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Borrowing Brains: Sexual Purity for Young Adults

I’m preparing to minister to college students on the topic of sexual purity. If you were me, (a) what biblical principles would you prioritize (especially realizing that only so much can be said during a limited amount of time), and (b) what miscellaneous advice (in addition to full sermons) would you pass on to them—perhaps specific to guys, girls, etc. What do you think Christian young people must know about the topic of sexual purity?

Thanks in advance!


18 Responses

  1. Prov. 4:23 Doing a study on the heart Chris. 865 references to the heart in scripture. Necessity of this to be changed first before topic can even be addressed. Psalm 4:8 is a great verse. D. L. Moody said, “When Christ has preeminence in your life, you will understand it all. He didn’t come down here to tell us we couldn’t go here, or couldn’t do this, and lay down alot of rules. He came to give us life. Once you love Him, you will take delight in pleasing Him.” Hope it helps you.

  2. Isaiah 58 mentions delighting ourselves in God as a major theme of the chapter, instead of merely maintaining the externals. Overcoming purity issues, or remaining pure, involves making God the delight of our lives. We must live Theocentrically and our thoughts must be centered on Him (Is. 26:4).

    If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend Jim Berg’s video series “Purity: Winning the Battle in a Perverse World.” http://www.bjupress.com/product/256248 We had a special men’s “mini-retreat” where we viewed all 8 messages (4 on Friday night, 4 on Saturday morning) and it was life-changing for many of the men. All of them raved about it.

    And of course Paul’s simple charge: “FLEE YOUTHFUL LUSTS!!!”

  3. One thought that helped snap this all together for me was to understand and emphasize the Gospel implications of sexual purity by bringing Eph. 5 (how marriage pictures the Christ and His church) into the picture. It seems to me that concept turns this discussion from so much moralism into a beautiful truth that I’m motiviated to participate in Biblically.

  4. On a practical level I think what needs to be understood is repentance and faith, putting off the old man, putting on the new man, crucifying the flesh, walking in the Spirit. In keeping with these themes, 1 Jn 1.9 and Pr 24.16 are vital. Job’s advice is a good preventative: making a covenant with the eyes. Cultivating a love for the things of the Spirit is also vital.

    I think we are all hitting around these same thoughts, perhaps from different angles.

    Bottom line: you have to want God’s way and not be wondering what is so cool about Satan’s way. If someone is double-minded like that, they will fail.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. I’m burdened that we acknowledge and give concrete help to those who have already sinned in this area, especially fatherly encouragement to girls who dwell in shame thinking that past sin will always define their position in our Christian culture. The girls have definitely reached equality in this sin area, at least around here. Also distinguishing between worldly sorrow over your failure or your shame (which only continues the cycle of failure, shame, and sin) and godly sorrow which points solely to Christ and leads to authentic repentance.

  6. After PJ suggested “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” I then read “Boy Meets Girl.” I really liked both of those, but the one that hit home for me was “And The Bride Wore White.” I think it is because the author kept her focus while dating. She made a list of the charactericstics she wanted in her future husband (godly man that would be her leader, and, yes, good looks, to name just a few). As she was dating, she kept her focus on her list so as not to stray from the purpose of dating, which is will this person be my future spouse? These books all mention that even the smallest of acts (i.e., kissing) can steal something special from one’s future spouse. Wish I could have read these books when I was younger, but consider it a blessing that they are available to me now since I am passing them on down to the girls. :)

  7. Thanks, all. Very helpful.

    Wendy, I hear you. Sometimes we’ve dealt with this issue as if it’s unforgivable. We need to give hope to those who have already struggled (and probably all have, at least mentally) as well as encouragement to those still untouched. Grace!

    I’ve read the first two, Donna, But not the last. Sounds like I should!

  8. I am glad that those books were a help to Donna, but I think they can be harmful as well. When we get our eyes on a “list” of the right things, we can often miss the opportunities God has in front of us. As a single, almost thirty year old woman, I would say living chastely is really hard. It is even harder if one focuses all one’s energy on “getting the right spouse” instead of _being_ the right spouse. I would highly recommend Lauren Winner’s “Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity.” Even if you don’t share it with your group, I would certainly recommend that you read it.

  9. I hope this doesn’t seem like tooting my own horn, but here is a review I posted of Winner’s book: http://solachristus.typepad.com/sola_christus/2006/07/why_do_the_righ.html

  10. depending on the audience, you can probably assume that they struggle with sexual purity. I wouldn’t come from a standpoint of “you’re gonna” or “if you have.” Come from reality, you are–let’s be honest right here and now. The more transparent you are about your struggles and how you have battled them the better. The Biblical Principles I would emphasize are the Gospel and it’s implications. Here’s a great quote that I have been meditating on:
    “Growing in the gospel means seeing more of God’s holiness and more of my sin. And because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need not fear seeing God as he really is or admitting how broken we really are. Our hope is not in our own goodness, nor in the vain expectation that God will compromise his standards and ‘grade on a curve.’ Rather, we rest in Jesus as our perfect Redeemer — the One who is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).” – Bob Thune & Will Walker, The Gospel-Centered Life (World Harvest Mission, 2009), 6.
    More than any other book or practice, the Gospel is what has changed me from being an arrogant man who blindly struggled on his own to being a humble sinner crying out to God for grace to protect and preserve me. He has done it! First John and Hebrews are awesome in reminding us of Christ’s work for us. Talk about the beauty of God’s design for marriage. Sex is great within God’s parameters, so get married!!
    Advice: honesty, accountability, transparency, humble acknowledgment of sin and knowing that there is forgiveness from God and acceptance by God. that they will be loved by their small group and church family no matter the sin. God’s love is bigger and deeper than any sin in their heart and life, so run to Him and rest in Him.

  11. I realize that this is probably very obvious, but I think at the beginning of a relationship, it’s wise for couples to sit down and define boundaries for their relationship. They should be specific (we will or will not hold hands, we won’t be alone, etc.). I would imagine that couples who know all the biblical principles and have a desire for purity may still not automatically agree on specific boundaries in a dating relationship. Discussing and agreeing on these early on will help avoid that awkward, uneasy drifting feeling that can mess up this aspect of a relationship. It would also be a good excercise in communication. Getting someone to then be accountable to about these decisions would be good, too. And couples should be warned that it’s awfully hard to re-establish the boundaries that have been broken.
    On another note, I think college girls should be extremely careful about the books they read–especially “Christian” fiction. I’ve been amazed at the junk in books with this label. The content of these books can definitely mess up a girl’s mind. And good Christian girls who wouldn’t watch a questionable movie or be caught dead reading a trashy romance often consume large quantities of “Christian” fiction–probably because it is supposedly safe and clean.

  12. I think that a lot of people focus sexual purity on controlling your bodies that to a young person it sounds like, “well as long as I don’t do ________I am a pure person.” As a man who wishes that he had not done __________as a teen, I understand that approach. (BTW, the blanks are intentional because we tend to draw levels as to what is pure and what is not and teens are great at drawing a line and feeling good because they went right to the line, but were able to keep from crossing it, giving themselves a sense of purity because of their defined morality). However, some of the greatest damage done by impurity is in the mind of the teen and not necessarily in the body. A girl may not get pregnant with so many ways to keep that from happening today, but sexual immorality takes a toll on the emotional development of boys and girls. I know couples who never touched one another physically before marriage, but were anything but pure. They “undressed” each other with their eyes as they sat in a corner and “loved” one another (and this was at a Bible college in plain view). I think teens (especially boys) ought to be warned that their choices in sexuality now have great consequences in their future marriages even if they never do ______________. Allow me to give a personal example. I had a “line” that I would not cross when I was a teen. I had the self-control to be able to go right to that line and never cross it. Sadly, my line was not a very good one, and I was impure in so many areas, but I felt fine as long as I never crossed that line (sadly my motive was mostly because I was scared about a girl getting pregnant). I dated several girls and began to view them as individuals that could satisfy my flesh while never crossing that line. That pattern of thinking twisted my view of women and created very strong problems when dating my wife. I had to unlearn so much that my flesh had taught me. Although I never crossed that line, my way of thinking and looking at women and sex has always been a source of struggle for me. (BTW, God’s grace has enabled my wife and I to have a wonderful marriage). But when I look back, I see how little choices along did more damage to my perception and way of thinking that it ever did to my body.

    One last example. I think great damage is done in a young person who never physically touch the opposite sex, but are driven emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually by the opposite sex. My father instructed me that three things mature intimacy: time spent with the person, physical attraction, and spiritual oneness. He wisely instructed me that when any one of those gets ahead of the other it is unhealthy.

    My one cent

  13. Chris,

    I have little to provide but try to keep it simple. My wife just heard a series from Adrian Rogers that she found to be helpful (she grew up with her sister and now is looking to be raising several boys). One key thought that she remembered and felt is misrepresented often. God does not keep the joy of sex from his children but rather keeps them pure so they can enjoy sex to the fullest extent. He created it to be enjoyed and it is enjoyable when practiced as He designed. Failure to practice as He designed has many sorrows added. He created it to be an enjoyable method to repopulate the earth. Satan makes us believe that it is an enjoyable activity to be enjoyed at will. We try to forget our conscience and diseases and many other risks when we practice it in our own (satan’s) ways.

    The main thoughts I like to focus on is that we are not our own. Nor is the person we are dating/courting/interested in. Since we are not our own, our previous actions do not dictate our future actions.

    I would also try to make it clear that sexual sins and its consequences are not limited to intercourse. Pornography and filthy talk also results in problems in relationships and our interaction with everyone of the opposite sex.

    btw – with me you get what you pay for!

  14. chris,

    i think 1 timothy 5:1-2 remind us how we should interact between the sexes generally (granted this is specifically referring to rebuke and encouragement). pointedly, paul reminds timothy to interact with young women as sisters with all purity.

    the Holy Spirit has rebirthed sinners to a new life in God’s family, and the Father has adopted believers into His family as joint heirs with His Son. we are family!

    so, brother, would you tackle your biological sister in a friendly game of football? probably, and you’d be real careful about where your hands went. would you neck your biological sister? doubtful.

    and vice versa.

  15. In my own experience, a big thing that I have taken away from my stuggle with sexual purity is to maintain the fact that redemption is possible. Although it is not possible to achieve physical virginity again, spiritual and emotional virginity can be restored.

    The teens that I have talked with really seem to feel that they have already made the mistake, so why not continue because it is not possible to go back. I regularly have to remind them that it nothing is impossible for God.

    As a guy, I tell the teen boys that I interact with the damage that a lack of sexual purity will have on your relationship with your spouse later.

    In addition, a message to parents is to not lose your cool when you find out what has been going on with your teen. Granted they made a poor decision, but you still need to love them the way that God loves us when we sin. Sin is still sin. It doesn’t matter if it is murder, adultery, or a white lie. We are all still condemned for our sin, but we are also forgiven through the atonement of Jesus.

  16. My husband and I just listened to this sermon by Dr. Doran: Pleasing God By Living Purely. It’s a very careful, and very applicable handling of 1 Thess. 4:1-8! A valuable resource!


  17. Pastor Chris,

    Thanks for ministering to the faculty, staff, and students in chapel at Clearwater Christian College. Christ was truly magnified through your very relevant messages.


  18. Tom, it was a great pleasure to see the campus for the first time, fellowship with like-minded believers like yourself, and above all, preach Christ. What a great Savior we have!

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