I was the teenager reading Christian books about modesty, purity, and relationships. I often read my favorite books over and over again. I loved learning and striving to understand God’s design for my life as a Christian girl.
I wore the purity ring.
I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
I saved sex for marriage.
I saved my first kiss for my wedding day.
I was that girl.
Fast forward to today, and I suppose some would consider me a product of the “purity movement”—the wave of young Christians who exchanged dates for True Love Waits rings, signing pledges, and committing to “guard our hearts.”
In recent days, there has been a lot of talk in Christian circles about the those who grew up in the purity movement generation in the church and how it impacted our hearts, relationships, and views of sexuality. It’s clear in hindsight that well-intentioned church leaders may have given an unhelpful and unbiblical emphasis to specific practices—lists of do’s and don’ts that aren’t provided in Scripture.
Unfortunately, shame was also a player in this movement. The idea that you’re “damaged goods” if you sin sexually before marriage created a lot of fear and shame in the hearts of young Christians I know.
Due to some of these misguided and unbiblical perspectives, many women and men believe they developed a warped view of sexuality, dating relationships, and marriage.
As a product of that generation, I’ve been asked if I felt misguided, confused, or harmed by the purity movement’s messages. But as a new wife, I’m doing great. My marriage is sweet. I had a wonderful honeymoon and enjoy intimacy with my husband. I’m unbelievably grateful I entered my marriage sexually pure.
The purity movement may have made some mistakes, but hear me out: I don’t believe purity is to blame. It’s us. We are the ones who have twisted (or been taught to twist) God’s Word and have attached our own ideas and rules and concepts to purity.
Instead of ditching purity as an outdated, unhelpful, or hurtful concept, let’s reclaim it.
Here are ten things that purity was never meant to be:
1. Purity was never meant to be a god.
If our singular goal is purity rather than God Himself, we’re missing the mark.
Only God is worthy of our worship. He commands us not to worship anything other than Himself.
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).
That’s right—purity can totally be a god (little g!) in our lives if we make it front and center. It’s a good thing, but it’s not the ultimate thing. Don’t allow your “good works” or “good lifestyle” to become your god. Purity deserves our honor and attention, but it should never be an idol in our lives.
2. Purity was never meant to define you.
Our worth and value is not based on how “pure” or “impure” we have been. Purity doesn’t define us, and neither does impurity. In fact, God’s Word says that without Him, we are all impure sinners (Rom. 3:10).
If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are His beloved child. All that God sees now are sparkling white robes of righteousness—because of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21)! God’s child. Created, rescued, seen, and loved unconditionally by Him. That is the only definition that matters.
3. Purity was never meant to be a down payment.
This is a big one! Purity is not like dropping a quarter in the gumball machine and getting a reward. We’re not meant to embrace purity only as a down payment on a future husband and great sex. If we’re honest, how often do we view purity in this way?
If I obey God now, He’ll give me exactly what I’m dreaming of in my marriage. So just hold tight . . . the good stuff is coming later!
The reality is that we aren’t guaranteed a magical marriage and satisfying sex if we seek purity when we’re single. Our motivation for pursuing purity in our hearts should be to honor Jesus—because His gospel sacrifice is everything we ever need.
(For more on this idea, check out this post, “Why A Husband Isn’t Your Reward for Staying Pure.”)
4. Purity was never meant to be a terror.
If purity has been held over your head as a tool of shame, I am deeply sorry.
Purity was never intended to be used as a threat. Purity was never meant to be a tool by which to shame people into obeying and saving sex for marriage. That’s not God’s design. That’s a sad distortion.
Yes, negative consequences will happen if we throw purity out the window.
But know this:
- You are not worthless if you’ve crossed lines and sinned.
- You have not forfeited your ability to have a healthy relationship or a thriving marriage.
- You are not doomed to live an impure life.
- You are not damaged goods.
- You have not become unforgivable in God’s eyes.
God offers forgiveness and freedom from the chains of sin—yes, even for sexual sin.
Purity should be a beautiful thing, not shame-creator.
5. Purity was never meant to be a badge of honor.
If you view yourself as more holy than others because of your commitment to purity, that’s a sign of pride in your heart.
Our desire to embrace purity should be born from a humble heart motivated to honor God, not to prop ourselves up.
Purity is not a badge of honor that we earn and wear like we’ve achieved something grand on our own. It’s simply the grace of God at work in our lives.
6. Purity can’t earn you brownie points.
Speaking of earning things, purity isn’t a way for us to earn points in God’s eyes. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but that love is already full. We don’t gain or lose points. The gospel doesn’t work that way!
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says it like this:
If we belong to Him, we already have His favor; He could not love us any more and He could not love us any less.
7. Purity was never meant to be about pleasing others.
Purity is not about living up to someone else’s standards, gaining approval, or being good enough for someone.
Don’t get caught up in living your life to please sinful humans. Of course, we should honor our parents and the guidelines they set in place for us. But the motivation to honor those rules goes back to loving God and our parents’ authority—not about earning favor.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).
8. Purity was never meant to be a people-divider.
We’re not meant to be divided into categories of “pure” and “impure.” Because of sin, we’re all in one camp. We are all impure and broken before God. We are all in need of a Savior. We all need Jesus. Every single one of us.
9. Purity was never meant to be your salvation.
Purity is not a savior. It’s not a ticket into heaven.
Good works alone can never save us. It’s all about grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8–9).
10. Purity is not the ultimate goal.
Purity is not our end game. Oh yes, it’s part of the game plan for Christian life, but it’s not where we set our sights. Loving and serving Jesus should always be our goal—the bullseye, so to speak.
Purity is meant to be an overflow of our love for Jesus. It’s a desire to live according to God’s good design for us. That’s why purity shouldn’t be boiled down to a list of do’s and don’ts. (Especially if those lists aren’t found in Scripture!) It’s a lifestyle of holy living, motivated by Jesus.
The Real Authority on Purity
Whether you grew up in the midst of the purity movement or not, it’s so important that we view this concept through a biblical lens. Don’t allow your own sinful heart or misguided messages from those around you to define your view of purity. Dig into God’s Word for yourself and choose to make Scripture your final authority on this issue.
Remember that our entire lives are to be lived for the glory of God. That includes our sexuality. Our desire to embrace purity should be with the focus of living it out for God’s glory.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
I want to challenge you to do a personal study on the topic of purity. Consider if you’ve believed any lies about purity, and then search out God’s Word for Truth to combat those lies.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
- What is your view on purity?
- Have you believed any lies about purity?
- What messages have you been taught about purity?
- How can you realign your heart with Truth?