If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.
My 2018 has started with some great questions from some of you guys, and it's been so great speaking with you. Just over a week ago, one of you sent me a direct message on my Instagram handle @its_mama_tito. This was the question:
"What is your view on sexual purity in a christian dating relationship?".
Sigh! I don't know where time went and I became the adult who is asked these questions, LOL; and on this particular issue...aiyaiyai. But I genuinely believe that coming second right after understanding right doctrine on salvation, is sexual purity.
Many of you reading this spent your teenage years in church circles. You went for the church camps, attended the sexual purity conferences, made your 'True Love Waits' pledges, and you wore the WWJD rubber wrist bands. You sat around camp fires and asked, 'How far is too far' and 'what are the right sexual boundaries'. There really wasn't anywhere else to meet people your own age, so you went to church. It was the one place your parents didn't stalk your every move. The girls could sit together and giggle about boys; the boys could sit together and check the girls out. You all started getting girlfriends and boyfriends. Adolescence was peaking and your hormones were causing you to boil from the inside. Very quickly, what you were trying so hard to understand, to believe, and to live out, was in serious opposition to what your bodies were craving. And the slippery slope began. The lone thread slowly but surely unraveled the garment of faith, and some of you were lost.
I was 15 in 1999. I cannot believe it; I just had to use my calculator to confirm it. I'm a relic. Even then, staying away from sex was near impossible. And yet we had no constant access to the internet(queuing at the Burger Dome cyber cafe, can I get a witness!), no mobile phones and no satellite TV. I cannot begin to comprehend how tough things are for teenagers today...it gives me the shivers! It makes me pray harder for my children.
Now, I want to try my level best to explain why it should matter, that you don't have sex until you are married. Naturally, if you consider yourself a Christian, this is an article you should read. Read to the end before making up your mind on the issue. If you aren't a Christian, I'd appreciate you reading it as well. It will either intrigue and pull you to it, or further cement your decision to reject Jesus. For some of the verses I'll quote, I'll be using The Living Bible (TLB), which is a paraphrasing version of the Bible, not a direct translation. Let's do this; God help me.
It all began with a lie. This lie was told at the very beginning, when our vast universe held the lives of the first two human beings.
A lie was suggested to them; and they believed it. And since then, so have we.
1 The serpent was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. So the serpent came to the woman. “Really?” he asked. “None of the fruit in the garden? God says you mustn’t eat any of it?”
2-3 “Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not to eat. God says we mustn’t eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”
4 “That’s a lie!” the serpent hissed. “You’ll not die! 5 God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened—you will be able to distinguish good from evil!”
6 The woman was convinced. How lovely and fresh looking it was! And it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he ate it too.
Everyone watches the Lion King and gets anxious when the wildebeest start descending down that cliff. We hope against hope that Mufasa won't die this 20th time that we're watching the movie. But he always dies. Simba is always abandoned, and our hearts break painfully every time.
That's how I feel each time I read that scene in Genesis. If only the serpent had stayed silent. If only Eve hadn't listened. If only she had walked away. If only she had asked Adam for help. If only they had remembered their friend, God.
All of the world's pain, from the beginning of time, was birthed in this conversation, where a lie was spawned, considered, believed and then acted upon.
Now I realize many of us skim over this book of the Bible summing it up as fable, fairy-tale, illogical, irrelevant and plain foolishness in the face of modern science. That's a discussion for another day. But today I want you to see, to really see,what happened here.
Eve concluded that God was not enough for her.
She decided she wanted more.
She believed God hadn't been honest with her; He was holding out on a better life she could be living.
She stopped trusting Him and decided to go against what He had told her and her husband, because, as she had just learned, "It's a lie; you won't surely die. God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him...".
She believed that God was a liar.
And by eating the fruit, she was saying, "I want to be God."
Understanding what happened that day in Eden, will help us understand ourselves today and the irrepressible temptation to doubt God's words about sex. We're in a culture that is in ever-increasing opposition to God's words; the only truth. It's becoming increasingly offensive to people.
1 Corinthians 1:18 says:
"The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction. But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God."
That word foolish, in other Bible versions is also translated as folly, nonsense and insanity. Put simply, unbelievers consider Christians to be truly stupid, weak-minded and actually mad.
I was listening to a lady called Jackie Hill Perry speak the other day about biblical womanhood and there were a few things she said that can be applied to sex as well. She talked about being very careful about the influences that shape our beliefs and thus our actions. I implore you, be cautious about having a cynical attitude towards the Bible. If you find yourself irked by the words, it means you've been listening to and believing the world a bit too long. It means you've been gleaning from today's world, ideas of sex from people who do not know the One who literally created sex. When this happens, we see God as a liar; a liar who wants to constrain, stifle and frustrate us. We see Him as the killjoy who would withhold a good thing from us; who wants to prevent us from living a free, fulfilled, satisfied and sexually awakened life.
Can't you hear the serpent hiss in your ear?
Here's what I think. Dating is tough. I am dead set against dating for the sake of it. I stopped when I was 19 after a couple of failed relationships in which I had given pieces of myself I'd guard with my life if I had the chance for a do-over. I was so exhausted. The next time I said yes to a date was when I met my husband, seven years later and I was very interested to see if it could lead to a life together. I'm not saying you decide someone is your spouse before even saying hello to them. I'm saying, if marriage is not anywhere near your radar as a Christian, do yourself a favour, and stay single. Otherwise you'll be wasting the time of the person you decide to date, and you'll be putting yourselves in a risky situation where blood runs hot and resolve goes cold.
Now once you do start a relationship, what is really needed is obedience. This how 'far is too far' business, exposes the true motives of one's heart. You're not interested in how you can honour God. What you want to know is how far you can push the envelope before God gets mad with you. I know this because I was this person once...I just wanted a list of allowed activities so I could be on my merry way to go and enjoy these delights uptight church folk kept telling me were forbidden. "I mean, did God surely say it?", was my constant stance.
So what does He actually say.
God is the architect of sex in all it's dazzling glory. It is good. It is holy. It is right. It is beautiful. It hasn't a tinge of shame to it. It is a freeing, ecstatic, oh-so-pleasurable experience to be enjoyed as frequently as possible.
“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)
He made it exclusively for married people.
“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” (Hebrews 13:4)
Being sexually pure is serious. The stakes are terrifyingly high.
"That is why I say to run from sex sin. No other sin affects the body as this one does. When you sin this sin it is against your own body. 19 Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. 20 For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because he owns it."(1 Corinthians 6:18-20 TLB).
Sexual sin has consequences that should put the fear of God in you.
Away then with sinful, earthly things; deaden the evil desires lurking within you; have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires; don’t worship the good things of life, for that is idolatry. 6 God’s terrible anger is upon those who do such things. 7 You used to do them when your life was still part of this world; 8 but now is the time to cast off and throw away all these rotten garments of anger, hatred, cursing, and dirty language. (Colossians 3:5-8 TLB).
There's so much more, and you should look it all up for yourself. But I'd like it for us to refrain from reading the Bible in pieces. It's difficult to see the point of this without the whole picture. What do I mean?
This same God requiring purity of you, is the One who shall strengthen and equip you for every good work ( Hebrews 13:21), especially this work of purity.
He is the same God that delights over you with singing (Zehaniah 3:17), who takes great pleasure in you (Psalm 149:4), loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and is the giver of every good thing to you(Psalm 84:11, James 1:17).
He is the One who will leave the ninety-nine sheep and go looking for the one lost one (Matthew 18:12), because of His great love. Child, you mean more to Him than you will ever mean to anyone.
He is the same God who invested everything to save you, giving His only Son's life (John 3:16), to spare yours. Because He is actually LOVE (1 John 4:8).
Don't you see? These rules? They are boundaries birthed from this supernatural love of His for you. He is a Father who knows better than you, the child. There are painful consequences to sexual immorality, the worst being that it distances you from Him and you flounder through life without His guidance and wisdom. I don't let my daughter touch a candle flame just because she thinks it's pretty. I don't let my son have an entire chocolate bar, because his little teeth will rot. These examples may seem trivial, but I'm giving them for us to see that God was the first parent and is the only perfect parent. He's taking care of you when He tells you, WAIT FOR MARRIAGE. Believe Him, not the world. I beg you. Believe, Him.
A pastor called Garrett Kell who writes articles on the website desiringgod.org has taught me about this. Recognize that an enemy exists, and that he is after your soul. Satan wants you to understimate how susceptible you are to temptation. He wants you to think you could never take sin to the next level. This is a powerful trick since it simultaneously plays on both our pride and also our well-intended desire to honor God. But my friend.You're weaker than you think. You can, and you will, go where you think you won't. Sin is like the undertow of the ocean—if you play in it, you'll be overpowered and swept away into certain destruction.
Satan will tempt you to think purity is a not-to-be-crossed line rather than a posture of the heart. He wants you to think purity before God is not kissing or not taking off clothes or not having oral sex or not “going all the way.” He wants you to think that if you don't cross a certain line, you're staying pure. The problem with this kind of thinking, however, is that Jesus says if we just lust in our heart we've sinned and stand condemned before God (Matt. 5:27-30). Purity is much more about the posture of our hearts than the position of our bodies. This age-old “How far is too far?” question reveals a desire to get as close to sin as possible instead of a desire to flee as our Lord calls us to (1 Cor. 6:18).
Premarital sex and sex within marriage are two entirely different worlds. The forbidden fruit of lust portrays sex before marriage as something better, or something that will probably dissipate in marriage. Normally, premarital sexual activity is like gas on fire. Passion is high, feelings are intense, and the drive to go further is fueled by the knowledge that you shouldn't (Rom. 7:8). Sex in marriage is different. There's still passion, and there's still intense feelings and emotions—but sex in marriage is based primarily on the hot coals of trust, devotion, and sacrifice (1 Cor. 7:1-5). Couples who built their sexual expectations on passion provided by the forbidden fruit are often disappointed and confused when sex is different in marriage. You might read that and think that you and your lover are the exception to the rule, but no. You're not; nobody is. Satan wants you to get used to running on the caffeine and sugar of lust rather than mature love of service and sacrifice that comes with a marriage.
So that's it. What now.
To the single Christian, sexless in the city. I know exactly how hard it is. You are an anomaly. A lonely, longing, frustrated anomaly, sticking out like a sore thumb. The Lord sees you, and is pleased with your obedience in this matter. Wait in faith. Even if you have watched every friend you have get married and have graduated from soaking your pillow with tears to being just plain fed up and pissed off...wait. Say “no” to sin's promises, by faith in God's. Renew your mind with God's Word and keep waiting in faith. A lady I love, Elisabeth Elliot once said, "How long must I wait Lord? Never mind child, trust me."
To the men.
Guys, LEAD. You have to be the one that sets the pace for purity.Too often women are forced to draw the lines and to say “no.” That's cowardly and wrong. It's the man's responsibility to care for his future wife by leading her toward Jesus and away from sin, darkness, and the pain of evil. If he sets the wrong pattern here, he'll be struggling to climb out of the hole for years afterward—and may never regain the ground he loses apart from God's grace. So ladies, if you're the one always saying no to going back to his house after a date and swatting away his roaming hands...drop that weakling and walk in the strength of Jesus. Guys, if she spends most of your time seducing you, can you just run like a cat on fire. Run.
To those of you dating. Use common sense. Listen to the still, small voice in your heart that tells you no. Don't say you don't know how to listen for God's voice, because all of us know that immediate check in our spirits when we're approaching danger. That's God, just listen and obey. Another thing. Don't let your relationship remain unexamined by other Christians. Both of you should have a godly couple or group of faithful friends who hold you accountable. Invite tough questions and give honest answers. God uses transparency to give strength.
To you who think God's grace and love for you will overlook your sins, who has bewitched you? Shall you keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing you more and more kindness and forgiveness (Romans 6:1)? Those of you in church every Sunday, while you comfortably carry out sexual relationships all week. You guys dating women just because they are hot, having sex with them casually, knowing you have zero intentions to commit to her, not caring they are people's daughters. (Try imagine men treating your daughter the way you are currently treating the woman you're seeing and decide if you're a punk or not). To you who are lifting hands in worship in every service, crying crocodile tears, half-repenting, half-knowing you have no plans to give up the sex, because it's too good. Know this; you are hurtling down the Hell Express freeway. Not my opinion. It's God's words.
The Son of God was publicly humiliated and murdered on a wooden cross to save you; His blood didn't soak into the soil that day for you to lead a double life. It is not cheap grace He gives. It cost Him everything. You are being a hypocrite; and Jesus' harsh words to hypocrites in the gospels are referring specifically to you.
If you think I'm just trying to scare you, it's because it's FRIGHTENING. This isn't a joke. Stop playing with fire. Don't deceive yourself; God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7) .
Finally. To the one with a broken heart over your sin. To the one still here reading this article about to give up because of how much you've messed up: Jesus came for you. And His is the kind of love that will wash you completely, until you sparkle white as snow. A thought occurred to me recently. I realized, most of the people who listened to Jesus and the apostles and became Christians, weren't virgins. A large percentage of the first followers of Christ had led sexual lives before encountering Love. Think of those in Corinth, and in Rome. Sex was god in those times...If you read the first chapter of Romans you'll see how orgies and same-sex relations were the order of the day. And these are the very people who became God's children when they believed in Jesus for their salvation. Clearly, God will accept anyone. So reject that lie, that because you 'lost your virginity', you could never enter the Love of God. That is the serpent hissing.
Enough dwelling on what you've done, what is lost. Enough.
I am not perfect; I made my mistakes. But with Paul, I say that God made me His own, despite my mess. And so, I'm not going to wallow. I'm going to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. I'm pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (Phillipians 3:17)
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT. Like my dear friend Nash has commented below, Sexual purity isn't just about avoiding sex until marriage, but rather, going all the way in the opposite direction, pursuing God. He is the goal of our faith; and purity makes it possible for us to know Him more, and more...and more. That kind of intimacy makes all others pale in comparison.
Christian, wife, mom, doctor, and an alien on earth, on my way to the city of God.