April 23, 2014

Why Teach Purity?

Little girls don't know how to be sweet girls:
"Mama didn't teach me."
Little boys don't know how to treat little girls:
"Daddy didn't show me."

The above are lyrics from Erin McCarley's song "Love, Save the Empty." As the  tune tumbles on, we learn that a sexual encounter has taken place. The singer bemoans "giving it up" too soon to a guy who showed her "false affection," causing her to "break down inside" upon realizing his ruse. She croons on about wanting true, genuine love to come and "save" her from her resulting emptiness. 

Heavy. 

I first heard this song when it debuted in 2008, and even though it's cut-to-the-heart words were cleverly set to a whimsical beat, the true sorrow contained was not lost on me. The words hit me like a gut punch - not because I've had similar experiences, but because I haven't. And because I desperately long for young people to skirt this kind of devastation as well - by living pure and holy lives before the Lord.

Now, I'm not just talking about making your "true love wait" (Christianese for abstaining from sex until marriage). I'm referring to seeking emotional chastity as well physical - in a sense, applying the biblical command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30, ESV) to your quest for the kind of purity only Christ can bring.

If we are to remain pure physically, we are going to have to fix our hearts and minds on this end as well. For middle and high-schoolers, college co-eds, young professionals, "single agains," and those called by God to remain unmarried on into the foreseeable future...it is nigh impossible to save physical intimacy for marriage when hearts, minds, and emotions have already gone there. 

In our sexualized society, many have declared the teaching of chastity to be an uphill battle too tough to fight. Still others claim the concept of sexual purity pertained to a bygone generation and feel it's prudish and unrealistic to expect the young people of today to adhere to such a strict standard. So, why make the effort? While there are clearly more reasons than the four below, I believe these are the most basic and compelling: 


Why teach purity?

1) Because God commands it. 
God commands us to live an entire lifestyle of purity. 1 Peter 1:15-16 teaches, "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' " Within this call to be pure and set apart in all areas, however, God also specifies being pure in the sexual sense. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 states, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality," and 1 Corinthians 6:18 cautions us to "flee from sexual immorality." In fact, this topic is written about so frequently in the Bible that there are too many passages to name here. This link gives a more comprehensive list. 
2) To avoid physical detriment.
Most people realize that premarital sex can lead to some physical harms. While the short list includes sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies, the repercussions that follow may extend much further. For instance, some STDs are curable while others are not. Some lead to the harm of future offspring, and others prevent people from reproducing at all. On the pregnancy side, difficult choices abound - abortion, adoption, keeping the baby - each decision leading inevitably to more and more possible harm, both physically and emotionally. Which brings us to...
3) To avoid emotional devastation.
Our hearts are tender. And since sex bonds two people together in emotional intimacy, premarital encounters often leave the hearts of those involved scarred and in need of much repair. If a person has engaged in so much premarital sex that they now feel "numb" to these effects, that speaks to even deeper heart havoc for which all the more healing is needed.
4) Because parents aren't.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to teach purity is this: because, by and large, parent's aren't. To echo the above song's lyrics, many mamas and daddies - even Christians who claim to uphold the value of premarital abstinence - are not teaching their kids about how to confidently pursue purity amidst a world replete with sexual sin.

I recently surveyed the teens in my youth group with two simple questions: 1) "When have your parents taught you that it's okay to have sex?" 2) "When have your parents told you that you are allowed to date?" In response to question one, almost every teen replied "after marriage." However, inquiry two brought varied answers revealing a grievous area of neglect:
The above responses speak to the reluctance of parents to handle the topics that moms and dads ought to be talking about with their children. Yes, these conversations can be uncomfortable, but purity does not exist in a vacuum. It will be very difficult for kids to make it all the way to marriage without "crossing the sex line" if parents aren't giving them the tools they will need to pursue purity along the way. We cannot expect that our youth will arrive at their wedding days clean and pure if we don't take the time to help them navigate the early waters of dating and relating.

So what are youth ministers, leaders, and mentors to do?

Teach purity...and leave no stone unturned when it comes to the "how." 


Remember: the only kind of love that will truly "save the empty" is the love of Christ, which in turn compels us to live a life pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10) and "unstained by the world" (James 1:27). If God has entrusted young people to your care, you must strive to teach them how to live for Christ in all areas of life...even the "uncomfortable" ones. Stay tuned for my next post in which I will give some basic steps on how to teach purity, from start to finish.
One of my greatest passions is teaching young people about pursuing purity. If you would like to invite me to speak at your youth event, please click here to learn more.

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog! from a dude in your bible class

    ReplyDelete

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