Many Christians Have the Wrong Motivation for Purity – What’s Yours?
Written by Kate Hilderbrandt | October 4, 2015
The lines of purity are spread far and wide these days. I’ve seen stories about dads taking their daughters to a “purity prom” and commitment services where teenagers receive a purity ring from their parents to signify the promise they’ve made. But outside the church culture, purity isn’t often brought up. We live in a world of “Netflix and chill,” so where does purity fit into the picture?
Commitment vs. Contract
When I hear young women talk about their purity commitments, it’s often followed by a wide-eyed promise of a dreamy husband to come. The idea is that “if I promise God that I won’t fall into sexual sin, He will reward me with a handsome man and a hot married sex life.” So what happens when those things don’t fall into place on your timeline, or even at all? Did God fail?
We serve and love a good God, who loves to give his children good gifts. But it doesn’t work like a contractual obligation—us giving Him our sexual desires only in exchange for some ideal life. Marriage cannot and should not be our aim here. We need to give God the things we struggle with, our desires and dreams, and allow Him to not only give us good things, but also to shape our lives to look more like Jesus.
Guidelines vs. Grace
So many of the directives in the Bible are actually set up not just to be rules, but to be something that is good for us and for those with whom we live in community. Purity, in the form of abstinence, benefits you physically in that you can live without fear of accidental pregnancy or infections. It benefits you mentally and emotionally in that you don’t form such hard attachments with someone who may not be your lifelong love. It is a good thing.
Ladies, let’s be real. You’ve struggled with purity. I’ve struggled with purity. We’ve all been there or will probably be there at some point. When you do struggle, whether in thought or action, God has more than enough grace for that. Go to Him and talk to Him about it. Guidelines about what to do and what not to do are not bigger than his love and his grace for you.
Law vs. Love
One really beautiful thing about what Jesus has done for us is that we are free from the law. As I pointed out above, this does not mean freedom to do anything we want. We are called out of the law and called to something greater: to love.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14, NIV)
Our responsibility is to each other, in community. This can look like accountability in a small group or Bible study. It could also be a promise between you and your boyfriend to honor and serve one another by upholding the value of purity in your relationship.
What’s Your Reason?
If your motivation for purity is to get a “prize” from God, to be perfect by obeying all the rules or to prove that you can do it yourself, you probably need to have a real conversation with God and maybe a good friend about what you can do to change your outlook. Being motivated by love allows God to form your heart and life to look more like His.