Christian college students are faced with the challenges of purity in their lifestyles on a daily basis. While the concept of purity involves so much more than just virginity, the two are often unfairly equated.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” This verse immediately lumps acts such as viewing pornography and indulging in sexual fantasies and lust into a category of sins that defile one’s purity of heart and mind. We know that explicit song lyrics, sexual jokes, and immoral sexual contact in movies, television or books are wrong. But we don’t think of them as damaging our purity because we’re not doing those things: the character on the screen is. These excuses damage our purity just as swiftly as sex outside of marriage.
Christians are called to be “holy” or “set apart” in purity as Christ is holy. Sexually, this means being pure in body, heart and mind, but ultimately purity means letting our love for God and others be manifested in our lives. How we guard our bodies, minds and hearts sexually is an outworking of this purity, but purity should also be seen in many more aspects of our lives. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
Because purity means so much more than just virginity, this concept is crucial for those who have been sexually harrassed, abused or raped. Our purity is not affected by the choices of others and does not depend on whether or not we have been sexually abused. God does not judge us for the wrongs done to us by others.
For example, Jesus Christ was physically, mentally and emotionally abused during His trial and crucifixion and He knew and loved His abusers more than we will ever love or know another human being. The emotional trauma of being abused by someone you loved that much is unthinkable. Christ was stripped and made to remain naked on the cross for around six hours. This forced indecent exposure was humiliating and degrading, and by modern standards, a form of sexual harrassment. Yet Christ was still pure. If He had not been pure, he would not have been able to take the punishment for our sin. But Christ was, is and always will be the standard of purity and holiness.
He cleared the way for all of us to attain purity. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” says 2 Corinthians 5:17, and this applies to sexual sin as much as to any other. Our sins, while they must be repented of and turned away from, are covered by the blood of Christ! Christ showed love and compassion to those struggling with sexual sin. In fact, He was descended from several women and men who also struggled with sexual sin – Rahab, Tamar, Judah, David, Bathsheba, Solomon and more.
God doesn’t justify sexual sin, but He does give hope for those struggling. We are made clean through Christ of all our sins, including sexual ones. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).