Pt. 3: The White Knuckle Approach To Purity
At Moral Revolution we’ve come to find that there are three main environments in which we learn about sex. We call them the silent environment, the saturated environment, and the conflicted environment. Why is this important? Well, before we can grow in truth and freedom in our sexuality, we need to see where we’ve come from.
As the Bible puts it, we build knowledge line upon line, and precept upon precept. This means that we’ll stack new knowledge on top of our current understanding and hope it sticks. If we’re honest, most of us, in one way or another, have some shaky foundations when it comes to our sexuality. We need to expose and let go of cracked, slanted, or unstable sexual foundations if we’re going to be able to become a society of sexually stable, healthy, free individuals, couples, and families.
In parts 1 and 2 we discussed the silent environment and the saturated environment. In this blog we’re going to talk about the conflicted environment- the one most often seen in contemporary church cultures.
Imagine a bedroom door that swings open and closed. You get a glimpse of something -- an idea, an experience -- but before you can figure out what’s going on, the door closes. We see this happen a lot in the church. We’re told, “Once you’re married, you get full access to whatever is behind there. However, before that day comes, you shouldn’t even want to look inside. If you do, for shame! Shame on you for even wanting to know what’s inside of there, you little pervert.”
Then, once you’re married, the door swings wide open and the message changes to, “It’s going to be amazing! Once you get through that door, it will be unbelievable. Euphoric. You’re not just marrying a person, you’re marrying a sex slave. They’re going to do everything you’ve ever imagined. Buckle up, baby, it’s going to be the ride of your life! Don’t worry -- you’ll know what to do once you get there.”
“But hey, you’re not married yet. You just stay pure and don’t look in there because God forbid you get a glimpse of something you can’t have, lest you succumb to temptation.”
In this environment, we may feel like we’re living a double life. We want to be pure, but we peek through the door because we have thoughts, desires, and hair growing in new places. We’re being drawn by a natural curiosity about ourselves and others. We feel shame, and yet the desire to know more is insatiable. As we white-knuckle it to our wedding night, we begin to dream up and cling to unrealistic expectations about what sex will be. Unfortunately, while the “hope” we have for sex may help us stay pure in the waiting, it can lead us into unforeseeable disappointment and pain if we’re not careful.
"Although it’s beautiful to have the desire to “follow the rules” and be pure, it’s not enough. We must know why we want and need this in order to be healthy and live purely. The white-knuckle approach to purity may control behaviors, but it can’t resolve a heart condition or change a belief system." - The Naked Truth About Sexuality
The conflict classically arises when we get married and walk through the door, only to realize that sex does not start as a magical, euphoric experience. We are taken aback, confused. We are hurt that it wasn’t everything we were told it would be. Sometimes there is even shame involved, particularly for women, who have to make a sudden transition from sex being bad or forbidden to good and expected.
As you can see, this environment, even with its celebration of virginity and married-sex, doesn’t fully translate the reality of sex. Sex is a language, not just an experience of pleasure. We learn to give and take within this secret world where a private connection is taking place; our bodies and souls are building memories, creating bonds and being knit together. All of this takes time to grow into -- not just sex itself, but yourself and your spouse: body, soul, and spirit. It is a life-long learning adventure, not of a series of one night stands.
In this conflicted environment, the kind of inner monologue we hear is, “I’m just going to try to do what I’m supposed to do, and hopefully I don’t mess it all up.” How many of us have heard something similar to this in the church? “Do it this way. Why? Because it’s the right way.” Our response to this teaching is, “I want to be pure because I need to be pure.”
Although it’s beautiful to have that desire, it’s not enough. We must know why we want and need this in order to be healthy and live purely.
The white-knuckle approach to purity may control behaviors, but it can’t resolve a heart condition or change a belief system.
Striving starts when we operate out of rules without understanding the love and purpose behind them. When we pursue any ideal outside of love, we will never produce fruit that remains. This is why so many of us just want to pray away our sex drives and escape the growing process altogether; it’s too hard to try to do it on our own.
When God gave you your sex drive, He had a plan. He knew that it would take self-control and patience to manage. He knew it would require you to grow in all of the other fruits of the Spirit as well -- love for yourself, joy and peace in the waiting, kindness toward yourself and others, good choices, and faithfulness as you trust in Him. He knew that you wouldn’t be able to do it without His help. And He said it was good.
In giving you your sex drive, God had a plan to grow you up, both in maturity and relationship with Him. Because He started this good work in you, He will be faithful to see it completed. He is not going to leave you until you figure out how to be perfect. He is going to teach you how to steward your sex drive in a way that honors Him as well as the person you will eventually commit to for the rest of your life. No matter how hard you pray for it to leave, He won’t take your sex drive away; it was a gift!
So, what are we supposed to do about it? My suggestion is to open the door and look in. Not with shame, not with the guilt that comes when we feel we’re perverted, but taking a healthy glimpse inside for the sake of understanding. Find safe, wise people to dialogue with- ask your questions. Find godly resources and learn. God opened the door long ago and it was the church that shut it, not Him.
Regardless of which environment you may have come from, this is the truth: God always wanted to show us exactly what sex was meant to be. He wanted us to know the power in it. He wanted us to be fully aware, fully alive, and fully connected within ourselves and with our spouse without regret, shame, or pain. Whether you’re starting your journey for the first time today, or continuing to build a legacy that will change your family forever, we bless you. Together we can break the silence, silence the shame, and gain a pure, godly, unadulterated understanding of the naked truth about sexuality.