Before I came to Regeneration, my accountability partners and I regularly talked about pursuing purity. Interestingly, though, none of us ever asked what exactly we meant.
What I was after was a complete absence of sexual sin. That was my definition of purity.
I’d say something very different today. (As a matter of fact, I’m about to.)
Purity is not primarily about an absence of something sinful. It is that, but it’s much, much more. First and foremost, purity is about the presence of something good.
You can get rid of every last bit of dross, but if you started with lead, you won’t end up with pure gold. You’ll end up with pure lead. The hardest part of getting pure gold isn’t removing dross; it’s getting the gold to start with.
The same is true in the area of sexuality. Without the “something good” at the center, you can work to remove every bit of sexual sin without ever obtaining a true sexual purity. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day might have claimed to be sexually pure, but I doubt Jesus would have agreed.
What’s the “something good” needed?
Learn to love, and you’ll be sexually pure.
By “love” I don’t mean romance, or falling in love, or even making love (though all these are great when real love is present).
Jesus said, “No one has a greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
To love someone fully means that all you are is given for the good of all they are. This is what the old traditional marriage vows expressed: “Forsaking all others, I freely give myself totally to you, for your good, no matter what, for life” (my paraphrase).
Contrast this with so much of what’s passed off as sexually or relationally normal today:
- A casual hook up because the physical or emotional pleasure of sex is so enjoyable.
- Sharing a sexy selfie because the attention (translate, number of likes) feels good.
- “Friends with benefits.”
- Pornography use.
- Fantasy and masturbation.
In contrast, learning to love means learning to give your life for the sake of another.
No matter where we are in life (married, single, divorced, virgin, non-virgin, young, old), we all need to grow in love. It is a lifelong journey.
And viewing the pursuit of purity this way gives us something to aim for, rather than just something to try not to do. And it serves as a good litmus test in every aspect of every relationship.
Parents, you can be on this journey with your kids, and instead of just teaching your kids to “wait until marriage,” you can help them uphold love and to test what’s being passed off as “love” around them at school, in the movies, in music, everywhere really.
And for all of us, Christ is both our example of a life lived in love and our ultimate means of becoming pure people as we become people who love truly.