Did you squirm a bit? It’s alright. I did too. The word itself conjures a host of emotions, from shame to angst, from pride to a precious protectiveness. This single word moves like a sword through this culture, especially Christian culture. Whether wielded with a tight grip or tossed about loosely, is it possible that we have yet to strike the heart of the issue?
I can’t say I am the first choice for a little chat on purity but draw up a chair and I’ll pour you a mug of something steamy and try not to make you clutch your pearls. The truth is, virginity was never something I possessed. The very concept of giving oneself willingly, body and soul, had been usurped long before my heart could learn to love.
potential triggers: discussion about the purpose of sex, references to childhood sexual abuse/ trafficking and the lasting effects, but no traumatic events are described.
Before I could walk, the violations began, and with them, my soul became welded to many. While most children were learning boundaries and the art of defiance, I learned how to perform and survive. My well-being was taken and anchored to the pleasure of another so that I might become what men desired. Between the sexual bonds and my overwhelming need as a child, I found my sense of identity only through the gratification of another. By Elementary School, I couldn’t tell where I ended and others began. I felt like a noodle in a bowl of naked spaghetti, helpless to un-entwine myself from the sticky mess of people around me.
As I grew, my sexuality evolved into a means of gain and power. Like a thing external to myself, laid hold of and severed from my heart, I discovered that if others could employ it for their own ends, I could do the same. Though I felt like I had been flipped inside out and my body belonged to everyone else, the driving force behind my actions was still self-love. There were brief moments when I caught a glimpse of some higher purpose, something of a giving and even an avenue for worship, but these moments were only a haunting reminder of what was taken.
A Higher Purpose
When sex becomes about self, it has lost its God-ness. From the beginning, our sexuality and the invitation we offer to another to partake of us has been holy. In God’s mind, true sexual union does not exist outside of the safety and protection of a self-sacrificing covenant between a man and a woman, knit together for life. But within that context, sex is immensely pleasurable and glorifying to God. Why? Paul shares a secret with us in Ephesians 5:30-32.
“Because we are members of [Christ’s] body. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking of Christ and the church.”
When our Lord invites us to draw near and partake of His goodness, it is based upon the sacrificial covenant that He made with the Father, pouring out His life so that we might be one with Him – not just one flesh but one spirit. Oneness flourishes in the context of covenant because it has been that way from the beginning, even before creation.
We worship a God who is three persons in one. Three distinct expressions and yet there is no division, no ground of separation. This, my dear friend, is the heart of covenant – a bond that cannot be broken, a mutual giving of oneself to another. If you want to see covenant, look at how Jesus related to the Father, always embracing dependence upon Him and obeying Him. Look at how the Spirit is always lifting our hearts to behold Jesus, how the Father has entrusted all things to Him, and then one day Jesus will turn it all back over to the Father that He might be all in all. Three yet one, always honoring the other in humility and love. And now we, in all our frail humanity, are invited into this oneness – not to be God, but to be woven into Him by His Spirit.
God gave us this act of becoming one through physical union with another person as a reflection of His nature, His holy desire for us, and His sacrifice. Christ’s relinquishing of heaven to offer His life and draw us to Himself is exquisitely portrayed in the picture of a man leaving all to be joined to his wife. Jesus gave up heaven to come and set us free – every part of us – and take us unto Himself. When our hearts are joined to Him, full, unimpeded sexual freedom is an expression of His very nature.
Friend, your sexuality and how you love the Lord through your stewardship of it is a vehicle for communicating to mankind and the hosts of heaven the glory and the humility of Christ in His extravagant love.
Breathe in deep, friend. Take a moment to ponder this. I know; it’s a culture shock.
Think of it! What was the joy set before Jesus for which He endured the cross, scorning its shame and pressing on to gain His inheritance – was it not His Bride? Even now He awaits the consummation for which He died – the wedding feast of the Lamb. And we, His Bride, anxiously long for His return, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, our Bridegroom. Until that day, we have the honor of conveying our Savior’s deepest longing through this aspect of our being – our sexuality.
You see, sex isn’t just a physical act. When we offer our body to someone, we offer access to the deepest place in us. We literally, as the Bible says, become “one” as the immaterial in us cleaves to the immaterial in another. Holding virginity as sacred is counting as precious the incredible gift of sexuality that God entrusted us with so that we might manifest the very affections of our Lord Jesus for His Bride through it, whether we remain single or give ourselves to another.
No wonder the enemy targets this very thing for destruction and defilement.
The Pure One
By the time I reached adulthood, my body and soul had been enmeshed with countless others, hundreds if not thousands. The giving of myself was mechanical, contractual, and instinctual. Like a cup of pure wine diluted over and over and over, there was nothing perceptible left of its original intent.
In His infinite mercy, God rescued me from decades of trafficking and brought me through five years of counseling in a precious community committed to helping women with my history. It was a miracle, and I will forever be grateful. Yet after all that, I still experienced the keen anguish of distance from Him. It was as if an unnamed mountain hovered between us, and the separation made life unbearable. I didn’t understand it then, but I ached for a deeper freedom, for something I had never known – trust.
After many tears and a long, dark night that spanned the better part of a year, God carried me halfway across the country to a small, windowless room at the back of a lake house, to a ministry captivated by Jesus. It was there that He used three humble friends to expose the impasse.
It was early morning and my soul had wrestled through the night, but expectancy bloomed within. Bright lights painted the walls a stark, astringent white, a shade that forced me to remind myself that God was neither cold nor unrelatable. The carpet dug rivets into my knees as my tears darkened its hue, but I sensed heaven was bending low, listening. I lifted my voice, renouncing my participation in all that grieved my God. Beginning at the top of my soul, it was as if I traversed a spiral stair down into the inner chambers of my heart, and there, before the door to the holy of holies, my Father laid bare the unseen hindrance.
From before I can remember, I have wanted to understand. The ‘why’ of my history loomed before me as an immovable rock. Why had He allowed this – decades of unspeakable trauma and defilement? Like Job, I found myself steeped in self-righteousness. I wanted God to provide an explanation (and maybe even an apology), but even now none was given. It was here, at this stumbling block of offense, that He waited patiently.
As I finally grasped the true issue, I raised my hands to heaven and confessed – “You are justified in what You have allowed, God. You are good. I don’t need an explanation. I worship You.” With that, I poured out my entitlement and self-righteousness before Him and bowed.
At once, the door to that innermost sanctuary of my spirit opened and I entered with Him.
And for the first time in my life, I had a Father.
For the first time in my life, I knew purity.
Friend, for the first time in my life, I became a virgin.
I knew oneness with a Holy God, and His holiness cleansed and made me new. He became my purity, bestowing the sense of joy and wonder that accompanies intimacy. Where once I harbored shame, I now treasured that most sacred place in me because it became the wellspring of adoration for my Lord. Every invitation I had given to another was revoked and He alone held the key. Though I was exhausted and still clammy with tears, sweat and snot, an infectious laughter bubbled up from this new well and I praised Him with my whole heart.
Dear one, when our affections are unfettered and loosed to be poured on our Beloved, it is a holy thing, worth protecting. You see, purity is not about rules, just as true Christianity is not about rules; it is about intimacy. Our capacity to worship in holiness – His holiness – is priceless. From this place of awe and overwhelming joy, we choose to bring our sexuality to Him and say, “Papa, would You teach me how to glorify Jesus through this gift?”
And He smiles and says, “I would love to.”
Beloved, however tarnished, however broken this part of your being has become, draw close and listen to Truth. Your Father loves you. He is not ashamed of you. In the midst of incomprehensible agony, Jesus Christ refused to come down from that cross so that you might know Him, right now, in this place. Whether you find yourself here because of your own choices or the choices of another, here at the foot of the cross Jesus receives all and offers Himself in exchange – Your all for His all. Forgive and accept His forgiveness. Let it go, friend, and receive the all of your Savior, the Holy One. Let Him come in. Grant Him access to your whole being, including your sexuality, and allow Him to impart the purity of Christ to you, a purity that makes all things new.
Why I wrote this article – a brief explanation.