I recently attended a sweet wedding. The couple was young, not yet finished with college, so in the eyes of many they were too young to be married. But the bride and groom’s innocent joy as they entered into this covenant was radiant.
During the evening, the bride’s mom smiled wistfully as she gazed at her daughter. “They might be the poorest married couple in the world for a while, but what was I supposed to do? Tell my daughter I’d rather her fall into sexual sin?”
The groom’s mother made several similar comments. Both sets of parents valued the young couple’s purity. The couple valued their own purity, and they were willing to make sacrifices before and after the wedding to preserve it.
They set up accountability for their time spent together before the wedding, especially when they were out at night.
Their college pastor mentored them.
They prayed for strength.
What about purity is worth making sacrifices to protect and preserve it?
But first, what is purity?
In his book The Bare Facts: 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask About Sex, Josh McDowell defines purity as more than abstinence: purity is “a commitment to live according to God’s design.”
Purity is a mindset. It is making a clear decision to live as God instructs us in His word… before you are in a situation where your resolve will be tested.
So what is God’s design for sexual purity?
The Bible tells us right at the beginning in Genesis 2:23-25:
“The Man said, ‘Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman, for she was made from Man.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” (MSG)
This short passage captures the essence of the Bible’s teaching on sexual purity. From it, we can learn the following truths:
- God created sex to be exciting, pleasurable, and thrilling.
Adam’s statement in verse 23 might sound odd in our language, but his enthusiasm is clear.
- Sex is intended for marriage.
A man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. THEN they become one flesh through sexual interaction.
- The married couple becomes one flesh.
Chemicals in our brain are released during all sexual activity (that includes kissing and thinking about sex) that bond us for life to a person. Visual and emotional sexual memories are stored in the mind and linger there for life. They do not go away once you find the right person or change your mind about the person you are with. (See the McDowell’s The Bare Facts for an in-depth explanation.)
- Adam and Eve felt no shame.
This goes, in part, back to what I mentioned in #3. Imagine being with your new spouse for the first time, but memories of the other people you’ve been with sexually won’t stop resurfacing. In essence, you might not be alone in bed with your spouse.
In additional to the Biblical perspective on purity, we also know these truths most of us have witnessed or learned from others:
- Safe sex is emotionally and physically impossible.
A lot of diseases, such as the HPV strains, are often asymptomatic. People sometimes don’t know they’ve contracted a virus until years later, perhaps after they find out the disease has rendered them infertile. And HPV is spread through skin contact, not just sexual contact. Scary? Definitely!) (Again, see The Bare Facts for more info.)
- There is something powerful about knowing you were worth the wait.
On a deep emotional level, there is a sense of shame girls often feel when they engage in sexual activity outside of the boundary of marriage. They give their body and heart to a person, but without the commitment of marriage, there is a sense of insecurity. The partner has not committed to you fully, so feelings of shame often result. Even if you are about to be married, having sex with the person before your vows are spoken will bring shame and roots of bitterness.
- Having an STD is painful emotionally and physically–and it can also cause feelings of shame.
The statistics on the prevalence of STDs are pretty staggering. Mandy Scarr relates this beautifully: “I had stepped outside of His best. I had allowed for the lusts of my flesh, the world’s carefree mentality to drag me away from His design—and there are consequences to that.”
Sexual purity takes iron resolve.
It takes commitment, an intentional mindset, accountability, and prayer. God created the sex drive to be incredibly strong, so pretending you don’t have one will not help your resolve. Understanding why purity is worth the price and putting safeguards in place to help you preserve your purity will be worth it in the end.
For further encouragement: