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FIRST-PERSON: Sexual purity is the standard

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As co-founder of True Love Waits, an international campaign that encourages sexual abstinence until marriage, I’m often asked what it really means to be sexually pure.

Many young people are confused about where to draw the line, and it’s easy to understand why. We live in a world that constantly bombards us with impure behavior and encourages participation in it.

While sexual purity certainly includes abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage, it is more than just setting limits on one’s behavior. Sexual purity is a total commitment of sexual needs, desires, thoughts and actions to God. A Christian view of sexuality does not ask, “How far from purity can I wander before I have sinned?” Rather, a Christian perspective guides us toward purity and to seek it in our attitudes and actions.

Going beyond hugging and casual kissing can easily begin the process of crossing that line of arousing desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled outside of marriage.

As Campus Crusade for Christ author and speaker Josh McDowell puts it, “When one person’s desires begin to rise above what is right and spiritually healthy for the other person, they’ve crossed the ‘line.'”

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The challenge of remaining sexually pure is nothing new. In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, the Apostle Paul encouraged believers to run from sexual sin. “No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 Paul writes, “God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor.” And in Romans 6:13, he urges believers to “not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given a new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”

Based on these and other Scriptures, it is clear that for Christians the question is not “How far can I go?” but rather “How can I best honor God?”

Until you are married, the best way to honor God in the area of sexual purity is by saying no to sexual intercourse, oral sex and even sexual touching. It means saying no to a physical relationship that causes you to be “turned on” sexually. It means not looking at pornography or pictures that feed sexual thoughts.

Making a commitment to sexual purity is easy. Keeping that pledge can be difficult. True Love Waits provides resources, practical advice and encouragement to help young people remain sexually pure. For more information, visit www.truelovewaits.com.
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Jimmy Hester is co-founder of True Love Waits and director of student ministry publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.