My “Ring Thing” – The idol of sexual purity

I tend to have a problem with losing things. I lose water bottles, I lose swim goggles, I lose chapsticks (okay, but who doesn’t though?) I have also lost MULTIPLE purity rings.

The first one I lost in a locker room at a water polo tournament during my freshman year of high school, the second one actually made my finger bleed so I had to get a new one, and the third one I just lost because it broke and fell off my finger. I am about to get my fourth purity ring.

At first I felt really bad about going through so many rings. It’s not that the ring or the symbolism of the ring isn’t important to me, I just have a really hard time keeping track of my things. I felt bad mostly because material things cost money and even though my ring wasn’t a matter of life or death, it was important to me, and I lost it.

I have gone the last month without wearing a purity ring. At first I was embarrassed about this. I couldn’t figure out why – not many people I know wear purity rings, and I doubt more than a few of my close friends had even noticed that I wasn’t wearing mine. The culture we’re living in right now doesn’t seem to value sexual purity very much anyway, so why was I feeling like a part of myself was missing?

Sexual sin pulls us away from God. That’s the power that sin has over us – the exact power Jesus died to free us from. The devil has taken the message of purity and warped it – to make us believe that our virginity makes us worthy in God’s eyes. It has caused the church to turn sexual purity into an idol.

The gift we are given

Sometimes the church holds sexual purity on a pedestal. In her latest blog, Amber addresses the analogy that some people use when talking about sexual purity – a perfect gift to be presented to your spouse (or a beautiful flower, strip of duct tape, use whatever analogy you would like.) We’ve turned the gift that God gave us – our sexual purity – into something that defines who we are and our value as individuals. I was subconsciously using my ring as a symbol to myself and to others that I still had my “perfectly wrapped gift”. I turned the good intentions of a purity ring into a competition of being the most worthy.

But what if our sexual purity was never a perfect gift?

My purity never began as a perfectly wrapped gift, because my life didn’t begin as a perfectly wrapped gift. Isaiah 64:6 says “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

My ring doesn’t make me a more valuable person. My ring will not make me a better wife. My ring should not be worn as a badge of honor on my finger, and yet that’s what I was using it as. The only purpose my ring should serve is as a reminder to me and God that I made a promise to Him to live according to His ways. Purity is not something I “lose,” but a passionate pursuit of the way God tells me I should live my life. That’s why Ashley still wears her purity ring – and she’s married.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:19-23)

The life we are living

The message of the gospel is that for all who accept membership into the family of God, He has given them a second chance. Our God is a God of second, third, fourth, fifth, endless chances. He wants our efforts and our hearts turned toward Him in honest pursuit of His Word – not living in the guilt of the things we have done. We can’t live in our past messes that Jesus died to purify. All parts of our lives start as dirty rags and can only be made clean by accepting the sacrifice Jesus made for us. That sacrifice doesn’t just clean certain parts of us – it radically transforms our lives because Jesus died to cover those gross sins – ALL of them – and make us white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18, 1 John 1:7)

We were born into a sinful world. We were born alienated from God. But the story doesn’t end there. This is for those of you, men and women, who have made mistakes in your past. This is also for those of you who have remained abstinent. As members of the body of Christ, we all have equal value – sinful souls counted free because of the sacrifice of our sinless Savior.

While I still plan on buying another ring in the near future as a reminder to me of my promise to God, this past month was transformative to my thought process. Sexual purity is a gift from God, but it is just that – a gift. It reveals God’s heart to us. The gift of sexual purity should never take precedence over the Gift-Giver.

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