The sweat drenches their sunburned skin as they trudge in line through 120 degree desert heat. They cry out in agony against the weight of the heavy, fiery chains that entwine their bodies and sear their flesh. They are bowed low and stooped together in their captivity. They choke on the dust and cry out for water, yet there is none to be given. They long for relief. They long for freedom.
The leader raises her body and lifts her eyes to the desolate, scorching landscape before them. A haunting question slowly invades her mind and a hoarse, dry whisper escapes her lips: How did we get here?
As they trudge on to the rhythmic sound of the sand crunching beneath their scarred feet and the clanging of burning chains around their bodies, a horrific realization strikes them: They themselves made these chains. Their chains are the result of a series of choices, choices they thought would be liberating. What they thought would bring them freedom, though, has instead quite literally become their bondage.
It’s a startling picture of the bondage of sexual “freedom” that’s become common in our culture. The burden of misplaced sexuality weighs heavy on too many of us women. But God offers us real freedom, and a confidence that through the pursuit of purity we can yet enjoy becoming everything that God intends for us.
In Isaiah 46:1-2, God observes:
The images that are carried around are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together, unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.
I’ve witnessed this. I’ve seen the burden of a sexually perverse culture bringing great weariness to us women. And this weariness is a load that we were never meant to carry.
In the April 2007 issue of Marie Claire magazine, author Laura Sessions Stepp described the chains that have brought this weariness. To research her piece, Stepp spent a year with eight young women “in the entrenched and sexually charged world of single, 20–something women.” The “Hookup Culture” in which these women have found themselves has facilitated the most sexually confusing landscape any generation has faced.
Stepp was convinced that one reason alcohol abuse and depression have risen among women is that they’re taking part in these sexual encounters, not only believing that they should engage in them, but that they should “be strong about it.” These young women are finding themselves having to do it over and over again: the encounters, the drinking, the ensuing brokenness. In her book Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Fail in Both, Stepp explained,
“At some point it denies their own biology and desires so of course they drink in order to prepare for it. One of the girls in my book, Alicia, says it’s very scripted. You turn off everything except your body and make yourself emotionally invulnerable … it’s a cheap thrill.”
A sexually engaged body without an appropriately engaged heart has become one of our greatest burdens as women. Feigning emotional invulnerability brings heavy weariness upon us, a weariness we were never meant to experience.
Generations ago God looked at the woman He had just created, with all her emotional sensitivity and vulnerability, and pronounced her “very good.” Now, millennia later, when life becomes a separation of our souls from our bodies and becomes a prostituting of the temples that He gave us, we are dehumanizing one of God’s most treasured creations — ourselves.
It breaks my heart to look at what’s happened to us. I think we’ve become so weary from guilt, weary from the giving of our bodies without the commitment of our hearts, weary from living a fractured life that’s reduced us to mere objects. We’re weary from the alcohol. We’re weary from the depression. We’re weary from the STIs. And the hard truth is that we have welcomed these burdensome chains, one link at a time. And life has consequently been reduced to … bondage.
I deserve better than the burdens that some consider “freedom.” I was created for more.
This is what God says about our beauty … and what happens to it when we don’t trust it to Him alone:
“You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations of account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect…. But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.” (Ezekiel 16:13-15)
Did you catch that? God makes our beauty perfect by His splendor. The word splendor speaks of a great brilliance, a brilliant luster, as the splendor of the sun. When God gives His splendor to our beauty, it becomes a brilliant light. Girls, our beauty is a gift, bestowed to us by God. Anything that’s impure in our lives is just unable to contain His brilliance.
God chooses to whom He gives His splendor. God establishes His beauty where He desires it. I wonder, Do I have a heart so focused on Him that He longs from heaven to establish His beauty in me and give His splendor to it? Such insight into the heart of beauty births a passion for purity and sets us free from having to grasp for the cultural definitions of beauty.
But should I trust in my own beauty and flippantly give myself away to the validations of young men, I am prostituting my value. When I lavish my beauty on anything outside of God’s design for me, I’m exploiting my soul to the appetites of others … and my beauty will become another’s. What I focus on determines or defines my beauty.
The Father’s desire for us women is that we live in absolute freedom in every area of our lives. He created us to fully enjoy everything that’s whole, good, lovely and liberating. 1 Timothy 6:19 encourages us to “take hold of the life that is truly life.” We only get life from that which is truly living. Who is the most fully alive Person? Christ, of course.
When we choose to live in purity the way God designed for us, His most valued treasures, it literally gives life to us and, as the word “pure” implies, empowers us to full strength! He wants us to enjoy all that purity brings to us women: strength, relationship, health, freedom of depression, freedom from regret, freedom from guilt … and a full and abundant life.
Purity doesn’t restrain us, hold us back or weight us down. No, it fully liberates us to live in all that is truly good and best. This is what God wants for me. This is what God wants for us. This is how we take hold of life, the life that is truly life.
You and I magnify the holiness and purity of God when we choose to live in this kind of beauty; when we live in purity we’re in effect giving the culture a glimpse of the King’s purity. In that case, then, it’s not even our own, but the manifestation of glory and holiness in us from our Heavenly Father. Paul says that we are God’s sacred temples for the very presence of Him in this world. That’s the power of it!
Isaiah 45:14 says that “they will come over to you and will be yours, they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow before you saying, ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other, there is no other God.'” Purity modeled is so powerful that this world can’t help but look and see the True God who is in us and who is before them. Our purity is an embodiment and living example of what Christ wants to do in everyone, and died to so freely give.
I need to pose a difficult question: Is it possible that some of us have linked our own chains together, bringing them upon ourselves by our choices? If so, by God’s grace there is a Savior who came with the keys to our chains, and is always before us in mercy and power to set us free from our burdens. He can remove from us those images that have become burdensome to us. He simply waits for us to call to Him.
Purity that sets us free starts with repentance to our Lord who died to forgive us. Can he forgive us for last night? Of course. His sacrifice covers us. Can He forgive us of last week? Yes, of course. He shed His blood for that.
Can He forgive us when we can’t even forgive ourselves? No doubt, for the blood of Jesus Christ is greater then our own self-condemnation. His mercies are new every morning. His mercies were new this morning. And will be new tomorrow morning as well.
Purity that sets us free begins at the foot of the cross where the King meets us to break our chains. His self-proclaimed “job description” as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is to give us freedom over bondage, strength over weariness, light over darkness, and life over death! He says that there’s always a way to start over. And He became that Way for us. He holds the keys.
Girls, let’s cry out to Him for a restoration of purity that starts with us and impacts those around us through lives that are lived in the freedom of Christ. I’ve found that this is truly a purity that sets captives free.
Copyright 2008 Khrystian A. Wilson. All rights reserved.