Purity Culture and Christ

According to the Scripture, purity comes by faith alone. We are clothed in Christ’s righteousness – the white robe of His purity. To seek purity anywhere else is idolatry and a denial of Christ.

(2Co 11:2-4)  2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
  3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
  4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted– you may well put up with it!

When Paul said that he labors to present the church a “chaste virgin” to Christ, he is referring to salvation by faith alone. A “chaste virgin” is one who rejects all other gods and rests in Christ’s righteousness alone.

“Another Jesus” is another gospel. Another gospel teaches that some or all of our purity, our righteousness, our holiness, comes from another source – ourselves, our will power, our “cooperation with grace” or our good works.

To put this together, when we seek our holiness in anything other than the perfect, completed work of Christ, we have forsaken Christ, and embraced “another lover.” This is consistent with the prophets:

6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:`I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
  7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them.
  8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.'”
  (Isa. 44:6-8)

The “purity culture” taught a whole generation of boys and girls that their purity is identical to virginity. Purity balls, purity rings, purity dances, and so one – became a means to dads to keep their daughters pure. This was the fruit of Bill Gothard, a false prophet who taught a false Christ.

In their quest for purity, they became impure. In their quest for righteousness, they became unrighteous. They built on another foundation, and chased after another lover. Her name was “virginity”, and it became another Jesus, another Christ, another gospel.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Rom. 10:3)

In a weird ironic twist, in the pursuit of purity through virginity, they “spread their legs for another lover” in the words of Ezekiel. Blunt, but accurate.

And since God’s judgment is always fitting, the purity culture was actually rife with incest, abuse, assault, fornication, adultery, and all of the works of the flesh. Just as the scripture said it would be.

And because sometimes, things are deeply ingrained in us, I need to say this. “Purity culture” and Christian sexual ethics are not at all the same thing. To reject the purity culture is not the same as rejecting the bible’s teaching on sexuality. It is simply rejecting the false Christ it has become.

5 Comments

Filed under Gospel, sexuality

5 responses to “Purity Culture and Christ

  1. Okay so I was roughly on board up until the second to last paragraph and it’s just been eating at me all day.
    I don’t get how God’s judgement is fitting in this situation, as you said it is. After all, the ones suffering from the effects of Purity Culture are the kids who were raised in it and didn’t know any other way. Is it really justice for the innocent kids who embraced Purity Culture out of a love for God and desire to obey their parents to be the ones suffering from the incest, abuse, and assault that are supposedly part of God’s judgement on the idolatry of Purity Culture? Isn’t that a little like victim blaming?

    • The judgment of God is the hardening of the hearts of the false teachers. He removes restraint and their true nature is revealed. Romans 1 teaches the end result of worshiping the creature rather than the creator.
      The sin is their own. God removes his restraint. That’s where the judgment is.
      Of course, just like all sin, there are victims and those who are hurt because of that sin. Is God responsible for the hurt caused by wicked men? Certainly not! But he does wipe away all tears eventually, and he does vindicate and bring vengeance for his people. And he does turn their suffering into good, even though we can’t see it often on this earth.
      We will never sort out the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. To do that would involve infinite knowledge, which we do not possess.
      The innocent kids who suffered will be vindicated, and the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us.

      • Thanks. This explanation clarifies your perspective a bit. I didn’t really think you were victim blaming, but that paragraph didn’t make sense to me since devoted participants of purity culture are the ones most hurt by it.
        I will add that I can’t let God off the hook as easily as you do, if his judgement really does play out the way you described. In your framework, God is capable of restraining evil up until the point he decides to stop and leave people to their own devices. So if God chooses to remove his restraint, then certainly he has some responsibility for the outcome of that choice? Even the Catechism says in Q&A 107 that “we are to love our neighbor as ourselves…and to protect him from harm as much as we can.” I think if humans are expected to PREVENT harm, not just react to it, then an omni-everything God should be held to the same standards.

  2. My answer was not at all intended to get God off the hook, for it is not possible for me, or any human, to put God on the dock and say, “Why did you do this?”
    God is not a hypothetical being that is made in the image of men. He is the creator of all, and can justly dispose of his creatures as he sees fit. He has made promises, but the fact is that all of us are rebels and in a great deal of trouble. God’s ways are not unjust. WE are unjust.
    As for the innocent victims of evil, we don’t have all the answers because God hasn’t seen fit to reveal them to us. What we have are his promises.
    He WILL wipe away all tears. And he WILL make straight every crooked path. But he doesn’t wipe away evil the way that we humans wipe away evil.
    If God came in judgment the way we want him to, no one would be left.
    He is patient and kind, and longsuffering in order to give time for repentance.
    But for those who harden their hearts and refuse to repent, but continue to hurt and devour and destroy judgment will come.
    And God’s ways are always just and always perfect, even though finite minds such as ours cannot fathom them.

    It would seem that the right thing to do would be to put a stop to every evil act before it occurred, but I have no idea about the governing of the universe. I don’t know how the butterfly’s wings cause hurricanes or how the killing of an archduke causes world wars. I don’t have enough information to even fix one problem. How can I possibly tell God what is just and good and what is not?
    Do we know what he has prevented? Do we know how it will all work together? Do we know how to stop one villain from an evil act and what evil would flow from that?
    You are correct – as humans, we are to use the information that we have to protect life and do as much good as we can. This is because we are image-bearers of God.
    God has infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom. Who are we to say that he is not doing things as he should be doing them? We don’t see the whole picture.
    All we have is a tiny glimpse of the painting from inside the painting. And we are going to judge the artist?
    Seems backwards to me.

    • Anu Riley

      Boy do I understand those difficult questions AND appreciate your answers, Pastor. I’m not a leader, but I’ve often felt confused and even tongue tied when such understandable questions come up. I would try to think of an answer while acknowledging the fact that there is no way I can fully answer.

      I think I got myself into MORE trouble trying to think of answers that may have made things worse, OR even unintentionally punished those who dared to ask.

      A pastor once summed up the cruelty and callousness of Job’s friends well: bad things do not happen to good people. Job must have done something wrong, and we have to find out so our theory can be proven.

      Their quest led them to what I consider to be especially unspeakable:
      suggesting his kids may have done something wrong. We don’t know any of their names, but it often gets lost that these were real people. Maybe THEY sinned and brought this on themselves. Are you kidding me?

      It’s amazing how far we’ll go to try to make sense out of what we consider to be (and we’re right) what is senseless. Not pointing any fingers at the commentator or your answers. Just acknowledging the pain we often endure in trying to put together what is painful beyond words.

      I have to remind myself that Job’s friends didn’t start out this way. They sat in the ashes with him at first, silent and sorrowful with him. When they finally spoke, that was when it all snowballed.

      It would have been better to have stayed silent, BUT that doesn’t mean they could not have been helpful. In fact, my biggest problem with them is how many much needed ways they didn’t help, but could have. Ways that we are all probably capable of helping. It wouldn’t have given them any answers (as if their 50 chapters of hammering away at him gave any?), but it would have cushioned the extreme pain he was in, both inside and out.

      Job had to use a broken piece of pottery to scrape at his wounds. Good gravy, his friends could easily have brought clean, cool water and clean rags to tend to his poor body.

      His whole life, including his family and work life, had been ruined. How about bringing both people power and practical resources to start cleaning up his property? Offering food, clean clothes to Job’s wife. Inconsolable as she was, such offers wouldn’t hurt.

      I can’t imagine which is worse, mourning the ones who are no longer living, but realizing that you have to keep living somehow.

      I consider myself to have been on the outskirts of purity culture; certainly involved but not as immersed as others. Even with my limited experience, it spelled spiritual death. As you said, it’s a false gospel. It was based on false promises and gave false hopes. It lied to us, and we were lied to. Such deception sows and reaps nothing but death.

      My compassion truly lies with those with who were lied to. Hebrews 12:1 says sin easily entangles us. While being young in age or spiritual age may or can be strong contributing factors, I believe many older so called seasoned believers can be and are just as easily entangled by sin. Regardless of age and gender, deception only looks for a certain type of heart “soil” (parable of the 4 soils) to take root and take over.

      AND it can often be even harder for such persons to disentangle themselves: I’ve been a Christian for this long; how can I be wrong? How can I be deceived?

      Hebrews goes on to say to fix our eyes on Him, the ” pioneer and perfecter of faith.” That’s the “answer,” in so many words.

      I can preach this but not so easily practice this.

      But then it goes to say: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

      I think shame is one of the greatest tragedies of the purity culture. It justified using shame in order to promote godliness. The end justified the means, but in reality, it was just meanness all around.

      So it’s interesting that the shame of the cross, which He endured AND scorned, resulted in giving Him glory and honor. The very things we so desperately need in the aftermath of a false gospel: the glory of being made in His image is shamed, and the honor we have in Him is humiliated.

      In THAT sense, the ends justified the means.

      I once read that the fact that He sat DOWN at His right hand is significant. It indicated that His work really is finished. In the mind of the purity culture, nothing is finished, and you are always working. Shame never lets you sit down. Never lets you rest. Never gives you a break.

      Worst of all? Shame. Never. Works. So you keep being shamed, shaming yourself, or shaming others—and you never get anywhere; never gain anything. I don’t care if preserving the virginity of many justified the punishing of shaming. I was a virgin before I got married, but I never felt that way on the inside.

      If those means really worked, I would be the first to justify them. But they never do, never did and never will.

      I know about being saddled with shame. You know what? You can’t receive love as you should, because you are wrapped in layers of self-loathing. So you think you can “unclothe” that shame along with your actual clothing on your wedding night? OR, for the rest of your life?

      Or did the purity culture only think about getting you as far as your wedding and wedding night?

      The purity culture tended to revolve around romantic love, but the Bible says friendship is the greatest love. Relationships in general will suffer. You will struggle to be a true friend, a spiritual sibling in Christ, even enjoy the joy of being a true child of God while being balled and chained to shame.

      The Lord will keep insisting that He endured and finished the work. You will keep insisting that it wasn’t enough, and the work is never finished.

      Sometimes the shame I feel is so great, I know Who to believe, but I don’t know how to. Actually, this is good. I am not calling Him a liar and He is not to be believed, but I am calling out in pain due to the lies I’ve believed.

      This went on longer than I’d planned! For those who feel as I do, embrace the love He gives you, and scorn the shame they gave you.

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