Purity Is Not The Most Important Thing In A Relationship

littlestein asked:

You said something in an earlier response about not making purity THE thing (or something along those lines) because that can lead to problems. Can you expand on that? How having purity being a huge goal rather than knowing God being the goal can cause issues?

Hey my friend, I believe you’re referring to several posts on this:

– Purity Is Not A Trophy

– How To Stop Lust (Lust Is NOT The Problem: It’s Us)

– The Weird Subculture of “Christian Dating”

I definitely believe that purity is an important virtue, but it can’t be the only virtue in a relationship, because —

1) Striving for any God-given ideal often leaves God behind: and this becomes about the ideal in itself, which is self-righteous idolatry.

2) Couples can think that “purity” is a standard for a good relationship, when there are so many other things to work on like communication, humility, knowing when to say you’re wrong, how to give space, and how to encourage someone’s strengths or show gentleness to weaknesses.  Many couples get fooled into thinking they’re doing well because they’re “pure,” when they’ve neglected everything else.

3) When you make a relationship about “keeping rules” and “being good,” it gets exhausting and impractical.  Rules are certainly good, but to make rules about keeping rules takes the joy right out of intimacy.  I’ve also never ever seen ultra-disciplined-rules work in a couple’s daily life.

4) While I think this isn’t always true, sometimes rule-keeping can subconsciously scare us about sexuality — which has the adverse effect of making the marriage bed a nightmare.

5) Our definition of purity is usually the narrow one: “Let’s NOT do this or that.”  But as always, standing on what you don’t do won’t give a forward direction into a solid foundation.  Couples need a common Christ-centered goal that is tangible beyond what they’re “not” doing, and if purity is the main focus, they’ll have way too much free time on their hands: which gives them time to be impure.

6) Only God can give purity.  I mean it’s great that the preacher is telling us to stay pure and wait until marriage: but then there are tons of real human beings who are living through the consequences of their own bad choices, and they feel they’re “broken beyond repair” and are “damaged goods.”  Purity is secondarily something we fight for but primarily a gift given by God through the work of His Son, and any other definition only leads to pride or despair.

7) But yes, purity is important.  It’s a difficult struggle.  I’ve failed in this in many, many ways.  I believe though that if we follow the Greatest Commandment — love God and love people — that many other things will follow.  Loving God and loving people will lead us to respect a person’s dignity, to treat them as God-created beings instead of objects for our use, and to really get to know the person for who they are.

It’s true that following through with lust will often short-circuit real intimacy, but the same thing is true for only fighting for purity.  When you fight for things outside the person, you’re still striving for phantoms.  If you can love the other person as God loves you, then we become the real thing.  We gain the authenticity that God has called us to.  Run after Jesus, and you will care about what he cares about too.

— J.S.

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