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Trying to Stay Pure? You Might Be Committing Adultery

by Ben Beaghan on April 8th, 2014 in Men

trying-to-stay-pure-you-might-be-adultery-blogHere’s a story for you: the monk Benedict would occasionally strip himself naked and throw his body into thorns and thistles in an attempt to dismiss himself of sexual passion.

Here’s another story: during the pornocracy from 904 A.D. to 962 A.D., the Pope would give favors to certain people if they paid him back with a sexual favor.

What do these two stories have in common? Both Benedict and the Pope were driven to these actions by sexual desire.

When we talk about sexual desire and sin we tend to talk about things like lust, pornography, and addiction because these are common manifestations of sexual sin. But can purity be a sinful manifestation of sexual desire? Let me explain.

The Bible talks about two kinds of slavery: slavery to sin, and slavery to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). Being a slave to righteousness is being a slave to Christ, for he has purchased us with his blood (1 Corinthians 6:20). If something drives me to action other than the person and work of Christ, then I am enslaved to the thing that drives me. What drives you controls you, and what controls you owns you.

In Christian circles, sexual purity is a virtue and a sign of godliness. But what motivation lies behind it? Is your motivation to be pure truly out of obedience and worship of Christ, or is it motivated by reputation, pride, or the idea of purity itself? This is important because you are a slave to what drives you. You are a slave to what motivates you. You can become enslaved to purity, and being a slave to anything other than Christ is idolatry.

What does enslavement to purity look like? It is when we are driven by purity rather than Christ. Enslavement to purity often coincides with self-punishment. I have experienced this myself, and have seen it manifested in people around me. I messed up and lusted here, so I will punish myself in some way because of my behavior.

Maybe I‘ll even throw myself into some thorns and thistles.

This is not Gospel living. We do not need to punish ourselves because Jesus was already punished for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21)! When we punish ourselves for our sin, we are saying that Jesus was not a good enough Savior to take away all our sin. We are saying that we are a god who also needs to atone for sin. This is rooted in a low view of Jesus, and a high view of self.

This is pride.

Instead of running to some form of self-punishment to make false atonement for our sin, we should run to Christ who was punished and freely gives true and everlasting atonement for our sin.

Purity for purity’s sake is idolatry (Tweet This!). Idolatry is committing adultery against God (Ezekiel 23:37). So, in being pure for purity’s sake, an act of adultery is committed. Then being pure for purity’s sake is in fact impurity! What truly drives our motivations? Is our motivation to be pure because it’s what church people do? Is our motivation to be pure because it’s what everyone expects of us? Is our motivation to be pure driven by a prideful heart?

I pray nothing would drive us or motivate us but Christ. Be obedient and worship Christ in your purity. Purity is for God’s glory, not yours.





  • Whitebird

    You should tell this to some of the abstinance-only proponents. Some of them idolize purity so much, they almost make it into an ironic fetish.

  • Thorn in my flesh

    Love this article. It explains something I’ve been trying to articulate. My spouse recently told me he’s striving for purity because he doesn’t want to hurt me. While I was comforted by that, I was also worried by it. Of course, God wants us to honor our spouses and that in itself is a godly attribute. But it should not be the prime motivation, because with those motivations, you’re sure to fail. When the root motivation is Christ and his righteousness, all the other positives (like not hurting your spouse) fall into place – but of course, there’s still room for grace.

    • Ben Beaghan

      Praying that God brings about restoration. God’s grace is an amazing gift, and we all need it!

  • Matthew P Hahn Wood

    Philippians 3:8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them shit, so that I may gain Christ…

    • Raphael

      Keep it clean, man. Don’t know what translation that is but I would stop using it.

  • Bishop

    Great piece!

  • jen

    Thank you for this article. I am struggling with sexual purity, and this makes sense. It can’t be about ME, it has to be about HIM.

    • Ben Beaghan

      For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

  • Matt

    There is a lot of great truth to this article, but I think you’re making a huge stretch to say that Ezekiel 23:27 says idolatry is committing adultery against God. I think the reason that Ezekiel explains idolatry in this way is found in the context of an adulterous people, not a claim that all form of idolatry is adultery. That doesn’t flow with the rest of the Bible either, because the rest of the Bible, specifically Leviticus, separates the two words and provides different punishments. Idolatry is in the 10 commandments, but not adultery.

    So while you’re correct in saying that our intentions matter and we need to be seeking freedom from sexual sins in response to Jesus’ sacrifice, I don’t think it’s safe to say that idolatry is adultery. Be careful when you use just one verse to make a claim.

    • Ben Beaghan

      Thanks for you comment! When it comes to theology and interpreting scripture correctly, I take it very seriously. I decided to go back and look into more passages to see if I was making an erroneous claim. After looking through the Scriptures, I am still convinced that idolatry is committing adultery against God. The Bible uses language like “whore” and “whoring” and “evil and adulterous generation” to describe people who go after other gods (hence idolatry is committing adultery with God).

      Here are some more verses if you would like to look into it. Let me know what you think! Deuteronomy 31:16, Leviticus 17:7, Leviticus 20:4-6, Judges 2:16-17, Judges 8:27, 33-34, Hosea 1:2, Hosea 4:10-12, 1 Chronicles 5:25, Matthew 12:38-39, Matthew 16:4, Colossians 3:5, James 4:4-5. There are more verses, but this is a good start.

      I was also confused when you said that “Idolatry is in the 10 commandments, but not adultery.” Exodus 20:14 says, “You shall not commit adultery.” Am I missing your point?

      Keep pursuing after Christ! He is has defeated sin and death and has made us alive in Him! Have an excellent Easter!

      For His Glory,


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