The Problem with Virginity
by Hafeez Baoku
I came across a recent survey that stated that 80% of “professing” Christians claim to be sexually active before marriage. It’s a sad reality that Christians are not viewing purity of any importance in our post-modern culture. Instead of being a counter cultural community of faith, we are assimilating to the lies and deceptions of our fallen culture.
In regards to the 20% of believers who are not sexually active before marriage, I wonder if they understand the difference between purity and virginity. Even though a person has never had sex before marriage, it does not mean that they are pure before God. While I am in no ways trying to discredit abstinence and virginity, because they are good godly things, I want to challenge the church to a greater standard of purity and holiness, a standard that is not only determined by what has happened externally but also by what occurs internally.
WHAT IS PURITY?
The word purity (hagneia) is defined as the absence of all sinfulness in an individual. Purity is used in the New Testament in regards to the standard of morality that believers are called to live by.
As it relates to purity within one’s sexuality, we see that the scriptures advocate that believers abstain from all types of sexual impurity, “but among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).
The author of this verse, who also happened to be Paul, was advocating that not even a hint of sexual immorality should be present amongst believers. The word sexual immorality is derived from the Greek word porneia, which is where we get the English word porn. Porneia is not only limited to the physical actions of sexual immorality, but any sexual action that is outside of God’s design for sex between a husband and wife. The standard that Paul was encouraging all believers to live by was something far greater than a vow of abstinence.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PURITY AND VIRGINITY
If we place the bar for appropriate sexuality among believers to be solely “virginity,” we are lowering the biblical standards given by Christ. As a result, we are giving false affirmation to the 13-year-old virgin who thinks he is pure even though he is watching pornography on a consistent basis. We are also giving a pat on the back to the young college student who is not sleeping with his girlfriend, but is involved with all types of inappropriate touch with her. We as the church cannot continue to lower the bar of purity in order to appease a sensual and promiscuous generation. We must all adhere to the greater standard; where purity is not only one’s actions remaining pure but also the intentions and thoughts of the heart and mind also being pure.
This article is not meant to be an attack on the church but a challenge for all believers, including myself, to live pure and holy lives that are pleasing to the Lord. Recently I fell under the conviction that while I was not having pre-marital sex, masturbating, or looking at pornography, my heart was still impure toward the Lord.
I would encourage those who are single to pay close attention to their hearts and motives behind certain actions. We can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are “pure” because we are not watching pornography or having sex, yet there can be other impure things that we are doing consistently to feed our lustful desires. And to those who are in dating relationships, I would encourage you to view your boy/girlfriend as a brother or sister in Christ, because, as of now, you two are only brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, in regards to “drawing the line” between what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, would it be difficult to say that anything that would be considered adultery within a marriage could also be considered as fornication outside of a marriage?
My last words are for those, like myself, who may feel convicted because they have not been living pure lives before God. The hope that we all have is forgiveness and compassion through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though we sinned against a holy and perfect God, he still loved and died for us. He still loves us even when we fall short of his standards, and he promises to always be with us through our struggles because he will “never leave nor forsake us.”
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