Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heart Guarding Debunked: Why I Don't Write About Purity Anymore

1. The Purity Movement Trains Us to Idolize ‘The One’

I would probably be ashamed to admit how many times I have fallen on my knees in repentance for idolizing a man....who I don't even know, and who might not even exist. But you know what I'm even more ashamed to admit? It took me years to realize I needed to fall on my knees.
Somewhere between the hormones, our lack of experience with the opposite gender, and our need to be filled with a relationship, the idea of a future spouse becomes so important that we're willing to bow to its every wish. We plan our lives around "him" rather than around God. The future spouse's will becomes our heartbeat and we fall into unrecognized idolatry.

Yes, of course a godly relationship is a good thing. But because the idea in general is good and Biblical, we don't recognize when it reaches a level that...may not be so good. We become so absorbed in a good thing, we give no credit or place to the One who provided that good thing—and what His plans might be for us. Instead, we create our own plans, circling what we want, using the Bible as an occasional reference to back our own desire for a future “perfect” relationship. Despite our efforts (and even undying success!) in pursuing emotional, mental, and physical “purity,” if God is not first, we cannot call it pure and we cannot call it godly.

Matthew 22: 36-40 * Exodus 13-14 * Proverbs 14:12 

2. The Purity Movement Teaches Us to be Me-Focused.

The Purity Movement has quietly and stealthily (probably unknowingly) led us into the trap of idolizing ourselves. We're being taught to sit on the sidelines of seventeen-years-old and wait...and wait...and wait... for a knight in shining armor to ride up and give us everything we ever desired. Because that's what a future husband is, right? Our everything. Our savior. We're taught to believe his one and only purpose is to sweep us off our feet into a land of forever love and a happily ever afters. We never think about the things we can give him, or about what God requires from us today. When the future spouse becomes our focus, it's all about us.

The Purity Movement tells us that if we follow their formula, we'll be righteous...and we believe that. It makes sense. But we completely fail to recognize that while professing righteousness, we're actually drowning in the sin of self. And selfishness is a dangerous sin.

Philippians 2:3 * James 3:16 * Romans 2:8 

3. The Purity Movement is Just a Sin-Transfer
We trade sexual immorality out for pride, idolatry, and selfishness...and then we stand up and call ourselves better than the pregnant girl who's repented, because we follow a standard. But the girl who's repented? She follows Jesus.

We say that our formulas have fixed the problem. But they haven't fixed the problem. They've just transferred it to another area of sin. We are not righteous. We're wallowing in sin. And wallowing in unrepentant sin is dangerous.

1 John 1:10 

4. The Purity Movement Tells Us We're Pleasing God... When Maybe We're Really Not

Just because it's a Christian movement doesn't mean it's void of lies. As of this point in time, Christians live on earth. not a Christian place. Earth is full of sin. Sin is full of lies.

So, the purity movement says that when our hearts are pure in relationships, we're giving glory to God. Okay, yeah, that makes Biblical sense.


What if we're not giving glory to God? What if we're not even thinking about Him? What if we're just thinking about the guy?

Ouuuch. Yeah, I feel that one, too.

But I know so many individuals who have expressed this. "I only really think about the guy." "I only want to please the guy." Yet we're constantly pumped full of, "Oh, you're saving your heart? How wonderful! You're pleasing God!"

Not necessarily.

John 8:32 * John 8:44 

5. The Purity Movement Is All About Slaving to that Spouse

Be pure "For your future husband." Write letters "to your future husband." It's like the future spouse is some god coming to judge us. "You haven't kept these three corners of your heart unstained for me, and you didn't write me enough letters or get the right degree. Therefore you don't deserve marriage or my love. If I decide to marry you, it'll be out of charity."

No, no, no. Where is Jesus? What happened to being pure for God? Forget the future spouse! Christianity is about God. If a godly marriage comes later in the picture, so be it. But Christianity isn't about the spouse.

Yet, that is what our lives revolve around.

Someone once told me that I should really read the Bible as much as possible as a young teen, because if I didn't, my future spouse would be unhappy. No one would want to marry me, and I'd never be loved.

Has the movement really manipulated us into such slaves? Have they really convinced us to believe that this husband formula will make us indefinitely happy?

I read my Bible. But it sure isn't for the purpose of impressing my future husband. It's for my salvation. It’s because I’m a sinner and I need a savior. That savior’s name is Jesus, not Mr. Right.

What happened here? When did we sink to such a deep form of idolatry and servitude? Where did these lies come from, and why on earth did we start believing them?

Worrying and doing things for your future spouse at fourteen years old is the last thing you need to be doing. Stop being a slave to a human being. Start being a slave to your true and living Savior.

Galatians 1:10 * Romans 12:1-2 * Acts 5:29 

6. The Purity Movement Teaches Us to Treat our Future Spouse like Jesus.

...and that is really dangerous.

That is destructive.

That will seriously hurt your faith.

My best friend said the most wonderful thing the other day. "In the idea of marriage, we're looking for a man who can be an example of Christ, not a man who can be our Christ."

I'll leave you with that.

7. The Purity Movement is Manipulating.

Take a young, vulnerable teenager with little life experience and a lot of hormones, and stick the idea of future spouse in front of their nose. *boom* (did you see fairy dust?) You officially have a huge amount of power over that teenager.

And as long as you always come back to promises of that "Practically Perfect in Every Way" future spouse, you can pump that teenager's head full of whatever you want.

Maybe church leaders have good intentions. But good intentions do not always equal good results. For example, communism is a good intention.

A church leader or parent's intent is to keep us unstained from the world and its impure relationships. Good intention. But if they use manipulation and false promises in order to keep us from drifting and creating a less than desirable image for the church or home, then they're in sin. And they're leading us into sin, too.

Ephesians 4:14-15* Ephesians 5:6 

8. The Purity Movement...Something about Guarding Your Heart?

In 1997, Joshua Harris gave us Anna's dream and told us we were risking giving our hearts away to whoever we might crush on, date, court, or fall in love with before marriage. He gave us a vision of all our previous love interests lining up behind us on our wedding day. He told us that unless we kill all forms of attraction, we might only have a sliver of our heart left for the person we are intended to marry.
This one is especially dangerous, because it's popular, and it makes so much sense. But it’s also super destructive, and even though it’s a noble cause, it’s not actually Biblical.

Since when does the Bible say our hearts can be "given away"? Since when does anyone say our hearts can be given away? Where did we even get that? Does love run out? 1 Corinthians 13 says it doesn't. Love never fails. It also says that love is patient, kind, and forgiving.

So what if you make a mistake in your youth? You repent. You turn to Jesus. It doesn't matter whether you committed "emotional" sin, sexual sin, or multiple sexual sins, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Good news! Repentance leads to new life! The Purity Movement may tell you there’s nothing left to give, but Christ says, you are my child. You are forgiven. Your heart is intact!” And you, sinner in repentance, are a lot better off than the prideful "never given away their first kiss" teenager who hasn't repented.

Nobody's going to line up on your wedding day, because you have new life. Your sins are erased. Your past is erased. Whether you were crushing on someone before or after your salvation or involved with sexual sin before or after your salvation, no matter the seriousness of the ill, when you repent, there is no condemnation.

And about giving away your heart? About your love running out? If you are in Christ, your love will not run dry. No matter your past, He is making you into a new creation. Brand new. Forever. So brand new, that your past isn’t even relevant. He isn't going to say, "Oh--Stephanie stumbled here, here, oops, there's another one. That's three offenses to her future husband. Three chunks of the disposable heart I've given her—poof!—gone!"

God doesn't give us disposable hearts. Where is that in the Bible? He wants us to love with everything we've got.... And if we can possibly love people enough to risk "giving away our hearts," (which isn’t within the realm of possibility anyway) that is evidence that we're reaching out for Christ! You know why I know all of that? Because this is what the Bible says. This is the Gospel.

If two people have come out of the scum of the earth and are now living in Christ together with new hearts, their marriage can be a lot more beautiful than the marriage of two people who idolized, didn't repent, sinned in the name of purity, and "never gave away a sliver of their heart."

Ezekiel 36:26 * 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a * Philippians 3:13-14 

9. The Purity Movement....When you Give Away Your Heart, You're Worthless. You Have Nothing To Offer.

The bad news is that you truly do have nothing to offer. I don't have anything to offer, either. Neither does your future spouse. We're all sinners.

Saved by grace.

But the Purity Movement wants to trap us in our sin. Somehow, the movement manages to discipline us into putting on some form of self-made perfectionism or handcrafted worth. If you make it to the altar without any previous crushes, dates, or courtees (which also probably isn’t possible), you've earned your worth. You've earned the love of your future spouse. If you haven't, you've sinned and you're worth nothing. Your future spouse doesn't even owe you love. You've failed him. To people entering the purity movement who have already failed (whether on their own part, or by the sin of others), this is demeaning. It kills them.

Again, it's human based. There's nothing about God here.

Ephesians 2:8 * 2 Corinthians 5:17 

10. The Purity Movement Chokes Attraction.
I want you to know that attraction is normal. It is normal to be attracted to people. If you weren't attracted, you wouldn't be human.

Even better news - If you are attracted to someone, you're not giving away your heart. You're not even sinning. Attraction can easily turn into sin, yes, but attraction in itself, is not sin. God made beautiful people. There's nothing wrong with admiring His creation, as long as you're abstaining from lust.

One of the big problems with the Purity Movement is that it forces us to choke and hide attraction, rather than deal with it. We need to realize that attraction is normal and that it needs to be taken care of....Biblically. "Taken care of" is essentially, taking the attraction to someone we trust—probably an older individual who has already walked that road—and allowing them to mentor us in how to deal with it according to the word of God. However, products of the Purity Movement, we often choke attraction and hold it inside ourselves, believing it’s sin, and fearing that admitting the attraction will aid in a piece of our heart being “given away.” But when we do that, we believe lies, and we never learn how to deal with it. Thus, falling into sin we don’t know how to fix.

James 5:16 

11. The Purity Movement Cannot Be Backed Biblically

Don't misinterpret. I didn't say purity couldn't be backed Biblically, I said the Purity Movement. Besides abstaining from adultery, sexual immorality, and learning to love our neighbors, we really don't see anything else from the Purity Movement in our Bibles. Ruth did not write letters to her future spouse. She did not become obsessed with the idea of a husband as her "redeemer," though, essentially, that's what he was. Jesus didn't rebuke Mary for "not guarding her heart" when she came to sit at his feet. I'm pretty sure the maiden from Song of Solomon wasn't guarding her heart either, and she represents the bride of Christ. Also, if you could “give your heart away,” the woman at the well was a huge offender. But Jesus didn’t talk to her about that. He talked to her about salvation, and how He came to set her free.

Matthew 5:28 * John 4 

12. The Purity Movement...That's the Point: We Really Don't Need It.

There are thousands of books out there about the Purity Movement. Self-help guides, tips, formulas, everything. A lot of them are good. A lot of them are full of lies.

Yet, for some reason, we think with this Purity Movement thing, we've discovered the secret to a happy marriage and relationship. If we never allow ourselves to get involved with people, we'll never get hurt, and we'll never have to deal with drama.

Truly, though, however wrong or right the Purity Movement is, we don't need it. Sure, the Purity Movement can be a tool (though, if you use it as a tool, I would encourage caution), but it is not the end that meets all. It's not even spectacular. Why? Because it's not the Bible. It's not inspired. It shouldn't be treated as if it's inspired. It should be idolized, called the "secret to a happy marriage," or taught as fact.

While it could be a tool, Christians don't need the Purity Movement. Christians don’t need any other Movement. We have Jesus. We have the Bible. That should be enough. Human ideas and philosophies are good, but they aren't always needed, especially if they do come with lies we have to sort through. See, the Purity Movement is supposed to be about how to treat others. The best way to learn about that is from the Bible. Let's just stick with the Word--and with the Lord's leading in relationships, whether big or small—marital or non-marital.

Hebrews 4:12 * 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

In Conclusion -

I am completely for purity in marriage and in relationships. In fact, you could even say I’m completely for the intention of this movement. I have learned some wonderful things from them. The intention is to be godly. To be pure, and loving, and save yourself for one person. I am completely for that.

What I am not for is the way we have twisted these intentions to fit our fleshly nature. I am not for the lies. I am not for where these good intentions have led. I am not for idolatry, selfishness, or pride, or things that hurt others and boil down to what is truly not Christ like. Because I am a child of God, and I cannot advocate sin.

I've been chasing godliness for a long time, and I want to know what it really is. When I see Christ, I see grace. I see freedom. The sick healed, the poor fed, and lives renewed. I see eternal life, and joy and love. When I look in His word, I see Him, not formulas.

And I want to chase Him.

So I don't write about purity anymore. Because I don't find enough of Christ. Instead, I find a jumble of formulas and rules and things.

I am for purity. But I am not for purity becoming my life.

I want Jesus to become my life. And if Jesus is my life, purity in spirit and in marriage will naturally fall from Him. I won’t have to build my own philosophies and formulas and movements, because He’ll build them for me. And He’ll make Himself the foundation.

I want to be an example of Jesus, not a movement.

I want to shine Jesus, not the formulas from a book.

I want to be filled with grace and repentance and love, because that's what I see in my Savior.

I don't want to be obsessed with an image, or a formula, or a future husband. Because no matter how godly they may be, those are all worthless things when we look at Christ.

Purity shouldn't be an obsession.

A future spouse shouldn't be an obsession.

A current spouse shouldn't be an obsession.

Nothing should be an obsession.

Except God.

He should be our obsession.

I just want Jesus.

I want to show you Jesus, because I want you to have Him, too.

So I throw self-made purity and rules and formulas and ideas at His feet.

And I write about Him.



A Generation of Courtship Culture on Trial by Jesse Jost

How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships on Recovering Grace.

Why Christian Girls are Done with Courtship Culture by Phylicia Masonheimer

Deeper Conversations on Purity by Sarah Schwartz

Naked and Ashamed by Amanda Barbee



  1. I just love this post... I really can't explain why, but I do. I like it. Lots. And it just resonates, because in some regards it seems like it applies to other areas of Christian life. People insist you need to do all of this stuff to be a "good Christian" but in the end... We've got Jesus.

    Very awesome. Me gusta.

    1. You're not the only one to mention that it applies to other areas of life. I totally agree! Everything, really, should just go back to Jesus.

  2. I definetly like it, Stephanie. It was well written and I agree with many of your points. the very beginning of my childhood was the very end of the Purity Movement, so it was more my older siblings time, but I think you have a lot of valid points.

    1. Mm, that's cool, Meredith! It would be interesting to see something like this written from a younger generation's perspective. Maybe you'll have the opportunity to be the writer one of these days!

  3. I love this!! It's so true what you said!! It so conscience-freeing and explains both sides perfectly in God's Word!

  4. I finally got around to reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye this year, and I have to say, while the idea's behind it were good, after thinking about it, I wasn't sure I agreed with everything in it.
    I am dedicated to staying pure until marriage, however, I don't want this to mean that (like you said) I start to form this idea of the perfect man and idolize it. I think we should always pray for God's guidance, and it may mean that we are in more than one relationship before we marry, but God always has a plan :)
    Wonderful post!

    1. Thanks, darling! And thanks for your thoughts, too!



    I have so many things to say about how destructive purity culture is and you just summed a lot of them up. thank you!

    and I know this blog post is literally like four years old. lol. Im so sorry. but I still appreciate what you said here. thank you for saying it