“Don’t have sex before you are married. Save your virginity for your spouse on your wedding night.”
For most of us who grew up in Christian homes, we probably had this command ingrained into our brains. Why? Because sexual intimacy is one of the most special and exclusive gifts God has given to a husband and wife and it should be guarded and saved for marriage.
However, if we emphasize that the main goal of a young Christian is to merely maintain your virginity until marriage, then we are missing the boat - BIG TIME. Christians shouldn’t be solely pursuing virginity, but rather aiming for a life of purity.
Virginity is saving the act of sex for marriage. Virginity is something you give away once and don’t have again. We don’t think about virginity again after we are married. Yet, couples can do many other sexual things together and still maintain their virginity. We will often compromise much of our purity all in the name of saving our virginity.
Purity is a gift from God. The only way we can be pure is through the saving power of Jesus Christ. Pursuing purity is striving to live a life that honors the forgiveness and new life that Jesus’ sacrifice has already given us. Purity is about our hearts and our motives. Purity isn’t something you have once to give away. Purity is something you pursue your whole life even after you are married and having sex.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Satan doesn’t care if you are a Christian, happily married, a pastor, a youth leader, a mom or a dad. He will flash the shiny idol of sexual immorality in front of us our whole lives. Purity is something WE ALL need to pursue before marriage and even afterward!
A pursuit of purity:
- cares about what we allow our eyes to linger on
- leads us to dress modestly rather than seductively
- means turning the channel when sleazy commercials come on
- cares about the content of your romance novels
- means keeping proper boundaries with the impressionable (sometimes forward) teens in our youth groups
- cares more about pleasing God than pleasing our bodies.
If the young people sitting in our pews each Sunday are going to have a fighting chance in this sexually flooded world, they need to understand God’s beautiful design for sex. The focus is not on getting as close to sex while keeping their virginity, but rather how they can pursue a life of purity because of what Jesus has done for them.
The best thing we can do to prepare our young people (and ourselves) for this raging battle is to go on the offensive, to actively pursue a life of purity from the moment we wake up in the morning until the moment we close our eyes for sleep.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:7
That means we must fix our eyes on Jesus, so that we won’t be distracted by the deceptive draw of sexual sin. We need to stop standing still trying to avoid the sins around us and rather run with focus towards Jesus and the calling he has for our life. Let’s look to the joy set before us so that the temporary pleasures lose their pull on our hearts.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
The temporary joy of sexual sin is always followed by guilt and shame, leaving us unsatisfied. God offers us more than this. He offers us the excitement of a life on mission in his kingdom. He offers us the lasting satisfaction of knowing him. And he offers us forgiveness for when our lives have been lived completely contrary to all of this. What amazing love, compassion, grace and FORGIVENESS!
So, what are we going to do with it?
- We need to talk openly and often with the teens that God has put in our lives about the challenging reality of sexual temptation. They are in desperate need of guidance and encouragement to practice the discipline of pursuing purity.
- Let’s step up and set an example for them. Let’s show them that while none of us is perfect, that doesn’t mean we can’t prayerfully fight for purity in our own lives for the sake of Jesus!
Note: If you are looking for a Bible study for your youth group on this topic, be sure to check out Chosen Gen’s Dating series.