Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Problem With "Purity"

We live in a hypersexual age. The anti-Biblical philosophy of sexual liberation is now the reigning authority on how we should live our sexual lives. So long as you practice "safe sex" there should be no restrictions on your sexual behavior. If it feels good, DO IT! That's what our society now devoutly believes. Understandably, Christians who take their faith seriously are appalled by this state of affairs. They are horrified and grieved by the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering intrinsic to sexual "freedom". Wanting to spare themselves and their children such hardship, and wanting to remain true to God's way, faithful Christians started a "purity" movement to teach and maintain the Bible's sexual ethic in their homes, schools, and churches.

I admire the intentions of the "purity" movement. An uncompromising and unapologetic commitment to God's standards is, sadly, missing from the lives of far too many modern Christians. Believers and unbelievers alike need to hear a spirited defense of the Biblical sexual ethic of chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage. The "purity" movement is trying to deliver such a defense but I feel it may be spreading an unintentionally negative and unBiblical message to its followers.

The problem stems, I think, from the very idea that "purity" means abstaining from sex until marriage. The implication of this notion is that once you have sex, even in marriage, you are no longer pure. And the implication of THAT is that sex is somehow intrinsically defiling. That is not the Bible's teaching.

God created sex and, like all of His creations, it is good. The Bible doesn't teach that sex is inherently impure. If you doubt that read "The Song of Solomon", the Bible's ode to physical love. If you're open that book will disspell any notions you might have of God being anti-sex. God's not against sex. God is against sex in wrong circumstances.

God has given humankind a set of rules to govern our sexual behavior, just as He has given us rules to govern other aspects of our lives. These sexual rules are meant for our protection and our good. God doesn't want sex to bring us heartache, spread disease, or destroy our families. He meant it to be a joyful experience within the proper circumstance, namely, marriage. Sex outside of God's ordained arrangement IS impure, but the impurity lies in the unlawful situation and in disobedience to God, NOT in the sex act itself. I feel the "purity" movement doesn't do a good job making that distinction. Consequently, some people influenced by the movement might come away with an utterly unBiblical discomfort with sex itself. And that's a shame because the goals of the movement are supremely laudable.

The "purity" movement needs to counter the damaging doctrine of sexual liberation intelligently, in a way that neither saddles people with unscriptural prudishness nor leaves Christians open to gross stereotyping by the sex libbers. The latter would like nothing better than to portray supporters of Biblical sexual morality as menacing advocates of a dangerously backward and repressive ethic. Let's not give them the rope with which to hang us.

Christians and others who are committed to traditional sexual morals have no need to be defensive about what they believe. It is the philosophy of sexual "freedom" that, when put into practice, has caused untold suffering for people of all ages. The purity movement has the joyful, compassionate, life-affirming, love-affirming, alternative. It should make sure the public truly understands that.