Growing up in the Church I frequently heard lessons about the sin of fornication and the need for sexual purity. Yet, I never received any clarity as to why exactly purity was such a desired asset. I knew that God was entirely pure and holy and therefore that if I were not, we weren’t on the same page, but I did not know how to apply such a lesson in my life.
Until I heard a paradigm-shifting talk halfway through my freshman year of college, I was under the impression that as long as I did not have sex before I was married, I was still in the clear. I started dating my current girlfriend a few months after the talk I heard. She is a Christian as well and we agreed about what we thought of as sexual purity. That is to say, we were both hopelessly confused.
My girlfriend and I entered our relationship struggling with issues of lust and in some ways we tried to use our relationship as a “cure” for the deeper problems. As our relationship progressed we began to notice the ways in which we almost idolized one another and realized that we had to take a step back and look at ourselves. We started reading more scripture and Christian books about sexual purity and lust.
One day, we were both hit with the same realization. Sexual purity is so important because the ultimate relationship we have with our wives or husbands is one that is meant to reflect the relationship we have with God. This epiphany opened our minds to so many of the other reasons why sexual purity is so heavily championed.
I finally understood the baggage that comes with participating in the pseudo-dating hookup scene that was so prominent in my own adolescence. The young women who I kissed, touched and held would forever be a part of me and me a part of them. This was particularly hard for my girlfriend to hear even though she knew it was true. Even though society tells us to date around and experiment to gather research on a potential partner, such a mentality is so harmful. I hate the fact that I will always have that piece of the other women I have been with. Even though I do not actively think back on them, I will never be able to erase my past experiences.
These revelations were hurtful to both of us, yet they gave us a new degree of clarity. I finally understood the childhood sermons. I could envision how God planned for marriages to work; that two people would become one, that they would only know each other’s bodies in such intimate ways. Sadly, this knowledge could not have been so real to me unless I had experienced so many of the wrong types of relationships with women. But, being able to share how God has nurtured the growth of our faith and relationship with each other and Him even though we entered into our relationship in such a state of disillusion about what a Christian relationship should be has been such a blessing to both of us.
I only wish that someone could have sat me down when I was sixteen and given me a frank discussion about sexual purity and lust. I might not have listened and still made the same mistakes, but I just pray that God will continue to use my experiences and testimony to reach others who struggle with the same issues.