Battle of the -ities: Purity vs Virginity

Virginity isn’t the same as purity; nor is it better. There I said. Ring the elders, ask them to meet me round the corner.

I do believe there is a tension between virginity and purity.

I unapologetically believe that purity and virginity aren’t synonymous with one another. Even in the context of marriage, purity doesn’t cease to exist upon consummation – virginity does. However, I do believe there is a tension between virginity and purity. They both need to be individually yet equally valued and respected; they complement each other but can also exist independently – one doesn’t invalidate the other. I don’t have this all figured out but I do believe they exist on a spectrum; we have be careful to not employ erasure tactics – choosing to celebrate only one side and inadvertently encouraging the redundancy of the other.

Once we can separate one from the other; I believe we can start to have constructive dialogue amongst ourselves.

When it comes to the topic of purity and women, we have unwittingly been perpetuating doctrines rooted in patriarchy and misogyny. We say things like: a key that can open many locks is a called master key but a lock that can be opened by many keys is a crappy lock. The idea here is that the woman is the padlock and the man is the key. We continue to maintain that sexual purity, is solely an issue for women!

We also hear things like if you’re not a virgin (as a female) you’re like chewed-up gum / a tape that’s lost its adhesiveness / a gift that’s been unwrapped. These analogies are misogynistic, unhelpful and, quite frankly, wotless. They perpetuate a warped view of the sexual experience – that women are merely passive tools of sexual pleasure. It turns something that ought to be mutually satisfying to a cheap conquest.

Whilst we’re here, I hate the phrase “taking [someone’s] virginity”. It further entrenches the conqueror-loser dynamic we have imbibed towards sex. Never mind, the passivity and general bleurgh-ness of the phrase – it reinforces the idea that sex is simply a power play.

You are not defined by your [lack of] sexual history.

Newsflash: You are not defined by your [lack of] sexual history. God loves and values us more than we ever imagine. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved” and “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” Ephesians 2:4-5 and Jeremiah 31:3 respectively

Purity is not a one-dimensional thing; it is multifaceted. It is more than how you conduct yourself sexually. It is a heart issue. Purity goes beyond our actions! Why? Because the God we serve, looks at our hearts. He is concerned with our internal workings. “… People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7) We humans try to measure purity with tangible things but we fail because we can’t measure the heart!

Purity is achieved by living according to God’s word in all aspects of our lives (Psalm 119:9). The recesses of our heart produce our actions therefore it is important that we guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. (Matthew 15:18)! We, of our own volition, cannot attain purity – we must look to Christ for he is our righteousness.

1 John 3:2-3 illustrates the essence of purity: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure”. It is primarily about being more like Christ! It is a process not a one-time event.

As Christians, purity is a requirement for all! The aim of purity is not to lord it over others like a fancy tiara or to make it into an idol. The aim of being pure is to see God – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Desire to be pure – desire to see God.

Disclaimer: I am not advocating to make virginity redundant – I think it’s beautiful and admirable that people make the conscious effort to abstain from sex, with their hearts and bodies, till their wedding days (or nights). I encourage others to do the same and pray that God will continue to strengthen our resolve.

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