Tuesday, November 19

I've Taken the Purity Ring Off

A couple of weekends I went to a concert, you know typical Hannah acting all college girl crazy. Okay, so I didn't get too wild (though I did have some punch in the face peppermint iced tea). His name was Jimmy Needham, and he's really cool with an awesome message and everyone should check him out. But, I digress. I was sitting there listening to his smooth as molasses voice singing these words, "Anything I put before my God is an idol," and one thing immediately popped into my head... along with a few others as well. But let's just concentrate on one thing.

I grew up home schooled, and I honestly can say I would have had it no other way. Am I sometimes clueless to the pop culture that my roommates are talking about? Heck to the yes. Am I wee bit more awkward than some people? This is true. But I loved my upbringing. For the most part my parents kept me pretty "normal" though, aside from the one downfall of my home schooled career. I joined a homeschool group. And while I did learn some lessons (mainly ones that were never intentionally taught to me), it was probably one of the rockiest times for me growing up. I tried to fit in with this group of people so much, even though in most ways I didn't really belong, that I truly lost myself. The homeschool group had many of the ideals that the majority of Christian home schooled families had. The main ideal? No dating until you're out of high school and marriage is in your near future, and even more importantly no kissing, touching, flirting, sex, or giving the impression that you might even be thinking about having a crush on someone. Through my years in the group I felt like it was drilled into my head, "Girls, guard your heart. Because your heart and your emotional purity are the most important things that God has given you (not your brain or heart of compassion, but your purity of course) and if you ever become romantically involved (let alone sexually involved) with a man before marriage you will be jaded. And you can't be jaded. Pride yourself in your purity above all else." My purity throughout high school, dare I even say my righteousness, was placed in a spot where God should have been. 

I won't begin to say that anything that I was taught was "bad" necessarily, and who knows, maybe I'm the only girl who took any of it in this way, but this way of thinking is a form of idolatry. When does this idea of purity start going so far that it becomes your idol? Letting people know that their sexual and emotional purity is important and valued is something that is needed, I won't deny that. This world is completely sexually charged, and young girls need to be taught that sex doesn't have to be something meaningless and purely physical just because the movies depict it that way. But, there comes a point in the modern church when it's becoming so talked about that I think that it has become a sort of idol in girls' hearts. Where it can actually hinder their relationships with other girls, boys, and most importantly, God.

I can almost pinpoint the very spot I was when I began feeling like it was going too far in what I was being taught. It was a fun weekend away that the group I was in planned, we had rented some cabins on a lake and it was just going to be a blast. I was really excited, while nervous at the same time because I didn't know if my (very) modest tankini was quite modest enough or if I would get in trouble for it. Because it was a sort of retreat we of course sat down to have a little talk about faith and the hot topic was (as it always was) our purity. Sitting down to listen I began hearing things that I didn't know if I agreed with, and if I did agree with them I would definitely have some fessing up to do. I remember the conversation being turned to friendships with boys. And how we must guard our hearts with our guy friends and could never really open up too much with them, or else we would be compromising our emotional purity. We can't become emotionally attached to the opposite gender. Well, that was sort of confusing to a girl who grew up only with guy friends because that's all there was to have in a "town" of 600 people. Should I stop being friends with people I had grown up with my entire life simply because they had a different anatomy than I did and being with them could compromise my emotional purity? (Which we don't EVER want to happen, because no one wants a broken tarnished person as their spouse.) So what should we do? Well we should never be one on one with someone of the opposite gender, because that would be a date. And date's are evil and they will compromise your purity because no one has any self control. If I had walked away from the campfire after everything was done with and went down to the shoreline and one of the boys of the group came down as well and we walked and talked while looking for sea shells that would have been a date. Under no circumstance should a boy and girl ever be alone and open up to one another.

At the time I was confused. I loved having the guy friends I did, and I could honestly say that there was no romantic feelings towards any of them at the time. I just liked having good old fashioned fun. I liked playing cards games with them, and hearing of their weird gory stories. I liked talking to them and telling each other about what we really wanted to accomplish in life. But, according to what I was being taught all of this was wrong. What I was hearing was that I should never open up to a boy, and a boy should never open up to me. Even with the best intentions, it's just plain wrong. Even if I can offer really good insight or vise versa into a current situation. What I feel I was being taught was that we must place our purity, our cleanliness, our righteousness, high above everything; even the needs of those around us.

I have come to realize that I have been conditioned to be a person who would rather keep herself clean and pure than get involved in relationship with people who might dirty myself. Purity is a great thing. I want to keep my thoughts and actions pure. I want to have pure motives when I go into relationships with other people, and I want to have pure motives when I do anything in my life. But, this idea of purity cannot become like a god to me. It cannot become so important to me that I forsake good, clean, relationships in the name of staying "pure".

So I took my purity ring off. I took it off because my purity is not the most important thing in my life. My "pureness", my "holiness", my "righteousness" will never be enough to save me. I need to be covered by HIS purity and HIS holiness and HIS righteousness and if I remember correctly Jesus had lots of relationships with people of the opposite gender. He even had relationships with female prostitutes, how's that for an "impure" relationship? I will look to the One who is pure, because I never can be. I will no longer let my purity and righteousness get in the way of creating Christ based friendships. 

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