by: Bethany Beal
I was the teenage girl reading Christian books about modesty, purity, and relationships. I often read my favorite books over and over again. I loved learning and striving to understand God’s design for my life as a Christian girl.
I wore the purity ring.
I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
I saved sex for marriage.
I saved my first kiss for my wedding day.
I was that girl.
Fast forward to today, and I suppose some would consider me a product of the “purity movement.”
In recent days, there has been a lot of talk in Christian circles about those who grew up in the purity movement generation and how it impacted our hearts, relationships, and views of sexuality. It’s clear in hindsight that well-intentioned church leaders may have given an unhelpful and unbiblical emphasis to specific practices—lists of do’s and don’ts that aren’t provided in Scripture.
Due to some of these unbiblical perspectives, many women and men believe they developed a warped view of sexuality, dating relationships, and marriage.
As a product of that generation, I’ve been asked if I felt misguided by the purity movement’s messages. But as a new wife, I’m doing great. My marriage is sweet. I had a wonderful honeymoon and enjoy intimacy with my husband.
The purity movement may have made some mistakes, but hear me out: I don’t believe purity is to blame. It’s us. We are the ones who have twisted (or been taught to twist) God’s Word and have attached our own ideas and rules and concepts to purity.
Instead of ditching purity as an outdated or hurtful concept, let’s reclaim it.
Here are ten things that purity was never meant to be:
1. Purity was never meant to be a god.
If our singular goal is purity rather than God Himself, we’re missing the mark.
Only God is worthy of our worship. He commands us not to worship anything other than Himself.
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).
Don’t allow your “good works” or “good lifestyle” to become your god. Purity deserves our honor and attention, but it should never be an idol in our lives.
2. Purity was never meant to define you.
Our worth and value are not based on how “pure” or “impure” we have been. Purity doesn’t define us, and neither does impurity. In fact, God’s Word says that without Him, we are all impure sinners (Rom. 3:10).
If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are His beloved child. All that God sees now are sparkling white robes of righteousness—because of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21)! God’s child. Created, rescued, seen, and loved unconditionally by Him.
3. Purity was never meant to be a down payment.
This is a big one! Purity is not like dropping a quarter in the gumball machine and getting a reward. We’re not meant to embrace purity only as a down payment on a future spouse and great sex. If we’re honest, how often do we view purity in this way?
The reality is that we aren’t guaranteed a magical marriage and satisfying sex if we seek purity when we’re single. Our motivation for pursuing purity in our hearts should be to honor Jesus—because His gospel sacrifice is everything we ever need.
4. Purity was never meant to be a terror.
If purity has been held over your head as a tool of shame, I am deeply sorry.
Purity was never intended to be used as a threat. Purity was never meant to be a tool by which to shame people into obeying and saving sex for marriage. That’s not God’s design. That’s a sad distortion.
Yes, negative consequences will happen if we throw purity out the window.
But know this:
You are not worthless if you’ve crossed lines and sinned.
You are not damaged goods.
God offers forgiveness and freedom from the chains of sin—yes, even for sexual sin.
Purity should be a beautiful thing, not shame-creator.
5. Purity was never meant to be a badge of honor.
If you view yourself as more holy than others because of your commitment to purity, that’s a sign of pride in your heart. Our desire to embrace purity should be born from a humble heart motivated to honor God, not to prop ourselves up.
Purity is not a badge of honor that we earn and wear like we’ve achieved something grand on our own. It’s simply the grace of God at work in our lives.
6. Purity can’t earn you brownie points.
Speaking of earning things, purity isn’t a way for us to earn points in God’s eyes. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but that love is already full. We don’t gain or lose points. The gospel doesn’t work that way!
7. Purity was never meant to be about pleasing others.
Purity is not about living up to someone else’s standards, gaining approval, or being good enough for someone. Don’t get caught up in living your life to please sinful humans.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).
8. Purity was never meant to be a people-divider.
We’re not meant to be divided into categories of “pure” and “impure.” Because of sin, we’re all in one camp. We are all impure and broken before God. We are all in need of a Savior. We all need Jesus. Every single one of us.
As I say in my book, Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart:
“There are no ranking systems with God. There are no categories based on who’s lived a more pure life and who hasn’t. If we, as women, have the ability to contribute to, or to take away from our worth, the gospel is meaningless. Jesus’ death on the cross would have been pointless.”
9. Purity was never meant to be your salvation.
Purity is not a savior. It’s not a ticket into heaven.
Good works alone can never save us. It’s all about grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8–9).
10. Purity is not the ultimate goal.
Purity is not our end game. Oh yes, it’s part of the game plan for Christian life, but it’s not where we set our sights. Loving and serving Jesus should always be our goal—the bullseye, so to speak.
Purity is meant to be an overflow of our love for Jesus. It’s a desire to live according to God’s good design for us.
The Real Authority on Purity
Whether you grew up in the midst of the purity movement or not, it’s so important that we view this concept through a biblical lens. Don’t allow your own sinful heart or misguided messages from those around you to define your view of purity.
Remember that our entire lives are to be lived for the glory of God. That includes our sexuality. Our desire to embrace purity should be with the focus of living it out for God’s glory.
Looking for more resources on navigating relationships?
A Girl’s Guide to Finding True Love is a LIVE 4-week virtual book club for girls aged 13-17 and single women of all ages. The study is designed for teen girls to go through it with their moms, and college-aged women to go through it with their peers. You could also take a small group through it. This book club could actually transform a community if every Christian girl becomes so lost in God that guys have to seek God in order to find her!
Each live online experience is approximately 60 minutes and includes:
Bethany Beal is head-over-heels in love with her best friend and husband, David, and is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries. She is passionate about spreading the truth of biblical womanhood through blogging, speaking, and mentoring young women. To her family and close friends, she is simply a tall blonde girl who is obsessed with smoothie bowls and can’t get enough of her little fluffy dog. You can read more from her in her new book Sex, Purity, and the Longings of A Girl’s Heart.