Tag Archives: Purity

Can I Have A Pure Heart and Also Have Sex?

20 Sep
"Woman Lying on a Bed", by Pierre Bonnard, 1899.  Image via Google.

"Woman Lying on a Bed", by Pierre Bonnard, 1899. Image via Google.

“If you do not get married, do you think you will be able to forego ever having sex again?”

Last night Mr. Smooth told me that he was asked this question many years ago, and that his response was, “That is not going to happen.  I am definitely getting married.”

This conversation of ours, where Mr. Smooth talked to me about issues regarding personal purity, came out of nowhere.  In the interest of edifying the blogosphere, he has permitted me to detail a little of our talk.

At the time that he was asked that question, Smooth explained to me, he was not able to commit himself to not having sex ever again.  Years passed before he could make that commitment to the Lord.

Smooth also told me that several years ago he’d had a spiritual breakthrough that released him from the pornography habit that had been an issue for him for most of his life.

Finally Smooth told me that sometime after that breakthrough, his pastor had the men in his church begin to focus on adhering to higher standards of personal purity.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“StillSingle,” Smooth replied, “a lot of men struggle with…touching themselves.  It’s something they don’t even think can be helped.  I have reached the place where I have committed to not doing that.  It is not easy.  But I think back on where the Lord brought me from, when I couldn’t even commit to not having sex, and I know that if I take it day by day I’ll make it.”

Our conversation got me to thinking about the practical side of purity.  If rules are not the point, how is one to actually live?

I think God has to help us.  Help us to create firm sexual boundaries if we are used to being sexually active.  Help us to stop turning to sensual images and romantic fantasies to stimulate ourselves sexually.  Help us to stop (ahem) touching ourselves.  And help us to figure out why we want to do these things.

I think God gets us to figure these things out by causing us to focus on Him.  The more we focus on Him the better we know Him.  The better we know Him the more we love Him.  The more we love Him the more we want to please Him.  The greater our desire to please Him, the greater our desire to fight temptation.

The details of our resistance, though, have to be worked out individually, according to our own lifestyles, proclivities, and weaknesses.  I don’t know what Mr. Smooth does to keep from touching himself.  I know for myself, though, that there were mornings in past times when I found myself jumping out of bed like there was deadly spider crawling on my sheets.  I know that these days (and I’m just going to say it like it is here) when I feel my body winding up, and I’m lying in my bed with some scripted fantasy beginning to play in my mind, as soon as I am cognizant of what’s happening, and of where things are headed, I stop my fantasizing in mid-action.  And instead of my mind focusing on a storyline involving sex, I focus my mind on a storyline involving love.  Specifically, the love of my as-yet-unidentified-husband.  I write a letter to him.  I tell him what time it is, I tell him what happened during my day or night or morning that led me to think of him, I tell him how I miss him, and how much I love him.  The exercise of trying to think of what to tell him in my letter, and the very idea that this man is out there somewhere right now, is usually sufficient to turn my mind and body away from temptation.  God gives me grace.

There is no universal prescription for purity.  But if we desire purity, and pursue God, and take it day by day, we’ll get there.

Not Even a Hint? How Is That POSSIBLE?

17 Sep
The eye of a needle.

The eye of a needle. Image via Wikipedia

Lots happening.  But we have to finish dealing with purity before we get into the other stuff…

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Eph. 5:3-6

The thing that troubles me about this passage is the same thing that gives me hope:  God is exacting in His standards.

“Not even a hint” makes it clear that God has a zero tolerance policy for sexual immorality, as well as impurity and greed.  I tend to think that the specificity of God’s directive has to do with the way that a lot of us tend to think.  Hearing that sexual immorality is prohibited, I, for one, would be quick to confirm to the Lord that I do not engage in any kind of sexually immoral acts.  I would convince myself that all the things that I don’t do sexually bestow upon me righteousness.   To help me to see clearly my non-holiness and His utter holiness, God includes the directive not only that I must have sexually integrity, but also that I must be pure. 

Ahh, purity. 

Purity does not refer to deeds in the same way that sexual immorality does, but moreso to that illusive cleanness, uprightness, and goodness that Holiness demands.  I recall how explicitly God expressed His standards of cleanness and purity when He gave detailed requirements to the Israelites as to how He was to be worshiped.  He was specific about the clothes to be worn—and the quality of the fabric of those clothes, the food to be eaten—and when and how it was to be eaten, the utensils to be used, the fragrance of the incense to be burned; every detail spoke to holiness and purity in the worship of God.

In the old days purity meant a heart for God that compelled adherence to ceremonial standards.  These days purity means a heart for God that compels one to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Purity goes beyond “I’m not doing anything sexually immoral,”  and gets to “Am I right, clean, and good in my heart attitude?  Have I looked at anyone with eyes reflecting a lustful heart? Have I spoken to anyone with words reflecting a profane heart?  Have I thought of anyone, or anything, in a way that reflects a corrupt or envious heart?”

I think of God’s command that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or impurity (or greed, which issue we’ll save for another day) among us Christians and I am certain that this command, “not even a hint,” is well nigh impossible.  And then I remember that Jesus gave us the only solution that is to be had: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 

The same truth must apply here.  Otherwise, how does one achieve the state of existing with “not even a hint” of impurity?  Where is this church that Christ is coming back for that is without spot, blemish, or wrinkle?  Who will be the Christian bold (or ignorant) enough to proclaim that he embodies holiness, since without Holiness no man shall see the Lord?

I won’t speak for you, but I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I am counting on being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I am reminding myself that it is in him I live, and move, and have my being.

If God has commended me to 100% purity and freedom from sexual immorality, then the God who has called me is faithful, and He will do it!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Is Purity Relevant For Those Over 35?

15 Sep
lily of the valley

"Lily of the Valley". Image by Jamelah by flickr

Church culture subtly but firmly dictates that the Faithful Single woman comport herself in accordance with a list of commandments:

  1. She will not have sexual intercourse
  2. She will not have sex of any kind
  3. She will not engage in heavy petting
  4. She will not kiss
  5. She will not flirt
  6. She will not be alone with a man in her home or his, or alone at all with a man whom she is courting
  7. She will not live alone but with roommates or, preferably, with her parents
  8. She will not wear apparel that in any way exposes any part of her body between the neck and the calves
  9. She will not watch, read, or listen to any kind of media that depicts nudity or lovemaking or sex
  10. She will not think about anything related in any way to lovemaking or sex, this may or may not include marriage

To be a committed Christian single woman in her 30s or 40s who does not adhere to such a Code of Purity  is to be an anomaly.

And this is where I find myself.  Desiring purity, but not a code of conduct that does not fit the practicalities of my life as an older single.  Homeownership is my goal, not living with my parents.  Deftly navigating my way through a world of men who are comfortable with their masculinity and sexuality is my objective, not isolating myself from this male population.  Being fashionably and attractively attired is my ambition (and professional responsibility), not oblivion to stylishness for the sake of an image of modesty.   I read romance novels sometimes.  I watch and enjoy Sex and the City.  I want to be kissed and touched and held by a man.  I desire marriage desperately.  The Older Christian Single who is singularly devoted to and satisfied by church work is not me.

 Recently, though, I read afresh in the Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well that passage in Ephesians (you know the one): 
There must not be even a hint of sexual immorality among you; and
No immoral or impure person has any inheritance in the kingdom of God; and
Don’t be deceived by empty words, because of such things God’s wrath comes on the disobedient.

Not even a hint of sexual immorality? What am I to make of these words? 

“This passage of God-breathed Holy Scripture,” the Accuser eagerly explains to me, “basically spells out that you are definitely going to Hell.” 

OK, so the Accuser is also a liar.  But what is the truth?  How does God feel about the continuing blemishes to my sexual purity? 

As I pondered these things my mind turned towards the life of David. 

During his lifetime, King David sinned grievously against the Lord’s commandments on many occasions.  Among other misdeeds, he entered the tabernacle, touched and ate the consecrated bread, which was lawful only for the priests, he stole (by conversion) Goliath’s sword, he coveted his neighbor’s wife, he committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, and he even committed murder.  Yet despite David’s extensive list of transgressions against the Lord’s explicit and express commands, God extols David as a man after His own heart. 

David’s predecessor King Saul, on the other hand, did not violate the law of God in any of these ways.  Yet the Lord rejected King Saul and was grieved by him.

By this I am encouraged that the purity that God seeks is not a purity that can be tallied up and scored at the end of the night.  God is looking for the pure in heart.  Not the perfect in deed.  The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him.  2 Chronicles 16:9. 

Yes, purity is relevant.  But for me purity means being real with God about where I am, what I am feeling, what I have done, and what I want to do.  Purity means having a heart that trusts in the unfailing and perfecting love of God.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Purity? Are We Going There?

1 Sep

I seem to be delaying talking about Purity, the second principle of  marrying well according to Boundless’ Girl’s Guide.  But discuss it we must!

Tomorrow.

Kissing Before Marriage?

6 Sep

I had a pretty good day at church a few weeks ago.  I finally made it to the 9am service, instead of being late to the 12 noon service.  I was lifted by the worship and by the Word.  

Outside church as I walked to my car a few blocks away, my friend K (over 35), called out to me.  I was singing in my heart, and out loud a little, and glad to see her.  I offered her a ride home.  She declined because she was on duty with missions stuff.  We walked along chatting together for a bit and ran into another friend.  I know this other friend, but K knows her well.  The other friend had just gotten engaged!  We stood on the sidewalk talking and listening to the joyous details.  Then, with hugs and kisses all around, off the other friend went.

Some part of me was vaugely disquieted by this encounter.  Another engagement that isn’t mine.  You understand.  But this was only a vague sensation. 

K turns to me, then, and says, with such glee and delight in her voice, “I have to tell you about their courtship.”

This makes me happy.  I love a love story.  Smiling in anticipation I respond, “What?”

“They’ve never kissed!”  K gushed.

My smile froze.  My anticipation was smothered. 

She went on, “It was his idea.  He wants to act honorably towards her.  They’re going to wait until the wedding for their first kiss.”

Seeing as how I immediately thought, almost as a reflex, “Is she sure this man is not gay?” upon hearing that it was his idea not to kiss the woman he loves for months while dating her and many more  months while the wedding is being planned, I was at a loss for words as to what to say to romantic, idealistic, dogmatic, K.  I managed to offer a sincere, “Isn’t that sweet,” in response before walking on quickly. 

My sense of disquiet was now glaring.

What K told me was not a love story, e.g., boy meets girl, girl resists boy, girl succombs and love prevails.  I think K telling me that story was intended as an indictment.   “See, maybe you should stop dating and stop kissing, and then you, too, could have this kind of Godly man pursuing you.”  She and I have disagreed on this issue more than once.

Sigh.

For me, this is more of the same “preach holiness but don’t mention the Holy Spirit” kind of thing.   “Tell women and men who are fortyish or older to be absolutely pure, but don’t tell them what to do about their sex drives.”   This doesn’t work.

And “no kissing before marriage” rules seem too extreme for me.

Why cannot those who want to be so abslute, refrain from imposing their rigid standards on the rest of Christendom?  Shouldn’t each of us be convinced in our own hearts about what the right thing to do is, and cause no offense to our sisters?  Isn’t it the Holy Spirit’s role to lead us and guide us and convict and correct us?

Singles of the church unite already!