purity: this isn’t a post about not having sex

Let’s talk about purity.

I was raised in a church culture that boasted purity by a lack of sex – along with most teenagers in the Bible belt. If you abstained, or said you abstained, or told other people not to have sex, you achieved saint status. If you didn’t, you were a crumpled flower. Dirt in a glass of clean water. Half a chocolate bar. A piece of yourself was gone, given, and you were no longer whole. You were stained, marked, and broken in all places the religious know where to look.

There are plenty of debates on the semantics of sexual purity, but I’m not going there – scripture is clear on God’s view, and how His Love plays into that. Instead, I’d like to sit where my heart is breaking.

For starters, I never consciously considered my purity until it was brought to my attention. When it was, I was told I could ruin it. A fear was spoken into me that I, little human as I am, could do something to lose the white wedding dress Christ gave me as His bride. And, full disclosure, none of that really mattered at the ages I was being taught that – it only matters now, as I look back, from a position of truly Loving Christ. But I wasn’t the only child and teenager taught that, and I’m not the only one currently being taught that; be it purposely or merely a somber consequence of the way we’ve come to view each other.

On one side, we have a culture of the world – sex is a core influence of everything we watch, see, or read. You’re encouraged to do what you what, when you want, and how you want, as long as you check off consent. The concept of it all is seen through an admittedly attractive lens.
On the other, we have a culture of the church – and how we’ve handled the concept of sex is just as destructive.

Purity, as defined by Google, is “freedom from adulteration or contamination,” or “freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature,”. Some synonyms are, “virtue, virtuousness, lack of corruption, morality, goodness, righteousness, rectitude, saintliness, piety, honor, honesty, integrity, uprightness, decency, worthiness, nobility of soul/spirit,”. The only antonym is “immorality”, one word held to the light of a dozen meant only to uplift, encourage, and love the receiver of the word “pure”.

And yet. And yet, this word has been used, like so many other parts of the bible, to bludgeon image-bearing creations of Christ into legalistic and religious traditions bound only by the Law. And Jesus Christ flipped the New Testament upside down thousands of years ago when He declared the sacrifice of the old covenant obsolete, and the new covenant eternal.

“He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life.”- 2 Corinthians 3:6

We have to teach upcoming generations that their purity is not defined by their actions. We have to teach walking in Grace instead of fighting for it. We have to kill shame culture right now, because it’s only growing. Before we can teach it, though – we’ve got to walk in it.

To the person reading this – you are entirely whole, whether it seems like you’ve violated purity or not. Sex before marriage doesn’t take your purity. Sexual abuse or rape doesn’t take your purity. Going far but not “too far” doesn’t take your purity. Struggling to control intrusive thoughts doesn’t take your purity. Masturbating doesn’t take your purity. And here’s why.

If you’re saved, there is nothing you can do that will make you impure in God’s eyes – when God looks at you, He sees His Son’s blood. He sees the sacrifice. He sees the unworthiness of your sin, not the unworthiness of you. You, love, are worthy – beyond imagination. Jesus spoke, cried, and died with your name on His lips and incomprehensible Joy in His heart for the fact that He was taking your burden from you. He bled from the same hands that seek to hold yours and rejoice in the truth that you’re free now. He wants to celebrate that with you, and you can’t enjoy that if shame has shackled your limbs from dancing.

This is your permission to let go of the shame; not from me, but from Him. There are many ways to do that, and all of them take time. Scripture helped me the most, so I’ll leave some at the bottom of this post. Write them down. Ingrain them in your mind. Read them, over, and over, and over. Call them promises, out loud. Speak them until you believe them. Let the reality of their truth roll over you. Understand that leaving your shame mindset will take time and the powerful healing of the Father Who loves you. And just pray.

Abba, You are Holy. You deserve my obedience because I love You. But even when I fail in that, You love me. You call me lovely. You call me pure and whole. You’ve seen what I’ve done, what I’ll do, and what I’m doing, and still You hold me close. I can tell You everything, and You can take it. I ask forgiveness because I don’t want Your heart to break – I don’t repent for the sake of showing people I’m worth it. I know I’m worth it – because You say I am. I Love You, Jesus, Spirit. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

“You are altogether Beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” – Song of Solomon 4:7

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered. I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand.” – Psalm 139:17

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” – Proverbs 31:25

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” – Luke 1:45

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

“We despised him and rejected him; he endured suffering and pain. No one would even look at him—we ignored him as if he were nothing. But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.” – Isaiah 53:3-5

“It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19:30

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