“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”
A topic that hits so close to home.
First of all, I agree with everything that Shiela Wray Gregoire says, so you'll have to read her blog first! http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/
When we spoke at our church's marriage conference about purity in marriage, these are some things that we said:
So, what does sexual purity mean for the married man and woman? Shannon Ethridge writes in her book, “Every Woman’s Battle”, “For a married woman [or man], sexual integrity equates to intimately connecting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (in all ways, not just some) with her [his] husband [wife] and no other man [woman] outside of her [his] marriage. Any compromise whatsoever (physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual) affects her [his] sexual integrity as a whole. One infected part will eventually infect all of its corresponding parts or, at the very least, rob her [him] of the sexual wholeness and fulfillment that God longs for her [him] to have.”
Just as the dictionary definitions uses the words “freedom from…”, in the context of marriage, sexual purity includes the freedom from many things such as pornography, secrets, impure thoughts, and emotional connections with the opposite gender. Sexual purity also includes the freedom to many things such as a guilt free marriage, complete openness, and spiritual growth.
It is imperative to strive for purity in marriage. God commands that we live pure and holy lives as He says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God…For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God who gives you His Holy Spirit”. In Ephesians 5:3-4 God commands that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…because these are improper for God’s holy people.
On our website, www.parentsforpurity.org, we have listed 10 reasons for living lives of purity based on the book, “Think Before You Look” by Daniel Henderson. We would like to highlight a few of those reasons in respect to marriage. First, by living lives of purity, you as a married couple, strive to live a life of complete honesty and clear conscience. Psalm 32:2 says, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty”. Most of our sexual impure lifestyle is done in secrecy, which is full of lies and deception, leading to a guilty conscience. When we reveal ourselves from behind the mask of sin, we are set free to truly be ourselves to God, to our spouse, and to others. When you are struggling with something, confess it to God, asking for his help and forgiveness, then confess it to your spouse. Don’t let Satan have power of your struggles and don’t let it grow in the darkness. This is comparable to a mushroom which grows and thrives in the dark. We need to bring our struggles and sins in the light, so that they won’t grow and so that we can live in “complete honesty”. We experienced this in our own lives; as soon as the sin is exposed to the light of God’s Word it is not able to grow anymore. James 5:16 tells us the truth about this: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.” (not a physical healing, but spiritually). When Paul and I bring our sins and struggles out in the open (and that’s not an easy thing to do, but the benefits are huge), we are able to take steps to specifically address those struggles and safeguard our marriage from future damage.
Another reason for couples to live lives of purity is to honour your marriage vows of purity, faithfulness, and trust. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honoured by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Avoid putting yourself in compromising situations in order to maintain purity within the bonds of marriage out of respect and love for your spouse and for God. Sexual purity is not a line- how far can I go, but rather a lifestyle to be maintained throughout our lives.
By living lives of purity, we are able to experience the joy and blessing that result in living a life that is Christ-centered, not self-centered. Psalm 97:11 says, “Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.” Self-indulgence (or self gratification, which sexual sin is) prevents us from experiencing REAL JOY from loving first Jesus, then Others (specifically our spouses), then Yourself.
Lastly, by living lives of purity, as a couple we develop a close relationship with God. Ephesians 4:7 says, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” When our minds are cluttered with sinful thoughts and impurity, we are unable to clearly focus on God due to hardness in our hearts caused by sin. Conversely, when we allow Christ to transform our hearts from sin, our love relationship with Him and our marriages will flourish. In our marriages, we need to help each other become as much like the Lord Jesus Christ as possible. Martha Peace in her book, “The Excellent Wife” calls this “mutual sanctification”. She describes this as a process that includes confession, forgiveness, and giving and receiving Biblical correction with the intent to restore the other person to a right relationship with God.
Sexual purity will help protect the bonds of your marriage. It will help prevent marriage breakdown. It will promote relational intimacy and spiritual health.
I remember so clearly the pain and hurt that pornography caused me and our marriage. However, I will always remember and be forever grateful to God for the healing and restoration that took place afterwards. It is my prayer for all marriages to live open, honest, pure lives that seek to glorify our heavenly Father.