i have more than a few problems with what is generally labeled “purity culture.”
i try not to pontificate on them, mostly because i usually go on more of a rant than any sort of educated dialogue. i prefer not to speak unless i know i have something of value to say. i’ve actually gotten more and more quiet as i grow up because i’ve better learned the value of just shutting up sometimes. unless i have something to say that’s going to build, i’d rather just not speak.
but today i have to, compelled by a blog post and from long-spiraling thoughts. because i’m learning when we focus on purity culture over Jesus culture, we do a whole branch of people a disservice, including ourselves.
nadine wrote a heartbreaking post last week on being unequally yoked. i’m asking you to go read it before you keep reading here so that you continue on with the proper context, even though i’ll briefly share with you the point: being unequally yoked is not one person being a christian and the other person not. being unequally yoked is being unequally sure of Christ, whether you believe on His name or not. being unequally yoked is as simple as one person believing Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is not enough to cover every last sin a person has committed.
i know people who have compromised sexually. it happens. it’s in the bible. it’s a part of life.
i know other people who buy so strictly into the idea of purity as the ideal that they have said they will never, ever marry someone who has had sexual experience, whether so far as intercourse or not, before marriage.
y’all, this may sound crazy but i would rather have someone broken & redeemed, because that kind of man knows he isn’t perfect, knows all that keeps him together is God’s grace
there is one standard by which we’re measured: perfection. and we fail, absolutely. it doesn’t matter how you fail – i don’t think God is terribly worried about that part. what matters is that we have. all of us.
do i want someone who has respected himself and me and our marriage enough to keep what’s intimate for when we’re married? yes. but will i reject someone for not doing that? when he didn’t know Christ or was walking away from Him? no. absolutely not. because if i believe grace covers my selfishness and my control issues and my anger, then i have to believe grace will cover my future husband’s sins, too, whatever they may be; however serious they are.
i remember hearing this from girls years ago, when i was still a young teenager, saying they wouldn’t marry a man if he hadn’t kept himself pure. and i remember thinking that of course, that’s what we as women want, men who have respected us as their future wives since before they knew us, but can we really say so heartlessly that we won’t marry men who didn’t, only because they didn’t?
is that even fair?
because i have to look as equally judgmental on me, and friends? i am not pure either. because as a teenager i twice handed my heart over to be stomped into tiny pieces. purity is as much emotional as it is physical. it’s mental. it’s practical. it’s a holistic concept.
and we’ve turned it into an idol.
i’ve thrown out the ideas of both modesty and purity as things i want to pursue, or at least, i have in the sense in which they’re generally understood. because they’re faulty. because they didn’t work. and because frankly, i have better things to do with my time than overanalyze how i’m living either one of those ideals.
if we focus on Christ, all else falls into place. everything. how we treat each other. how we find our spouses. how we learn to give the hard grace. how we encourage. how we serve. how we live. even how we die. if our eyes are seeking Him only, the rest of our lives will be worked out. He is faithful to keep perfecting us; He says that Himself.
i’m tired of being unequally yoked. i’m tired of being unequally yoked to this idea that i have to live in a way that maintains a standard i never asked for. and ultimately, i think staying yoked to this idea means we stay yoked to a limited view of God’s grace. if we say we won’t marry men (or if you’re a man, women) who have been sexually active before marriage but have repented and are now following Christ faithfully, we are saying we don’t believe God’s grace is enough to cover those sexual sins. we’re saying God is not in fact, omnipotent. and by extension we are ultimately saying – and how this terrifies me to think – that God is not God.
is He or isn’t He?
did He or didn’t He put stars in the sky? give breath to dirt made flesh? make His Son to be born of a virgin? die so all – every last dirty one – of our sins might be fully redeemed, and our souls be destined for glory instead of fire?
if we question His ability to redeem, we question His power. we question Him and we limit Him. don’t we believe our God can do anything?! this is a God who makes the deaf to hear and the blind to see. He makes the lame walk. He wrestled with and defeated hell in THREE DAYS. He has redeemed us from a whole lotta yuck and He is making us new, every minute, and if we can see His grace flowing over us in individual seconds we ought to believe He can redeem even the most serious wrong choices of a lifetime.
i’m not perfect. i won’t pretend to be. and i refuse to expect it of anyone else. we’ve all fallen short of the glory, and that’s the only standard to which i want to look.