Love & Sexuality: What Does It Mean To Be Sexually Pure?

Issue 35  //  · 

What does it mean for us to stay sexually pure in a relationship?”

This is such an important question, and we value your desire to honour God in your relationship. Fundamentally, staying sexually pure is a commitment motivated by love for others and a desire to honour God. You seek to cherish the other because you recognise them as God’s sacred creation (Gen 1:27; Ps 139:13–18). As sexual relations bond two beings in the deepest way as one, the Bible teaches us that it should be reserved for the context of a covenant marriage (Mark 10:6–9; Heb 13:4).

Practically, sexual purity is not simply tied to a particular behaviour or action. For example, you could refrain from having actual intercourse with your boyfriend, but if you then channel those desires into other physically intimate acts or fantasies about physical intimacy with him, that’s not purity the way Jesus talks about.

Remember that in Matthew 5:28, Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Clearly, purity according to Jesus is not about your actions; it’s about what’s in your heart!

What then can you do to help each other stay sexually pure?

1. Guard against sexual arousal leading to unrestrained physical intimacy
Physical intimate acts at whichever degree can stir up deeper emotions and intense sexual desires. Arousing each other in this way makes it difficult to stay sexually pure physically and mentally. Thus, Song of Songs 8:4 instructs us, “do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (that is, until it is ready at the right time).

Know what heightens arousal (e.g. deep kissing, caressing, and fondling) and refrain from that by discussing and agreeing on clear boundaries. It is not about suppressing but submitting your desires and affections to God in order to honour God and the one you love.

2. Respect each other’s bodies and emotions
A good guiding question could be, “How can I express love for my boyfriend without claiming more of his body and emotions than I should?” Draw the line at what communicates love respectfully, versus what feeds sexual desires and fantasy. Sexual intimacy is not the only way to express love. Love can be powerfully expressed in listening, forgiving, apologising, encouraging, and so on.

3. Teaming up to fight temptation TOGETHER
Instead of teasing and thus arousing each other sexually, build up your teamwork to fight temptation together. Regularly review your relationship together with a trusted and godly mentor for reinforcement and input.

If your relationship has already crossed certain lines of sexual intimacy, your mentor can pray with you and provide spiritual and emotional support to deal with it. Do not fall into a spiral of self-condemnation but seek forgiveness from each other. Again, discuss the issue with your boyfriend, share your feelings and draw up helpful boundaries together. Seek God together and invite Him to lead.