Photo By Evan Connelly
In a world that is so over-sexualized, it is hard to flatter the idea of sexual purity until marriage. The whole concept of this feels as though it has become obsolete in twenty-first century America. Sex is such a popular topic, we hear about it on the radio, on television, see it in magazines, the books we read, and the movies we watch. Sex is everywhere. The media has played a huge role in the way that we view sex, specifically pre-marital sex, in America today. Christians are expected to stand strong in the Word of God and to wait until marriage to have sex. In the world today that just sounds crazy. So what are the benefits to waiting until marriage to have sex? Why is that so hard to do in twenty-first century America? And how will it be overcome?
In the Bible it says in Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (NIV). God intended for marriage to be sacred and for sex to be a sacred act of marriage. When sex is had outside of the realm of marriage, a lot of negative consequences are invited to culminate.
A relationship devoid of purity is soon reduced to nothing more than two bodies grasping at and demanding pleasure
The Christian view of the world, the morals and the way of thinking, all derives from a higher power, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. “Right and wrong for the Christian come from a higher standard than any individual or group of humans – they come from God” (Orr-Ewing). The entire Christian sense of values is found in the Bible, and Christians are expected to listen to and obey the commands of the Lord. Because in Genesis we read, that “a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” we are told that marriage binds a husband and wife together by the act of becoming one flesh, sexually. Sex is supposed to be a sacred act, saved for marriage, that bonds the two together. If you are sexually pure prior to marriage, the blood that is shed is supposed to be sacred and sacrificial, somewhat like a blood promise. Consequently, if you are not a virgin when you marry, then this promise is lost and can never be given again. In his book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, Joshua Harris writes “A relationship devoid of purity is soon reduced to nothing more than two bodies grasping at and demanding pleasure. Without purity, the mind becomes a slave to depravity, tossed about by every sinful craving and imagination” (100). The book explains why it is necessary to build relationships prior to engaging in sexual activity so that the relationship has a substance that will allow it to last a lifetime. The whole premise behind his book is to teach us about building relationships with people derived from friendships. If we nurture our friendships and become better friends, we can then date with the intent to marry and protect the purity of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
So what’s the difference between purity and virginity?
Can one be sexually pure if they have already had sex prior to knowing Jesus? The dictionary defines a virgin is “a person who has never had sexual intercourse” but purity is “the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.” In an interview with Pastor Paul Foster of Lighthouse, he said a virgin is someone who has physically never had sex, but purity is about your spirit and your heart. Psalm 51:10 says “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” And in Ephesians 4:22-24, we read “you were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” These two verses say that who a person is before knowing Christ has been forgiven, and that it is important now to ask Jesus to make their heart pure and to live life in His way. This includes abstaining from sexual activity outside of the realm of marriage because that is the way that God intended it.
In an article titled “Waiting For Love: 9 Steps To Purity”, by Ron Hutchraft, he talks about nine ways to keep your heart and your relationships pure. These steps include thoughts about making the little expressions count. It is important to guard purity by making sure what a person feeds their mind is also pure. What this means is not giving in to sexual fantasies by listening to sexual music or watching sexual TV. It is important for a couple to know that who they are with is not their property, but the property of the almighty King of Kings. The couple needs to make sure they acknowledge Jesus whenever they spend time together. Protecting purity means making sure a person doesn’t put themselves in a position where they are likely to abandon morals. What protecting purity looks like is: staying out of risky environments and discussing relationship goals with each other before taking a step too far. It is important to establish boundaries to avoid crossing lines before marriage.
pornography is a $57-billion dollar industry worldwide
One of the reasons it is important to guard the hearts and minds of Christians is because it is so easy to come across sex in the media. Pornography addiction has become an epidemic and is hard to overcome, especially when thoughts and ideas about sex are basically everywhere we turn our heads. In Andrew Kreider’s sermon, titled “The Lamp of the Body, a Sermon on Internet pornography”, we are told that “pornography is a $57-billion dollar industry worldwide. The U.S. is the primary producer and consumer of pornography. There are 42 million pornographic websites. Forty million Americans regularly view internet pornography at home or work. At least three times as many men as women view pornography. Ninety percent of eight to sixteen-year-olds in the U.S. have viewed pornography online, usually while doing research or homework on the computer” (Kreider). How sad is that? According to research, “pornography, by both arousing (the “high” effect via dopamine) and causing an orgasm (the “release” effect via opiates), is a type of polydrug that triggers both types of addictive brain chemicals in one punch, enhancing its addictive propensity” (Piper). So in a way, pornography addiction can be more damaging to the brain than narcotics. By making pornography so easily accessible, the world has opened the doors to sex and sexual thoughts in ways that wouldn’t have transpired if sex was not at every cornerstone of life.
So why is this such a bad thing? Why is pornography considered taboo? Pornography is considered to have a negative impact on a person because of it’s addictive nature, it’s gateway into sexual activity, and it’s desensitization to an act that was meant to be intimate between a husband and wife. Christians are meant to preserve the sanctity and purity of sexual acts for the marriage bed and to avoid explicit material that can lead to temptation and sinful behavior. Many studies have been conducted about the correlation between pornography, happiness, and church attendance. “Results suggest that while reported pornography consumption is correlated with lower levels of reported happiness on average, this relationship is the strongest among individuals who regularly attend a religious denomination with strong attitudes against the use of pornography. While men are much more likely to report using pornography, the relationship between church attendance, pornography use, and happiness are similar for both men and women” (Patterson & Price). These results show that of those who attend church regularly are typically less happy, most likely because they are convicted of the sin in which they are committing.
Pornography leads to increased sexual desire
This increased sexual desire, if not relieved by another person, can lead to masturbation. Masturbation, in modern day American culture, is just another one of those “normal” things that “everyone” does. Not true. Americans think Christians are prudish or that they just don’t appreciate sex. Which is also not true. Sex is a very exciting part of married life, but Christians truly understand the value of sex and that it should be considered sacred and monogamous. Many would argue that it speaks in the Bible about why masturbation is wrong, but “There is, therefore, no explicit textual basis for condemning solitary masturbation, though a strong case against mutual masturbation by unmarried couples (i.e., petting) may be made since the total effect of Scripture prohibits any sexual relationship outside the marriage relationship.” Therefore, masturbation is considered wrong because according to scripture we shouldn’t be participating in sexual acts outside of the marriage bed. 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to “flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” When a person masturbates, they are doing this very thing, sinning against their own body. It ought not to be done.
It is your job to protect not only your purity but the purity of the one you’re with
Christians can take the step to guard their hearts and minds by decreasing their exposure to sex. This can be done by refraining from viewing sexual content, talking to others about sex, and limiting interaction with others who have sex. When a couple is dating, they can reduce their temptation by spending more time in group settings and less time alone together. They can also protect each other’s purity by wearing modest clothing, being careful to respect boundaries, and talking about their goals in the relationship before going too far.
By committing sexual acts outside of marriage more damage is usually done than good. Sure it may feel liberating in the moment but the rates of depression, suicide, and anxiety are at an all-time high. Even for those who do not know Jesus, sex outside of marriage, or even just too soon in a relationship can have a negative impact on a couple. Tom Lickona, the author of an article in the magazine, The Fourth and Fifth R’s: Respect and Responsibility, lists 10 emotional dangers of premature sexual involvement. These emotional dangers include: worry about pregnancy and disease, regret, guilt, loss of self-esteem and self-respect, the corruption of character, fear of commitment, depression and suicide, damaged or ruined relationships, stunted personal development, and negative effects on marriage (p. 2-5).
Many people who prematurely involve themselves in sexual activities will see that their relationships will begin to be negatively impacted. Many marriages fail, which is why the divorce rate in America is almost 50%. Sexual acts can cause an individual to lose respect for themselves and also lack respect for the other person. If someone is asking their partner to do something they are uncomfortable with, they lack respect. Period. Many of those having sex outside of marriage are having trouble staying true to who they are as a person. Uncommitted sex can cause someone to constantly be craving that connection that they are unable to obtain because of their lack of commitment, only finding themselves having more and more uncommitted sex. Society doesn’t like to commit anymore. People don’t like to get married.
if we haven’t practiced saying “no” to sexual temptations before marriage, it may be harder to resist such temptations after marriage
When sexual acts happen too early in a relationship, the relationship potentially starts to fall apart. People have stopped building the friendship and the dynamic needed to make the relationship last. When that is lost, all that’s left is the physical aspect of the relationship which is far too little to keep the relationship going. When a couple has sex prior to getting married, this impacts marriage. Sex before marriage can cause an individual to compare experiences such as, who was better at this or that, which one has had sex with fewer partners, what has been learned, etc. This is unhealthy and can lead to other negative factors in the relationship such as jealousy, or insecurity. Sex before marriage can lead to infidelity, “if we haven’t practiced saying “no” to sexual temptations before marriage, it may be harder to resist such temptations after marriage” (p.5).
The consequences that one faces when they choose not to wait until they are married to have sex are far too significant to ignore. Christians are held to a higher standard. So among all the negative worldly consequences of not waiting, Christians are also disappointing God. That is by far the worst part about it. God wants His followers to treasure our purity, treasure marriages, and save themselves for their husbands and wives. 1 Corinthians 6:9 states, “do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral or idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.” God does not condone sexual immorality. Sexual immorality can mean a lot of things like sex outside of marriage, sex with multiple partners, sex with the same sex, masturbation, etc. God created sex to be a beautiful and sacred act of marriage. If that is not honored, then relationships are likely to exhibit the same failures that the worldly relationships do.
Americans are taking flight from marriage. We are marrying later, if at all, and having fewer children
While in a culture that encourages sex on the level it does, the importance of marriage and commitment has been forgotten. Marriage is a concept that’s become, “oh I’ll do that later”. Meanwhile, sex outside of marriage has become an accepted act by society, and people are having more sex partners, but marrying later in life. In an article by Mark Regnerus, we discover that “Americans are taking flight from marriage. We are marrying later, if at all, and having fewer children.” The purpose of sex is to consummate a marriage and be the deepest and most intimate connection between a husband and wife. With the social norm encouraging people to wait until later in life to marry, this is resulting in smaller households, more broken marriages, higher divorce rates, and individuals having more opportunities for temptation and multiple sex partners before they settle down if they do at all.
Studies show that “In the past 35 years, the number of independent female households in “the U.S. has grown by 65 percent, while the share of independent male households has skyrocketed, leaping 120 percent. As a result, fewer than half of all American households today are made up of married couples” (Regnerus). The current generation is so focused on the personal and financial gain that the idea of marriage and family has taken the back burner and become an area of least interest. The modern society welcomes worldly success but doesn’t encourage commitment. When commitment is feared to the level it is by society, this opens a whole other realm of opportunities for sin and temptation which makes the goal of purity harder and harder to contain.
The world today has a very accepting view of sex. In fact, one would say that this generation is over-sexualized due to the readily accessible resources available to find sex. It can be difficult for those who do not know and follow the ways of the Bible to see just how detrimental sex outside of the marriage bed can be to an individual. Even in the world, though, because of social norms, there are guidelines for what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior. Monogamy may not be the fore-frontal center of sexual activities from a secular standpoint, but even then the goal is to eventually reach monogamy. That means, only being with one person for the rest of your life, despite how many they had been with prior to finding a spouse. In an essay about sexuality Wil Rombotis Brant says that “in an assimilation stance, there is often a singular definition of what is normal… to which is believed that all people should assimilate” (Brant). In the world, that assimilation is to “test drive the car before you buy it” or make sure you have it all figured out, finance-wise, before settling down in marriage. From a Christian standpoint, that means to get married before you fall to the temptations of sin. Both sides consider their side to be “normal” and for people to assimilate into that culture. This sort of contrasting dynamic is one of the issues regarding purity and sex in today’s culture.
Are the scriptures in the Bible even relevant in today’s society? Yes, they are, even more so now than they have ever been. American culture has plummeted downward without the love and guidance of Jesus and the Word of God. Galatians 5:19-21 say “the acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This verse sounds so much like the world today. Christians should be reminded that if they live the way the world does, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. But if they choose to live a life according to His word, then they are saved and living according to His will.
sex outside of the sanctity of marriage is not just upsetting to God, but punishable by not being able to enter the Kingdom
This is mentioned again in Ephesians 5:5, “for all of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure, or greedy person- such a person as an idolater- has any inheritance of the kingdom of God.” And again in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men that have sex with men.” It is very clear in the Bible that sex outside of the sanctity of marriage is not just upsetting to God, but punishable by not being able to enter the Kingdom.
In Genesis 2:24 we are told why God made a woman for the man, for them to marry, be fruitful, and to multiply, “that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Acts 15:20 tells us to protect our purity, “instead we should abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” These things taint the purity of the hearts and souls of Christians and should be avoided.
As one can see, purity is a thing to be treasured but has become an almost obsolete concept. It’s hard to respect the boundaries of purity and marriage when the world views sex as a normal and expected act and marriage as a contract ready to be broken. With the over-sexualizing of the media and the liberal stance that American culture has taken on the topic, holding on to our purity is an even harder task now than it ever has been. With that being said, it is more important now than ever to listen to the word of God, guard the hearts, minds, and bodies of Christians, and keep environments free of sin and temptations as much as possible. Purity is a gift from God and needs to be treated that way.
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Regnerus, Mark. “The Case For Early Marriage: Amid Our Purity Pledges And Attempts To Make Chastity Hip, We Forgot To Teach Young Christians How To Tie The Knot.” Christianity Today Aug 2009 (2009): Christian Periodical Index. Web. 30 May 2016.
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“U Researcher: More Sex Partners before Marriage Doesn’t Necessarily Lead to Divorce.” U News. University of Utah, 6 June 2016. Web. 8 June 2016