Let’s be clear here: purity is not only for single people. Despite that fact, if you looked a Christian books, sermons, and other resources that talk about purity, the vast majority of them would be geared towards singles. A good chunk of them would probably be geared towards the youth group/college age crowd.
When we see purity as simply being about not having sex or doing other inappropriate physical/sexual things before you get married, this makes sense. Single people are the only ones who have to deal with purity defined in that manner. However, as we’ve been talking about through this whole blog series, purity is about so much more than retaining your virginity or NOT having certain knowledge or experiences.
Purity, even if we limit purity to sexuality (which next week’s blog post will take issue with) is a big deal for everyone, not just for singles. It’s not like you automatically become more holy once you get married and the struggle with sexual temptation is over.
Sexual Struggle Doesn’t End at Marriage
We’re not just supposed to keep our legs crossed and take cold showers until the day when we finally get married and then can cut loose. There’s never a time where we can completely cut loose. There will always be limits to the ways in which we can express our sexuality, whether we’re married or single.
Just because you can have sex with your spouse doesn’t mean that you never have a lustful thought about anyone else ever again. Other humans don’t cease to be attractive after you get married. You can still notice a handsome guy or a beautiful woman, whether they’re someone you meet in real life or someone you see on a screen. You can still daydream about them and you can still think lustful thoughts about them.
Here’s a shocker for your high school youth group self: you still have to deal with sexual temptation after you get married. Newsflash: you are not always going to be 100% sexually satisfied after you get married. Sometimes you won’t be able to have sex with your spouse when you want to. Sometimes that because you’re having relational issues. Other times it’s because of something outside of your control: someone is sick or stressed or exhausted or on a business trip or recovering from having a baby.
There are other times where you might actually have sex and it happens to be less than satisfying for you that particular night (yes, it does happen occasionally, more often when you’re first married and getting used to how things work). Either way, there is still the possibility of not being sexually satisfied within marriage. This means you still have control yourself and be disciplined.
Marriage Brings New Temptations and New Consequences
On top of that, sexual temptation can take new forms. After one of those less than 100% satisfying experiences, you can start doubting that your spouse is your perfect sexual partner. You can get frustrated if they can’t read your mind. You might start daydreaming that someone else might have been a better fit. There’s also the possibility of turning from your real spouse to the unreality of porn or a fantasy life.
The fact that divorces and affairs are so common (even among Christians) should show us that maybe we’re wrong in not talking about sexual purity with those who have already tied the knot. Purity is just as important for those who are married.
Actually, it might be more important. When you’re single and commit and sexual sin, it definitely impacts you and whoever else is involved. It’s possible it could impact your future marriage too, but the extent of that varies. However, if you’re married and commit a sexual sin, it affects you, it definitely affects your marriage, and if you have kids, it will greatly impact their lives as well. Purity doesn’t become less serious after you get married, it becomes more so!
Proverbs on the Importance of Purity in Marriage
The book of Proverbs talks quite a bit about how those who are married should be careful not to wander from the arms of their spouse. Instead, they should pursue wisdom, discipline, and purity. There’s a whole section that talks about this in Proverbs 5:
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well [this is a word picture reserving sex only for your spouse].
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly.
Married People Have to Choose the Path of Purity Too
Sure, those who are married have an outlet for their sexual desire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek sexual satisfaction outside that outlet. You always have the option to choose something different, to walk away from purity instead of towards it. That stands true whether you’ve been married for 50 years or 5 minutes.
God is just as concerned with the purity of those who are married, maybe even more so. He created sex to be enjoyed within the marriage relationship. His desire is for a husband or wife to find their sexual satisfaction in their spouse only, no other source. Anytime we stray from our spouse, mentally, emotionally or physically, we dishonor God and we open ourselves up to be “led astray by [our] own great folly.”
The purity that we practice when we are single is simply preparing us for the purity that we are to maintain within our marriage. Your process of purity is no closer to its end when you get married. No matter your age, stage of life, or relational status, you always have the choice to walk towards purity or away from it. Purity is a lifelong path that we must continue to walk until the day we breathe our last. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.