A New Purity Message: Because Sex is Good and So is God

A New Purity Message: Sex is Good and So Is Good

It’s been a long time since I’ve written from the overflow of a stirred-up heart, and that’s not because I’ve not been fired up over issues. It’s because I’m in the trenches of mothering teens, and I want to respect my girls’ privacy — I want to give them space to grow up without a commentary.

The problem, however, is that my passion as a mentor runs as deep as my devotion as a mother.

To the same measure I am for my own girls, I am for this generation of girls.

I don’t want to forsake tackling the tough topics, because I know this generation of young women needs equipped moms and mentors speaking into their lives. Fortunately, my daughters agree with me. So with their permission, I’m going to share on a topic I’ve avoided for a good long time.

Sex.

And the fact that it is good.

God.

And the fact that He is good, too.

Us.

And the fact that we, moms and mentors, are falling short on imparting these truths with grace and integrity when it comes to the next generation because we’ve embraced bad theology, are consumed by guilt, and fear being called hypocrites.

For that, girls, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I’ve not spoken up more and challenged your mommas to be brave in this discussion. Moms, I’m sorry I’ve been quiet, letting you go on as you do and not equipping you more on this hot-button topic. I’m hoping that what I’m about to share with you will make up for lost time.

 

Purity should be about honoring God.

Let’s Get Honest

It’s time to turn in a new direction when it comes to the discussion of purity. We might all agree we need to look at it through the lens of God’s design. But in order to get to that place, we first need to be willing to admit where our thinking has gone wrong and take serious stock of the agendas we’ve unknowingly been touting to the next generation.

It turns sex into something bad, making a rule for “good girls” to follow and the rebellious to run from. It makes it dirty, which leads to all sorts of issues after marriage. I know. I suffered with those issues.

Oh yes, I was that good girl in high school, influenced by the church I grew up in. I was certain sex was wrong for a good girl. And so I picked a few arbitrary rules for how I could do it and still be a good girl:

1. I needed to be at least 18.

2. It needed to happen with a boyfriend and not just a fling.

3. There needed to be a good chance I’d marry the guy.

Well, how interesting that those three made-up rules aligned at the same time. In one of the worst nights of my life, on my 18th birthday of course, I gave my body to a boy who wasn’t prepared to love me, treasure me, or honor me. It was sex. It wasn’t love-making. And it was awkward, painful, and shame-filling. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t the way it was meant to be. This act of sex bound us together and made breaking up nine months later one of the most painful experiences of my life. I gave up my dreams to this boy. I gave up my heart. And I gave up my body.

I numbed the pain by throwing myself into one unhealthy relationship after another.

I was like a garbage truck consuming junk and compacting it into my heart.

I lived without boundaries yet bound up with a broken heart.

By God’s grace, my Father in heaven intervened and rescued a broken, battered, and bruised young woman. I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus and found a fresh desire to start with a clean slate, new and whole, redeemed and on the way to being restored (Romans 10:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17). I made a vow to not have sex until I was married, but the problem was I didn’t know how to stop the habits of my promiscuous life. The relationship with my new boyfriend-turned-fiance (who became my beloved husband) wasn’t what it should have been. No, we didn’t have sex before we said “I do” but . . . we did too much.

What is the pursuit of purity?

And that’s the problem we don’t like to talk about.

We like to praise our girls who stay pure because they are not having sex before they say “I do,” even if they are sexually active in other ways. That’s called legalism, my friends. We need to do more than follow the letter of the law, which is exactly what the purity movement (in general and accidentally) often fails to address.

 

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Look at that. God says marriage should be honored by all — honored because He honors it. Marriage, and sex, are sacred gifts from God, designed in such a way to create the strongest relationship bond possible. Maybe that’s why we should honor it and keep it pure? Or maybe, if that isn’t enough of a motivation, we should consider how plain and simple Paul confirms this instruction for how to live in his letter to the Thessalonians:
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 NIV
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Maybe the motivation to be sexually pure should be because God is watching and will judge both the adulterer and sexually immoral and US. Yet even so, you and I know that’s not been motivation enough for you . . . me . . . and the next generation.

Imagine if we really shifted this conversation about purity so that it was steeped in asking questions that would draw the heart’s deepest desire to be loved out into the light? What if we stopped giving a list of rules and started engaging in the conversation about love, commitment, desire, longings, and how marriage is designed to fulfill much of that, but not all of it — because our Creator God is the only one who can plug that type of hole in a heart.

What if we really got down to the root of this matter of sex — and physical intimacy that mimics sex —  and speak boldly of the reason to wait until marriage: The waiting is not because it’s bad or wrong or unfortunate timing, but because it’s good and right and well-designed when it’s held treasured for marriage and the beauty of the purest experience possible.

Purity is an every single day pursuit.

There’s an even bigger issue we need to face: Purity is about more than not having sex outside of marriage.

Yes, my friend, what if we really defined purity beyond sex outside of marriage? The reality is that purity isn’t the opposite of not having sex.

Purity is being without stain or blemish.

Purity is the pursuit of holiness as a child of God, which includes the way you interact with others before and after you’re married.

Purity is the choice to not undress someone with your eyes.

Purity is the decision to not watch the sex scene in that movie.

Purity is the moment when you choose to put up boundaries against pornography.

Purity is the time when you say no to the invitation to engage in an affair.

Purity isn’t just about what you do with your body, it’s about how you live your life.

Purity, apart from the grace of God and His forgiveness, is really impossible.

How can we impress the importance of the pursuit of purity upon our sons and daughters if we’re not even modeling it in the way we are living?

So the real question we need to answer is whether we are embracing purity for ourselves, long after we’ve said “I do” and maybe even after “I don’t anymore.”

The fact is that many of us may be failing in our pursuit of whole-heart, mind, and soul purity, making us feel like hypocrites when it comes to urging the next generation to pursue it for themselves.

But saying “don’t have sex, don’t touch each other, don’t even look at each other” isn’t helping them one bit.

Touting the purity horn without communicating the Gospel truth that we need God’s grace and power at work in our lives only breeds a fear of failure and temptation to rebel into the next generation.

If we are for their purity . . .

Finding the Yes Instead of Focusing on the No

For the last twenty years, I’ve told teen girls (and guys) to not have sex until they are married. I’ve urged them to put off dating as long as possible, because the desire to express your affection and love will make withstanding the temptation for intimacy super hard.

I am for their purity . . . mind, body, and soul.

Unfortunately, I’m also guilty of emphasizing a narrow-minded perspective on purity as I was reeling from the consequences of my own sin. I shared from a place of hurt and fear, which turns intimacy into something scary for my own daughter. She has confessed to me she’s terrified of her first kiss, because of “where will it lead” and yet longs for it all the same. She’s been so indoctrinated by the “don’t do it” Christian culture, and my fear-based message, that she doesn’t know what to do with her desires.

The focus has been too much on the “don’t do” instead of on the whole-hearted purity she should pursue.

If our message is about the “do’s and don’ts,” we leave our teens caught between two decisions:

1. Make mom and dad happy by doing what they say is right.

2. Make mom and dad mad by doing what feels good.

Umm. No. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be about pleasing mom and dad, even though that’s a good thing.

Purity is supposed to be about honoring God and His Word.

My daughter rightly declares, “If I honor you, then I’ll be honoring God.” Yes, yes! But as I’ve said in reply, “Thank you for wanting to honor me and dad, but it’s time to make your faith-walk your own and make choices that honor God for yourself.” As our conversation has come around more than once, I’m realizing as a mom that I need to emphasize pleasing the Lord more than pleasing me.

It’s got to be about her living according to Truth and making her feelings, desires, and longings subjective to the Lordship of Christ. 

That may require me stepping back from rule-giving in order for her to experience some life-living.

What a mess we’re creating we when focus on the rules of sex and purity, instead of cultivating a vision for stewarding one of the greatest gifts God’s ever given His children — our bodies and the pleasure we can experience when we use His gifts appropriately in a committed, married relationship between a man and woman.

 

Yes to Life-Long Purity!

:: click to download ::

That’s why I think we need to go about this sex and purity discussion from another perspective, where we focus on the “yes” instead of the “no.”

Yes, to pursuing purity in what you watch, see, hear, listen to, and experience in life, always.

Yes, to seeking forgiveness from God for our past mistakes and moving out of the stronghold of guilt.

Yes, to agreeing with God’s instruction to keep the marriage bed pure, and everything else He says to do.

Yes, to embracing God’s forgiveness when we stumble and go off-course.

Yes, to cultivating healthy, God-honoring relationships with the opposite sex.

Yes, to defining what it means to truly love someone in action and not just feelings, according to 1 Corinthians 13.

Yes, to becoming an Ephesians 5 woman prepared to respect an Ephesians 5 man and an Ephesians 5 man prepared to love an Ephesians 5 woman.

Yes, to engaging in conversations not only about the truth but also about what they’re feeling and what they’re wondering.

Yes, to walking alongside our mature teens and twenty-somethings as they choose to date, guiding them and challenging them, setting boundaries and casting vision.

And, no, to turning sex into a rule to keep or break, and purity into a mission that only happens before marriage.

 

Will you embrace this new message?

Is it any surprise that in the wake of the sexual revolution the purity movement evolved? The circumstances demanded a bold response, led by men and women who felt the impact of the culture and potentially of their past mistakes. Now it’s our turn to respond. They paved the way. Let us take up their bold effort with humility as we seek to reach the next generation with the truth and much grace.

Let’s determine to give them a context for understanding purity at a deeper level.

Let’s challenge them to embrace living according to the Word in every aspect of their lives and not just in their decision to save sex for marriage.

 

 

For additional resources on this topic of relationships and dating, download these guides.

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Elisa

Founder & Director at More to Be
Elisa is a trained biblical life coach, mentor, and speaker passionate about equipping women to experience authentic life change for the sake impacting the next generation. She is the founder of More to Be and author of Meet the New You: A 21-day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change. Elisa is also a life coach and coach instructor dedicated to helping women discover how God has equipped them for today. She considers her first calling as wife to Stephen and mother to her tween and teenage children. Learn more about Elisa's and her coaching as well as leadership development company at www.KaleoAgency.net.
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8 Comments
  1. Lisa,
    Go you for writing on such a sensitive topic, and go God for his perfect timeliness as always. This topic has just risen to the forefront in our house and I’ve been praying about the right approach, the right words, the right discussions, etc. And then you. You show up in my inbox with the truth I need to hear and to share. I had just revisited your Topics and Truth download on Dating and thought to myself, what a great resource. So I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to write and share and for your authentic voice. May God bless you as surely as your gift of self has blessed me! Praying for you and yours and if I could ask, would you mind including our family and son in your prayers around this topic as well? You’re the best. Divine appointments. Indeed.

    • Lori, my friend, thank you for the cheers of encouragement! Praise God it’s His perfect timing . . . as I’ve been sitting on these words for weeks before I hit publish. I’ll be praying for you and your family, too!

  2. Elisa,

    I have a five year old daughter and I have been struggling with how to approch this topic with her. I didn’t want her to go through the trials and heartache I did and knew I wanted to start early with sex education (age appropriate). This hits the nail on the head! You were able to put into words what I was thinking and feeling! I have said for a long time the approach that was taken during the sexual revolution was completely WRONG. Sex, as in intercourse, is only one aspect of a married relationship and when you do not talk about all the other “gifts” that can be shared in the married bedroom it allows teens to “it’s ok if I do THIS because it is NOT sex, so I am still pure.” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! If someone had been open with me about sex instead of just saying “no, you’re too young” I probabley wouldn’t have been so curious about it and wanting to just get it out of the way. Also my parents were divorced and even though my father was still in my life he wasn’t there everyday and once he married another woman; I think I was graving male attention or even attempting to get back at him some how. I know that sounds preverted all I am saying is I thought by having sex with guys it would connect us and they wouldn’t want to leave or be with anyone else. It took me a VERY LONG TIME to figure out that sex does not make someone want to be in a releationship with you or even make them love you. Girls need to know all these emotions that will come with growing up and those feelings are ok to have, they are normal. They also need to know, from those of us who experienced it, how badly you feel by giving yourself to someone who is not worthy.
    Thank you so much for writting this and thank you to whoever posted on it Pinterest so I would see it. God works all the time you just have to keep your eyes open.

    • Courtney, God is so gracious to provide the wisdom we’re looking for exactly when we need. I’m thanking Him for leading you to this post and giving me the courage to write it. May you feel His presence as you raise up your daughter!

  3. Elisa,

    Thank you thank you for your testimony and for your post! It came at exactly the right time this week! My daughter is 14 and we have had good discussions about dating and waiting…I think it was you that also wrote the Dating Guide? and the Hershey Kiss example?

    But this one is even clearer and more helpful with the list of “yes’s” and what purity really is.

    My heart is breaking for this generation…the internet is full of terrible things that they are watching..porn and horrible utube videos about how to treat each other and what guys and girls want etc…boys and girls are getting so many mixed messages…and parents are not involved! The stuff they are watching..I don’t understand why parents aren’t monitoring them.

    Plus the computuer gaming with aname’s that are barely dressed and all of the violence…some kids are addicted to gaming…they play hours and hours a day. Filling their minds with nothing pure.

    I have witnessed it first hand with my daughters first “boyfriend” over the past 2 months…his grades are terrible and his parents aren’t figuring this out? How can they not know? They ended their “relationship” this week…he would never text her back or call her or take her calls…he was always gaming…she told him he liked gaming more than her. He admitted to her that he really does like her and that she is a wonderful person but he wasn’t ready for a relationship or a girlfriend right now.

    She told me she wished she knew he was a gamer before she agreed to be his “girlfriend”. Lesson learned…get to know someone better before you agree to be a girlfriend. Its so hard and they are too young anyway to even “date”.

    It will be good to share your article with my daughter.

    The Lord really spoke to me this week…about lifting this generation up in prayer….but I feel I need to do more.

    I would appreciate your prayers as well.

    Blessings!

    Beth

  4. Elisa,

    Thank you so much for this! Thank you for putting into words what I have been trying to teach my girls Sunday School Class. I will definitely be sharing this with them, through my twitter, & on my blog. I’ve been learning so much about Mentoring through the online study group & this adds so much more to my new “intentional mentoring” outlook. I’m praying that the Lord continues to bless you & your ministry so that it can in turn continue to bless us!

    Megan

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