The Prude Versus The Pure

holding_hands-1088927-mIn “Sex And The Bible”, I made a case for the Bible being anything but a book that advances prudishness. The definition of prude from the New American Oxford Dictionary is “a person who is or claims to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity.”

Anyone who reads the Bible had better not be a prude because its pages are filled with experiences of all kinds, including those involving nudity and sex.

But in saying we who read the Bible, and more importantly, who believe it is true and that it should guide our lives—in saying we are not prudes—I’m not implying we aren’t interested in morality.

In fact, I suggest the goal of a follower of Jesus Christ is purity—a quality about as different from prudery as you can get. Here are the synonyms for pure: “virtuous, moral, ethical, good, righteous, saintly, honorable, reputable, wholesome, clean, honest, upright, upstanding, exemplary, irreproachable; chaste, virginal, maidenly; decent, worthy, noble, blameless, guiltless, spotless, unsullied, uncorrupted, undefiled” (New American Oxford Dictionary.)

Quite a list. Quite an unattainable list. Apart from Jesus, there hasn’t been a person on earth who could claim the words on that list all apply to him all the time.

And yet, in God’s eyes, believers in Jesus absolutely are pure. The fact is, Jesus has clothed each of us with the robe of His righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own, so He gives us His.

We don’t earn it, work for it, or lose it.

But like good stories, there are layers to life. The spiritual layer is the one in which believers are clothed in righteousness. The physical layer still has us struggling against temptation and growing in grace. We are in the process of working out our salvation.

This working out of what we already have is another way of saying we are learning to become who we are. When I became a teacher, there were things I needed to learn about what was expected of me in that role. I already was a teacher, but I needed to learn how to make lesson plans and hold parent-teacher conferences and fill out report cards and conduct myself during back-to-school events. It was an ongoing process for me to learn to become what I already was.

So, too, for the Christian. We already are clothed in righteousness, but now we have to learn to live in righteousness. And that’s where purity comes in.

The Bible does not sugarcoat sexual activity. It is frank about the good and the perverted. It shows loving monogamous husbands and wives, and polygamous kings with harems.

The Jewish Law prohibits bestiality and homosexuality and rape, and the New Testament admonishes husbands and wives to submit to one another and not to withhold sex from each other except for a short, agreed upon time for the purpose of prayer.

The Old Testament shows Joseph resisting sexual temptation and David yielding to sexual temptation. The Old Testament Law made allowance for divorce. The New Testament records Jesus saying God hates divorce, counsels against divorcing an unbeliever, and requires elders and pastors to be husbands of one wife.

The Old Testament recounts one of the best love stories anywhere, recorded in the book of Ruth. But it also shows Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute.

The good, and the messed up. The pure, and the perverted. The Bible doesn’t hide from any of it, and neither should we.

When we read Scripture, we can glean from its pages good examples and negative, warnings and promises, admonitions and counsel—all available to help us grow in our righteousness so we live up to our right standing in God’s eyes.

Consequently, we read that we are to flee immorality and we see an example of Joseph running away from Potiphar’s wife. We read that Jesus tells us if we look at another person with lust, we’ve committed adultery in our hearts, and we see an example of David committing adultery with Bathsheba. We read the admonitions in Proverbs of a father warning his son to stay away from the adulterous woman, and in the New Testament we find Jesus telling the adulterous woman to go and sin no more.

The pages of Scripture are filled with wisdom so that we can figure out how to live in a sex-crazed society. None of it leads to prudery. In fact, I don’t know how a person can learn to live a righteous life by not talking about sex. I certainly don’t know how anyone could read the Bible and dodge the issue of sex.

On the other hand, the Bible is all about showing us how to live morally pure lives, even in the area of our sexuality. Prudishness has no place in the Christian’s life. Purity . . . that’s a different thing altogether.

Published in: on May 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm  Comments Off on The Prude Versus The Pure  
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