(Photo courtesy of Cerise Ostrem)
On the True Purpose of Purity
By Samantha Gassaway
Many of us refer negatively to a vague and abstract concept known as “purity” for very good reasons. However, Christian purity is simply the status we are granted upon acceptance of Jesus as the risen Christ and abiding in obedience to Him.
With a contorted view of purity, it is easy to confuse the justice of God with the injustices of the world in which we live. To understand more about it, we must first track how. Purity first became a muddled mess in the late 1990s. The motivation of the purity movement in the late 1990s was to protect children from harming themselves and threatening their salvation. This led to an environment where Christian households were so afraid of the world they either tore their children out of it or scared them in a desperate attempt to maintain their faith.
That was the intention. The product was generations of people who felt like they were irrevocably tainted if they so much as thought about holding someone’s hand. Youth leaders and pastors had good reason to believe their duty was to protect their students from making terrible mistakes. However, the misconception and false teaching of tainting one’s soul ended up forming the purity culture we now know today.
This was a problem for two reasons. First, Christian women were then under the impression their purity was not secured. Second, an entire generation of believers made their lives outwardly pure but inwardly numb. People were taught the message that their lives were worthy of Jesus if they made it to the altar or the end as sober virgins.
Purity was first presented to many of us in Sunday morning sermons revolving around things our God abhors. It was often used synonymously with “virginity.” We were taught our purity could be stolen from us, given away by us, and bought from us; it could be torn, taken, abused, dirtied, but never redeemed. It could be tainted, but never cleansed: and so could we.
We were convinced we would make it into heaven a filthy mess of mistakes if we made it in at all. We were acutely aware of Jesus’ sacrifice, but not its purpose.
We were taught this while the greatest truth was hidden from us in fear of what we could do with this knowledge: our purity was eternally secured on the cross of Jesus, and was purchased with blood in the greatest trade agreement in history.
The pointed target was females as a collective gender. Testimonies from countless women paint a grim picture of the product of this movement: shame, torment, doubt and struggle.
These women continue feeling filthy on the marriage bed, having so closely associated sexual impulses with sinning. Rest assured: sex is not sinning. Sex is a gift given by God to His beloved creation with the purpose of being fruitful, multiplying and taking pleasure in one another given His circumstances.
As with every gift, a posture of thankfulness is necessary to appease the giver. As a good and perfect giver, our God does not tear His gifts away from us. He allows us to steward them as we see fit, knowing His justice will reign in our foolish disobedience.
That being said, purity is not about sex. I’m going to say that again: purity is not about sex. Purity is living a life in light of the cross of Jesus Christ, obeying the Father’s commands and abiding in His love as His beloved children. To overemphasize one earthly action as a means of complete spiritual depravity is to subvert the authority and status of the Creator of all earthly things.
Basically: to say you can take away your own purity is to say you are the master of your own life after you accept Jesus. This is simply not true.
So let’s start living as if we have purity in our hands, because we do. It cannot be taken. It cannot be tainted. We are pure as children of the Almighty, and we cannot be plucked from his hand and his loving care.