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Recently, I’ve noticed a trend of celebrities voicing their decision to abstain from sex until marriage. Their decisions to do so range from personal, spiritual, and moral. Now, it might even be the trendy thing to do. The conversation about saving sex for marriage has certainly increased over the past few months, which is why we should take some time to remind ourselves that purity is more than saving sex for marriage. Waiting for sex plays a part in our pursuit of purity, but if we think that is all purity consists of, we sell ourselves short.
So let’s be clear. What does it mean to be pure? A plain definition of purity means to be "free from anything of a different, inferior or contaminating kind."For the Christian, purity is keeping anything out of our life that is not of God. When God made us, He made us in His image and gave us purpose. Purity is to live a life within the purpose God designed us for. It is freedom from anything that God did not plan for our life.
When it comes to sex, God designed it to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage.
However, although saving sex for marriage is what God desires, this act in and of itself does not make us pure.
When we simplify purity to only one action (abstaining from sex until marriage) we truly have not grasped the truth and beauty of purity.
Purity does not only include what we actually do (or don't do) but also what we think, how we behave, our will and desires. Purity includes not only our body but also our mind, heart and soul.
In Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus tells us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” - Matthew 5:27-28 NIV
Jesus is speaking to a crowd that believes not committing adultery is all it takes to please God. But Jesus takes it a step further. Not only is God looking for pure actions. He is also looking for a pure mind and heart. Jesus makes it clear that purity is not a long list of do’s and don’ts but actually goes far beyond what our actions can accomplish.
To be pure we need to not only do good but actually be good. Now, if this seems impossible, that’s because that is. It is impossible to be pure without Jesus.
This is where grace comes in. This is where we realize that the purity God desires cannot be achieved by our efforts alone. Don’t be discouraged. Jesus came not only to forgive us of our sins but to also make us pure. 1 John 1:7 tells us:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7 NIV
We make purity only about the physical act of abstaining from sex because we struggle with the same temptation Jesus addresses in Matthew 5:27-28. This is the temptation to only think about the physical work and not the faith required when it comes to pleasing God. We want to think of purity as something we can obtain on our own and we can't. Purity is obtained by faith in Christ and a desperate reliance on His strength and grace.
In my personal pursuit of purity while dating my husband we were pushed to truly seek God and rely on His grace like never before. It required us to look beyond ourselves and our ability and to look to God. It positioned us in the practice of placing God's will over our own. Those lessons are still benefiting our marriage now 7 years later. This leads to another important point.
When we make purity only about waiting for sex until marriage we forget that we do not stop pursuing purity once we are married.
The pursuit will look different but still requires the same internal condition; a surrendered and reverent heart to God and a mind made up on living set apart for Him. Hebrews 13:4 reminds us:
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” - Hebrews 13:4 NIV
We don't stop pursuing purity after we are married. Before getting married we honor God's design by abstaining from sex. After marriage we honor God by freely enjoying sex within the covenant of marriage because this is God's design and purpose.
So if I save sex for marriage because it's now the popular thing to do and not out of reverence to the God that sacrificed His only Son for my sins, then I'm not pursuing purity, I'm pursuing my own desire to fit in or look good in front of others.
If I save sex for marriage thinking this is all it takes to be pure I fail to realize God is just as concerned about my heart as He is my body.
If I save sex for marriage because I'm trying to work for God's approval and acceptance I have not truly grasped to beautiful Gospel message that through faith in Jesus I am made pure through His sacrifice and not my actions.
When we clearly understand this truth our pursuit of purity will no longer be out of obligation but sincere gratitude, praise and worship.
Doing good is not how we get to God but it is a reflection of the relationship we already have with Him. In the same way, only saving sex for marriage will not lead to purity but purity is a reflection of the heart’s desire to worship God in every way.
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at www.belovedwomen.org