A while back I was confronted with some questions/remarks about sexual purity on the Girlfriends in Christ site which I answered to the best of my ability. Realizing that this is an issue faced by many in today's promiscuous society, I decided to post the dialogue here.
For ease in reading I have alternately posted the questioner's words in blue and my response in black.
Why do you think that being pure is important for God to love you, or to be a good Christian?
Actually, the Bible is very clear that neither purity nor "good works" are necessary to have God's love which is a gift of grace. And quite honestly, everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23) It also says that even our goodness is like filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6) which means that even at our best we are "filthy" in God's eyes. (That's the bad news.) The good news is that God loves us anyway. He devised a way to clean us up "…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) See, all of us were guilty and all that sin deserved punishment, but Jesus took that punishment upon Himself and died in our place. Did you notice the part that says, "While we were sinners…"? God loves us no matter what. There is nothing we can do, say, or think that will make God stop loving us. He loves us already. We may sadden Him by our actions or inaction, but He will always love us. He proved it on the cross.
Being a good Christian has nothing to do with purity, it comes from the heart and involves helping people, caring for people, being kind and living a good life.
Psalm 24:3-4 says only those with clean hands and a pure heart may go to be with God. Matthew 5:8 says that the pure in heart will see God. Hopefully those with pure hearts will help and care for people, be kind, and live a good honest life, but doing good things doesn't make a person good. I know many people who appear good on the outside, yet their thoughts and motives are wicked. Jesus said such was the case with the Pharisees. He said they were beautiful on the outside yet filled with dead men's bones, just like a whitewashed tomb. (Matthew 23:26-28) In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus stressed that purity is more than an outward sign, it comes from a right attitude toward God. (See also Proverbs 15:26)
Those sorts of thoughts and urges are natural as is sharing them with someone you love and who loves you back; there is nothing wrong, bad, sinful or shameful about being with someone you love, in fact, it's perfectly normal. Suppressing those urges, thoughts and feelings is abnormal as is remaining pure past puberty when hormones kick in, God gave us those feelings and hormones for a reason, and he says nothing about abstaining from sex.
You are right in saying the desire for intimacy is natural. Sexual intimacy is, indeed, a gift from God. There is nothing wrong, bad, sinful, or shameful about it when it is experienced the way God intended. That's what sexual purity is…doing it God's way without any variation. And He does have a lot to say about it.
1. Sex was intended as an intimacy builder between one man and one woman for life. (See Matthew 19:5-6 and Malachi 2:16)
2. Adultery is expressly condemned by God. By definition "adultery" is "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband." (Click here for reference.) Here are some passages that condemn it: Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; and Proverbs 5; Proverbs 6:20-35)
3. Fornication is expressly condemned by God. By definition "fornication" is "consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other". (Click here for reference.) The King James Version uses "fornication". New translations translate it "sexual immorality". Here are some passages that condemn it (I'm using the New International Version. Click on the link and switch to King James Version if you like.): Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3; and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.)
When I was in college my parents gave me their old car. (I think it was a Dodge. I didn't really care as long as it got me where I was going.) My dad said, "It leaks a little oil, so check the oil every time you get to school and before you head home again." I think I followed his guidelines for a month or so, but then I started missing a time or two or three or four. Nothing bad happened so I gave it no more thought. Until the day I was driving down the road and began hearing a loud knocking noise coming from under the hood of my car. A loud BOOM soon followed and that was the end of my car. It seems the manufacturer knew what he was talking about when it came to keeping oil in the engine. I had run out and the engine threw a rod causing irreversible damage
God is our Creator, our Manufacturer if you will. He knows all about us and what makes us tick as a whole and as individuals. He's not trying to cramp our style or make unreasonable demands when He says marriage is for one man and one woman for life. If we don't do things God's way there is irreversible damage. God knows that sex His way…
…prevents sexually transmitted diseases 100% of the time.
…makes sure babies have a mom and a dad to take care of them.
…preserves the sacredness of intimacy. (Let's face it, how special is that intimacy if you or your "partner" have done it with 10 or more other people?)
…prevents a lot of regret.
…preserves trust in marriage. (How can you trust your spouse if he/she's been unfaithful in the most intimate of activities?)
I once heard sex outside of marriage compared to licking a metal pole in subfreezing temperatures. You can do it, but you will leave part of yourself behind every time. Sexual intimacy is not just physical, it is emotionally binding. And every time it is done outside of the security of the marriage relationship, an emotional piece of those involved is left behind. So much is left behind that often there is nothing left to give to the person they eventually do marry. Stay sexually pure for your future mate. What a gift to give him!
It's the organized religions that want their members to remain pure, they put a guilt trip on you so you remain true to their cause, and they hang damnation over your head if you're "weak" and give in to sin. That's how they keep their numbers in the church.
Most "organized religions" want their members to remain pure for the reasons I've already listed (i.e. preventing sexually transmitted diseases and regrets, preserving sacredness in intimacy and marriages, etc.) They know purity is ultimately best for those they love. I won't deny that some do use "guilt" to manipulate people into being or doing what they want. Unfortunately, many are quick to condemn failures in sexual purity and not failures in other areas. God wants us to be totally devoted to Him in every area of our lives.
No where in Scripture do I find that our happiness is God's goal for our lives. When our hearts are pure and focused on God we will have joy, but joy is having peace and contentment in spite of our circumstances. It is peace in doing things God's way. Happiness, on the other hand, is totally about getting our way.
I think I've already offered plenty of Scriptures regarding God's command for purity. And since we both agree we should follow His commands here are four more.
"…do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22)
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;" 1 Peter 1:15
"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." Hebrews 13:4 (The marriage bed is not pure if husband and wife bring past sexual experiences to it.)
if you want to love your man, then love him and leave your guilt at the door,
Guilt is like the knocking sound I heard in my car engine, a sign that something is wrong. If you really love your man, you will save yourself for him. You will respect him. (You won't know who your future mate will be until he pledges his life to you before God.)
purity or lack of has nothing to do with God, his love or getting into heaven.
As already stated, purity has everything to do with God. It's His command. However, I will agree that our purity or lack of it won't get us in or keep us out of heaven. It's all about Christ's purity covering our sins.
The purpose of this response is not to bash or condemn anyone who has been sexually impure. The purpose was to clarify the Bible's stance on the issue. For those reading this who have given in to sexual intimacy before or outside of marriage, I want to offer hope. Jesus died on the cross so that we could be free from the world's way of doing things. He doesn't sit in judgment, He walks beside us with love and compassion and the offer of forgiveness and a fresh start.
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
After all, Jesus died for us; shouldn't we spend our lives pleasing Him? Sexual purity is something that pleases Him. Ask Him to forgive your past mistakes and make a commitment to please Him from this day forward.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 1 Corinthians 5:17