Pure Hope–Bringing Purity Back to the Bedroom

PurityLargeOur family has been to Africa several times, to a children’s home for rescued kids and teens. We have met girls who were prostituted out by family members. We have met girls who became mothers at 13 and 14 because grandparents sold them for food. We met girls who were imprisoned for being homeless, and who were then used regularly by the guards.

They are pure.

They have found Jesus, and they know that what was done to them does not define who they are. And they know that it’s not just about God seeing them as pure because of what Jesus has done–it’s also that they don’t bear the responsibility for that shame at all. We live in a fallen world, and people acted towards them out of that fallen world. And they know that God has a new start, and a new future, for them.

A few months ago I published the anonymous story of a homeschooling blogger who, long ago, worked as a stripper. She used her body because it made her feel powerful.

She is pure, too. She is pure because she came back to Jesus, and she recognized that what she was doing was wrong. And God is helping her rebuild her life and her marriage.

Purity has received a bit of a drumming in the media lately. There’s been a stream of articles saying something like this:

When Christians preach abstinence, they make anyone who has ever made a mistake or anyone who has been assaulted feel like garbage. Like they’re goods that should be tossed aside.

I do understand this sentiment. Sometimes we phrase purity in the wrong way–as if you can be “tainted” irrevocably; as if these girls in Africa or this homeschooling mom can never, ever get back something precious, and they are ruined for life.

Can we resolve this?

I think we can, and that’s why I’m participating in Purity Day with a bunch of other bloggers to talk about how precious a thing it is. To me, it boils down to this:

Purity has far more to do with what you believe about God now than it does with what you’ve done with your body in the past.
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I am a mother of two teenagers, and so I talk a lot about purity. I really want my children to wait until they’re married to have sex–or even to get sexually intimate with someone else (because let’s face it; you can be intimate without intercourse). But this isn’t because I think they will be worth-less if they don’t wait.

It isn’t because I will be disappointed IN them.

It’s because I will be disappointed FOR them.

God’s design is for sex within marriage, because sex is so much more than physical.

God created sex to unite us in three ways: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. When we take sex outside of the marriage context we make it all about the physical, because you can’t feel like you’re one with someone that you are not committed to. It changes the very nature of sex. And then it becomes harder, when you are married, to experience deep intimacy during intercourse because it’s always been about something else.

That’s one of the reasons God wants us to wait–so that we can experience that real intimacy.

And it’s also because when we don’t wait for marriage to have sex, and share our bodies before we’ve committed our hearts, we can hurt ourselves. It’s easy to rationalize this away, and say, “if Christians didn’t make people feel guilty over sex they wouldn’t feel badly! The problem is with the church for making everybody feel guilty!”

I don’t think the problem is with God. I think the issue is that, at heart, we know that sex is a deeply personal experience. There’s a reason why we cover ourselves up when we go out of the house. There’s a reason that we dread internal exams at doctor’s offices. There’s a reason that we have nightmares about showing up at school naked.

It’s because nakedness ISN’T something we share with everybody, and we’re born with that instinct that it is something special, to be preserved.

And when it isn’t, we do tend to feel badly. We tend to feel shame.

Now Jesus doesn’t want us to live in shame; He came and died so that we don’t have to.

When we recognize the true nature of intimacy, and how much God loves us, we can recapture that purity, perhaps even to a greater degree. It’s not just about living by rules; it’s about understanding real intimacy. Once we understand purity and intimacy with God, we realize it’s so much more than just what we do with our bodies.

Yet many of us are living in limbo. We want to believe this, but we haven’t experienced that “deep connection” with our husbands in bed. It’s always seemed, well, shallow.

If you feel like you have had sex, but you’ve never made love, it could be that in your marriage you haven’t found that “purity” that God wants for you.

And I can tell you from experience that the physical side of sex feels so much better when the intimacy is also there! They’re both totally and completely intertwined. What I desperately want is for everybody to understand how beautiful it is to make love to their spouse–when you know you are united body, mind and soul.

That is His design.


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But He also made a way so that even if we didn’t live up to it, or even if someone has snatched something precious from us, we can still find that purity, that innocence, that beauty in making love with our husbands. Jesus makes all things new. Jesus died for the shame that we felt, whether due to something we did, or something that was done to us.

Everyday on this blog I read comments and get emails from women who are so broken. Porn has ravaged their marriage. Abuse has marred their sexuality. Erotica has damaged their ability to feel “one” with their husbands. And they yearn for that feeling of oneness, that feeling that they can truly make love to their spouse.

You can! But the route isn’t to say that purity doesn’t matter; the route is to say that it DOES matter. It matters greatly. But no matter how big your problems are, God is still bigger. And God wants to enter into that pain and to fill that void and help you experience real intimacy once again.

He’s calling you to get lost in Him. To revel in Him. And as we do that, we’ll develop a healthy and beautiful yearning for true intimacy with our husbands, because our spirituality and our sexuality are so connected.

If more people caught this vision, that intimacy and purity are something so beautiful, and so tender, we’d have less hurt in the world. And we’d have more beauty.

I don’t preach purity because I want people to feel guilty; I preach it because I want people to avoid pain, and I want people to experience true joy in their marriages.

We don’t experience that by denying that sex is a deeply personal experience; we experience it by coming to terms with what sex is, and going to God for release from our pasts and for a vision for our future. That’s something that God offers to all of us, whatever our background. He says, come to me and I will make all things new. He says, “for if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.”

31DaysCover 110Can you choose to be free today? Can you choose to walk in that–to leave behind the shame, and the guilt, and the porn or erotica or fantasies? Purity is the route to real freedom. And it is truly beautiful.

Join the Blog About Purity Day! Check out the other blogs participating here, and then share these posts everywhere you can.

If you want a new start with your husband, and a new chance to experience “making love” and not just having sex, I encourage you to try 31 Days to Great Sex. It isn’t “31 days of sex tricks”. It’s 31 days of learning how to communicate, how to dispell the lies we believe about sex, how to laugh together and flirt, and how to explore and have fun. Each day builds on the one before, and it helps you feel so much more connected. It’s the best $5 you’ll ever spend on your marriage!


Comments

  1. Your point is correct. Unfortunately, not all consequences of sin can be undone. Some mistakes (or sins) will, no doubt, leave permanent consequences.
    As far as shame is concerned, I would say that not all shame is wrong. Paul said in Romans 6.21 “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? ” It is normal to be ashamed of sins. Some shame is abnormal, maybe a better word would be “guilt”. That has been taken care of.

    • I guess I’m more thinking of shame from the point of view of someone who was abused. They carry so much shame–and I think that is the word for it–that isn’t theirs to bear. But you’re absolutely right–shame can be a good thing. In fact, I wrote about that here. I think our society could do with a lot more shame! I’m sorry if I didn’t differentiate between the two enough in the post.

  2. I came over to read and comment on what your contributed to the Purity blogging day…which was beautifully written and well said, by the way. Then I realized it might be you! A couple years ago I was sitting in a workshop in Richmond with an agent named Chip and he was talking about a book he was representing: A Good Girls Guide to Great Sex. At first, my insides crashed and I thought to myself, “I’ll never have anything to offer the Christian book market.” And then the Lord reminded me, I was a broken ‘bad girl’ who has been on the path to discovering intimacy. From that workshop was born a project dear to my heart. Anyway, if that was you, I want to tell you (if this is indeed your book idea I heard about) how much the very idea of your book was used by the Lord to uncover a healing process of my own as I wrote the content for “A Bad Girl’s Guide to Intimacy”. Beautiful connection. IT’s a privilege to blog with you ladies today.

    • Marian, that was definitely me! So cool. I’d love to take a look at your manuscript if it’s ready. Glad you found me!

      • Sheila, I would be honored for you to look at what I have written, but please know I did not connect with you to get anything from you, but to let you know what you have already given. Where can I send what I have written? Thank you again. If you are like most ladies, you are a busy woman and I appreciate your offer. :)
        Marian Green recently posted…The Search for IntimacyMy Profile

  3. Yep, I think people make the mistake of thinking that we are born pure blank slates and that our experiences destroy our innocence or purity when I think part of the Bible story is that we are all born in sin and the dirt of unrighteousness and that it’s God’s grace that washes us clean and makes us pure. In that respect I hope my kids grow in purity from the day they’re born. On the other hand, I think it’s also important to understand that even though we are washed in Christ’s righteousness that doesn’t mean that we don’t deal with the affects of sin – either sins that we willingly committed or sins that other people committed against us. For instance, a survivor of childhood abuse is marred by someone else’s sin, but if they say “Well, I’m a Christian now so this shouldn’t/doesn’t bother/affect me” that denies the reality that most people with that background need to struggle through their broken places and heal. It’s not just “Well, I’m pure now, so what”s the problem here?” It’s “Since Christ has made me pure, I must work and pray to make my heart and mind mirror the reality of what Christ has done for me.”
    Natalie recently posted…And the diagnosis was….My Profile

  4. Excellent post.

    The word “purity” has multiple meanings. The most common has to do with cleanliness—purity means “free of contamination”. But another definition is “wholesomeness”, as in “pure intentions”.

    Sadly, the two meanings often get confused, especially when it comes to sex. While sex can be messy, it’s never “dirty”. Having sex does not make a person “unclean”. Christians do not believe in “ritual impurity”. What defiles us is what comes from inside our hearts, not from outside our bodies. See Mark 7:18-23

    This brings us to the second meaning of “purity”. The true meaning of “sexual purity” is acting with pure intentions when it comes to sex. Pure intentions are using your sexuality in the best interest of yourself and of your partner. This includes not engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage as well as using sex as a way of showing love and intimacy in marriage. (Showing love definitely includes desiring each other and having a GREAT time when you do!)

    When someone starts to see their partner simply as an object for gratification of their desires, then they are not acting with “pure intentions”, even in marriage. One can engage in sex without “pure intentions”. One can have impure intentions without having sex. (“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28)

    The focus of any talk on sexual purity shouldn’t be about not doing X, Y, or Z, but about how we use our sexuality. Do we use our sexuality to love or to use? Does our sexuality an true expression of an intimacy in a relationship or is it a substitute for intimacy in a relationship, or an expression of an intimacy that isn’t there? Sexual purity, as I see it, it not about what you have or haven’t done, but about using our sexuality as a way to show love.
    James recently posted…7 Quick Takes – Volume 20 (High and Dry)My Profile

  5. All I can say is this is a wonderful post, and I am SO with you on this! Thank you!

  6. I’m glad you’re addressing this, because there is only so far that guilt can take young people. If we try to motivate with fear, it may work for a while, but after a while we stop caring about the guilt and focus instead on the pleasure of the forbidden. Thank you for sharing that the beauty of purity is not about the guilt, but about protection from pain. And thank you for encouraging us singles that marriage can be a beautiful thing.
    Osayi recently posted…Praying for your future spouse: SacrificeMy Profile

  7. And this is why I share my story as well….

    “I don’t preach purity because I want people to feel guilty; I preach it because I want people to avoid pain, and I want people to experience true joy in their marriages.”

    Thank you so much for this incredible post! xo
    Summer recently posted…hope when purity is stolen: my storyMy Profile

  8. Dear Sheila,

    I love following your blog and hearing your thoughts on purity, raising kids, and having great, God-glorifying sex! I fall into the category of women who have had their purity *seemingly* taken from them by abuse, and I’m also in the category of people who knows that God has most definitely given me my purity back, protected my heart, and made me whole again. For anyone else out there suffering under the shame of abuse, don’t hide! We are with you. We know what it’s like. And we also know that there is another side where it truly is greener. In Christ, there is so much healing that I never thought possible. In Him, I am whole and beautiful, and my battles are fought and won by His strength and not by mine (which, let me tell you, after years of trying was never enough to make me whole on my own).

    But I was wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of a book or blogger that approaches the process of healing your sex life with your spouse from a Christian perspective. My soul is healed; now the next step is building up a beautiful and healthy sex life. My husband and I recognize that we have made headway, but we also want as much help as we can get, because sex is important and we don’t want to short-change ourselves! I’ve only found a scant handful of books out there that deal with healing your sex life from sexual abuse (LOTS of people write about healing from sexual abuse, but none address the issue of how to have a great, whole sex life), and none of them are written from a godly perspective. Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for your unique perspective! May God continue to give you wisdom and grace.
    Liz M. recently posted…Learning to RestMy Profile

    • I’m working on one right now! I’m writing an ebook about that sort of thing that I hope to have ready in the fall. But in the meantime if anyone has any other suggestions, leave them here!

      • Anonymous says:

        I found Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz to be a good resource. Not a Christian book, so take it with a grain of salt, but the information on dealing with triggers helped me to stop some of the automatic reactions I was having with my husband. Looking forward to Sheila’s book this fall!

  9. I appreciate this topic very much. It’s still a bit vague, though. Saying “God heals” is great, and prayer is always recommended as the first response, but sometimes change takes a long time.

    As a side note, this caught my eye: “…we’re born with that instinct that it [nakedness] is something special, to be preserved.” I’m not sure I agree with that. Babies and little children generally don’t seem to care if they’re naked (unless they’re uncomfortable from cold or something). They’re happy to run around without the encumbrance of clothing, and pull off their socks, and lift their skirts, etc. How much skin should be covered is a cultural convention that children learn from those around them as they grow. Some societies wear very little, and some cover everything. Some of that is dependent on the local climate. I’m certainly not disagreeing that there’s a level of Christian purity in our dress that we should adhere to, but it has less to do with specifically how much skin is covered, and more to do with how we perceive it, as discussed here, with our inner purity, which is affected by our cultural context. Context is everything for clothing. Even an ordinary “modest” bathing suit would be incredibly revealing and inappropriate at a business meeting, for instance, even if it doesn’t display much more than a short business skirt. We don’t need to be ashamed of our God-given bodies though, especially not with our spouses.
    Reiko recently posted…The Purpose of the WheelMy Profile

  10. Thank you for this post. There are so many that feel that they are throw aways because of past things. It is really a shame. Jesus died for all sins. Even ones that happen and aren’t your fault.

    As for me, I was engaged at 19. I was a church goer, but not a Christian. I had sex with my fiancée. We ended up breaking up due to his drinking, drugs, and physical abuse. A wonderful Christian woman gave a talk about purity and being forgiven. I decided then to wait for marriage. At 25, I met my now husband. I felt bad about not being pure. He didn’t have a problem with it. We have a wonderful relationship. We have been married for 16 years come August.
    Amy Morgan recently posted…Our newest friendMy Profile

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