Purity. This word has many implications. I think of “kissing dating goodbye”, and bad sermons, and white dresses.
I think of poorly-written Christian romance novels that usually are set on the frontier about bonnet-wearing girls.
I think of Joanne Rivers and Redeeming Love (shiver).
I think of a certain suitemate of mine who got her dad to buy her a purity ring because she loved the piece of jewelry and still wears it while sleeping with her boyfriend(s).
I think of bad Christian t-shirts that say things like “virginity rocks” (exaggeration much?).
I think of Brio magazine.
I think of super-christian-women who cook brownies and wear pearls.
I think of my friend Sarah, who finally got the ring AND the white dress. She had beaten the odds and all the cherubim echoed a “well done my good and faithful virgin!” She was ready. And she was petrified to the bone. Having been disconnected from her body her entire life she decided she could not have sex on her honeymoon. She alarmed her poor fiancé that “he would just have to wait” so that she could enjoy her vacation.
She knew she couldn’t enjoy SEX because she had never discovered her sexuality independently or if she had, it was always associated with shame.
Sadly, “purity” has developed as a word ascribed to girls who have not “lost their flower.” This metaphorical flower does not represent worth, identity, confidence or their relationship to the Lord – but simply represents their virginity. Amelia is a picture of purity but despite her victory she is left in fear. I seem to remember hearing, “I have not given you a spirit of fear or timidity.” However, Sarah is a picture of success in the church?
When I hear the word “purity” I also remember a church-sponsored conference called “True Love Waits” I attended in middle school. I can’t honest to goodness remember one thing the speaker said but I do remember that our small group leader took us skinny dipping at night. She taught me with her actions how to cherish our bodies and sexuality in the present instead of seeing our lives in a state of perpetual waiting.
The advice I give on the subject of purity, relationships and marriage is considered not worth a listening audience. I have no credibility until I have found my soul-mate and have enrolled 3 children with old-testament last names in VBS. However, we had decided to tuck these nuggets of wisdom away because we thought no one would want to listen to us. Why? Both Jessica and I have never been a relationship lasting longer than a year. Neither of us have ever been “in a relationship,” complicated or otherwise, on Facebook. However, one major event became the catalyst for taking our heretical ideas to the public; I went to a Christian music festival. My friend, Tim Gill-price, said it best, “This event screams of sexual repression.”
The ways the guys and girls interacted at this festival left me a bit shell-shocked. I saw girls flailing themselves at boys while their butt cheeks fell out of barely-there shorts. These girls were so hungry for love and attention that they would say or act in any way to be noticed. I didn’t see many guys establishing any boundaries for these girls (Song of Soloman 8). I discovered the “other world” of this event when I went hiking late at night and found couples sprinkled on the hill making-out. This was a laughing matter until well respected guys in our youth group fell victim to this temptation. This left me angry and hurt, to say the least. In between worship and sermons, I heard sexual jokes of all kinds. I was filled with a spirit of severe hopelessness, worrying that at this pace this generation will destroy each other with their own flesh. I was filled with judgment and criticism that, despite the sarcasm in this blog, I know are not fruits of the Holy Spirit.
So it was time. Time for these thoughts to not just be advice Jessica and I give girls in small groups. It was time for us to take our countless rantings and write something down. The church should and can be a microcosm of heaven. For girls, I want purity to be a deeply rooted idea in what it means to be a daughter of God. Purity should be supported by a strong sense of worth, confidence and a realization that ladies can mirror the Holy Spirit.. I want girls everywhere to know that they are made incredibly different than men. However, this DOES NOT mean that we believe the lies that we don’t have sexual drives or a desire for physical intimacy. I also want ladies to know that it is very possible to stay sexually abstinent but more importantly emotionally whole.
It means, more than anything else, that the Lord of Heaven has set us apart for a specific calling and a powerful life. It means that he called us by name when he laid the foundations of the earth. It means that he is obsessed and jealous for our every day. It means that he formed us for a detailed plan. It means that we are precious. As we sing at our church, Hill Chapel, “I am somebody because he loves me and I am accepted just the way I am.”
It means very fearfully we have kissed dating hello (or maybe its more like a timid wave from a distance). It means I assume that boys will fall for me, but I have a higher responsibility to insure I don’t go around giving my heart to anyone who will take it. I try my best to guard my heart, or recently let the Lord guard it , because it is the wellspring of my life. It means that if guys don’t set the boundaries in “pleasant places (Psalms 16)” that I do myself. It means that I try to stay clear of “grey zones” or male friendships that destroy me emotionally. It means that I live in labels, that as a daughter of the Most High I am worth commitment. I am worth pursuit and a man who will lead, protect and chase after me. It means that all the guy friends I spend serious amount of time with love and protect me despite a lack of romantic titles. It means I very rarely spend alone time with guys who are afraid to label our friendship (verbally or non-verbally) frequently. It means that the guy-friends in my life often know how to lead me spiritually and in other less-glamorous aspects of life.
More importantly it means that I do things in life that make me feel alive. I believe Jesus came for us to live life abundantly now. It means that I love to be naked and I love to take baths and intimately understand the body which he has fashioned. It means that I walk in confidence in the clothes I wear. It means I put on make-up at night when no one else is there to see it. It means that I love to break it down on the dance floor. It means my underwear does not look like my grandmothers, i.e I wear “satan’s panties.” I do not sit around constantly making list of what I want in a man – because I am out there living my damn life! I do not read romance novels because I am currently living in a divine romance. I live sporadically, I live adventurously and I live with all my might. I try to love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind. I am consecrated in an oath to God. I am His. Daily we should be giving Him complete control over facet of our lives. The word purity needs to be thrown out the window with every bad Christian advice about “how far is too far.” We need to realize that we are sacred, because in us lives the Holy Spirit of the living God. Our holiness is not defined in whether or not we have ever slept with a man. Our Holiness and sainthood was already purchased at the cross forever (thank you Jesus and too a much lesser degree Lecrae).
However, Jessica and I strongly feel that the holiness of femininity and masculinity has been lost along the lines of the feminist movement, sexual revolutions and lame Christian counter-attacks. We are setting out to portray the destruction the abstinence only message and non-committal gender relationships have had on ladies in the church (our friends). We have seen way too many girls side-railed from their walk with the Lord because of a damaging relationships. As they say… “hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.”
This message is not a side sermon for a girl’s only conference. Purity and holiness are the bedrocks of a Christian life, and if we could live as he created us to live and love as he has called us to love, “offering our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God” the world will see the stark difference. As long as chick-flicks and romance novels continue to sell, people in every culture will be drawn to romantic love. What if we mirror the picture of Christ’s love for his Bride in the way we interact with the opposite gender? What if we possessed our inheritance and walked as if we were children of God? This advice is not for the girls who aspire to be the Proverbs 31 women only (gag), were seeking to be the Joel 2 ladies who move in the Spirit of the Living God.
More to come.