Recently the news has been filled with fallout from the short comings of the purity movement. Many wives in Awaken Love classes relate to the challenge of embracing sex when the only message they heard was, “Don’t do it!” Other women just gave up trying to be pure. Once lines were crossed – whether it was their choice or not – they figured they were already ruined, so why try. And I’ve met plenty of brides that felt confused and angry when sex didn’t feel amazing, even though they followed all the rules. But pointing out the failings of the purity culture only casts blame. How do we move beyond the purity culture, not only for ourselves but for future generations?
Healing for You
If you grew up during the purity movement, you may have related to one of the examples of fallout. Regardless, we all have believed lies about sex and we all have sexual brokenness. Don’t put off working on your marriage bed until years of resentment build. Make it all that God intended by taking an Awaken Love class, joining a Passion Pursuit study, reading my book Awaken Love, or meeting with a counselor. Regardless of where you have been or what you have been through, go after healing. We cannot change the past, but we can take responsibility for pursuing our own healing today.
Moving Forward in The Church
The main message of the purity movement, waiting to have sex until marriage, was not wrong. God created sex as a way to unite marriages and to create a deep intimacy. Connecting intimately during sex also helps us understand deep intimacy with Christ.
Saving sex for marriage shows trust in God’s goodness and spares us natural consequences. God is not stingy. He wants to protect us from broken hearts, comparisons of past experiences, or creating a habit of disconnection during sex. But when we only hear, “Don’t do it”, we haven’t received the full picture of sex. We need to know what we are saving ourselves for.
God created sex for marriage and it is definitely something to look forward to. Though it will take hard work in marriage to create a mutually satisfying sex life, God creates intimacy through the struggle. Song of Songs shows us the passion and intimacy God intends for marriage. Sex is something worth waiting for.
Single people also need to understand that crossing boundaries does not ruin them for life, like that flower that lost all of its petals. God is a God that forgives and redeems. When we repent, we can start fresh as we learn to live in a way that honors Him with sexual integrity. The church can’t be afraid to share with others what they’ve learned from their mistakes. Let’s equip others to make good choice for themselves. Let’s move beyond simple messages for “Don’t do it” or simplistic answers that convey fear and shame about sex.
Changing the Culture of Sex in the Church
It’s easy to complain about the faults of the purity movement, or throw up our arms because nothing ever changes in church. But I am here to encourage you and say that things can change. I’ve witnessed it.
Start at Home
The truth is that conversations in the home about sex have more of an impact than any youth group message, or sermon. When you grow up knowing that your parents enjoy sex and they aren’t afraid to talk with you about it, you end up with a healthy respect and attitude for sex. As parents, we cannot let message from culture, or porn, or even church, trump the influence that we have with our kids. If you don’t know where to start check out Tips for Conversations, What Do You Want to Communicate, and Creating New Messages for Teens. Work through your baggage around sex, embrace the freedom God intended for you, and start talking to your kids about what they are waiting for and why.
More and more churches address the topic of sex in a positive way. Recently a local church contacted me because they were doing a sermon series on sex. They not only hosted an Awaken Love class, but the pastors facilitated the Men’s Edition class for the husbands. As a culmination to the series they invited me and 2 others from outside of the congregation to answer sex questions during church. Not only did we talk about sex, we talked about masturbation. This church normalized the conversation of sex and created a safe place to find answers. The silence and shame surrounding sex was replaced with God’s truth – and it came from the top down.
I’ve seen other churches open up the topic of sex when one individual stepped up. I’ve had lots of ladies seek approval to host Awaken Love video classes at their church. Sometimes the leaders are happy to help and offer a room, office help or even marketing. Other times leaders aren’t ready and the women end up hosting classes in their house.
Either way the transformation ripples out to create conversations about sex with spouses, kids, and in the church body. You do not have to wait for your church leadership to tackle the topic of sex. You can start by inviting a few friends from church in your corner of the world.
The purity movement missed the mark for many people. Thirty years later, during the age of internet and porn, we cannot expect simple answers or formulas to work when we talk about navigating singleness. We must go after healing and embrace God’s gift of sex for ourselves first. Then when we talk to our kids, we become the source of Godly truth and real answers.
Help married couples understand the importance of sex and the freedom God offers. Create a safe place for singles to ask questions, understand natural consequences, and begin a journey of sexual integrity. Open up the conversation about sex in your church and see the impact ripple. Move beyond the purity culture and take sex back from the world.