(Photo by Selma Komisky)
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
By Michelle Ochen
I read the books, I wore the purity ring, I attended the classes, I pledged the commitment to keep myself physically pure until my wedding day. None of these things were wrong, in fact, all of them were good, they expanded my mind, gave me a goal, and set the course for many of the decisions I made in my teenage and pre-marriage relationships. I do not regret any of the time I devoted to understanding the concept of “purity” and the standard the Word of God has made for how we present our physical bodies before and after marriage. What I do seek to address is something you may be able to relate to, it is the un-be-known to me expectations that were forming in my mind as I went about all of these things. A concept was growing, an imagination forming, an expectation that was not realistic—the idea that if I followed all the rules, I could gain blessing in my life.
This concept is not a strange thing in itself. Life is all about choices and good ones bring about good results and negative choice, negative results, right? The Bible clearly lays out the reality that living life according to God’s standards brings blessing and that by choosing the world, you will bring destructive consequences upon yourself. What it does not teach however is a concept that by following all the rules you are guaranteed success, or magical blessing and reward. I thought that if I kept myself pure, wholesome, and a virgin until my wedding night that there would be some supernatural rain of blessing over my marriage bed and that there would be nothing but blessing in my sexual life after saying our wedding vows. I thought that by my pre-marriage decisions to honor purity, I would be rewarded in my post-marriage life and would not find problems there. I had an expectation that following the rules meant avoiding the pains and hardships of potential struggle in those areas. I was wrong.
The longer I have walked with the Lord, the more I have learned that following His ways guarantees His hand of favor over your life, but it does not mean an absence of struggle and hardship. God uses those very challenges in our lives to produce things in us that never could have been without the opposition. God works in mysterious ways, and I do not understand them all, but I am learning more that it does not usually go according to my expectations, but when I trust Him, He never lets me down. His outcomes do not avoid the hard stuff, they usually send you right through the valleys, but they always lead to meeting Him there and coming out stronger than before. God’s blessings are often gifted in disguise, unwrapped in the midst of hardship. When I got married as a young adult, I expected there to be no struggle in my sexual life, but I found that two sinners had said, “I do” and with that, brought all of their problems into the marriage life. Despite both of us honoring the Lord with our physical purity, we still encountered problems. I wish I could say that I turned to the Lord with all of it and grew stronger, but I did not. I faced failed expectations and felt jipped. I felt that the investment I put into my purity did not come out with a worthy investment. I felt like I missed out on “going with the crowd” in my younger years only to feel like my marriage life faced the same problems as “the crowds”. I was disappointed.
It took me years to realize the root of my disappointment was not as centered around the idea of purity as it was around a misunderstanding of God. I developed some unhealthy habits in my time of disappointment and found myself dissatisfied because I was not looking to the source of satisfaction, but to my own efforts. It was not until I hit the lowest season of my life, that I began to realize that only the Lord can satisfy and that His ways are not about a “do this” and “get that”, but about knowing Him and trusting Him along with the unexpected events of life. This goes from ideas on purity to career choices, to parenting, to face those things you never dreamed you would have to, losing things you valued, and realizing that nothing is a guarantee except God Himself. He is unchangeable among all the changes of life. He is an anchor to the soul. In the midst of life’s disappointments, I have learned that my problem was expecting God to do what I thought was best instead of trusting Him to do what He knows is best.
This reality leads to my final thoughts. If trusting that God truly knows best, we can then properly look at an area like purity with proper expectations and make an educated decision about it in our personal lives. Why follow purity if there is no guarantee of no problems? If that is your reason for following it, a hoped-for outcome, you will be left disappointed. Let me challenge you to have a different mindset, what if we chose to follow God’s standards on purity because we truly believe that His ways are designed to give us the best experience of life, and to meet Him in the midst of life’s events with His favor and blessings? They might not look as you expected, but I can testify that they are better than you could imagine.