Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Case for Purity

When I think about all the things I need to teach my girls, the subject of purity scares me the most.  I think this is because what I want to teach them is diametrically opposed to what the world wants to teach them.  They are going to hear two very different sides and have to make a choice.  So how do I accurately portray purity in a way that shows them the truth?

The world is going to tell them that purity is old-fashioned, stupid, outdated and narrow-minded.  That not even purity is worth the pleasure they'll feel in that moment.  That consequence and possible regret won't matter because they'll do what's right for them at that very second in time.  And since purity is really an exercise in self-control and delayed gratification, how can any message possibly compete with that?

The world will tell them that in order to find the one person that they are going to spend the rest of their life with they are going to have to sleep with them.  Or with more than one, to make sure that the sexual chemistry is magic.  Because who wants to be trapped in a marriage without sexual chemistry?  But they don't understand the damage that is done through this practice.  If someone does sleep around, they are going to have to have a conversation with their final choice to let them know all the people they've already been with.  Even on TV this conversation never goes over well.  Funny, isn't it?  They assume you'll have multiple partners, but when you finally select your one and only you have to tell them they haven't been your one and only.

God designed marriage to be a place of safety and security, and the very most intimate act between a man and woman is only safe inside that relationship.  It's not even safe if it occurs between people who have promised to marry, because they don't have the security of that commitment.   It is only in marriage.

The world will tell them that how they dress should only matter to them.  That they can wear whatever they think will make them feel pretty, even if it offends someone else.  That they are not responsible for what other people think of them as long as the love themselves because of what they wear.

Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Christians disagree on what purity is too.  Purity, ironically, is actually a gray area.  We've labelled a sliding scale, and everyone has decided for themselves what crosses the line.  Maybe this is truly how it is, but I don't like it.  It seems to me that purity should be black and white.  You either practice purity, or you don't.  You either are pure, or you're not.  But I guess even I don't live my life according to that standard.

There are so many areas that purity touches: dress, actions, physical expression.  How on earth am I going to convey what God says about it if not even believers can agree on whether or not people should kiss while dating, or how much of a girl's leg should show?

But what if modesty is really just a heart attitude? Having respect for others, understanding that while you are not responsible for controlling their thoughts, you can be aware of issues they might have and act accordingly.  Maybe you don't wear that shirt to attract attention, but I think a real sign of maturity is knowing that the shirt does attract attention and thinking of how you would want your husband to react and dress accordingly.

Maybe I shouldn't stress purity so much as love for others.  Love for someone else's future husband, love for their own future husbands.  As with most of our life, how we dress is not about pleasing ourselves, but honoring others.  Can you wear whatever you want?  Yes.  Does how you dress affect how others, especially men, think?  Yes.  Can you dress in a way that will not only protect yourself for your husband, but protect a boy from having to fight to control his thoughts so he can remain pure for his future wife?  YES.

Things like this will never be easy, but choosing to honor others is always worth it.

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