About a month ago, I posted about Cheap Sex and How It's Killing US, but for some reason, that didn't quite get to the heart of what I wanted to say. Something keeps lurking in my head and heart.
I am an analytical person. I want to know why. I look back on my past, the sins and failures, and I desperately want to try to take apart WHY I made the decisions I made because maybe, just maybe, I can understand the WHY, I can help the next generation make better decisions.
I don't think it's enough just to tell them where we went wrong, but for them to understand WHY.
So today I want to talk about The Purity Principle.
The Purity Principle constitutes a large portion of our youth group time and discussions. At least, it did when I was younger. Maybe it's because that's at the forefront of most teen's minds, or maybe because it's one of the major temptations they'll face as they forge their way into adulthood.
But...I can't help but think we may be doing them a disservice in HOW we communicate about the subject. Here, I'll address some of the issues I think we, as the Christian body, face when communicating about purity. You might agree, you might not, but at least hear me out...
Let's Talk About "Sex"
When I said, "purity" earlier, let's face it, you immediately knew I was talking about "sexual purity." That's how we talk about it right? Because who wants to talk to kids about "sexual purity" in church. Nah. We can just be general and call it "purity" right? Slap a "purity" ring on that finger and talk about being "pure." We don't have to say "sex" to them...it's implied.
Um...no. And let me tell you WHY....
You can be sexually pure, and still be impure...thoughts, speech, actions. Actually, according to Isaiah 64:6, we're ALL impure. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of the NLT, but I think this REALLY gets to the heart of it:
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Harsh. But accurate.
If you want more evidence of our impurity, read through Romans 1-3 for a bit. No matter who you are, you fall into a pretty "unclean" category. We're dirty. We are never pure apart from the blood of Jesus Christ. That's why we NEED a Savior. That's why God gave the Law, to show us how much we need him, how much we CANNOT do it on our own:
Therefore, most of Romans 1-3 sets up how dirty we all are, but then:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law,
although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
For there is no distinction:
for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,
and are justified by his grace as a gift,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
whom God put forward as a propitiation through his blood,
to be received BY FAITH.
Romans 3:21-25a (emphasis added)
If you're pure, you better sing praises to God because it is ONLY because you have been given that GIFT through FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing you can do on your own to be pure.
So, if we're going to talk about "sexual purity" with teens, or anyone else, then let's just bite the bullet and us the word "sex" because that's what we mean.
Why is this important, you ask? Because we have a whole slew of self-righteous Christians flaunting their "sexual purity," but wallowing in the muck and mire that is sin: gossip, lying, haughtiness, lust, wrath, crude talk - you name it and they got it. But they're blinded by that because they grew up in church believing if they hadn't had sex outside of marriage, they hadn't lost their "purity."
The lust in that list leads me to my next point...
Purity ≠ Virginity
I first kissed a boy at the ripe, old age of 14...and in that, I was somewhat of a "late bloomer," according to my peers. Now, as my Emily prepares to turn 13 in a couple days, the thought sickens me, not because of the kiss necessarily (although it was AWFUL), but because of what followed. Ironically, I was saved and baptized at 14, as well.
A kiss led quickly to making out, and that led to some pretty heavy petting. It was allowed though, right? Part of growing up? And everyone was doing it. It's what the guys wanted, and the guys in youth group were no exception to that rule.
Nevertheless, we all clung to our "purity," knowing that we had kept safe the golden crown of virginity. We were safe.
Closer and closer I crept to edge of the cliff, just knowing my belief in Christ would keep me from jumping, But dear friends, I'm here to tell you, the cliff is an illusion. It's not a plummet when you lose your virginity, but a slow, steady, dangerous decent into sinful behavior.
And that's where Satan has us all fooled. God, on the other hand, is not confused in the least.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
"I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give to every man according to his ways,
according to the fruits of his deeds."
He knows your heart and your mind. He sees the lust in your heart. By the time the virginity is lost, before or after marriage, a whole host of sins has paraded through the mind and, thus, the heart.
Jesus said this:
You have heard that it was said,
"YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,"
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Before our bodies have ever gotten to the deed, our hearts are drenched in it.
Once again, why is this important? Because our thoughts lead to our actions, so if we're going to talk about sexual purity, we need to be discussing our thoughts first...renewing our minds, taking every thought into submission.
And also..because some will make the mistake. There are some who will give into temptation, and if virginity equals purity then they are lost.
I kept the illusion of purity from ages 14 to 16, until I finally convinced myself that the only way to keep the man I was dating at the time, the man I thought I "loved" was to give every part of myself to him. That's what we do with the people we "love," right?
So, I gave into temptation...just once. The next day, when guilt set in, I refused him...and didn't see him or hear from him for months.
But, I thought, it was too late. I had fallen.
I went to youth group one time after that, but my I was overcome with my own guilt, and I was sure my "pure" friends would never understand if they knew. Overnight, I had become an outsider; so, I drifted away.
I found friends who would never think I was dirty because I had failed. Heck, in truth, I found "dirtier" friends, people by whose presence I could be comforted because while I might have fallen from grace, they were FAR worse.
All an illusion of course; no one is any better or worse (see the verses above). But misery loves company, so eventually, I decided to just wallow in the mud with rest.
I was saved by grace, but living in the flesh. Lord, forgive me, I grieved the Holy Spirit inside of me.
But what if...what if I had been given a different perspective?
Goodness knows, I'm baptist! We definitely preach grace and mercy through the Lord, Christ Jesus (AMEN!), but somehow we're missing all that in our "purity preaching," treating it like the unforgivable sin. As a consequence, we're leaving behind any poor soul who falls down, in the name of trying to keep safe the rest. We're abandoning the lost in our flock.
How NOT like Jesus is that?
Last, and probably most importantly, let's really get to the WHY...
It's a Beautiful Life
I have a tendency to be a bit of a "because I told you so" parent. Probably, one of my biggest flaws. I don't know if it's because of how I was raised or a result of a good deal of just trying to survive parenting the first decade or so, but I often find myself skipping the explanation of WHY, and simply expecting compliance through dictatorship.
Sometimes, that's necessary. When there really isn't time to explain "why," but serious consequences will follow if the child isn't compliant, then "because I said so" must prevail. Nevertheless, if children can begin to understand the "why," then it becomes easier, at times, to comply.
God is the Heavenly Father, the only perfect parent. He doesn't just give a command and a "thou shalt" or "shalt not" because he likes to control what we do. He gives us boundaries because they are good for us.
And sure, let's face it, there are a ton of ways we can be hurt by sex outside of marriage. Did ya'll see the pictures of STDs in high school "family life"?? EW. Did ya'll watch the films on teenage pregnancy, too?
But, like men trying to build the tower of babble, society decides it's going to be smarter than God, so it creates ways to skirt the physical consequences: condoms, the pill, etc.
But we're so obtuse.
God, alone, knows our souls, and as much as we might try, the damage we do to our souls through sin, in this case sexual sin, is TRULY the tragedy.
But why? Why does it kill our souls to give away our bodies?
Because sex is not just a physical act.
And Adam knew Eve his wife;
and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said,
I have gotten a man from the Lord.
Now, let's face it, none of us are under the assumption that they had a baby because Adam became cognitively aware of his wife. They got it on. That's what "knew" means in this context.
Oh...but it's so much richer than that.
When I was reading Sacred Sex, by Tony Evans, he revealed that the word, "knew" there is the Hebrew word, "yada," and it means SO MUCH more than just a cognitive awareness OR having sex.
Over and over in the Old Testament, "yada" is used by God to show us how we're to KNOW Him and His commandments, and how deeply He KNOWS us.
It's a deep, intimate, spiritual connection. It's sharing your SOUL with someone.
And THAT, my friends, is the WHY.
That's why it's something that God says we should only share with someone with whom we have entered into the holy covenant bond of marriage.
SEX IS HOLY. It is good, and set apart, and we are to set ourselves apart for because of its beauty.
Cosmo is not teaching this to kids. They're certainly not learning it in school.
The only place they can get this knowledge is from the body of Christ. Now, hopefully, their parents are part of the body, but maybe not. So the body is going to have to up its game.
The Bottom Line
Look, I'm not saying that we shouldn't be teaching that sex before marriage is a sin. That's some namby pamby, wishy washy nonsense. It is sin, so let's call it that.
However, what I am saying is that it should be taught to our youth as what it is, one sin in a sea of many, and often one leads to another. Let's teach it context of the bigger picture of the great and glorious gospel. Let's teach them about the beauty of sexual intimacy in the context of marriage.
Then, I think, we may start making some headway into the hearts of our youth; they may begin to understand their worth, and we might begin to communicate their value, to us, and more importantly, to the God that created them.
I really want to hear your feedback on this. How was sex presented to you? In the church and outside? Did you understand its beauty? What were you taught about The Purity Principle?