I speak and write a great deal about purity yet I cannot stand with Purity Culture movement that's still happening in churches today.
Eggs Vs. Cake
Abstaining from sex before marriage is part of being remaining pure. But it is only one part. It would be like putting a raw egg on a plate and serving it for dessert as “cake” because eggs are in a cake. A cake is more than eggs and purity is more than sex.
The church has whittled purity down to a bunch of eggs instead of serving a beautiful cake that actually means what God meant it to mean. We've replaced Truth with rules to help manage this thing called sexuality and replace it with suppression. We have rules for:
The only area we seem to focus on in the flesh. We have reduced a beautiful, living, spiritual truth into dead and dry works of the flesh. We have purity rings and purity balls and purity promises but unless we have some boots-on-the-ground discipleship behind those things, they mean nothing. Until we marry real biblical sexuality with purity we'll be serving raw eggs instead of cake.
Nothing on the above list is wrong or bad we've lost the forest for the trees.
The Truth About Purity
In the Old Testament the words for pure and purity which include bar, tahor, and zakah, whether adjective or verb, refer to being clean, empty, innocent or pure, or blameless. A large number of times the word “pure” is used in the King James Old Testament is in reference to the temple construction or sacrifices offered up to the Lord. The constructs of the temple and anything offered up to the Lord was to be pure.
A large number of times the word “pure” is used in the King James Old Testament is in reference to the temple construction or sacrifices offered up to the Lord. The constructs of the temple and anything offered up to the Lord was to be pure.
Because God himself is pure, blameless, and clean and nothing less is worthy of being given to Him.
The people of God knew they could not be clean themselves so they had to rely on being made clean through a sacrifice. It was a ritualistic act that made them clean.
God forward to the New Testament and we see the words for pure in the Greek are katharos which means pure, unstained, either literally or ceremonially or spiritually; guiltless, innocent, upright, and hagnos which means chaste, holy, sacred, free from ceremonial defilement.
We see a shift in the New Testament where pure is most often referred to as dealing with the heart and the mind. No longer must we work to be clean, we are now clean through Jesus Christ.
By overcompensating for one aspect of purity we've lost the biblical sense of what it means to be pure and holy.
We need to get back to real purity – purity of heart, mind, and body. Instead, we've created this culture that catchy and well-meaning but is doing more harm than good.
Purity Culture's Down Sides
Purity Culture tries to repress sexuality
We were created as sexual beings. Adam knew Eve in chapter four of Genesis. They didn't have babies by immaculate conception. (That didn't come until later!). The entire book of Song of Solomon details the great passion a man and woman share both in the bedroom and out. There's no question, God is okay with sex.
We cannot repress sexuality but rather we must teach sexual integrity before and during a marriage. We have to answer hard questions and not shying away from frank discussions with our young people.
Purity Culture makes purity bigger than God
We are more than our hymens and purity is more than one that is intact.
Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
When we put too much power and emphasis on abstinence, we make it bigger than God. How? Because once lost always lost implies God cannot restore and redeem us.
Purity Culture leaves no room for victims
In saying that lost purity is like Duct Tape covered in hair, we're pushing out an entire set of men and women, young and old, who were touched, abused, or raped. The more hair on your duct tape the worse off you are and who will want you. Really? So the young girl who was abused at three years old is unwanted? The God I serve says differently.
Purity Culture reduces sex to a marital duty
You likely won't hear this or see it written out but the idea of no sex, no sex, no sex….married, okay sex… makes sex a duty instead of an incredibly bonding experience.
Instead of a holistic look at sexuality, we focus on telling our young women (and men) to “just not do it.” But what then, after they're married? They are just supposed to automatically know what to do? Automatically be okay with something they were told was bad, dirty, and dangerous their whole lives?
It doesn't work that way.
In a child's mind, if a parent (church leader, etc) is against a particular thing, in this case against sex, they are also for the non-existence of that very same thing. So we're creating this internal mindset that a lack of sexuality and a healthy sex drive is a good thing.
I want our children to know the truth of who they are in Christ. I want them to understand their value and decide for themselves that having sexual integrity is healthy (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). But I also want them to know that none of them, no matter their past, is less than. No one is beyond God's forgiveness, mercy, and restoration power.
Let's undo the unhealthy purity culture and replace it with Truth, Jesus Christ, his words, his sacrifice, his mandate for our lives.
You'll find an inspirational printable on replacing the Purity Culture below.