True Love Waits? - Sexual Purity and Commitment

Have you ever made a commitment to sexual purity?  When I was a teenager I participated in the “True Love Waits” campaign that our church did every year with the youth group.  We signed a commitment card that said something like this:

 “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, 
my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.”[1]

While this commitment helped me to abstain from the act of sex itself, the older I have become and the more I have studied God’s word the Bible, I have realized that I was far from sexually pure before marriage.

As a youth and college pastor at my church, I have often wrestled with the idea of calling my students to a sexual purity commitment.  While I think the “True Love Waits” commitment above is a good attempt at calling students to higher level of purity, it falls far short of the sexual purity that is a part of the holiness that God calls us to in the Bible as Christians.  Is abstinence from sex until marriage the only thing God asks of us to be sexual pure?  I don’t think so.  Is a “belief that true love waits” a real motivation for sexual purity?  What does that phrase mean exactly anyway?  I think a “belief that true love waits” is a miniscule motivation compared to the Bible’s call to holiness in a pattern after God’s own holiness.  In addition, there are questions around the commitment itself.  Should we burden kids with a commitment that we know they can’t keep?  I mean most guys break their commitment to sexual purity as soon as they look up from the card they just signed, setting their sights on the pretty girl across the room.  Does a youth throw out his commitment as soon as he breaks it?  Is making an additional commitment beyond our general confession of Christ even Biblical?  And what about adults?  A commitment to sexual purity should outlive our teenage years and pre-marital lives.  In fact, sexual purity is something God asks of all His people for their entire lives.

Despite the hesitations above concerning a sexual purity commitment, I do think it is valuable and biblical to call students and adults to a purity commitment.  Let me give a few reasons why I think a sexual purity commitment is valuable along with a few qualifiers.  Following these reasons I have included a commitment to sexual purity that I have written. 

I believe a commitment to sexual purity is valuable primarily because the commitment helps to put the issue on the forefront of student and adult minds.  At a practical level, because someone has taken the time to think about the issue biblically and how it applies to their life and then made a personal promise in response, ever time they are tempted to sin sexually the commitment comes to mind.  Granted this commitment should naturally be a part of someone’s commitment to follow Christ, but given the sexually confused and broken culture we live in, it is worth spelling out a little more.  In addition, this commitment itself becomes a conversation piece between my students, their parents, and myself.  I have asked my students to share their commitment with their parents and to even ask their parents to join them in the commitment themselves.  Finally, we do see evidences of biblical personalities committing themselves away from or to certain behaviors usually rooted in a pursuit of holiness.  Many times Job 31:30 is pointed to as an example.  Now for a few qualifiers on what a sexual purity commitment should look like.

First, a sexual purity commitment must be rooted in the normal processes of the Gospel for dealing with sin.  A purity commitment that leaves no place for confession and repentance is anti-Gospel and is really nothing more than another moral law that we can’t keep.  Instead we must have a commitment that leaves room for confession and repentance.  We have to agree with the apostle John in 1 John 1:9-10 that Christians do sin and will sin and the proper response is ongoing confession and repentance.

Second, a sexual purity commitment must be focused on developing holiness in our lives.  A purity commitment cannot just be a call to abstain, but must be backfilled with a pursuit of holiness just as Peter calls us to in 1 Peter 1:14-16.  We must learn to ask the question, “How can I be more Holy?” instead of  “How close can I come to sinning and still be acceptable to God?”  Even this question reveals our deceitful, sinful heart.  Any sexual purity commitment has to help us make a shift in our thinking towards a pursuit of holiness above a call to abstinence.

Third, we have to broaden our definition of what it means to be sexually pure.  The idea of sexual immorality is far more broad than “no sex before marriage.”  It includes attitudes of the heart, processes of the mind, and actions of the body.  In my commitment below I have attempted to define sexual immorality along more biblical lines.

Finally, a sexual purity commitment should also give a path for staying pure.  I have included in my commitment six ways the Bible gives us for staying sexually pure. 

I have developed the commitment below based on a brief survey of the Greek word porneia pronounced (Poor-knee-uh) and related words and their uses in the Greek New Testament and the LXX.  This is the commitment that I am currently calling my students too.  It is a work in progress, and I am sure I will make several more revisions.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  I have also included the scripture that I used for each section in footnotes. 

As a Christian, would you be willing to make a commitment to sexual purity?


I ______________________________________ Commit to a Sexually Pure Christian Life as Follows:

Having Biblically Defined…
Sexual immorality as any illicit sexual act (intercourse, foreplay, lesbian or gay sexual activity, oral sex, self-stimulation, crude speech & joking, perverse attitude, provocative dress, and the viewing of pornographic material or real people with a lustful heart) done outside of, or against God’s properly defined venue for sexuality, which is marriage, fulfilling our own sinful desires.  Furthermore, this collection of sexually immoral, sinful acts flow directly from our own hearts. Finally, the effects of sexual immorality will leave us empty, used, unclean, and unholy before God.[2]

Understanding that…
In Contrast to the World the Bible has called us to abstain from sexual immorality, flee from sexual immorality, and actively put to death the sinful sexual desires of the world found in us.  We do not want to partner ourselves with the world in any way but rather stand apart in holiness.  As Christians we want to ask how we can be more holy before God and not how close we can come to un-holiness.  We understand that there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among the people of God.[3]

Understand how the Bible defines sexually immorality, and we hearing its call to abstain from sexual immorality, we will…
First, repent of any sexual immorality in our lives we have committed thus far.  In addition, we will commit to a continued process of confession and repentance in this area of our lives anytime we sin.  We believe participating in this ongoing process of repentance is the way we live out the Gospel daily and without it this commitment is not possible.  Second, we will cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, particularly self-control.  Third, we will make every effort to abstain from sexual immorality including: intercourse, foreplay, lesbian or gay activity, oral sex, self-stimulation, crude speech & joking, perverse attitude, provocative dress, and the viewing of pornographic material or real people with a lustful heart.  In addition this means we will save ourselves for God’s ordained venue for sex, which is marriage.  In the bonds of marriage we commit to a sex life that is regular in frequency and not perverse in nature, but honors the image of God found in both partners and the picture of the union of Christ and the Church.  Fourth, we will stray from those that claim to be Christians yet live sexually immoral lives.  Instead, we will seek the mutual accountability and building up of holiness between fellow Christians committed to sexual purity.  Fifth, we will agree that Holiness is more important than our life setting (financially or other) and will seek marriage if sexual immorality is becoming a problem for us. 

Finally, we will make this covenant with ourselves because we want to strive for holiness.  We want to replace our pursuit of sin with a pursuit for holiness.  Our commitment must be rooted in the Gospel.  That Jesus Christ died and rose for us taking our sins and giving us His righteousness.  Because of the work of Christ in us we will commit ourselves to the higher calling of holiness in our lives.[4]

Signed _____________________________________     Date ____________________

[1] This commitment quote is from: , Accessed 11/14/2012.  The Logo is property of Lifeway and was accessed for use from: in accordance with the specified usages, Accessed 11/15/2012.
[2] Genesis 38:24, Ezekiel 16:15, Ezekiel 23:8, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:3-5, Jude 7, Revelation 17:1-2, Revelation 18:3, Revelation 14:8, Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21-22, Matthew 5:27-28
[3] Acts15:28-29, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5-7, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, 1 Peter 1:13-16, Titus 2:11-14
[4] 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:22-24, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Job 31:1
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