Purity. It’s a massive word that carries a lot weight and invokes many heated debates and heartache in the Christian world – as well as outside it. My own experience has been a lack of grace and understanding on both sides.

Before I came back to Christ, I made a decision to remain celibate until I was in a meaningful relationship. No meaningful relationship surfaced for a number of years and it did. But then I met Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus helped me truly understand my position on sexual activity, which is that sex should be reserved for marriage. For me, it’s about the commitment you make to each other before God. You enter into this marriage, knowing that the other person places a high value on their relationship to grow with God and a high value of you as their partner.

But what if you didn’t understand the importance of abstinence and now you’re a Christian? You’ve experienced sex and now you’ve changed your position on the matter. What then?

When I first became a Christian, I found it tough to find my place at this particular discussion table. There were times when I felt ashamed because I had a sexual history. I was made to feel like some sort of temptress because I had experienced something that seemed reserved for the super holy. I’ve even heard both guys and girls say: “Oh, I could only marry a virgin.”

So if I’m in Christ am I not a new creation? Where is the grace here? If you take the position that you’re only going to marry a virgin, you’re probably excluding yourself from half the Christian population. Or looking at it from another perspective, what does that point of view say about us as Christians? I would argue that we are all broken. You are not less broken because you haven’t had sex.

My other major challenge has been challenging the secular view that celibacy equals a lack of intimacy. Recently, I met someone I quite liked. He wasn’t a Christian. We managed to get to the third date and right on cue, the sex issue came up. Needless to say we did not share the same views and we parted ways. Me being me, I wanted to understand his position, and I asked him what he thought intimacy looked like. He texted back: SEX.

And he’s not the only one. I’ve had conversations where people feel that without sex you can never really know someone. Or that there must be that spark if it’s to go the distance. But how true is that? How many times have you heard it said that after sex, people still feel empty?

The thing is, I feel judged for wanting to keep that side of myself for the one that I’m married to. So how do I move forward?

For me, it’s focusing back again on what real love looks like, not just falling into the trap of equating it with attraction and sex. It’s about reminding myself that people’s views are shaped by their own life experiences and I shouldn’t be taking their position personally. And finally, it’s about spending time really understanding 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8:  “Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn’t envy, it doesn’t boast, it’s not proud. It doesn’t dishonour others, it’s not self-seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

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