Purity in a Sensual World
Some things have been removed from polite conversation in an apparent effort to get rid of any sense of guilt. It is deemed inappropriate to label anything accept intolerance as sin. Killing an unborn child, for example, is described as a woman’s right to choose. Uncontrolled lust, which used to be known as fornication or adultery, is now labeled as love. The sin of homosexuality has become an alternative lifestyle. Millions of pages of graphic images are posted on the internet and defended as “freedom of speech.” In the process, God’s people struggle to remain pure.
By the nature of the case, some of the materials covered in this lecture are, at best, uncomfortable to discuss. The images and language involved in the despoiling of our culture and God’s people are raw in the most sinful sense. However, we cannot afford to avoid the discussion any longer because the problems under discussion are a growing menace to the Lord’s church.
For years, it was adolescent and adult men who were drawn to pornography, mostly in the form of dirty magazines. Now, children and women have likewise been enticed. Ninety percent of children aged eight to sixteen have viewed pornography on line, most while doing homework, according to statistics for 2006. The average age for a first exposure to pornography on the internet is eleven. It is little wonder since there are some 420 million pages of pornography appearing on 4.2 million websites. There are numbers of people who have become addicted to internet porn. “One out of every six women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography. That’s 17 percent of the population, which, according to a survey by research organization Zogby International, is the number of women who truly believe they can find sexual fulfillment on the Internet.”
According to Marnie Ferree, a licensed marriage and family therapist and clinician…the draw of pornography can be as complicated as childhood sexual abuse—or as simple as unresolved loneliness.” The combination of accessibility, anonymity and affordability “makes becoming an addict incredibly easy,” as is reflected in research by the Sexual Recovery Institute of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, “’More than 80 percent of women who have this addiction take it offline,’ says Marnie Ferree. ‘Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs.’”
We have come a long way from the almost universal shock brought on by the use of one curse word in the movie Gone With the Wind. Now, television pumps garbage into millions of living rooms nightly over the major networks during times supposedly reserved for the family to watch together. Yet, those displays pale in comparison to the fare being offered by cable networks like MTV. The average Christian adult may only have brushed by such channels in a fit of channel surfing, but for our teens it is quite different. Brent Bozell reported on Townhall.com February 6, 2005, “MTV claims that 73 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls aged twelve to nineteen watch their programming.” This amazing statistic has led some to call this the MTV Generation.
During the annual MTV Video Music Awards show of August 28, 2003,
Madonna performed what was then her newest song, “
“But the oversexed worldview of MTV doesn’t stop at that channel—the
same people control MTV 2, Comedy Central, TV Land, VH1, Spike TV, and
Nicelodeon, among others.”
Sitcoms on the major networks have joined in emphasizing an anything
goes morality. Allusions to sexual activity are frequent, with no
reference being made to consequences. Those who would oppose such
activities are depicted as prudish. Those characters who might promote
Biblical values are made to appear out of touch and dangerous to
society’s well-being. This is all the more frightening because of the
large number of latch key children in the
It seems every generation adopts a new music style which the previous generation finds less than pleasant. So, adults might tend to shrug when their children listen to rap and hip-hop. However, the message within the music cannot be ignored without the potential for dire consequences. “The gangsta culture embodied by rappers and their posses is not worthy of imitation or even exposure. It demeans women, degrades sex, and glorifies criminal behavior.” Yet, the Recording Industry Association of America reported hip-hop and R&B accounted for almost 25 percent of all sales in 2003, with hip-hop being the second biggest music genre. “The rap constituency crosses racial lines as well: Soundscan, a sales-tracking company, estimated that 70 percent of rap music consumers are white kids from the suburbs.”
Respect for God
While we could go on ad nausea, it is clear the Lord’s people must stress the need for purity, or holiness. Peter wrote, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Purity begins with respect for God. Joseph was in a land far away from home, possibly feeling abandoned. Modern sages might have urged him to release his frustrations by accepting the advances of Mrs. Potiphar. Instead, this dedicated descendant of Abraham responded in a manner which all of us need to adopt as our own.
But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:8-9).
His response seems to be a living demonstration of Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian church. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
Those called by the gospel (1 Thes. 2:13-14) must be constantly on guard against the open display of lust and passion which surrounds us. To Christians confronting similar circumstances, Paul wrote,
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit (1 Thes. 4:3-8).
Those who have been purified with the blood of Jesus need to remember they no longer belong to themselves. Paul explained to the Corinthians, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (6:19-20). Similarly, the apostle to the Gentiles told the Ephesian elders, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Respect for Self
Respect for God within an individual’s life leads to a respect for self. If one respects himself, he will desire to remain pure. Failure to do so in sexual matters can result in contracting various sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Mental health is also impacted by impure acts which can lead to mental anguish, guilt, anxiety and depression. Obviously, maintaining purity is important to one’s spiritual well being.
During the time when Job was defending his integrity, he told his friends, “My lips will not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me That I should say you are right; Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me, My righteousness I hold fast and will not let go; My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (Job 27:4-6). Everyone who would please God should readily echo his words. The wise man well said, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1a).
Respect for Others
Each must likewise remain pure out of respect for others, since so many things which leave us impure require the willing or unwilling participation of others. The actions of individuals within a nation can exalt or bring reproach to the nation. As the wise man said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Additionally, a Christian’s life should serve as an example to those with whom he comes in contact. Jesus described his followers as salt and light, emphasizing the need for his disciples to have lives filled with good deeds so men will glorify the Father (Matt. 5:13-16).
When asked what the
greatest commandment was, Jesus answered, “’You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang
all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). Paul’s words to the
Choose Godly Friends
It is much easier to remain pure if one chooses godly friends. Paul knew the importance of choosing the right companions. He warned, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Cor. 15:33). A perfect example of the impact of friends who do not know or follow the Lord’s will was found in the very church to which he wrote. The Corinthian brethren had come to doubt the very resurrection because of false teachers!
activities to attend is a good way to help one find godly friends. Some
wonder why they cannot find a godly man, or woman, when they spend all
their time in bars and other similar places. The singer of
Cultivate Good Communication
Whether married or single, a Christian needs to cultivate good communication skills to have relationships which will help him maintain his purity. First, learn to listen. James told his readers, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:19-20). It is good to restate in your own words what you heard another say and ask them if you have understood their meaning. Of course, this means one cannot be thinking what he is going to say while the other person is talking.
Second, learn to think before speaking. “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 29:20). Third, when dealing with matters of opinion, place a numeric value on statements of feeling. For instance, going out to eat at restaurant A might be a 7 with you, while eating at restaurant B is a 6. If the person you are with has A as a 3 and B as an 8, your decision is obvious. This leads to the fourth point concerning communications and relationships. Simply put, everyone has the right to disagree, but not to be disagreeable. Strong relationships are built when both parties are willing to yield.
Put Pure Things in Your Heart
The best support for purity in life is purity in thought. After all, the wise man of old said, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, But his heart is not with you” (Prov. 23:7). To the Pharisees who had accused him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, Jesus said, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). So, each must carefully watch what goes into his heart realizing life’s critical issues flow from it (Prov. 4:23).
One who would keep his heart secure, then, must carefully monitor television programs and movies he watches. He must guard against viewing internet pornography, perhaps by placing the computer in a very open spot where anyone passing by could see what was on the screen. The songs one listens to should not promote spiritually corrupting ideas. The places he goes should help him develop in purity as well.
To avoid allowing one’s mind to be conformed to the world’s thinking, it must be constantly renewed (Rom. 12:2). The best source of renewal is Scripture which is able to make one wise to salvation issues and completely furnish one to every possible type of good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17). God’s law should be carefully studied so one can be a workman approved by God (2 Tim. 2:15). Also, the God-breathed words of the Bible should be a constant source of delight upon which the man of God meditates continually (Psa. 1:2).
In truth, spending time with the Bible is the best possible way to concentrate one’s thinking in the right direction and fulfill Paul’s instruction to the Philippian church. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
Seek Help When Needed
Self-sufficiency is highly prized, almost idolized in twenty-first
Christians must recognize the importance of taking life’s most important challenges, especially the challenge to remain pure, to God in prayer. Paul saw such as the ultimate source of anxiety relief. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Many today seem to have the spirit which characterized man in the day of Noah, “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Christians must guard against viewing and becoming addicted to internet pornography. They likewise must learn to turn the channel or turn off the television rather than be exposed to filthy language and actions. Each should listen only to music suited to promoting good thoughts consistent with the Father’s will.
Disciples of Jesus need to make respect for God, self and others the cornerstone on which all decisions are made. Godly friends, good relationships and putting pure things into one’s heart likewise will help us be the holy people God desires. Above all, be sure to seek the Father’s help through prayer, as well as the good counsel of trusted saints.
 Ropelato, Jerry. “Internet Pornography Statistics.” Top TenReviews.
 Richards, Ramona. “Dirty Little Secret,” Today’s Christian Woman, May 5, 2007.
As quoted by Ben Shapiro, Porn Generation.
 Shapiro, p. 50.
 Ibid, p. 118.
 Ibid, p. 66.
 Ibid, p. 68.
 Ibid, p. 69.
 All Bible references are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Gary C. Hampton