as Christians how God sees our potential marriage/relationship.
Genesis 2:24-25 (NKJV) says, “24. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
We see throughout these two verses God lays out how He sees marriage. He sees it as a man leaving his parents and “becoming one” with his wife. Becoming joined in union with his wife under God. Yet at the same time, we are told that neither the man nor woman was ashamed of their nakedness. Why? Because they had no concept of sexuality, nakedness, shame, etc…
They were in harmony with the Father. They allowed Him to guide them. Talk to them. Interact with them.
Yet nowadays, particularly within the Body of Christ, when it comes to the topic of sexual purity; it’s usually within two lights: “You ought to be chaste/abstinent until you are married” or “You have become defiled. You are no longer pure.” Both of these “extremes” I argue are the cause as to why the Church is unable to really talk on this topic because we ourselves have distorted what it means to be sexually pure. We have allowed our limited human understanding of the Bible and the culture around us to change how we view certain topic and passages of Scripture.
“We have allowed our limited human understanding of the Bible and the culture around us to change how we view certain topic and passages of Scripture.”
Purity is an amazing thing to strive for as Christians. Purity is untainted by other things. It’s untouched by whatever it is that we are clinging to. Jesus Christ was pure and holy, untainted by the desires that the world offered Him. However, when it comes to the topic of sexual purity, the Church doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to discussing this topic.
Because of the ever-changing and “What-best-suits-me” culture we are living in today, it seems that Christians nowadays are focusing so heavily on sexual purity that they are missing everything else. They want to make disciples of every nation as we are called to do at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, yet at the same time, are doing so in such a manner that it’s actually driving people away from the Body of Christ.
Sue Love, in her blog post titled “How to Live in Purity” writes that “To be pure is to be unpolluted and unmixed with the world. It is to be different from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus. It is to be wholesome spiritually, genuine in faith and practice. No pretense. No façade.” While I agree that purity is to be different from the world, I would also like to argue that it should also be about sexual purity.
“To be pure is to be unpolluted and unmixed with the world. It is to be different from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus. It is to be wholesome spiritually, genuine in faith and practice. No pretense. No façade.“
In her article, Sue points to several ways that we as Christians can remain pure:
- “We must guard our purity according to the word of God. We must be in the word daily, studying it, taking it to heart, and then applying it to our daily walks of faith. We are not to be hearers only, but we are to be doers of the word of God.”
- “But we can’t do this in our own flesh while still maintaining control of our own lives.”
- “Jesus must be Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we must submit to him. As we read the word of God, we ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for God to speak his truths to our hearts.”
“… it seems that Christians nowadays are focusing so heavily on sexual purity that they are missing everything else.”
While all of these ideas about purity, especially within our relationship with God is something that we should definitely be thinking on, I can’t help but wonder how does that translate to our understanding of sexual purity? It isn’t explicitly stated about “sexual purity” but there are various passages between the Old and New Testament that talk about purity and sexual immorality.
How are Christians supposed to call out sexual immorality in other Christians and the world around them without recognizing if they themselves are dealing with sexual immorality?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself over the past several days.
In my journal entry on April 8th, I wrote:
“For many of Generations Y and Z, especially those who grew up in the Church, sexual purity is hardly ever talked about nowadays. Why? I thought it was about abstinence before marriage? And yet, I can’t help but remember that verse in the New Testament where it talks about how, our bodies are to be a living temple for the Holy Spirit.
We are told to not defile our bodies.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the church of Corinth calls on them to flee sexual immorality and recognize that they are to use their bodies to glorify God. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?”
This is just a part of the journal entry, but you get the point. I’m just… perplexed I guess you could say about this whole concept of sexual purity. For me and how I understand Scripture, sexual purity is about patience and an ever-growing relationship with the Father. The reason I say sexual purity is about patience is because, patience breeds trust.
“… sexual purity is about patience and an ever-growing relationship with the Father.”
Patience, during a time of sexual purity can do more for you than you might think. It allows you to focus more on God’s Word, what He is trying to teach you through it, and also; focus on other things that don’t pertain to marriage or sexuality. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church also makes a point about what those who are unmarried should do.
1 Corinthians 7:32-34 (NKJV) says, “32. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord – how he may please the Lord. 33. But he who is married cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife. 34. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world – how she may please her husband.”
In this passage, Paul just finished discussing the principles of married life at the beginning of chapter 7 and the idea of circumcision and uncircumcision. Now, he’s focusing on the “Principles of Unmarried Life” and what that means. Although he is talking primarily to women of his time, I think that this is a passage that should be read for both men and women.
From this passage, we can see that Paul, when discussing those that are unmarried, notes that there is a difference between a wife and a virgin. One cares about the things of the Lord, in both body and spirit while the other cares about the things of the world, primarily her husband. While Paul was writing to a church that had issues with sexual immorality, we as Christians in the 21st century have to remember that he isn’t talking to us.
While both wives and virgins can care about the things of the Lord, why does Paul only discuss the virgin caring about the things of the Lord?
Note that in this context, the word “cares” comes from the Greek word “merimnáo” meaning “to care for; look out for.” Here, Paul, in how I am currently understanding the text, is stating that those who are unmarried show concern for and look out for the things that are God’s.
What are the things of God?
How does what we do show that we care for the things of God while we are sexual pure?
These are just questions that I want us as Christians to ask ourselves before we judge those who, we claim to be “impure.” That isn’t how we as Christians are to show Jesus to the people around us.
When I polled my friends on social media, their responses to the question: Where has sexual purity gone were quite revealing.
- “Hell in a hand basket.”
- “Out of society as a whole, that’s for sure. It still lives in the hearts of those who seek God first.”
- “Sexual purity has nearly vanished in our culture – due to the lack of understanding of emotional, physical, spiritual importance.”
- “If we don’t walk by the spirit, we seek only to gratify the desires of the flesh. A worthless pursuit that does. Not. Satisfy.”
- “I think it’s been lost due to the sexual revolution.”
- “I don’t think that term is recognized in modern society anymore.”
- “It’s still important but fell to the wayside in society with everyone obsessed with instant gratification.”
- “Sexual purity has never had the same definition throughout history. The word Virgin doesn’t even mean what it did in ancient times.”
- “Gone in favor of quick, short-term gratification in a YOLO centric society.”
Each of the responses I feel shows the heart of the person who said it. The majority of the people who responded seem to agree that, due to the sexual revolution we are in today, it’s gone to the wayside of instant gratification. I feel we as the Body of Christ have a hand in that. We focused so much on sexual purity and making sure that future generations abided by how we understood God’s Word about sexuality that we might have unintentionally pushed young teens and adults to the sexual revolution we are so reviled by today.
“We focused so much on sexual purity and making sure that future generations abided by how we understood God’s Word about sexuality that we might have unintentionally pushed young teens and adults to the sexual revolution we are so reviled by today.”
If we want young people to understand why sexual purity is a good, Godly practice, we can’t push it down their throats. When they have questions, we should be ready to respond. When they are uncertain, don’t hound them with Scripture, but guide them through it until they understand the truth of God’s Word. I know this might sound very black and white, which in a way it is, but I feel that we as a Church have lost something.
We’ve lost the fact that we are hurting children of God.
“If we want young people to understand why sexual purity is a good, Godly practice, we can’t push it down their throats.”
Sexual purity, or at least our modern understanding of the term, has to be grounded in Biblical teachings. It can’t be grounded in our politics, in our own biases or even in our own sometimes flawed understanding of God’s Word.
Fellow Christians, I am calling on all of you to ask yourself: Have I misunderstood what God was trying to tell us about sexual purity?
Sue Love. “How to Live in Purity?,” Run with It (blog), August 11, 2020, https://runwithit.blog/2020/08/11/how-to-live-in-purity/ .