3 Reasons Why the Church Should Still Preach Purity

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Should the church still teach purity?

This is a question many seem to be grappling with, because of the negativity and shame that many have used to push the purity movement in the church.

Since joining the blogging world in 2010, I have watched as an unmistakable message has grown ever louder and more militant.

Not long after I began blogging, I began to see blog posts from those who were tired of the purity message. They felt it was legalistic and degrading to women.

And I could see their point.

However, what I feared at the time has come to pass. Instead of targeting the excesses and legalistic side of the purity message, they were calling for the entire message to be thrown out.

And what has resulted is rampant immorality in the church to epidemic proportions, embracing of alternative lifestyles that God calls an abomination, and the rise of “exvangelicals”, who throw off the restraints that once defined what it means to be a Christian.

woman in pink sleeveless dress standing with a bush of pink flowers

Yes, there have been excesses in the evangelical community; there have even been those who have wronged minorities and women.

The answer isn’t to walk away from evangelical Christianity.

There were also excesses in the purity “movement” (I don’t like that term, so we’ll call it message), but it didn’t make the purity message wrong.

The answer isn’t to throw away the concept of purity or modesty.

3 Reasons Why the Church Should Still Preach Purity

Just because there were those who chose to take the message of modesty and purity and attach legalistic ideals and excesses to it, doesn’t make the message of modesty and purity wrong.

I remember in 1997 when the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, by Joshua Harris, took the Christian community by storm.

A few years prior to that, I had left a ministry that heavily promoted courtship. Even at that time (the early 90s) I found their teaching on courtship and modesty to be excessive and legalistic.

Frankly, much of what they taught was degrading to women, especially Christian women who truly wanted to walk in purity and modesty.

So, while I personally did not kiss dating goodbye or embrace courtship, I was grateful that so many young people were striving to please God with a pure heart.

Fast forward 22 years, and not only has Joshua Harris renounced his book, but he has renounced his marriage and Christianity, and is now laying out a welcome mat to the LGBTQ+ community. 

This grieves me deeply because surely the vast majority of those who had already grown cynical toward the purity and modesty message will find leverage in this.

But I believe that it is a huge mistake for the church to stop preaching purity and modesty for these 3 reasons.

1. The Bible preaches purity and modesty.

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.” Song of Solomon 8:4

“…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation,” 1 Timothy 2:9

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18, 20

This is just a sampling from Scripture on the topic of purity and modesty.

If we want to call ourselves Christians, we cannot divorce ourselves from the topic of purity and modesty because it is all throughout Scripture; both Old and New Testaments.

What we should do is make sure that when we preach about purity and modesty, we do so from a place of grace, and not legalism and judgment.

2. It sets us apart for a higher purpose and calling.

Throughout Scripture, we see the concept of being set apart for a specific use. The theological or biblical term is “sanctification“.

In the Old Testament, the instruments and furniture in the Tabernacle were set apart for use only in the Tabernacle. They were not to be used for any other purpose than to worship God.

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Tabernacle (or temple) was ripped from top to bottom, and we became God’s Tabernacle – carrying His presence with us wherever we go.

Therefore, our body and what we do with it is set apart for a higher purpose.

This is why purity and modesty are still important for Christians – its reserving our body and sexual activity for marriage, which is a mystery and a picture of Christ’s love for the church.

Therefore, we protect our purity for the exciting and wonderful purpose of becoming one flesh within the proper, scriptural context.

3. It shows love, honor, and respect for the body of Christ.

Much has been written about the importance of women respecting and honoring men by dressing and behaving modestly. 

While I know that some have wrongfully placed the onus completely on women, we do bear some of the responsibility here.

By choosing to dress and behave in a modest way, we as women show our brothers in Christ that we love, honor, and respect them by not needlessly laying a burden on them to control their eyes and thoughts.

By choosing to dress and behave in a modest way, we choose to be an example to my sisters in Christ of how to love, honor, and respect the body by modest dress and behavior.

By choosing to dress and behave in a modest way, we show my husband how much we love, honor, and respect him by not calling other men’s attention to our bodies in a way that’s meant only for him.

However, the church should refuse to preach purity and modesty from a place of excess, legalism, and judgment

1. Your purity and modesty don’t prove how “Christian” you are.

The very definition of legalism is the assumption that our adherence to a strict moral or religious code somehow proves our level of dedication to Christ.

While the Scripture does say “By their fruit you shall know them”, we must remember that fruit takes a very long time to grow. Years, in fact.

We must remember that there are very seemingly pure and modest people who are not Christian. 

We do a lot of damage to Christ’s name by preaching adherence to man-made rules and laws while neglecting love and grace, and failing to give the Holy Spirit time to do His supernatural work in people’s hearts.

2. Purity and modesty do not make you superior to others.

In the same way that purity and modesty do not make you a better Christian, they also do not make you superior to others.

I believe that this has to do a great deal with why I rejected the concept of courtship in the first place.

Not only did I not see a huge difference between dating and courtship, but I saw how many of these couples wore “courtship” as a badge of superiority.

Those of us Christians who chose to date, and not court, were more carnal than they.

Frankly, purity and modesty aren’t what you do, it is who you are; and if you have a pure and modest heart you will also have a love-filled, grace-filled heart.

You will not approach your brothers and sisters in Christ with superiority but with humility and honor.

3. Purity and modesty isn’t just about your clothing

The definition of purity and modesty is as varied as there are stars in the sky. 

Some women choose not to wear pants, others choose to wear pants but not shorts. Some women choose to only wear skirts to the knee while others find that immodest, and still others find skirts just above the knee to still be modest.

My dad always had a good rule.

He said, “If you don’t want a guy’s eyes to go ‘there’, don’t put the clothing line there.”

But we must also remember that we can be covered from neck to wrist to ankle and still have an immoral heart.

We can be well-covered and still give guys steamy looks, behave in a way that keeps them looking way too long, and knowingly leave impressions that are ungodly and impure.

Purity and morality are first about the heart.

And I truly believe that when our heart is pure and moral, our dress will only reflect that. 

The way you dress will not change what’s in your heart. But what is in your heart will always be reflected in the way you dress.

4. Your past sins and indiscretions do not defile you for life.

One of the most damaging things we can do as believers is to continue to make a believer who has been forgiven and made new wear a past sin like a scarlet letter – defining them and marking them for life.

This is not only wrong, it’s hypocritical.

We’ve all been forgiven and made new.

Some of us have sins that are more visible: a baby out of wedlock or a prison record. And others have sins that are less visible: gossip, a judgmental heart, or pride.

Both visible and less visible sins keep us from heaven and require the blood of Jesus to make us new.

And when Christ washes those sins away, we are equally made new in Him. He not only forgets our sins but He declares us justified.

Justified is another theological and biblical term that literally means just as if you’ve never sinned.

He literally acquits us and declares us perfect in Him!

If you’ve been immoral in the past, you are made new in Christ and He declares you pure by the blood of Jesus. Your past sins do not define you nor do they mark you for life!

5. Purity isn’t about hiding “bad” parts of your body

There is no “bad” part of your body.

God created our bodies and the Psalmist said that He created us with fear and wonder…even the parts of our body that we cover up most.

Paul said this, “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, ” 1 Corinthians 12:22-24

Purity is about showing greater honor to parts of our body that God intended to be reserved for the marriage union, not about hiding parts of our body that perhaps some who are mistaken have labeled as bad.

Dear sister in Christ,

I refuse to allow the excesses and legalistic teachings of some to keep me from preaching the truth of God’s Word. We can still be true to Scripture while not allowing the mistakes of some to water down our message.

God’s Word is clear, He commands us to walk in modesty and purity – a life that not only reflects His own nature but also honors and lifts up those around us who may or may not walk in the same level of modesty and purity as we do.

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This study through the Book of Galatians really helped me to understand my freedom in Christ in a whole new way.

Freedom from the legalistic doctrines of man, and freedom to receive God’s grace to live in total obedience to His Word.

I encourage you to check out this verse-by-verse study:

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