The Purity Movement of the 1990s and early 2000s encouraged women, like myself, to save sex for marriage. Unfortunately, sometimes the message sounded more like this:it’s wrong to be sexual. Rather than looking forward to their honeymoons, women felt like their sexuality was a bad thing, and these same women reportedly had trouble “flipping the switch” to enjoy sex in marriage. It’s no wonder! They perceived sex as bad for so long that they continued to do so, even after they tied the knot. Let me do you a favor and clear that up right now. Sex is NOT bad. It is good… in the right context.
Your neckline must be two finger lengths from your collarbone. You can’t watch that movie. Your shorts are too short. You shouldn’t date. Sound familiar? Like many of you, I grew up in The Purity Movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. To be honest, purity seemed kind of cool at the time. There were giant conferences promoting it, teen pop stars modeling abstinence, and parents buying their daughters fancy rings if they committed to saving sex for marriage. You could even say that purity was popular.
Despite what Disney tells us, a happy life isn't about all your wishes coming true, it's about the motives of your heart. What are you wishing for in the first place? John Piper says,"We can live for our will or God’s will, or we could have our passions so transformed that we need not choose between the two." If the desire of your heart are properly aligned with God's will, when you love what he loves, when you want what he wants, that's the real dream come true.
When the slight adjustments to my schedule weren’t enough to silence my anxious thoughts, I questioned whether this was my “new normal”? Were my carefree days over? Was I going to live a life of anxiety from here on out? I realized that I had reached the end of myself.
My Grandma often scolds me that I do not take time “to stop and smell the roses”. She’s right. I don’t. I like to keep busy and do as much as possible. Even when I’m spending time with the people that I love, I like to squeeze in the memories and “maximize” the time. Thankfully, I'm married to a man who knows how to slow down.
It’s wise to treat yourself kindly, to speak to yourself like you would a friend, and to love who God made you to be. You are stuck with yourself after all. However, so many young women’s ministries tell girls it’s imperative to love yourself. Tell yourself, "You are beautiful. You are worth it." Learn to love yourself! But, is loving yourself really the answer?
Love makes it okay to have sex. I’ve heard that line more times than I can count. But, no matter how good it sounds, I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible. In fact 2 Timothy 2:22 urges us to flee from youthful passions so we can pursue love instead. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).”
As an unapologetic optimist, I used to assume the best about people which made me an unfortunate judge of character. Sometimes I honestly couldn't identify fake friends from real ones. But the sarcastic words? The little insults? They were the hundred paper cuts that eventually made me bleed. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone likes Ashley. And some people never will.
Sometimes, saying we can’t overcome sin is an excuse to avoid the hard work of sanctification and enjoy living in it a little longer. But more often than not, laziness isn’t the problem. We are scared. Scared of what lurks in the dark corners of our heart. Scared that if we dig too deep we will discover something about ourselves that we don’t like. Scared of being vulnerable. Scared of being found out. Scared of the shame of our own shadows.
Constant compliments. Special date nights. Lots of hand holding. It's nice to think that your love language will match up effortlessly with your significant other, but what if it doesn't? That's the case for my husband Joseph and I.