In the church, we often talk about the sexual acts we should not commit. Some sign purity pledges, some get accountability, and some simply say it’s too hard to live in purity, so they compromise their theology. Really though, as with all sin, at the end of the day, it all comes down to being a heart issue. With sexual sin, lust is the root of the problem, and lust is 100% a heart issue. Lust starts in your heart before it makes its ways into your actions. So it’s time we get real about what our hearts desire and start thinking about what we're thinking about.
"Are you really going to stick to your whole purity ring thing? Like, you know, wait until you’re married to have sex?" I was shocked. I couldn’t believe my friends would even consider asking me such a question. They knew my conviction on this subject. I was pretty open about it. I thought it would be normal in my circle of influence to wait until marriage to have sex with my husband. I thought that was a common conviction of women in the church. I thought all girls were being taught the same message about sex that I was taught at an Across My Heart retreat almost eight years ago. So why was it such a surprise to my friends that I was going to wait?
A woman of God doesn’t live for herself. She considers the other: how will this affect the men and women I call friends. If I’m wearing a tight dress to show off my figure and make all my friends jealous, am I causing division? If I’m wearing a low cut shirt and trying to draw attention to myself, am I being conceited? If I’m wearing a bikini to make guys drool, am I tempting them to lust?
God’s design for womanhood as laid out in scripture is beautiful. It’s not about being the “perfect housewife.” It’s about finding freedom in glorifying God when we live out His ways.
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. Sexual purity is a gift from God, and 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.
A generation of girls made an abstinence pledge with the doe-eyed hope of a passionate wedding night only to discover their new husbands (who often were virgins themselves) had no clue what they were doing. Depending on how good your communication with your new spouse was, this night could still end up being sort of what you hoped and dreamed for. But, it could also end in frustration. Your first sexual encounter, what you had been waiting for and saving yourself for, could seem to be a disappointment.
As I waited to cross the street to get to the restaurant in my shorter than usual dress, it happened. At that moment as I waited for the light to change, a group of men rolled down their car window and hooted and hollered at me. It was my first experience truly being catcalled.
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.
Purity... what does it mean? Why is it important? And why does God care? There is a lot of confusion surrounding the word.
Many see it as old-fashioned, oppressive, or even “cringy”. The word elicits feelings of shame and anger toward Evangelical churches that explained sexual purity poorly.