Hafeez Baoku|12:01 AM CT

Real Purity

The clock was showing 2 a.m. when my phone began to ring. As I rolled out of bed, I looked at the caller ID: it was my best friend. At first I was tempted to ignore his call, but for him to be calling this late at night had to mean it was an emergency.

When I picked up the phone, immediately he confessed to having sex with one of his classmates the day before. By the disheartening tone of his voice, I could tell that he had been crying before he called.

"I can't believe that I had sex again, man," he said. "I am so sick and tired of falling into sexual sin. What's wrong with me and why do I keep doing this to myself?"

My friend is not a new Christian. He is the leader of his campus ministry at his college, and on many occasions has led Bible studies on the topic of sexual purity. He participates in a weekly accountability group disciples a group of young men in his community. He reads his Bible regularly and is deeply involved with his local church. Even though he has done everything right on the proverbial Christian checklist, he still fell into sexual sin. He is not a hypocrite; he is a sinner who needs the grace of Jesus Christ to make him pure.

Yes to Godliness

When most of us hear the word purity our minds automatically think of abstinence or virginity, but purity is far greater than the two. A person can be a virgin and still not be pure. A person can be married and never have an affair but still not be pure. On the other hand, a person can be pure even with a sexually promiscuous past. Purity is not just saying no to sex before marriage. Purity is not just saying yes to sex in marriage. Purity is saying yes to godliness.

The Greek word for purity used in the New Testament is hagneia, which can also be translated as "sinlessness of life." While we look at the word sinlessness and automatically exclude ourselves from being pure because of sins in our past, we are forgetting that as Christians our identity rests in what Christ has done for us. When God looks at us he doesn't see wicked, evil, sinners he is forced to love because he couldn't find anyone better. He views us as blameless, righteous saints he willingly died for on the cross out of overwhelming love.

Notice that whenever Paul writes his letters to the New Testament churches, he always addresses the recipients as as saints, not sinners. Even the Corinthian church—one of the most immoral, rebellious, and sexually promiscuous—Paul addresses as saints because their identity rests in Christ: "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2).

As blameless saints, purity is possibile for all of us. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When we submit our sexuality to Christ, confess to God and others when we sin, and proactively fight against sin every day, we are pure regardless of what we have done in our past. So purity isn't merely defined with regard to sexual actions but also how we faithfully pursue God with our intentions and the thoughts of our hearts.

Purity Is Possible

To all who have fallen into sexual sin in the past or currently wrestle with it, don't ever forget that your identity in Christ is based upon what God has done for you. I know that I can easily begin to condemn myself for my past sexual experiences. I start to think that God may be holding out any joy from me because of the sins I've committed. Instead of trusting in his Word and promises I begin to believe the lies of my mind, and these thoughts begin to negatively affect my relationship with God and others.

Only by God's grace can imperfect people, who fall short on a daily basis, stand forever pure before a holy and perfect God. And only through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit can we proactively fight sin and overcome struggles.

Hafeez Baoku, raised in Atlanta, Georgia, received his degree in journalism from Troy University. He is the founder and president of The Urban Gospel Mission. You can connect with him on Twitter (@ugospelmission) or e-mail (Hafeez@urbangospelmission.com).

Categories: Christian Living
  • Amy

    As hard as it is, I think that when there is an issue of sin like this, it needs to be confessed not just to best friends/accountability partners, but to church leadership. I was in a similar position once. I was leading girls in ministry, heading up events, etc. all while being sexually impure. The Holy Spirit pressed upon my heart though and by God's grace I realized that I didn't want to build a ministry upon a lack of integrity and church leadership needed to know my wrestle.

    I tearfully met with a pastor and his wife and confessed my sin to them, and told them that if they thought it was wisest, that I would step down. After prayerful consideration and discussion, they came to the conclusion that my leadership/responsibilities would be scaled back. That confession was one of the most heartbreaking, humiliating things I have ever done, but I don't regret it because to continue on without confessing to the leaders overseeing me would have meant building ministry on a foundation of concealed sin.

    The consequences of my sin rattled me, but God used it to propel me to unrelenting purity. I can now say, but God's grace, that it has been over two years since I have been sexually impure.

    To conclude, I would urge your friend and anyone wrestling with serious sin to be equally serious about confessing it to those who oversee them in ministry. It is the above reproach route, and I can tell you from experience that God will use that vulnerability and humility both for His glory and our holiness.

    • Cher

      Thanks for sharing Amy! Rarely do people consider the sexual struggle that Christian women have or they don't even believe that women struggle with lust, sexual impurity, fornication, adultery, and porn. I am at a point where I wonder when my mind will stop wondering? It seems I am constantly fighting off impure thoughts like a roach infestation. I pray about it all the time, have asked others to pray, read God's word. I know that He is my deliverer and He will deliver me out of it, or else will enable me to fight it. The Christian battle is ongoing, it doesn't end until He returns or we die. Praise God that He led you to confession and I can tell you, as a woman who was the only single in my church, it is worth it. Sometimes you get so tired of it, and want to throw up your hands and somehow "kill" that part of you that desires to sin, and be done with it. But endurance will build because it's not over til it's over. And it's over with Jesus, and He won the victory already.

      • Amy

        I am so glad my comments were beneficial, Cher! Without going into an unhelpful amount of detail, I will add that I too battled with impure thoughts. For a long time, I believed (even though I knew differently theologically) that I could indulge in these thought patterns and it wasn't that bad. At least I wasn't having sex, right? Eventually, though, I started acting out on what had started in my mind. I was at the precipice before God's gracious hand yanked me back. Now whenever I'm tempted, I recognize the temptation for what it is: not exciting, not romantic. A lie. And the result of my heart being ungrateful and dissatisfied with what God has given me. Temptation is a lot less tempting when I view it with that lens.

  • Peter

    I agree with the above comment. There is a time to coddle and a time to preach, and this requires some preaching. He should not be leading people as he does not currently qualify according to the Bible, see Timothy and Titus. He needs to step down until he can work on his own walk with Jesus. Also the church needs to be involved. True repentance is a complete 180, going the complete opposite direction of what he is doing. He needs some accountability partners that will call him out and that he can call when he starts feeling this urge. This guy needs someone who will sit him down and walk him through when does this happen, why does it happen, how does it happen, and he needs to eliminate ALL of those things from his life. If it starts with a text, he needs to stop texting girls. True repentance and faith is admitting that you want Jesus more than you want anything else, if he truly wants to repent and seek Jesus, he'll do whatever is necessary to break this sin cycle. If you comment on here and would like more practical advice (I've struggled with this and have helped other brothers who have struggled with this) I'd be happy to provide an email address.

    • Peter

      After speaking with my mentor, I made a lot of assumptions in my post (a sin I constantly struggle with). I do believe this guy is truly repentant, and I hope some things may be happening in a practical sense to help him. I'd still be willing to offer suggestions, provided they are not already being done. I'm sorry for assuming things that may or not be happening, please forgive me for my initial post. I pray that Jesus can take away this very real struggle for this guy and help me be more loving.

    • http://lamptoourfeet.wordpress.com/ Brian

      Peter, I've been struggling and falling into lust and pornography and I feel the same way that John, one of the commenters, said which was he felt like he lost his way. What are some practical advice that you would give?

      • Sam

        Hey Brian,

        I'm not Peter, and don't claim to have all the answers, but something that has been really impressed on me through some sermon listening and these sorts of topics being dealt with was:

        1st Cor 6:18
        Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

        We're not commanded to stand and try to fight off this sexual immorality and continue to put ourselves in at risk positions, but instead, commanded to FLEE!
        Something personally helpful for me has been to note ahead of time that certain places/websites/etc may push me towards lust, and then to straight up avoid them. I'm actively trying to FLEE these things.

        For example:
        On Facebook I use an addon called "Social Fixer" so when gals(or guys, of course, depending on the nature of the lust) post photos that are suggestive, or even enticing(and they may even do this on accident, in our culture), I immediately "mute" the post. It hides it from my newsfeed and it won't pop up again.

        This is not because I'm trying to be some sort of super-man-Christian. Instead, I'm just trying to FLEE sexual immorality. There are other ways this works out IRL for me, and some of this fleeing is more awkward than just hitting mute, sometimes it means I chose not to go to social outings, even that are done by the church.

        My job is not to go actively tempt myself and put my integrity in danger, but instead to flee this sexual temptation and pursue purity of deed and thought.

        I'm not perfect, will never be perfect, but this sort of mentality has the potential to be a real "game changer" for you(and others), and has been a huge help for me.

        If you want to converse some in email just let me know in a reply here, if not, I wish you the best! And may God be glorified in your BATTLE.

      • Peter

        Spend a lot of time in the Word. Seek an accountability partner. Maybe try out the Setting Captives Free program? I'm an accountability partner for a friend on there and it seems great! Figure out what your weaknesses are and run from them. For me it was being alone with my computer. If you start to feel tempted, call your accountability partner, this actually happened last night for my friend and I blew up his phone for about an hour with encouraging verses and worship. Find ways to spend less time alone. The best way to do this is filling up your time serving others and growing in the Word. Another helpful thing is setting something concrete with someone that will hold you accountable. What I mean is write down the last time you looked at porn/masturbated and tell your accountability partner. If you fall into the sin again, tell them immediately. Exposing this sin in the light (I'd recommend only with one person, the whole world doesn't need to know) is a great way to stop it from taking over your life. As far as lust, I've found personally, when the porn and masturbation stop, those urges grow less and less, but it never really stops. When you find your eyes starting to wonder, LOOK AWAY and immediately repent. If your brain starts to wonder, IMMEDIATELY repent and focus on Scripture or worship. Scripture is the only offensive weapon we have against sin, so if you don't read your Bible daily or have Scripture memorized, that is also something to start working on. I'd be happy to share more or explain these more if you need. gerty169@hotmail.com, please type TGC Advice in the subject!

  • Mark

    That's real talk, theologically. Author makes a real point about how we can be pure in terms of virginity, but our minds and hearts are stained with lust and impurity. One can be committed in marriage, but can stray in their heart for someone else.

    The theological point that justification by faith alone - that God sees Christ's righteousness on us rather than our sin is something at times I cannot fathom. But in faith I learn that He alone is the righteousness that is perfect and absorbs my sin.

    With the stigma of sexual scandals, open promiscuity, and the crimes being reported in today's news outlets, many will feel guilt and shame for their past. For the believer, there is only one Hope, Christ, the Gospel, who saves us from all sexual sin. Praise God for His Son!

  • Bill Combs

    All that has been said is well and good, but, it seems to me, there is a practical question that needs to be asked. Why is this guy not married (I assume he is not)?

    • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

      That's a good question, Bill. Why do we in the Church not do more to pair up our singles at a younger age? We are failing our young people by asking them to stay pure for 10-20 years or more in a crazily impure culture because we tacitly accept cultural norms that delay marriage.

      This needs to stop. Our church leaders need to lead and stop foisting the problem back onto others. Find solutions that help young people marry sooner. Period. (See more on this from me in my own comment on this issue.)

      • http://www.raanetwork.org Phillip Holmes

        Indeed. I think it can be sloppily done, but the church has to think longer and harder about this. I think we're a bit passive and afraid to get involved. I don't know how it would look though.

      • Phil

        Dan: Thank you for posting this! Part of the answer to your question is that Evangelicals often view singles in a no-win position: Those who are content single need to grow up, while those who want to get married aren't "just happy being with Jesus" or even supposedly have marriage as an idol, or some such thing. This is a huge part of the reason that young and unmarrieds have such low church attendance. My church is under 5% single adults, even though our area is 50% singles; no one cares about us. No one. So we understandably leave in drove.

        Sociologically speaking, marriage pairing is common throughout the cultures and religions of the world. When a marriageable man or woman is around, it's considered the duty of family or clan to help that man find a suitable wife. The fact is, in Evangelicalism we could give a rat's you-know-what about singles, let alone pairing them up. We do nothing to help pair Christian men with Christian women, then we wonder why Christians are putting off marriage and marrying questionable partners. We only warn them not to marry unbelievers, but then the church is completely unwilling to lift a finger to help us fulfill that command. When the church bulletin says, "Welcome, visitors, let us know how we can serve you" I cringe a bit because I knew that the church is completely uninterested in helping me in any way do one of the most important things: find and court a Godly spouse. How refreshing it would be if, when they recognized me as ministry material (I lead community groups and teach Sunday school) that they would also say, "Hey, Wendy's cousin is single. She's a great gal at a church across town. Would you be interested?" In other words, when recognizing someone as having shown real growth in the Lord, to also recognize that as singles we do have a longing of the heart that you all can help fulfill.

        • Sara

          There are two single women friends of mine at my church who tell me much differently. They say they get so tired of people assuming that they are longing for a spouse and trying to set them up all the time. Each of them is content where God has placed them in life and do not actively seek out marriage. Do the people around you know that you would like suggestions and help in finding a marriage partner? Maybe you should tell some key people so that they can help you, as they very well may want to but feel like they might offend you if they do. Also, never forget that God's timing is everything and that he is sovereign. My own husband had to wait many years as a single man until he met me...since we have an eleven year age difference, he obviously could not have married me when he first desired to get married! :)

          • Phil

            Sara writes: "Each of them [two single women friends of mine] is content where God has placed them in life and do not actively seek out marriage."

            I'd like to be OK with this, and yet I'm not. Sometimes another description for "content where I am" is "complacency." I certainly know this in my own life, and the right-where-I'm-comfortable version of following Jesus is not always where we need to be. Now, as I get older I am coming to believe more and more in the Creation Mandate to get married and be fruitful (that means kids, not money, BTW). "But... but...." our culture screams in reply about finances, education, etc. However, like sex/lust, when you whittle it down to what the opposition is really saying, the opposition simply doesn't trust God to provide, doesn't trust that He knows best, doesn't believe that children really are a blessing, and instead clings the social, vocational and monetary "advantages" of eschewing marriage and child-rearing. I, too, used to bristle at the mere mention of the Creation Mandate, talk of "legacy", etc. But now, I see the evidence in Scripture, as well as the wisdom born out in experience that proves God true. Simply put, I was *way* too 20-something to understand the larger, life-long vision for which the Creation Mandate requires us to grapple. Our cultures of hyper-independence, self-actualization, feminism, consumerism, status-seeking, and short-sightedness has done this to us. Combine with those the potentials for fear of intimacy, personal vulnerability, and commitment, and again I'm more suspicious than accepting. Again, I used to reject the idea, but now that I see the wisdom (and lament my disobedience to His commandments in this area) I now bristle when I hear professing Christians eschew marriage and parenting for [insert other pursuit here]. Those other pursuits better be REAL darn Godly (e.g., lifetime dedication to missions in dangerous places for example) before I'm willing to accept someone shirking marriage and family for something else. Sorry if this is terse, but the "comfortable where I am" thing just doesn't sit well. I mean, if they're so comfortable where their at -- in their sanctification and growth, right? -- well, they'd probably make great wives, no? While they're so "content" where they're at, there are likewise Christian men who are looking for save, sanctified sisters in Christ with whom to get married, model Christ and the Church, and have kids. So I wanna ask: Who (or what) is really -- *ultimately*, deep down -- defining, commanding, and motivating their choice to eschew marriage? Ya got a verse for that life direction, and proof that it applies?

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  • John

    I don't understand how someone can commit the sin of sex outside of marriage and still be able to get up and lead others.

    I was involved in ministry, until I began fornicating, it happened slowly in my life. But when I began fornicating, I was overwhelmed with guilt and I took myself out of ministry immediately.

    I missed the days when I prepared to teach, or teach. Hours I would emerge myself in prayer and study of the word. I miss the closeness I felt with God. I valued sin more than my savior, and now I am ruined. I stopped going to church because of the guilt, my Christian friends see me and perplexed they say, "I would love to hear you preach, you were great, what has happened?." I am too ashamed to tell them I am in bondage to fornication. I have lost my way, and I know it will be a hard way back.

    I liked Amy's comment about confessing this sin to my church leadership. I have to do that and endure the shame. For all those church leaders out there don't fall into sexual sin, once you light that fire it's impossible to put out. Now I am constantly sad, ashamed, trapped, and backsliden. Oh what I would give to turn back the hands of time and not fall into sexual immorality! I just want to be free, and genuinely love God more than I do sin.

    • H

      Hey John. I'm a female, and I know exactly what you mean. I too was overwhelmed with guilt and feelings of dirtiness when I started fornicating. I too immediately withdrew from serving in leadership.
      But the Lord convicted me so greatly of my sin and need to repent a few months ago that I decided to break up with my boyfriend (toughest decision in my life) because it was the source of that constant temptation in my life, and he didn't share my views on the need to repent and live for Jesus.

      My struggle and I believe victory over sexual sin is ongoing - it started with this - radical amputation of the things causing the temptation in your heart - that means COMPLETELY cutting off all sinful relationships, putting a filter on your computer etc. Ouch, that hurt. I never thought I would heal because I really loved my boyfriend. And then this...FIXING YOUR EYES ON JESUS. Only HE can truly fulfill. Daily dwelling, meditating and memorising the word. Get an accountability partner. And EXPOSE your sin to the light by confessing to those around you because sin loves the darkness. (I suggest going through the online Setting Captives Free 'Way of Purity' course for more biblical guidance).

      Only by God's grace have I survived the heartbreal and been pure for 4 months counting...pray that God will do the same for you. God bless you!

      • John

        Thank you for your encouraging reply.

        I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:29, when you mention "radical amputation of the things that cause" me to sin. My fall into fornication began with small compromises, honestly it took about two years, maybe even longer for me to completely fall into immorality.

        I know that true freedom will come when I value and love Jesus more than anything. But, what you said is a good start, get away from sin, and remove all temptation to sin. I am tired of sining. I am disgusted by how I have hurt a lot of people with my sin. And I am beginning to see signs of chaos in my life due to my fornication.

        Please pray for me as I return to church, fix my eyes on Jesus and put my faith in his sacrifice to make me completely pure. Thank you

        Also I will begin doing something I have never seriously done, which is praying for a wife. I am 26 years of age and for some reason, most likely selfish reasons, I have never really wanted to marry. I have always looked at marriage as a big challenge, because I grew up with parents that had constant marital problems and they just seemed very unhappy.

        • Edwards

          "Sexual bondage takes place usually in your limbic system...the limbic system will overpower your decisions to do what is right, even though you know it is wrong." Jeremy Wiles

          We read in Romans ch 7:15-23

          "For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.
          And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
          So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.
          For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.
          Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me.
          So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.
          For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.
          But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body."

          This does not mean we are not responsible for our actions because we are. It is sin.
          What it does mean is that our own physical bodies are at war with us and God's Law.
          Hope begins here: "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."
          Romans 8:1-2

          Now this can happen:
          "For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification." Romans 6:19

          "the parts of yourselves" - What parts? Think of it! Not just your eyes and sexual organs, BUT YOUR BRAIN!
          Through grace, your brian (with its limbic system) can be re-trained.
          "so now offer them as slaves to righteousness". Once we offer our brains as 'slaves to righteousness' as opposed to 'slaves of impurity', the result will be sanctification.
          For example, when the thoughts start...Re-route them. Tell your brain:
          "These eyes, and the rest of my body are reserved for my future wife."
          In the meantime, TELL SOMEONE about your struggle.
          Pastor PJ Smyhth has said that "60% of the power of that sin dissipates the moment you confess it with someone else".

      • H

        I'm praying for you John!

        Yeah, sin always starts that way doesn't it? Small compromises that seem deceptively innocent are a slippery slope into areas of sin you never imagined you'd be in. I certainly didn't imagine myself having sex until I was happily married..all that changed dramatically and I found myself on the other side, disillusioned and sad that I'd strayed so far from God.
        Please find a good Christian community! Surround yourself with brothers and sisters in Christ who are committed to purity and walking this tough road with you. I think a trigger for me was catching up with a Christian friend, when she asked me 'how's your spiritual life?' Immediately I started making excuses for my lack of time spent with God..and she could see straight through that. We talked about my relationship with my boyfriend and how I was being led away from God, and before I had told her anything about our sexual sins she told me I knew what I had to do. And I knew, I was just denying it - tears poured!! But you need friends like that who can convict you, keep you accountable, keep it honest and love you along the way. That is what true Christian fellowship is.

        Praise God! I am praying for a husband too at 21. A godly husband who will love me regardless of my checkered past. I am committed to living pure from now on, not just for my husband, but for God who is the only one who can truly fulfil me. And I certainly didn't grow up with happy marriage ideals, pretty much growing up in a single mother household - but looking at Christian families around me and the picture of a Christian family in Ephesians 5 brings me hope! If we build our relationships in Christ then we have a solid foundation.

    • Peter

      H, awesome! What an amazingly mature Sister and only 21! I'm very impressed. I didn't even find Jesus until I was 21. John, don't let this sin, which Jesus died to forgive, hold power over you. Guilt and condemnation really just pride: Jesus may forgive me but I know better and I need to be punished. Repent and RUN from the sin? YES, but don't let it beat you up! Get back in a church, surround yourself with believers, immerse yourself in the Word, SEEK HIM and He will you will find Him. If you continue to let this sin keep you from the love and vigor you once had from Jesus, it's still holding you back and the devil wins! We all sin, David in particular fell into this exact sin and He was a man after God's own heart so keep your chin up, keep repenting, keep seeking and keep growing! Be encouraged and I'd highly recommend the Setting Captives Free like H said, my friend is doing it and it's awesome! Praying for you Brother!

      • John

        Thank you, H and Peter.

        Peter your right. I don't want to endure the shame of making my sin public, and that is pride. Thanks for the encouragement Peter, your words are all on spot on the truth. Although I am convinced by the word that if i do repent that I will be forgiven and the guilt of my sin will be removed by faith. The part that is the most difficult about getting back up is the shame I will have to endure from others. Because I have Christian people that i know, and then I have another group of friends that I need to drop. Both don't know each other.....

        H. I agree with Peter, I am impressed by your maturity, because you are a great testimony of what God can do with a young person's life.The way God has cleaned you up is very inspirational to me. I mean I grew up in church aswell, and I never thought I would be doing what I am doing. Keep the good work, and I know you will make a great wife!

        • H

          Aw thank you John and Peter, you warmed my heart! But it's not my wisdom at all - it's all from the Bible! I am rediscovering everyday just how much wisdom the word has to offer us - so much more than the world's lies. Now I realise how warped my worldview had been from NOT reading the Bible in the past and getting my wisdom from the world - movies, songs on the radio, newspapers, whatever, even well-meaning nonbeliever friends. Hence I made a real effort to purge myself of some secular music and shows. That's partly why I go on this site now instead of Facebook or watching the Kardashians etc.. point is, so much of that stuff have implicit sexual messages that teach us the completely wrong message about what love and life is all about. So I head to the Bible even though it makes me so starkly different from the world.

          Another thing John - at times in the first few weeks of purging yourself of sexual sin, you will feel like you're on the verge of giving up, and other times you will feel like you're doing pretty well - that's when you need to be even MORE cautious! 1 Cor 10:12 You'll feel confident enough to start contacting the wrong people again, or going to the wrong places just because you're curious or you need 'closure'. Don't! I know because that's exactly what I did. That's the devil trying to tempt us - don't even give it a chance..and it just opens up more wounds, creates more hurtful memories, and only starts the healing process again. Burn that bridge and move on.

          I really pray that God will give you the strength and conviction to flee from sexual sin and its roots, John, and that one day God may use your weaknesses to help or encourage another brother or sister in their walk. Exactly what Peter said: immerse yourself in the Word, SEEK HIM and He will you will find Him.

        • H

          *SEEK Him and you will find Him. :) Bless!

  • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

    The American Church's advice on this issue verges on the ridiculous in practice. We live in a sex-soaked society and yet we Christians tend to put off marriage until we have graduated college and established ourselves in a career.

    In most cases, this happens at least 10 years after sexual feelings begin, and in many cases extends to 20 years or even more. All the while we tell people not to have sex.

    Honestly, that's crazy. Even Paul says so in 1 Cor. 7:9: "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

    The problem is that the American Church tacitly supports a societal system that sets people up for purity failure. By delaying marriage for so many years after sexual feelings begin, we assist in creating the problem and the failures. Instead, we should encourage our young people to marry young and then support them any way we can.

    However, this means bucking the standard operating procedure for what young adults do after high school graduation. Problem is, smart people in the Church are not finding ways to offer an alternative to the "wait four years through the sexually charged college experience, then wait more years until you have your career established and can be a good provider" nonsense that creates these nonstop purity failures.

    Until the Church stops buying into the SOP that creates purity failure, we'll keep letting down our young people, asking something of them that even the apostles didn't expect.

    • H

      I'm curious - what kind of solution/answer are you searching for?

      Sure, purity in this sin-soaked culture crazy but by God's grace not impossible. We are called to be set apart from the world. Taking up your cross daily sounds crazy too, but it's what we're called to do. He will always provide a way out when we are tempted (1 Cor 10:13).

      • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE
        • Anonymous

          Really DLE?
          You recommend this on your Cerulean Sanctum site: "Alternatives to post-secondary education"?
          Are you aware that evangelicals are already among the least educated religious groups in America? We lag behind Mormons, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, etc. In fact in a list of 13 religious groups, we're #11 for percentage of 4-year college degrees, according to Pew Research's U.S. Religious Landscape Study.

          Or did I just read your article incorrectly?

          • Phil

            Uh... it's possible to go to college AND be married at the same time! It would probably even be wiser to do so.

            • Sara

              Like me! I married at age 20 and then later went to college at age 24 and received my degree at age 30 (three kids later!). Also, being educated isn't always about going to college - I know some pretty dumb "college-educated" individuals! There are many ways to continue life-long learning without going to your traditional 4-year college right after high school.

  • Nell

    Marriage does not seem to decrease sexual sin. It merely shifts from fornication and porn to adultery and porn.

    • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

      The Apostle Paul thought it did, Nell. I guess he's not a good source. ;-)

      I can also speak as a married man that a healthy sex life between spouses diminishes a whole host of problems and temptations.

      • Phil

        Dan: One more thing that I forgot to mention in my reply above, but Nell illustrates it perfectly. When it comes to being "ready" for marriage, many churchgoers and pastors now practice that unmarrieds must be essentially asexual before marriage can be considered. "Until ya can get yer' flamin' loind under control and stop touchin' yer dirty parts, ya'll can't be looking at marriage." (OK, they don't say it like that, but yeah, they kind of do).z If there's any struggle with impurity at all, then the whole thing is called off. I'm not talking about guys going to strip clubs sort of sin life. But I mean any guy that dares admit to Every Man's Battle going on within them will find himself told that he can't date; he finds himself on the unwritten list of registered sex offenders. Or, he can do what millions do, leave the church, sleep around, get married, the come back when he's a "real" Christian... you know, married.

  • Nell

    One further point- back in the days of early marriages, the life expectancy was limited. Many women who married at 14 died in child birth. People lived until 40. What you struggle with on the front end, you can struggle with on the back end as well.

    • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

      Nell, are you over the age of 50? If you are, then you know it's not the same. The fire of youth burns a little less brightly, and what you thought you couldn't live without is now more of something that you appreciate for what it is and when it is. Struggle on the back end? Probably not for most older people.

  • Amy

    Good points, Nell. These are echoed a lot in many of books I've read on the subject. "Every Man's Battle" discussed it in depth as well. The authors of that book/series point out that if you struggle with sexual sin before marriage, you can be assured you will struggle with it after marriage. I'm female, but both my husband and I have recognized how true this is! It is a daily commitment for both of us to guard our eyes and our hearts, and it is done faithfully only by the power of God's grace.

  • Bill Combs

    "Marriage does not seem to decrease sexual sin." No--marriage normally and definitely should decrease sexual sin (1 Cor 7:2). I am in complete agreement with the comments of DLE. I would still like to hear from Hafeez--why he thinks his friend is not married. But maybe that case is too personal to speak of. I was talking about this thread to a pastor friend of mine at lunch. He mentioned that he had come across an increasing number of younger men whose choice for a wife has been corrupted by our sexualized cultural. These men want a porn star who is also a spiritual giant. Their idea of a perfect mate is unrealistic and unbiblical, but they are trapped by a false view that only such a person could be the will of God for them.

    • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE


      I think you and I are on the same wavelength. I wish more people were.

      Our culture teaches a romanticized view of love that ultimately ends in divorce for most people.

      Young people need guidance. We should be teaching what a solid marriage partner looks like and how to be one, and we should be starting far earlier than their teen years.

      We Christians also need to be better matchmakers and help young people find suitable mates. Our culture doesn't like that idea, but that same culture is pretty much damned, so who has the greater truth?

      Too many parents shy away from suggesting mates for their children. We don't help them by any because we fail to teach children that their parents aren't complete imbeciles when it comes to suggesting good marriage partners. Who knows a young person better than his/her parents?

      And where are church leaders? Shouldn't they have some idea of who their people are? Shouldn't they know which two young people have really compatible spiritual gifts or visions for ministry? (In most cases, the answer is no because church leaders no longer lead the way they should, and they don't take seriously the role of helping people to identify and use their giftings).

      And why is it that Christians today believe in Darwinian dog eat dog, so that the second a young person turns 18 they are surrendered to the wolves and left to fend for himself or herself? What is wrong with two 19-year-olds marrying and the church rallying around them with support to ensure they find decent work and godly help in running a household? Where are couple mentors?

      And why is it that college is the only option? That college environment assaults the Christian faith and ramps up the sexually charged atmosphere so that many young people who enter college as Christian virgins exit it as promiscuous atheists. Why are we not devising worthwhile alternatives?

      We know the answer why. Because it's hard. And it requires a lot of effort. And it means bucking the system just a little, and the system doesn't like people who buck it, and more than anything, we are desperate to be liked.

      We older Christians who know better have let down our young people by not doing enough to help them in the area of sexual purity. If anything, we've condoned a lifestyle that wars against the very thing we tell our young people they must protect at all costs. Last time I checked, they had a word for that: hypocrisy.

      We CAN make things easier for our young people. We're just too lazy and too in love with the culture and society that hates us.

    • http://www.raanetwork.org Phillip Holmes

      Again, amen.

  • Amy

    I think the thesis of the discussion is that if you are in sexual sin, do not expect marriage to completely free you of that. Many people indulge in sinful habits and wrongly believe that there will be no more struggle once they are married. When a husband and wife regularly come together in intimacy as described in I Corinthians 7:2, the temptation is lessened, but someone enslaved in sexual sin will not find that freeing enough and will pursue gratification elsewhere. I am young, but even I have seen enough infidelity in marriages (even in the church) to see that marriage does not miraculously keep men and women from straying if the desire of their hearts is sinful. :( It is only complete and utter submission to Christ - whether married or single - that frees us from sin.

    • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE


      The truth is that the Church in America is not doing a very good job countering all the issues that lead people into sexual impurity. Sexual sins are not always about sex. Fear of death, fear of aging, overly romanticized views of life--many sources that aren't explicitly tied to sex can be a trigger for sexual sins. We can't be ignorant about this. Lust isn't always the beginning; many times, it's the ending.

      Churches can do better. We can be smarter. We can be more sober about life. We can train people better and do it at a younger age.

      Why don't churches start a marriage and family class for 10-year-olds? I've never heard an adequate reason why not, and yet we don't do it. We could start worldview training earlier, but again, we don't do it. Most 10-year-olds are still getting "Bible stories" at church and piecemeal verses tossed at them at a time when they should have already grasped how all of Scripture fits together. No wonder the world tears them to shreds. No wonder we lose them to worldly predators.

      If we keep on with the "you just have to do better" mantra for sexual purity, then we will not win the battle. This war requires better responses, but we are not pursuing them.

  • http://www.notperfectonlyforgiven.blogspot.com Tara

    All I can say is amen! God bless you, brother.

  • PD

    I have been happily married for 30 yrs. I am in church leadership. I have had to do the following:
    1. lock the filters on Google, bing and yahoo on the most conservative filter and throw away the pass word
    2. ask my wife to check the history of internet searches often. If history is erased there is a problem
    3. Meet with an accountability partner at least monthly and ask the tough questions.

  • Greg

    This is a rough and complicated issue. So many people fall into fornication for so many differen reasons - and it's good to speak the gospel toward all this chaos. Here's a different, but related topic I'd like to hear about:

    Recently a close friend told me that part of his reason for not wanting to get out of an unhealthy relationship (not unhealthy from sexual sin, this couple just treats each other badly) is that he is afraid of meeting and falling in love with and marrying a woman who isn't a virgin, and at least he knows this girl is. He just said that it would be really hard. I have a friend who's story this is exactly, and he has what seems to be a fantastic relationship with his wife (he was a virgin until married, she was not), but the other guy was right - it was pretty rough on him. I've seen other couples with exremely colorful histories from both partner get married and seem to have much less of an issue with it... Anyways what I'm getting at is that there seems to be a lack of gospel-centered material for people out there who remained virgins but who's spouse didn't, or perhaps another common issue - women who had very little contact with sexual sin but who's husbands struggled with pornography. What does the gospel say to the spouse who's going through the pain of "I save myself for you... Why didn't you do the same for me?" (assume for a second that we're not dealing with a self-righteous, condescending mentality, just someone who's seriously hurt and struggling with the issue)

    • Tim M.

      Hey Greg,
      What does the gospel say to the spouse who's going through the pain of "I save myself for you... Why didn't you do the same for me?" (assume for a second that we're not dealing with a self-righteous, condescending mentality, just someone who's seriously hurt and struggling with the issue)

      I agree that there is not much help on the subject out there and it is a difficult subject to speak about. However, I think that we have to acknowledge on some level that we are responsible to examine our hurts. Where do they come from? Is it righteous to be hurt?

      When a virgin decides to marry someone who has a sexual past, they are making a commitment to love their spouse regardless of their past. This is a choice that one makes when one pursues marriage. No one is forcing them to get married, they are doing so of their own volition.

      As a result, if someone is in this situation, the temptation is to see themselves as victims instead of seeing themselves as the accuser.

      When God forgives us, he casts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and remembers it no more. As a result, if we are to live in light of the gospel, we do not want to be playing the role of Satan. Satan lives to accuse the brethren. He constantly reminds us of our sinfulness. The worse thing that you can do for your spouse, if you love them the way that Christ loves us, is to bring up their past sins. If you love them, you want them to walk in freedom and grace and not condemnation.

      As a result, if you are a spouse in this situation who can't seem to get over the hurt that you feel due to your partner's sexual past, your first step needs to be to ask God and your partner's forgiveness for being unrighteously hurt. You must begin to see your lack of mercy as ungodly or you will never turn from it. Second, you need to realize that your spouse's sin is not a sin against you. He/She sinned against God and desperately needs God's forgiveness.

      The more that people begin to see their hurt as unrighteous, the easier it is to actively love one's spouse. After all we all sin in so many ways, we all are in need of abundant grace.

  • Amy

    I definitely agree that sexual sin is not always about sex. I would go so far add to day it is rarely about sex. I know personally both from my own struggle and from mentoring young women it is often about approval or a desire for affirmation. That's why marriage doesn't magically cure it; the issue wasn't that they physically couldn't stop themselves from having sex. It was a much deeper issue within the heart that *manifested* itself as sexual impurity.

    I do assure you that I take the apostle Paul's words to heart. Marriage does provide a safe and holy place for sexual intimacy. My point is only that sexual impurity is just a symptom of a greater sin problem within the heart and again, marriage can't fix that. Only Christ can.

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