Practical Purity

In today’s featured article “How Purity Can Become a Problem,” I address the spiritual and practical dangers of finding your identity in purity and becoming legalistic about it.

So what’s the alternative? Obviously purity is important and a standard for a Christian’s life. But if it’s not about the ring or the ball or the pledge, what is it about? And, more specifically, what does it look like? Here are a few ideas for practical purity:

1. Make God’s Word the priority, not the latest purity book. Books about saving sex for marriage and having pure interactions with the opposite sex have their place. These stories and insights can encourage us in our own journeys. But books, written by people, were never meant to take the place of our true source of wisdom. Psalm 119:9-10 says: 

“How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you;

Let me not wander from your commandments!”

While there are absolutes in Scripture, it’s helpful to remember that the advice contained in books is NOT God’s inerrant Word. You should constantly compare these ideas to what you find in Scripture. As Paul says, “Test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

2. Don’t fear meaningful fellowship with those of the opposite gender (in fact, seek it out!). This was an important lesson for me to learn. What did it look like to interact freely with the opposite sex while maintaining the purity God desired of me? I wrote about my journey in the article “Boy Crazy.” 

“While the version of boy-craziness I had observed as a teen was unproductive and lacked self-control, I began to wonder if too little emotion toward guys was actually hindering me from developing the types of relationships that could lead to marriage. By guarding my emotions too carefully and avoiding any interaction with the opposite sex that could be considered flirtatious or forward, I essentially cut myself off from the benefits men could bring to my life.”

At one point in my life, I think I feared that engaging in deeper levels of conversation with a guy would either send the wrong message (me being forward) or overstep the bounds of “emotional purity.” But as I sought the Lord and grew in my faith, I realized I could trust the Holy Spirit to convict me if I was out of line. This freed me to enjoy deeper, more meaningful friendships with men.

3. Cultivate purity in your heart and trust that the actions will follow. This goes back to what I said about depending on the Holy Spirit and reading the Bible. If you are filling your life with things that feed your soul and deepen your relationship with the Savior, purity will naturally occur. Sure, there are specific rules to follow, and there may be areas of struggle you need to seek accountability on. But, overall, living the pure life should be a joy to carry out when you are cultivating Christ’s life in you.

4. Don’t compare. Christians are great at looking at one another and saying, either “I would never be THAT prudish” or “I would never be THAT worldly” (or some version of those statements). Basically, this kind of judging is counterproductive and can take our eyes off what we should really be focusing on — our own walk with Jesus. Ultimately my purity is between me and Him, and He is going to care little about what others did. So seek His heart on the issue and refrain from measuring your success (or failure) by the actions of others. 

Those are just a few ideas for keeping purity from becoming a problem. Maybe you can come up with some more? God gives us freedom to make choices that honor Him (1 Corinthians 10:23). Purity is about using that freedom wisely.

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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.

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