FM Blog - HS - Week 3

Do you  remember the I Kissed Dating Goodbye movement of the early 2000s? If you weren’t in the church scene back then, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Essentially, a group of well-meaning conservative Christians (primarily in the homeschool community) suggested that the traditional dating method was becoming increasingly dangerous to the pursuit of purity and lasting covenant marriages. This movement pushed high schoolers, college students, and young adults to consider alternatives like group-dates, courtships, etc. and while the author of the book that fueled this movement had very good intentions, there remains a trail of scattered pieces of relationships destroyed by the pursuit of purity.

“The pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the   reorientation of one’s life to a larger goal.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

It is easy in the church to suggest that by remaining sexually pure, God will richly reward you with a great marriage, pleasurable sex, a nice house, two kids, and a minivan - the American Dream(?) And yet many Christians, both men and women, who fight the good fight against lust and sexual temptations arrive to their wedding night and find disappointment where they expected their reward. There are so many marital struggles in the early years of Christian marriages that are directly linked to unmet sexual expectations. This type of letdown often leads to conflict, pornography exposure (and addictions), and in extreme cases affairs and divorce. Now there is a much deeper issue underlying all of these consequences, mainly our selfishness as human beings. Wait a minute, are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater here? Is the suggestion to abandon the pursuit of purity and replace it with the pursuit of pleasure? No, that would be against God’s Word! The pursuit of purity is a noble cause and a holy calling from our God. However, we must be careful that purity does not become our destination, but rather the vehicle of our journey, or else we fall prey into thinking that virginity becomes a substitute for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

When looking at the life of Joseph (Old Testament - Genesis 39) we can quickly draw a line from the decision to flee from Potiphar’s wife and her seductive suggestions to his reward as second in command of Egypt, riches beyond belief, a wife, two kids, dog, minivan, etc. However, we would discredit Joseph, his story, and God’s Word. Because even though Joseph was laid to rest as an old man who saw his children’s children come into this world, his road to blessing was not quick and it was not direct. Let’s summarize beginning at the time of Joseph’s flight from the seductress:

Falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned for 12 years, forgotten by his friends (cell mates); brought out of prison and entered into an arranged marriage with the daughter of a pagan priest (imagine that first year of conflict…); delayed childbearing either due to infertility or inactive sex life, impending famine in which Joseph has been charged to prevent the starvation of the entire Egyptian kingdom; the return of his step-brothers which triggers an emotional breakdown; then the invitation to his family to move in with him because...they’ll die if not. 

Where is the direct line to blessing? Can you show me the moment where Joseph went “Oh! I get it now!” No, you can’t. Even though he speaks the famous line in Genesis 50 “God intended it all for good” that wasn’t an “a-ha” moment, it was the overflow of a heart focused on something else entirely. Not power over his siblings (he worked through that earlier), not position over a kingdom (he never asked for it), not a fantasy marriage full of sex and sandwiches (it appears that it took time to become a good relationship), none of those things were at the end of the pursuit. None of those things felt like the re-payment of the Lord for one proud decision. Instead, the entire story could have ended years earlier in a dark jail cell under the shadows of a ruined reputation and a seemingly unfair end to the story.

“But God was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love…” - Genesis 39:21 (NLT)

The pursuit for purity begins and ends with the presence of God in our lives. Without his presence, we would never begin to think about our purity (or holiness), it would be a foolish thought as it is to the world outside of Christ. Without God’s presence in our lives we pursue pleasure, we pursue ourselves...but with his presence and because he has revealed to us his faithful love as displayed on the cross and in the empty tomb, we can pursue pure living not in order to receive anything, but because we have already received his presence and in it, have found the life we could have never imagined! 

Brothers and sisters, let us guard our hearts against the deifying of our purity into a means in which to gain God’s favor, or worse, his presence in our lives. No, instead let us rejoice in his presence and his faithful love and let that be what motivates us towards a holy, faithful, and pure life.  

- Pastor Josh