Tag Archive: purity


For this final part of my series on lies I believed about sex I want to talk about the false expectation many people are given that because sex is intended for marriage, as soon as you get married you will be able to fully express yourself sexually without experiencing guilt or shame. Of the four things I touched on in my Relevant article, this was the one people seemed to resonate with the most.

Many of us who were raised in Christian communities heard some version of this line in an attempt to convince us that sex before marriage wasn’t worth the potential baggage. We were told stories of people who had sex before marriage and how this negatively affected their sexual relationship with their spouses. The message was clear. If you don’t wait, you are setting yourself up for heartache in your future sex life. If you wait, you will enter marriage guilt and shame-free and be able to enjoy sex the way God intended.

I’m not saying that this isn’t true to some extent. I’m incredibly grateful that my husband and I haven’t had any sexual experiences apart from one another. I think it’s a sweet and sacred part of our relationship and I love knowing that it is something we two have uniquely shared only with each other. But in many cases, our hyper-vigilant attitude towards pre-marital sex is very hard to shake once we’re married and it can take a great deal of time to get over the emotional barriers we put in place before marriage.

My struggle with guilt and shame wasn’t because I went into marriage believing that sex was dirty. I had been told since I was a teenager that sex was intended to be a beautiful thing. But when you spend so much time and energy trying to avoid it or being afraid of it, it’s hard not to let those experiences override simple statements like, “Sex is intended as a beautiful thing.”

If you think about it from a basic psychological standpoint, it makes no sense for us to expect people to be able to make such a huge change all in one instant. Many Christians have spent years – from the day they hit puberty until their wedding day- focusing their energy on keeping their sex drives in check. Then suddenly, in the space of just a few hours, they expect to be able to stop feeling like their sexuality is something they must carefully control and instead be able to express it freely. And not only that –but express it freely with another person.

Many of us have programmedourselves to feel guilt towards sexual feelings – this is how we keep ourselves in check throughout our dating relationships. But that “red light” feeling we train ourselves to obey doesn’t always go away just because we’ve spoken some vows and signed some papers. I have always enjoyed having sex with my husband, but it still took me several months to stop having that sick-to-my-stomach guilty feeling every time we were together.

As bizarre as it seems, I was actually embarrassed that I was no longer a virgin. Even though the whole reason for being a virgin was to enter marriage as a virgin, it had become such a crucial part of my identity that it was hard for me to give up. I had to tell myself over and over, “It’s ok. You aren’t supposed to be a virgin anymore.” But there was a part of me that was sure people were looking at me differently. If losing my virginity before marriage would have made me “like a piece of chewed up gum”, unsuitable for my future husband, how was losing my virginity to my husband supposed to feel different? Wasn’t I just my husband’s chewed up gum? (This is one of many disturbing and objectifying analogies I’ve heard before about why it’s important to save yourself for your spouse.)

Not everyone experiences these feelings,but for the many people who do, it is terribly isolating. Because, once again, we are experiencing something our churches and communities never acknowledged as a possibility. And we feel alone and broken and filled with a profound sense that this isn’t the way it’s meant to be.

Several people commented on my original article to say, “This is why you shouldn’t wait. Why would anyone want to live that way? It sounds like this totally ruined your ability to enjoy sex.”

I would say to those people that the problem isn’t with the waiting. Waiting, in and of itself doesn’t cause any of this. The problem is this huge gap between how we talk to teenagers and young adults about sex, purity, and abstinence and the expectations we put on marital sex. My husband’s and my difficulties in our sexual relationship stemmed largely from taking what we’d been taught about sex as teenagers and trying to apply it to a marriage.

The problem is two-fold. First, I think our churches need to re-examine how they communicate with teenagers and young adults about this (which I touched on in Part 2) and secondly, churches need to find a way to address the gap between “Don’t do that,” as a young single person and “Sex is the greatest” as a married person. In many churches, there is no mature discussion of sex directed at adults and no conversation whatsoever about how we move from the way we treat sex as singles to the way we’re meant to treat sex as married adults. By not addressing it, we act like this transition will happen naturally, leaving a lot of people isolated, hurt and confused when it doesn’t.

We need to start doing the hard work of addressing these issues instead of ignoring them.

[Lily Dunn is an ice cream connoisseur, a Disney fanatic, and a fellow raiSIN hater trying to live an authentic, grace-filled life. She lives and teaches with her husband in Daegu, South Korea and blogs at https://lilyellyn.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @LilyEllyn]  

 [To catch up on the rest of this series, click here]

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Jamie Wright: the Very Worst Missionary

Sex, part 2: Why Wait?

I pretty much hate having teenage boys. 

I hate the looks they give. I hate the smells they make. I hate the skeezy little ‘stache that creeps up, slow and sparse, on their upper lip. But most of all, I hate the autonomy they have.

I hate that my baby boys have grown beyond arms reach and can now wander freely in this little corner of the world. I hate that they get to choose what they’re going to do and say, and that I don’t get to hover over them, correcting them and coddling them and giving them the WTF-are-you-thinking-?!-eyebrow every so often to keep them in line. Hate it.

Ugh! They’re independent. They are young men, responsible for their own actions. That is so scary it makes me want to barf.

And, perhaps it’s because I got knocked up at 17, but, of all the choices my kids are faced with and all the opportunities in front of them, I feel especially preoccupied with their choices regarding sex. Naturally, they love this. I mean, what teenager doesn’t want their Mom constantly reminding them that it’s gross and creepy to engage in sexual activity in public parks, behind strip malls, or in the recessed corner of the movie theatre?! What high schooler would hate it if their Mom sang, “Please do not have sex todaaaaay!” every time they walked out the door?! Surely not mine.

…Yeah. The eye rolling gets pretty intense around here…

But I want my kids to be armed with the truth (and maybe with condoms, but mostly with the truth), and the truth is that they should wait to have sex.

There are obvious reasons why:

1. You could accidentally create another human being (like I did, oops).

2. You could cause yourself or someone else emotional harm by sharing intimate behavior in an irresponsibly casual way.

3. Most compelling, you could contract a horrible, painful, itchy, burning, smelly STD, and your penis could fall right off.

But I believe there’s another really good reason to put sex on hold. 

It’s that when you wait to have sex, you are creating an important connection between the very powerful urges to do things that feel really good and the ability to control those urges. Otherwise known as self-control. This practice of self-denial and delayed gratification makes you a healthier, more poised, and better moderated person (who definitely still has a penis, phew!). Ultimately, self- control is a character trait ~or *ahem*, fruit of the spirit, for the Christian folk~ that will help you be a better long-term partner in your ’til-death-do-we-part relationship.

Listen. I don’t want to kill anyone’s romantic ideas about marriage, I really don’t – but it’s not like you get married and then you’re unfailingly super stoked to have sex with the same person three times a week for the rest of your God given life. I mean, married sex can be amazing – the longer I’ve been married, the better it gets (19 years, Suckas!!). But it really shouldn’t shock anyone to hear that married, monogamous people still have sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses which do not include their spouses. Porn happens. Crushes happen. (Seriously, everybody has crushes. Even Christian bodies have crushes.) The problem is that, in a culture that demands instant gratification and consumes sex like a drug, a quick brush with porn or a simple crush on a coworker can quickly spiral into something devastating.

To top it off, we’ve done a really bad job of teaching about sex in the Church. Our approach has been to shame girls for having it, and shame boys for wanting it. And when the smart kids ask, “Why wait?”, we shrug our shoulders like a hillbilly and say, “Because the Bible says.” Then we give the girls a purity ring and we give the boys nothing and we cross our fingers and hope they’ll cross their legs. So dumb.

ringWe’ve made virginity the goal, when it is purity that we should be aiming for; They’re not the same thing. Sexual purity is a life long spiritual practice that doesn’t begin or end with a single sex act, just as it doesn’t begin or end on a wedding night. So when we are asked, “Why wait?”, we should have an answer that empowers and prepares people to choose wisely for a lifetime. We should be teaching people something they can carry with them beyond their first roll in the hay.

Why wait? Um. Because you need to learn some freaking self-control. That’s why.

No kidding, the person who is a slave to their sexual desires will have a difficult road to hoe. ←Heh. See what I did there? 😉 But the man or woman who has a sense of mastery over their own sexual appetite will be far less likely to fall into the easy traps of addiction and infidelity that plague marriages today. I don’t mean to imply that postponing sex guarantees fidelity – it certainly doesn’t. And I don’t think this is a fail safe for a long and happy marriage, but I think delaying sex is a pretty solid beginning.

So I tell my kids, much to their horrified chagrin;

“I know it’s hard to be near the person you’re aching to touch and kiss and do… um… other… likenaked things with. I know! I get it. We all get it. But the person you’re with right now? That person isnot the last person you will have those feelings toward, and you need to know what it feels like to not act on those feelings, because a day will come when you will have to exercise self-control for the sake of the relationship you’ve given your life to – and, trust me, you will want to know how to do that. Do not relinquish that power without a fight. So, really, consider the wait. There’s value in waiting. (But if you don’t wait? Condom. Please. Because babies. And emotional wounds. And your penis will rot off…)

Waiting is an act of maturity and discipline that can help refine your humanity, and that of your mate. And while I still don’t think sex before marriage is the biggest deal of all the deals ever, I do think waiting is a good start toward a long and healthy life with the person you’ve chosen to love. Plus, statistically, married people have WAY more sex than single people. So exercise self-control while you’re waiting to get married, then use that well honed skill to help you stay married and – BOOM – buckets of sex for a lifetime! …That’s bad math, but still.

So, Why wait? 

Wait because self-control is a virtue necessary to living a life of purity, and waiting is just good practice. 

That’s it. That’s all.

[This is a reblog of a post that Jamie originally posted on her own blog which you should read and follow and subscribe to and tell all your friends about, or at least the less conservative ones, which you can find over here]

[If you missed part I of the series simply titles ‘Sex’ you can catch up to it by clicking here]

belgiumI remember the first article I was invited to write for Truth magazine back in the day had the title, “How far is too far?” so I wrote, “Belgium. Belgium is too far!” and then proceeded to write the rest of my article [for some reason, they let me stay.]

And the main point of the article was that if we are asking ‘How far is too far?’ then we are already in trouble because we are asking the wrong question. From the Christian perspective, basically knowing that ‘Sex before marriage is the greatest evil’ [it’s not, but you’d think so from the trailer!] the ‘HFITF’ questions is pretty much asking, ‘How much can I do with my girl/boy-friend before I have to feel bad?’ ‘How close to the cliff can I get without falling off?‘ [where falling off was a metaphor for ‘having a baby’ or something] or else quite simply ‘How close to evil can I sneak without being called it?’

In essence, the question we were all taught to ask was ‘How much can I get away with?’

And it’s the wrong question!

But we never knew that, because sex was such a dirty topic. It was a dirty topic at home as our parents were from the ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ generation [who must have all had sex by accident one day when they tripped on top of each other and their clothes burnt up in the friction as they fell, or something] and it was definitely a dirty topic at church [Sex was pretty much the ‘Voldemort’ of church. Voldemort being the ‘Saying Macbeth before theatre productions’ of the Harry Potter world. And so on.]

And so, because we couldn’t learn about sex from our parents or our church leaders, all that left was our friends and their illicitly-smuggled-from-deviant-older-brother ‘smuggled in brown paper bag’ magazines [which in my day had these little white stars posted over the n_p_l_s! Who, by the way were not always the best of teachers. [Our friends and magazines, I mean, not n_p_l_s. Although they weren’t much help either]

Oh parents. Oh church leaders. How you might have saved us much trouble and confusion and who knows what other kinds of traumas and complications had we just been able to sit around and have an open and adult conversation about S-E-X. We don’t blame you for it, because you had your own story passed on from your parents and society, and I really think you did the best you could. But it would have helped.

Today all of that is history as we have our good friend Uncle Google who has all measure of wikipedia entries, how-to videos and image galleries to walk us through it. [But it would probably still go a lot smoother if you just gave us the chance of a decent potentially-awkward-but-we’ll-get-over-it conversation before we turn 30 and without merely tossing a pamphlet, book or website URL on our pillows when we are out]

Let’s talk about sex.

This is a relevant conversation for Christ-following people for sure, but I believe it extends way beyond that. I think that healthy sexuality, purity, intimacy and self-control and other aspects  linked to relationships and sex are relevant for everyone because I believe that getting a healthy grasp on them [hee hee] is more about living well than merely living christian. So I hope you will find these posts useful:

First up I have two posts by the incredible Jamie Wright who blogs as ‘The Very Worst Missionary’ and has written two extremely helpful blog posts, in her own very unique style, which I think really captures the heart of at least some of what this topic is all about:

Meet Jamie Wright, aka The Very Worst Missionary

this may be one of the tabooist topics [especially in the church, not a lot of sermons preached on this in my experience] and it’s time to bring it into the light.

i have a story to share and i am hoping that this will help people towards a journey of healing, restoration, self-forgiveness, hope and sexual purity.

i do wish my story went something like this – i used to struggle with pornography and masturbation and then i became a Christ-follower and God took all that junk away from me and healed me up inside and made me well… that would be a good story… sadly, though, it is not mine.

BUT during the height of my struggles with pornography/masturbation [and believe me, they were struggles] which went on for years [i would say on and off to differing degrees for close to 15 years] i was a youth pastor at two different churches and so it was often a case of mess up hectically again Saturday nite [if i mention late nite e-tv and you smile knowingly, you have maybe caught yourself out] and then go to church to preach a sermon or be part of the worship team or lead a bunch of young people towards ‘being good Christian young people’

so add feelings of incredible failure, unworthiness and hypocrisy to the mix. anyone relating yet?

for me it was usually a tv thing which is weird cos i guess i had a lot of access via computer and occasionally would stumble on a page i shouldn’t be on but i guess the internet stuff was always just a little too hectic or in my face for me and so my struggles would generally be late nite, flipping through the channels [all four we had and when late nite e-tv was one of them it was a recipe for failure] and then inevitably getting stuck on some ridiculous porn movie for ten, twenty minutes or longer leading to inevitable masturbation to relieve the sexual tension built up and then guilt, anger at myself, pleading to God to take this thing away [after years of struggling i would at times refer to it as ‘the porn in my flesh’ cos it certainly didn’t seem like anything God was interested in removing from me by clicking His God fingers which i desperately wanted to be the case]

what was interesting for me [and i doubt this is the case for everyone] is that it never felt like the porn did anything for me – i certainly didn’t enjoy it – it always disgusted me rather than turned me on. for me it always, or for the most part at least, seemed to be about the curiosity aspect [as if there was ever going to be a good porn story script or premise but i kept telling myself that’s why i watched – and we know how curiosity treated the cat] “Let me just see what happens here and the moment it gets dodgy I’ll turn it off” and so on.

then there was a time when i would have a couple of weeks success and the enemy would change his tactic and i literally would turn on the tv late nite saturday with the attitude of ‘I have beaten this thing. Let me show it how strong I am so I am going to turn on the dodgy channel and the moment it gets dodgy I will turn it off to show it who is boss.” Inevitably it turned out to be boss and i would revert back to the porn struggle which replaced the pride struggle once more.

John 10.10 “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I [Jesus] have come that you may have life to the full.”

i was living out that verse – i was having innocence and purity and reputation [at least between me and God cos not too many other people knew] stolen, my soul was being destroyed week by week and i was heading towards all sorts of deaths… the enemy is a liar and will use whatever tactic he knows will work in you – when porn lost strength he switched to pride and took me down that way

and of course maybe the biggest part of it all was that i was fighting this fight all by myself. i was a good christian youth leader – i couldn’t be struggling with pornography and masturbation, right? it’s not the kind of thing that comes up naturally in conversations – “So, who is struggling a bit with the old porn then?” and i already felt dirty and disgusted with myself and like a complete failure week after week after week, why would i possibly share that with someone else?

at the height of my addiction to masturbation i could not go a day without doing it [at least in my head] and yet there were two of the strangest things that happened – the first was that for some reason i saw Sunday as a holy day and so i never masturbated on a Sunday [bizarre that i held that belief for so long and yet didn’t see the glaring contradiction that something i ‘couldn’t stop’ i was able to stop for one day a week…] bizarre… and then in 1994 i went on a youth ministry music and drama team for a year and after a couple of months of struggling daily with msaturbation before i left for team, i went for a complete year without masturbating once…

came home, feeling victorious and pretty much got almost straight back into it. and all the guilt, anger, frustration, crying out to God etc continued…

the struggles with pornography were not as intense as the struggles with masturbation and so they pretty much came and went and because it was generally tv related was a little easier to control than if it was computer related i imagine… and despite not getting absolute victory over it i was able to identify some weak spots and put things in place to make it less likely that i would fall

one was the obvious reality of knowing when the porn was going to be happening and so moving away from the habit of arriving home late at night and switching on the tv to going straight to my room or avoiding turning on the tv at all late in the evening. i was living at my folks home at the time and so leaving the lounge door opening rather than closing it made me less likely to get caught up in it [having your folks walk in while you are watching porn a very strong deterrent.] also another eye opener and truth to people stuck in a “i can’t control this” mentality – that is a weird thing to say because you manage to control it when you are hanging out with your parents or in a busy restaurant or on the bus for example…

the devil maintains his stronghold on people in this area using a lot of subtle lies and half-truths – you are the only one caught up in this, you can’t stop it, the pride of thinking you are able to be in control and so testing that control, the curiosity aspect, the lies of the stuff of pornography being equivalent to the stuff of sex you will find in marriage one day… and more…

possibly the best piece of advice or mentoring i got from a good friend of mine, Craig Duvel, who i spoke to one baptist summer camp about this stuff [at least i think i spoke about this stuff, pretty sure i did] was to “keep a short account with God” – like a bar tab, the smaller it is, the easier it is to settle… so the more we sin and don’t put things right with God, the easier it is to keep on sinning because “ah well i’ve messed up so much anyways what is one more time?” and so what Craig told me, which helped a lot, was that sometimes he will get up at 3am and go downstairs and get on his face and make right with God when he has done something the night before – deal with it immediately with God [and then quickly with people if your sin requires you to go and make right with someone] even if that makes you feel like a complete hypocrite…

so messing up late nite saturday, it still made sense to make right with God afterwards so that i started the new day fresh and able to go and do the things of church and so on and not allow the mess-ups to build up and overwhelm me. despite the fact of knowing that i had stuffed up 99 times before not having to live with the belief that it means i have to stuff up the 100th time.

another thing i put into place with another friend of mine years later when he was struggling with stuff was to make a text message accountability [i did this with a friend of mine who was tempted to cut herself and never did hopefully partially as a result and another friend of mine with drinking stuff so a good all-round principle of friends helping friends] with the idea that any time he was tempted to masturbate he would send me a text [well it worked both ways but i don’t think i was struggling as much when that happened] and i would text back to let him know i was praying for him and that he could beat it – this is a really great thing to have in place as often just the action of interrupting the temptation to write the text was what was needed to prevent the action – it does require you being able to find someone who you can share your junk with who will love you and not judge you and be available/willing to do such a thing – but i think this can be a great help.

i believe that one of the biggest principles is getting it into the light – they say a problem shared is a problem halved and with masturbation or pornography this is indeed true as just being able to share with someone that you are struggling with one of those things takes away the enemy’s hold over you in the “if they knew what you were like they would be so disgusted” department- walk the journey with someone else. it is a tough scary thing to share the first time and you really need to pick your person well [hoping that a best friend or a youth pastor or an accountability person or cell leader might be that person] so that the sharing of it doesn’t become an added burden to you.

while i am on this, let me share a great link which is helpful in so many different areas – we stumbled upon this site called ‘i am second’ which has testimonies from a bunch of different people and this one by a guy called Nate Larkin, despite being on sex addiction, resonates with a lot of the pornography/masturbation struggle [http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/nate-larkin]

so i have some principles and tips and advice for those who are struggling with this thing – i wish i had the formula of how to stop but after years of struggling [and not quite sure why God allowed me to struggle so long without just removing it from me cos i so desperately prayed and cried out for that on occasions too numerous to count, EXCEPT maybe because he knew that me speaking out about it some day would hopefully help others start their journey towards freedom and give me the credibility as someone who knows too well the depths to which it takes you, and if that is the case then i am okay with that for sure] i had a personal miracle – i had struggled with both pornography and masturbation through the few relationships i had had with girls and sometimes being in a relationship made it easier to not struggle and at other times it didn’t [living with a no-sex-before-marriage Christ-following frame of reference while engaging in relationship activities designed to lead one towards sex in terms of intimacy and closeness didn’t help a lot] but then i met Valerie [my future wife to be] and God pretty much instantly took it all away which i am profoundly grateful for.

and then i got to stand in front of close to 1000 people at baptist summer camp [times two camps] and share about my struggles and saw some other brave leaders alongside me [some who i am hoping will add their stories to mine here] sharing about their struggles with the same things, in different ways… and then witnessing God bring about such release and hope and promise of a new journey and freedom from these two things which are incredibly destructive forces. it is never a fun moment to stand in front of people and share about your biggest failures and the things that bring you embarrassment and shame. but i have been able to do so as Jesus has freed me from that shame and the enemy does not have those holds over me that he did before.

so there it is. my name is brett “fish” anderson and i have struggled with pornography and masturbation. and been freed from the grip of both over my life. there is hope and freedom in Jesus Christ. there is strength in being able to bring your darkness/struggle into the light and in the support of a loving friend or community.

if you are a pastor, small group or youth leader, or even a parent [altho that might be a trickier one – sitting down with your kids and asking about their struggles with porn or even revealing yours might not necessarily be the best way to go – altho if you can create space for them to speak and share and for you to be able to share your brokenness or point them to others who can and will that might work] reading this then i urge you to take the ‘Taboo’ out of this topic.

if i am feeling like an incredible sinner or hypocrite, if i am unclean and disgusting because of the hold pornography or masturbation has over me then your messages of who God is and what i need to be doing as a Christian and so on can become meaningless – create spaces for your people to deal with their junk, in open and honest forums – they may be messy/awkard/embarrassing conversations or meetings to chair, but the reward and fruit of doing them will be such incredible freedom that you could revolutionise the life of your youth group, or church or small group.

i have seldom heard pastors or youth leaders deal with this topic directly and yet it has such a hold over so many people – it is time to get the stories out and let the healing begin

the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I [Jesus] have come that you might have LIFE TO THE FULL!

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