Our value, our worth, our purpose in the world can never be attached to some supposed purity of body, as if we were merchandise instead of sons and daughters of the King.

But we’ve failed to be clear about that. Instead we’ve bought a set of rules that turn people into commodities and make sex into currency.

I’ll call this set of rules the “purity paradigm.”

The purity paradigm understands purity as an attribute bodies possess, a physical thing that we can “have” and “lose.” Talk about purity is mostly talk about virgins, and purity for married people is not talked about at all. While responsible churches and sex-education curriculums may not teach this set of ideas as a whole, many people absorb the rules of the purity paradigm. They go something like this:

  1. I can expect to get married as my reward for following the rules.
  2. I need to grit my teeth and work hard to avoid sexual intercourse before my wedding night (to preserve the value of the merchandise).
  3. This whole thing is probably more important for girls than for boys.
  4. Possessing my physical virginity makes me pure.

These “rules” go profoundly wrong. They fail to recognize that sex is about who God is, which means that it’s about the gospel story. The set of rules above is un-Christian. It subverts the gospel story and tells lies about who God is and who we, as men and women created in God’s image, are supposed to be.

A New Perspective

The purity paradigm turns physical virginity into a possession. This tendency heightens the sense that purity matters most for females and heightens the unbiblical idea that virginity and purity don’t apply to men. The purity paradigm makes virginity into a thing ...

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