I’m thankful. (Might as well keep this seasonal, right?)

 I’ve thought about things that I’m thankful for a lot over this holiday, and I’m thankful for a lot of things. Right now, my family is sitting next to me in the living room of my mom’s new house, watching a movie called Soul Surfer, about the chick inFlorida who got her arm bit off by a shark. I suppose it’s appropriate to say that I’m thankful none of my arms have been bitten off by sharks.

 That was my hook, line and sinker to reel you into what I really want to say (and I say that because I’ve no idea how to connect what I just said to what I actually want to talk about). I’ve been sitting here for about thirty minutes (in between that last paragraph and this one), trying to think of words to express how thankful I am for the purity that my wife gifted me with in our marriage. 

 And it was a gift. Yesterday, we watched Crazy, Stupid, Love together, and even Ryan Gosling’s character – even that idiot – walked away with this epiphany about sex as a treasure in the end. And it is a treasure. Your purity is a gift and, if we’re going to go all out on the cheesy cliches today, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Bear with me here. 

 Your purity will continue to benefit your love for your spouse well beyond the honeymoon, and, if I may – the expression of love for your spouse in each intimate moment. 

 There is freedom in sexual purity. Now, that’s an interesting thing to say, really, because the majority of our society thinks the exact opposite of that. Abstinence is practically synonymous with iron prison bars. But I would argue that the purity my wife and I brought into our marriage has been a gift that compels us to a more expressive love – a love and a freedom not marred by a guilty conscience, another lover’s face fantasized about in the place of my wife’s, another husband’s hands for my spouse to picture in hers, or the insecurity that accompanies each person in whatever the scenario. 

 Of course, it might be argued that I don’t know any better, having saved my virginity until marriage, and that I don’t have much of a case for anything. But “virginity” is not the biblical equivalent of “sexual purity,” and I’m not perfectly pure, by any stretch of the imagination. So, if I can take the experiences that I have had with the impurities that I have fallen prey to, the guilt that I have known, and the teeth that guilt has filed down to razors that gnaw condemnation into my conscience, I can only imagine the searing weight of another lover’s face in my mind’s eye, when I’m looking into the beautiful, brown eyes of my wife. 

 In an act of public testimony and repentance, an old mid-high leader involved with a ministry at my church once confessed to us that he had slept with over one hundred women before he became a Christian. He stopped viewing women as human beings, and started to think of them more like dart boards with different skin tones, ethnic groups, breast sizes, etc. He wept as he said so. 

 The sexual frivolity that our culture has defined “freedom” is not the sound of chains coming off of a prisoner’s wrists. Rather, it is (or will be) the sound of tears dripping onto rusted locks as the guard walks away with the keys in his belt loop. 

 Freedom is “naked and unashamed.” Freedom is unabashed, unblushing, without-reserve lovemaking as sung about by Solomon and his beloved. (Of course, all of this is assuming that I am talking about the freedom that purity provides one to freely express his or her sexuality in marriage. With respect to the abstinent servants, the “Pauls” who have found their fulfillment in intimacy with the Lord, or who have been called by the Lord to celibacy, there is certainly a different type of freedom to be found in the obedience of heeding that call to walk in mirroring Jesus’ purity. After all, our savior himself was a man without blemish, who walked in purity in accordance with and empowered by the Holy Spirit.)

 “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Now, that verse may or may not be used for all sorts of different scenarios, placed emotionally into all kinds of different worship songs, and be mentioned in passing for all sorts of different encouragements, but I do think that it is true, and can be truly applied to this particular thought. 

 The same word used to describe the intimate oneness that Adam and Eve experienced together in the garden of Eden is used in Deuteronomy 6:4 as a character trait of the trinitarian God the Father, Son and Spirit (echad). There is an intimate, relational wholeness that we are designed for which models the most fulfilling relationship in existence. Do you not think that the most free Being in existence, which created you and I and every other being that has ever been, who spoke into his Word and described the oneness between a man and a wife the way that he described himself, designed us for the most possible joy and desires for us the best possible enjoyment of it? 

 I do believe that there is freedom in sexual purity because the pure Designer of sexuality created it to be so – that the marriage bed be uninhibited and undefiled, that it not be weighed down by the chains of baggage in the name of casual foolishness. I believe it because every friend that I have that bought the lie wishes that he hadn’t. I believe it because I’ve talked to their wives about heartache at the thought that their husband hasn’t always been entirely theirs. I believe it for the way I watched my pastor cry. I believe it for all of the time that Paul spends rebuking the Corinthian church for their sexual immorality and exhorting them to purity, a process of sanctification by which he says we may be transformed from one degree of glory to another, and into the image and likeness of Christ, and into the presence of God the Father, and into the enjoyment and benefits of His gifts, which he offers… freely