Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready” (Song of Solomon 2:7).
“How far is too far?”
That’s the most often asked question every youth pastor receives during those annual “Purity Month” talk series and Q & A time. Every (responsible) youth pastor is poised with the standard response: “That’s the wrong question to ask.” This is usually followed with the classic quip, “That’s like asking ‘How close can I get to the fire without getting burnt?'” Or, my own version: If there’s a ticking bomb in the trunk of your car, you don’t ask how close you can play hacky-sack to the car without losing an arm in the explosion. No, you run as far away from the car as possible!
Now, comparing romance and sexual intimacy to a raging fire or violent explosion may seem quite strange to many today. That’s because they have bought the lie that there are no destructive consequences for casual sexual exploration and premarital sexual activity. Yet, those who will stop to examine the downward spiral of our culture into a state of complete disregard for sexual boundaries even for a minute will see the extensive documented damage and pain so many have experienced in this realm of living. Sorry folks, if you didn’t learn this from your parents who lived through the 60s sexual revolution, let me tell you again: Sexuality is a profoundly deep part of our being, and our sexual choices DO have consequences.
I am glad the church is growing up in their approach to teaching a robust, holistic, more nuanced view of Biblical sexual ethics. For too long the church has been hopelessly divided into fundamentalist and liberal views. Conservative Christians have tended to be too simplistic and negative in it’s teaching on sexual ethics. “No dancing because it can lead to sex.” “I kissed dating goodbye” — because dating, not sexual choices within dating, is the real problem? During my seminary studies in San Diego I lived with a wonderful Christian couple (wonderfully fundamentalist as well!) who generously allowed the neighborhood to use their pool for cooling off on a hot day. I was a bit taken aback however the day I was scolded for breaking their “No Mixed Bathing” rule that prohibited swimming in the pool with a person of the opposite sex. No mixed bathing?I assure you doing cannon balls is quite different than “bathing.”
So, how can we remain sexually pure and honor God with our bodies in a godless society without retreating into a fundamentalist stance of excessive rule making and scare tactics? I suggest we shift the focus away from “running from sex” and instead encourage teens to “run toward purity.” Instead of seeing how close we can get to the fire without getting burnt, let’s see how close we can possibly get to holiness and purity!
We hear so much about the “sexual revolution” in the negative sense; let’s call the emerging generation to a counter-sexual revolution of purity and virginity. Do you teens want to be part of a counter-cultural revolution? Are you tired of being duped by the powers that be? Are you tired of being sold a pack of lies by the media, music and movie businesses? Do you want to be part of a grassroots resistance movement for peace and harmony in the world? Are you inspired by the idea of all things renewable? Why don’t you join the revolution for sexual purity and holiness.
This call to purity is nothing new. Many teens already see the beauty of God’s plan of saving one’s body for their wedding night. Many couples continue to offer the gift of their virginity to one another on their honeymoon. Yet, a bold group of young Christians are taking this counter-sexual revolution one step further and saving even their first kiss for the marriage bed. It’s known as the Virgin Lips Movement. Albert Mohler recently featured this story on his radio program and blog. Check it out.
In the space of little more than a single generation, we have seen the breaking down of virtually every social and cultural support for sexual abstinence. Arousal and intimacy come with the romantic longing that marks the deepening relationship between a man and a woman. Young couples no longer court on the porch swing with the girl’s parents sitting inside and very close at hand. Now, most young couples face the temptation of romantic contexts in which intimacy–and this means sexual intimacy–is a likely outcome…. The Virgin Lips Movement represents a serious effort to push back against this expectation and to create boundaries that will protect virtue and honor marriage.”
Is the Virgin Lips Movement a positive movement toward purity and holiness? Or is this just another fundamentalist retreat back into a paranoid, legalistic rule-making position akin to “No dancing” or “Mixed Bathing” rules of old?
I personally think this is a healthy, positive, elevation of sexual purity and intimacy. As my wife always (rightly) says, “Kissing is the gateway drug” that starts us down the slippery, impassioned, hormone-paved path toward other sexual acts of intimacy that we are called to protect and save for marriage.
Many will immediately write off such a call to “chastity” as a hopelessly old-fashioned, religiously oppressive war against our natural “animal urges”. For we are no different than any other animal species, and we should just let our biological urges guide our decisions. While our biological urges are an influential factor when making sexual decision, so is the ancient practice of self-control and moral restraint. Just as we should resist indulging every food craving and instead exercise self-control to remain physically healthy, so also we should resist indulging every sexual urge and exercise self-control for the sake of sexual health (i.e., purity or morals).
I think once teens get a clear picture of the beauty and sacredness of God’s design for sexual purity and holiness within the bounds of monogamous marriage, then they will want to be part of a sexual revolution that is aggressively, passionately trying to get as close to purity as possible.
So, what do you think about the Virgin Lips Movement?