This past Sunday, we had a purity commitment service for our students that had completed a six-week Bible study on moral purity. I preached on purity, as it is a commitment all believers need to make, regardless of age. You can watch the service here.
As I prepared for the sermon, I thought back to the previous two churches that I served and the students that made a similar commitment. I knew that a few from each church had made this commitment and were serious about keeping it, so I reached out to them on Facebook and asked what they would say to a teenager today about the commitment. These half-dozen young adults blew me away at their wisdom and increased the respect I have for them. I was not able to use all of their words in my sermon, but I wanted to share some observations here.
First, a public commitment does not guarantee purity. There were many students (now young adults) that I did not contact who participated in a purity commitment service but I knew did not keep the commitment. Pregnancy out of wedlock and cohabitating made that obvious to me. Then, some of those I contacted shared with me that they had not kept the commitment. They entered into a high school love romance and could not see themselves with anyone else, so they had sex. The end result? The relationship ended.
This first observation reminded me of the need to continually pray for our students and this commitment. It is not easy and opportunities to compromise will abound. I also believe that this commitment needs to be continually in front of our students, rather than a one-time emotional high.
Second, those that failed to keep their commitment did not date people with the same conviction. I am convinced that the students who make the commitment to purity have the full intention of keeping it — at that moment. When the newness wears off and they enter into a relationship, the commitment is rarely discussed. Next thing you know, the commitment is broken. As I mentioned Sunday, I believe that Daniel and his three friends were able to keep their commitment because they had each other to rely on for support and accountability.
One young adult gave this advice: “Date someone who feels the same way you do, and talk about it from the beginning. If you’re both quiet about it, then you both probably want to do it, so you’ll probably do it eventually. Then you’ll feel guilty for awhile, then you’ll do it again.” Another spoke of meeting “a man who was even more committed to sexual purity than I was, so I always felt safe and protected before we got married. We have very definite rules about what was acceptable and what was not. We did not spend the night together, we didn’t lay down in a bed together. We didn’t do anything that would make it easy for us to “bend the rules” of our purity commitment.”
Third, there was regret from those that did not keep the commitment. When the commitment was broken, there was no thought of the future, just the present.
Consider these wise words I received last week from one who did not keep the commitment: “…the effects are long-term. A couple of years later, I met my wife. We dated for awhile and embarked on the lifelong journey of learning more and more about one another. She asked me about my past, and I told her. She was crushed. A few days later, she dumped me. After hours of conversation and contemplation, she gave me another chance. Fastforward a few years and we’re happily married with two kids. I know now, though, that what I gave away when I was younger, I cannot now take back and give to my wife. We avoid that subject now, but I think about it often, and I’m sure she does too. I can never give my wife ALL of me, because I gave it away to someone else. It’s a heavy burden to carry, and it will never go away. Don’t get me wrong, we have a very happy marriage, and we don’t dwell on each others’ mistakes. But, sometimes (like now, as I write this), the realization I discussed above creeps into my mind, and I regret it. It’s an important decision, and it will stay with you for your entire life.”
Another young adult said, “Even though ‘Sue’ is the only woman I ever want to be with, I still wish I would have waited.” Another one said, “This is something I regret now because he was not the one I am going to spend my life with.”
Fourth, there is a great reward for remaining pure. Yes, there are spiritual rewards, but there are others in regard to the relationship with your spouse. One recently-married young adult who kept the commitment said, “We had an amazing wedding night with so much emotional and spiritual connection, it was almost palpable in the room. And now we are getting to live the ‘newlywed’ life. If we had been having sex all along, there would be nothing sacred or special or different about our marriage, except a piece of paper. We owe more than that to God, to ourselves, and to our future spouse. When you’re young, it is so easy to live in the moment and never give a thought to the future and especially a future spouse. But, it is so important to think about how your decisions will affect your life in the long run. I can’t imagine having to sit down with the person I wanted to marry and have to tell him about the time I had sex with another man, and how I selfishly gave away the gift that was meant for him to someone else.”
What surprised me most was there was no comments about parental influence. I expected it to be a large part- until I think about the personal nature of the commitment. The commitment to purity is one that each must make themselves, hanging on to the assurance, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).