On Monday I wrote a post called, “Why Christians Should Kiss ‘Sexual Purity’ (As We Know It) Goodbye…” (Find Here).
Let me be clear: I believe that sex before marriage is wrong in the sight of God. I believe saving ourselves for marriage is worth the fight, but I do not believe sexual sin is worse than any other sin. I also think it is very hard not to get sexually involved prior to marriage, because sex is a very natural response to human romance and love.
With all this said, “sexual purity” is non-sense as we know it in the evangelical church.
There are no hierarchies of purity or holiness among Christians, no matter our sexual past, present or future. A Christian who has never even been kissed by someone is no more “sexually pure” than a Christian who is having sex outside of marriage. Both Christians are as holy and as pure as they are ever going to be, regardless of what they do or don’t do sexually.
I used to explain the “scandal of grace” like this to my middle school class:
Jesus’ blood and sacrifice on the cross is what makes us pure as Christians. If I had a bucket of Jesus’ blood and poured half of it on the worst-behaved kid in the class and the other half on the best-behaved kid in the class, the two would be equally holy because they were both covered with the same pure blood.
When we give our lives to Jesus, He covers all of our past, present, and future sins (sexual or not). Our human struggle as those who are in Christ is to let go of judgement of ourselves and others. We want to be Jesus. We want to do as He did in the popular Bible story (John 8), and say “go and sin no more.” But we are not Jesus. Forgiveness of sins is not ours to offer and neither is throwing the first stone. In the story, every human (Christian or not) represents the woman caught in the act of sexual sin.
Religious people are not comfortable with the complete justification of other people’s sins. We want people to pay for their sins, so we shame and control them and say things like “you are forgiven, but go and sin no more.” All the while, our own sin chains drag and clang on our own dirty ground. Sure, we may not struggle with the same sin that we are pointing out, but everyone is struggling with some sort of sin and if you think you are not, you are struggling with the sin of pride.
The problem with the evangelical purity culture is that it was an extreme reaction to our oversexualized culture. We, as the Church, climbed up on our high horse and began to tell young people to fight for purity that they already had in Jesus Christ. We began the whole conversation on bad doctrine that was loaded with pride and striving apart from the Holy Spirit.
We told Christian girls that those who maintained their virginity were more pure than those who did not. We told Christian boys that those who did not masturbate or watch porn were more pure than those who did. We unintentionally lied and distorted the Gospel in an attempt to “inspire” teens to save sex for marriage.
The result is what we are seeing now – Millennials who grew up in the evangelical church who are angry at the Church and are more sexually confused than ever. Any doctrine built on the foundation of judgement, legalism, and shame is not a Christ-centered gospel, and it will devastate souls.
The Holy Spirit is always pushing us towards our truest identity in Christ. If someone is a real Christian, they don’t need humans pointing out their sin and shaming them. They don’t need us smacking them on the head with our overly religious responses and quoting Bible verses to “help” them overcome their lack of knowledge or sin condition. What we need is Christians who are “sin experts” to love people and keep their mouths shut. We don’t need to convict people of their sins. That is Jesus’ job. How easily we forget that we are ALL sinners.
The Holy Spirit gently works with every Christian’s heart and inspires us to pursue who we already are – completely pure and completely justified no matter what sins we commit or don’t commit. This is the Gospel and is the beginning of teaching “sexual wisdom.”
We must be honest with our young people about sex and dethrone it in the evangelical Church, once and for all. If we save ourselves for marriage, that does not guarantee an awesome sex life or a happy marriage. Sex is complicated after marriage, whether people save themselves or not. It can be tricky to navigate, as one person may have a higher sex drive than the other person (this is almost always the case after the newness wears off).
Also, sex becomes less important over time or it becomes strategic as we enter our baby-making seasons. In other words, sex is not always sexy. It is messy – both literally and emotionally. It takes work, just like all good things in life. It’s time to get real.
God is as a Father or a Mother who only wants the very best for his or her kids. A parent who tells their child to obey them simply because they don’t want to be “sinned” against is an arrogant parent. No, God tells His kids to save sex for marriage because He cares about us. God designed people for monogamous relationships. When we don’t get married, it is too easy for one person to walk out when times get tough.
Trust me, times will get tough. Sex will not be perfect. Financial struggles will come. Some couples will deal with miscarriages and infertility and even the death of children. Someone will get chronically sick. We will lose jobs. I am going to be straight honest with you, if Luke and I had not gotten married almost 7 years ago, I am almost positive we would have broken up.
There is wisdom in getting those legal papers signed and letting friends and family hold you accountable to try and stick it out. I believe that sometimes divorce is necessary, but those legally binding documents make it harder, so people won’t go through with it unless they absolutely feel they must. I am thankful that marriage is legally binding. It made me stay, when I wanted to go. It made Luke stay, when he wanted to go. As a result, we worked it out and have a happy and healthy marriage (something we fought hard for).
Marriage is a beautiful mess, just like our relationship with God. Our marriages represent a unique promise that God has made with His beloved Church, and we are wise to value sex within the context of marriage.
As Christians, there are times we want to give up on our faith, but we don’t and even if we do, God doesn’t give up on us. God’s promise to us is forever and He sees us as spotless, no matter what sexual or nonsexual sins we are struggling with. There is no shame or fear in the perfect love of Jesus Christ.
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