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Purity is so Much More than a List of Rules

By: Bethany Beal

I was that girl. The girl who grew up in church, saved sex for marriage, wrote letters to her future husband, and tried to do all of the “right” things a good church girl should do.

In fact, I even saved my first kiss for marriage.

Check. Check. Check. I was marking off the boxes that a pure girl should check off. I was following the rules and being “pure.”

Looking back on my 30 years of life, I see a stark contrast in the way that I used to view the concept of purity to the way that I view it right now.

As much as I hate admitting this, I was (and still am at times) a rule follower and a Pharisee. I was the girl saying to God, “Look, God, look at how I love you! I follow all of these rules and I’m pure!” I so wanted to do all of the right things that I often lost God in the midst of it.

I often did things for the sake of my own name and reputation rather than for the name and glory of God.

I’ll never forget the day that God did some serious heart work in my life. He helped me to see how I had been striving to measure up. To be enough. To follow the rules. To be pure as a result of my own efforts. God helped me to see the gospel in a new and fresh way.

He helped me to see that He didn’t die because I was “good,” He died because I wasn’t good. He died because I needed a Savior (sounds basic, but it was a big moment for me). From that moment, my motivation to embrace certain standards and convictions really began to change.

Instead of saving kissing for marriage because I wanted to be “good enough,” I saved kissing for marriage because it was a freedom that God had given me and a choice He allowed me to make. I could save kissing for marriage out of a desire to honor God, without viewing this as a “must” in order to have worth and value. My heart’s focus was no longer on “rules” but on honoring Christ from the inside out.

It was a heart shift for me.

You can read more about this topic in Chapter 7 of Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart! 

My prayer is that God will use this blog to help us see God’s heart for purity. My hope is that we will be changed and that our actions will flow out of a heart that is completely focused on loving God and bringing honor and glory to His name alone. That our desire to “do good works” will flow out of our love for Christ.

Here are a few of the most important things that I’ve learned about purity over the past many years:

1. We can’t add to or take away from our worth!

I think this is one area that God is continuing to help me grasp. I have the tendency to want to add to my worth. I want to earn my salvation by doing “good” things. God has graciously shown me over and over again that I can’t add to or take away from my worth. It’s not about what I do, it’s all about what He’s already done.

This is an area that many of us tend to struggle with. Whether it’s demeaning ourselves and viewing ourselves as “less than” because of sinful choices we’ve made, or, elevating ourselves and doing our best to be acceptable to God.

Both mindsets are wrong and prideful.

One says, “My worth is up to me. Thanks for what You did on the cross, but I’ve ruined myself. Not even You (God) can redeem this mess.” The other says, “My worth is up to me, God. Your work on the cross wasn’t quite enough. I need to follow rules and be sufficient in myself to be “acceptable in your sight.”

Both of these mindsets are wrong. Both put the responsibility of worth on ourselves rather than on our Creator. This passage is a great reminder of Who does the saving.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

Kristen and I touch on this very topic in Sex, Purity and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart. We say,

“If we, as women, have the ability to contribute to, or to take away from our worth, the gospel is meaningless. Jesus’ death on the cross would have been pointless. We need to remember that every single one of us is incredibly imperfect and in desperate need of Christ and His perfection. We are all impure before God (Isa. 64:6). We all need His saving grace and perfect righteousness to make us pure. Instead of striving to earn our worth through our pure actions, let’s accept the worth that Christ has already given us. We don’t have to earn it. He gives it freely.”

2. There aren’t Pure People and Impure People.

I think for way too long Christians have associated purity with certain physical actions. Think about it. If a girl has sex before marriage, we often hear things like “she’s lost her purity.” What an awful and unbiblical mindset.

Since when did the word purity equate to virginity? 

When we look inside the Bible, we see that purity isn’t something that some people are born with and aren’t. We see that ALL are impure before the Lord. We are all “lost sheep.” We are all imperfect and in need of a Savior.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” -Romans 3:23-24

Instead of dividing people into separate camps, let’s instead recognize that we are all in need of a Savior. There is not one more holy, pure, righteous than the other. It’s only by the grace of God that we can be redeemed and clothed in Jesus’ holiness. If we’ve accepted Christ as our personal Savior, we should strive (through the power of Christ) to become pure and holy as God is holy.

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:16-17)

The goal should be a pure heart that desires to follow God’s Word and become like our Savior. Every action and choice we make should flow from that heart.  

3. God’s Gift of Sex Should not be Demeaned.

I think it’s so incredibly sad that we (as Christians) demean God’s good gift of sex in the name of “purity.” Many Christian’s have been scared into saving sex for marriage because they’ve been told that sex is “bed and terrible.” No. Sex isn’t bad or terrible. Sex is wonderful, in the right context.

God created sex.

It’s a wonderful, beautiful, amazing gift (to be enjoyed within the context of marriage). Instead of scaring people into waiting, we should learn to view sex through a biblical lens. As Kristen and I say in our new book Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart,

“Sex should never be cast in the light of being a bad or scary thing. If this is your perspective of purity, then your choices to abstain from sex will most likely be rooted in fear. You’ll be left wondering things like, “if sex is such a bad and scary thing, why did God create me with longings? Why did He give me desires if they are so wrong?” Instead of embracing this wrong narrative, we need to reject it. It’s not biblical and it’s not helpful.”

If you’d like to dig deeper into God’s design for sex and sexuality, grab a copy of Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart, In fact, chapter 7 “Imperfect Purity” digs deep and fully unpacks this topic we’re discussing.

What is your perspective of purity?

I’d love to hear more from you on this topic. When you hear the word “purity” what comes to mind? How do you feel like your current perspective lines up with God’s Word?

Let’s continue the conversation below.

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4 Responses to Purity is so Much More than a List of Rules

  1. Shanae B says:

    Since when did the word purity equate to virginity? I’ve always wondered that myself. That particular mindset hasn’t really been a struggle for me, but I’ve known people who have. There’s been a lot of misconstrued views of purity, innocence, and virginity in the church and even the culture. They’re not all the same thing. Oswald Chambers mentions in his devotional ‘my utmost for his highest’ how purity isn’t synonymous with innocence, and in God’s people shouldn’t be. Thanks for sharing about this!

    • Better then no one says:

      Shanae B… do you mind me asking what is your denomination and what you believe? (Not asking to attack) just was trying to find someone I could talk to…

      • Shanae B says:

        I personally believe in the Bible! A personal relationship with Christ is most important, after that Bible reading and study! You have to work out what God works in through the Holy Spirit, and God will bring the right people into a persons life to guide them aright when they truly seek Him! Realistically God has authentic people everywhere, yet even with the global church it’s the heart relationship with God that matters not the particular denomination one is. I personally grew up in a church that was basically a 50/50 mix of Baptist and Pentecostal until I was 14. My family left because of burnout from over working in ministry. From then until I was age 22 my family basically church hopped various churches; Baptist, home church, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. I’ve never went to a catholic or Mormon church, but know many people who do or use to. I’m currently 30 and for the past 8 years I’ve gone to nondenominational churches (which usually always has a tie or connection to one of any denomination, very few truly nondenominational churches exist). The particular one I’m at now has a tie to Presbyterian. I gave you a lot, but hope it helps!

  2. Lynne Logan-Pye says:

    We are all born with a sin nature (nothing that we did, no action of ours, made us that way). Having been born in sin it should not surprise us that we do ‘sin’, because it is our nature). Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus! He who knew no sin became sin for us!! Wow!! He was righteous, yet became sin. Guess what, when we come to the Lord WE become His righteousness!! Wow!! Our nature is changed!! From sin nature to a righteous nature!! All a free gift of Gods grace!! Rom 5:17 says those that RECEIVE the abundance of GRACE and the GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will REIGN in life through Christ!!


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