The internet is currently on fire with criticisms and defenses of the story 50 Shades of Grey. I wrote a blog about the story and it’s effect on us but I decided to put it on the shelf. While I might use some of the thoughts from it, I’ll probably never publish the majority of the blog.
I made that decision because I realized that if Christians are genuinely debating whether we should see the movie or read the book we’ve already lost the battle for purity.
Many Christians assume that in the battle of purity we must do our best to stay on the right side of the line between pure and impure. Taking that approach ensures our defeat though because it places our focus on sin avoidance and performance instead of Jesus. I know this from years of trying to live a pure life.
Back in the day when I heard pastors talk about living purely, I knew for certain what they were talking about. They were referring to guys who didn’t have sex with their girlfriends and didn’t look at porn; I was dead wrong though. Living a pure life is not about avoiding the most obvious acts of sexual impurity, it’s about striving to become more like Christ.
whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:6 ESV
Jesus is the absolute best example of purity and not the married couple who saved themselves from marriage. That couple achieved something incredible and they can be great role models, but the best advice they can give is to tell others how to live more like Jesus. If they simply told people about how to avoid temptation and keep healthy physical boundaries, they wouldn’t actually be helping others win the battle against impurity; that’s because we can lose the purity battle without any physical contact.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:27
Jesus makes it clear that we can lose the purity battle without touching someone else or taking any action for that matter. We can lose just by lusting after a woman and committing adultery in our hearts. That point is really important because an incredible number of ‘pure’ Christian guys are getting slaughtered in the battle of purity because they’re drawing the line at healthy physical boundaries, porn, and masturbation.
While it’s a GREAT thing to avoid doing any and all of those things, most of us still end up losing the battle of purity. We lose because we continue to lust after the women we see on TV, internet ads, and walking down the street. That means we cut the porn out of our lives and continue to commit adultery in our hearts.
Generals do not normally declare victory in war after winning one or two battles. In World War II, both the Germans and the Japanese began their part in the war with victories and ended them with full surrenders. A large number of Christian guys have very similar stories.
Many of the guys drop porn before they get married and enjoy a completely pure dating relationship before they walk down the isle also end up with a porn problem a few years into marriage. They find themselves in this problem because they took a defensive approach to the battle for purity and sexual impurity wore them down over time and defeated them. If we want to win more than a couple battles and enjoy more than temporary success, we need to go on offense instead of defense.
Our efforts to win the purity battle and live a pure life need to focus on becoming more and more like Christ everyday. We’ve got to proactively examine ourselves and how we can better emulate Christ in our daily lives. This doesn’t mean we make our lives into a performance for God, it means that we gradually ask God to remake every part of our hearts until it looks like His.
A genuine victory in the battle for purity only happens when we become more like Christ and not when we simply avoid sexual sin.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Those victories are harder than figuring out if it’s okay to see 50 Shades of Grey or staying a virgin before marriage but we have Jesus’ help and that means nothing is impossible. While it may seem laughable to fight against problems like lusting after women in our hearts, I know that God would never command against something that He couldn’t help us overcome. God can change our hearts in ways that we can never imagine but we will probably miss out on that if we just focus on how to avoid sexual impurity.
Image Copyright: Tela Chheby