There is a great deal of discussion today about purity. Many churches have purity pledges, some of you may have taken them in your youth groups as teens or your teenagers now may be being asked to take them. The idea of pledging yourself to purity is a good thing but I am afraid that it leaves a misunderstanding in your heart when you have taken such a pledge. Most of these pledges are just about sexual abstinence.
Abstaining from sexual relations is not the same thing as purity.
Please do not get me wrong; abstinence is a good thing, but it is just one part, and a small one at that, of what true biblical purity is all about. I will be addressing this here because it is something that each and every one of us, not just hormonally abundant teenagers, must address in our own hearts and lives before the Lord.
Let us first talk about what purity is. Purity, according to biblical language, is to be morally clean, without blemish. Purity was essential in all of the sacrifices – meaning the sacrifice had to be physically perfect, without blemish or fault. Anything less than that was unacceptable to the Holy and Perfect God.
Romans 12:1 tells us:
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
If our entire lives are to be a sacrifice of worship to God, how much more should WE be as pure, spotless and clean as the animal sacrifices required in the OT worship! So many times we think we can separate our lives into compartments:
- my church compartment
- my work compartment
- my play compartment
- my party compartment
- my relationship compartment
We are willing to allow God control over one or maybe even several compartments, but we try and hold on to a few of them just or us. We think that if God has part of our hearts that we are entitled to hold on to the rest for ourselves and our own plans and desires. This may allow us to keep our pledge to abstinence, but not any kind of pledge to purity.
We watch and revel in movies or games that glorify sexual filth – sometimes even living vicariously through them or we read trashy romance novels (perhaps reading certain explicit sections over and over again) all the while patting ourselves on the back for our purity in that we are not doing those things. Sometimes we even will allow the physical part of a dating relationship (or even a flirtatious relationship with a man other than our husbands) to travel all the way up to intercourse, but stop just short of it, congratulating ourselves on our self-control! This is NOT purity in the biblical sense and is a violation of our relationship with our Lord.
Purity for the Christian is keeping our hearts, minds and bodies holy, without moral blemish or stain for the purposes of God.
So, sexual abstinence/fidelity is good, but it alone does not go far enough. We must guard our emotions, visual and mental images, and thoughts as well as our bodies, to be used for God’s will and for the future spouse God may bring to our lives.
This would lead us to examine the things we have always thought were fine and normal in a dating relationship. If certain types of physical contact cause our hearts and minds to leap toward impurity, then that behavior should NOT be engaged in or should be stopped immediately. But, of course, once started, it is so difficult to stop. The scripture tells us:
“Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” 1Cr 7:1
The Greek word for touch is the word that means rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. It is better to avoid any kind of touch that will kindle that *fire* in our bodies that is so difficult to quench. For some of us (probably for most), that means any touch at all: hand holding, arms around the shoulders, or hugs. The thoughts we need to be honest about are the ones where we lie to ourselves. “Oh I can do THAT and it doesn’t stir the erotic fires inside” or “well, that is easy for me to keep under control.” Remember, the enemy’s first attack in the Garden was the deception of lies and half-truths. He hasn’t changed his tactic these many thousands of years, just his subject…it is not Eve anymore, it is us.
This leads us to begin to investigate the question of the wisdom of dating at all. We need to look at the wisdom of placing ourselves in a situation that places purity in a very precarious position in our lives, especially if it is not a relationship that we are seriously considering for marriage and if it pulls our hearts away from ministry and our relationship with God. But that will come up in more detail later.