trying-to-stay-pure-you-might-be-adultery-blogHere’s a story for you: the monk Benedict would occasionally strip himself naked and throw his body into thorns and thistles in an attempt to dismiss himself of sexual passion.

Here’s another story: during the pornocracy from 904 A.D. to 962 A.D., the Pope would give favors to certain people if they paid him back with a sexual favor.

What do these two stories have in common? Both Benedict and the Pope were driven to these actions by sexual desire.

When we talk about sexual desire and sin we tend to talk about things like lust, pornography, and addiction because these are common manifestations of sexual sin. But can purity be a sinful manifestation of sexual desire? Let me explain.

The Bible talks about two kinds of slavery: slavery to sin, and slavery to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). Being a slave to righteousness is being a slave to Christ, for he has purchased us with his blood (1 Corinthians 6:20). If something drives me to action other than the person and work of Christ, then I am enslaved to the thing that drives me. What drives you controls you, and what controls you owns you.

In Christian circles, sexual purity is a virtue and a sign of godliness. But what motivation lies behind it? Is your motivation to be pure truly out of obedience and worship of Christ, or is it motivated by reputation, pride, or the idea of purity itself? This is important because you are a slave to what drives you. You are a slave to what motivates you. You can become enslaved to purity, and being a slave to anything other than Christ is idolatry.

What does enslavement to purity look like? It is when we are driven by purity rather than Christ. Enslavement to purity often coincides with self-punishment. I have experienced this myself, and have seen it manifested in people around me. I messed up and lusted here, so I will punish myself in some way because of my behavior.

Maybe I‘ll even throw myself into some thorns and thistles.

This is not Gospel living. We do not need to punish ourselves because Jesus was already punished for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21)! When we punish ourselves for our sin, we are saying that Jesus was not a good enough Savior to take away all our sin. We are saying that we are a god who also needs to atone for sin. This is rooted in a low view of Jesus, and a high view of self.

This is pride.

Instead of running to some form of self-punishment to make false atonement for our sin, we should run to Christ who was punished and freely gives true and everlasting atonement for our sin.

Purity for purity’s sake is idolatry (Tweet This!). Idolatry is committing adultery against God (Ezekiel 23:37). So, in being pure for purity’s sake, an act of adultery is committed. Then being pure for purity’s sake is in fact impurity! What truly drives our motivations? Is our motivation to be pure because it’s what church people do? Is our motivation to be pure because it’s what everyone expects of us? Is our motivation to be pure driven by a prideful heart?

I pray nothing would drive us or motivate us but Christ. Be obedient and worship Christ in your purity. Purity is for God’s glory, not yours.