I do not often begin a blog post with a title. The names of my articles are often a mere afterthought I tag on when I can't think of anything witty to say. So when I sat down to type and found the first words out of my fingers to be "Bearing Purity," I was taken aback. The title even offended me at first. Bearing purity? It sounds like this virtue is some heavy burden carried only by the most valiant, strong-willed young women with perfect church attendance records or the girls who sit at home on Friday nights watching Audrey Hepburn musicals with their parents ((guilty)) and still think words like "hickey" are something to blush about. Purity should sound like a privilege. A noble feat. A badge of courage. But it's not that simple.
Is it a burden? In a way. The same way a baby on your hip is a physical burden (New mom here! Hi. :)). You love to carry it around and you never want to let it go, but that doesn't mean your back feels like a million bucks at the end of the day. Purity isn't some feather in your backpack. It requires conscious care and a tight grip. But beyond that, "bearing" purity doesn't resemble being "burdened."
So what did I do to better define this elusive "bear" word that butted its way into the headline of my blog post? Pulled out the handy dandy iPhone dictionary of course. The definitions were as follows:
Bear: Verb. 1) (of a person) carry - (of a vehicle or boat) convey (passengers or cargo) - have or display as a physical mark or feature - be called by (a name or title) - (bear oneself) carry or conduct oneself in a particular manner 2) support - take responsibility for - be able to accept or stand up to 3) endure (an ordeal or difficulty) - manage to tolerate - strongly dislike 4) give birth to (a child) - (of a tree or plant) produce (fruit or flowers) 5) turn and proceed in a specified direction
The first definition has some obvious applications. We "carry" purity. Innocence is a part of who we are until a "loss of innocence" occurs (we'll get to that later). Like a vehicle transports passengers to where they want to be, you might think of purity as your ticket to a white dress on your wedding day or the label of "blushing bride." It's the invisible opposite of "the scarlet letter" that you wear as you walk through the halls at school, the token "good girl." It's the name Jesus speaks when He looks at you, "pure, spotless one" (a name you were given at the expense of HIS purity - 2 Cor. 5:21). It's a state of being. A way of life.
You get the picture. Bearing purity, by the first definition, is what your youth group pastors all pray you do and the reason your Christian school teachers tap you on the shoulder when you and your homecoming date don't seem to "leave (enough) room for Jesus" on the dance floor.
But what about the other definitions?
What does it mean to "support" purity? To "take responsibility for" and "be able to accept or stand up to" purity? It means that following definition #1 comes at a cost. It requires maturity. It requires accepting that if you wish to be pure, you probably shouldn't wear booty shorts and that cute see-through top and black bralette. Because purity isn't just clamping on a chastity belt until your wedding night. It's understanding that there will be pressure to give more of yourself than God would approve of but at the end of the day, YOU are the only one who can show others how valuable you think you are by standing up to that pressure.
Definition 3: "endure, tolerate, strongly dislike." Purity will not always be easy. You may not always like it. It requires committing for the long haul and taking the narrow road. I know a lot of girls think it's a boy's fault he can't control his own mind when he sees them in some skimpy little dress or bikini and this fact entitles them to dress however they want (or complain about the injustice of having to dress modestly), but they're missing the point. "So he has a dirty mind... Not my fault." "So I have a cute butt and want to flaunt it. What's wrong with that?" The two oldest. arguments. in. the. book.
That dirty mind he's toting around? Blame it on Adam. Because before the fall, a man's mind was filled with only good, wholesome enjoyment of beauty crafted by the hand of God (do we even dare call it purity?). Boys still possess pre-fall-Adam's desire, but the perverted version, watered down (with mucky water, mind you) by generations of women, men, and media tycoons who progressively devalue and desanctify the amazing form God created us with. Just look (or better yet, don't) at the plethora of Victoria's Secret commercials that pervade our daily TV viewing experience. Women with modelesque perfection advertising their latest underwear choices. Like my husband really needed to see what they were wearing "under there." Under where? Under what? Exactly. I though lingerie was meant for the bedroom and that my husband would see only ME in my underwear. But I guess Victoria just couldn't keep her secrets.
Heck, blame it on Eve. Before the fall, she never would have thought walking around naked was the way to attract a boyfriend or fit in with the latest trends. She didn't even know she was naked. But she had to eat that fruit. And now the daughters of Eve find half-naked to be en vogue and choose to shrug off a boy's "weakness" rather than respect his eye for beauty and so conserve this beauty for the context of a sacred covenant. And as women blame the sons of Adam for their feeble morals or even join them in giving into them, these boys are in the other corner of the ring saying, "The woman you put here with me - SHE gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it (Gen 3:12)." And while we're all hunting for a scapegoat, God's up there shaking His head wishing His girls and boys would respectively just "take responsibility for" how short their skirts are and where their eyes (and minds) wander. You may not like keeping your fruit in the basket, but the day you dump it out as if it's rotten is the day the flies start swarming. And simply put, you deserve better. Every girl does.
Which brings me to my next point. Every. Girl. Does. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you've done. I don't care which boy you taunted in your one-too-many-buttons-undone-flannel and cut off jeans. Maybe you're that "good girl" who's saving her first kiss for her wedding day. Maybe you're the girl who tries to be good but occasionally trips up. Maybe you're the girl who trips up every day and never considered it tripping up. Maybe you're the girl who used to be good and then did something bad, wished you could be good again but decided bad wasn't so bad and so tried to forget what good was before finally deciding you were too bad to ever be good again (yes, you might need to read that extremely long sentence a second time). Definition 5: "turn and proceed in a specified direction." Turn. Turn to purity. Fix your eyes on it. If you lost it, get it back. How? Ask for it. God restores lost things to His kids every day. He loves doing that. It's why He let His Son literally go through hell for us. So we could be pure. "I died so you squeaky clean people could continue feeling nice and neat." Or "I died so those who are dirty could be made new... Brand spankin' new." Which of these makes sense? Wouldn't the first make His sacrifice seem a little pointless?
One of the biggest conundrums to me is how we so often bow to the lie that we are not worth His sacrifice (myself included). That we can never be good again or good enough. And all the while, Jesus is in our corner going, "Put on the white dress! I paid for it!! Don't just let it sit there in a heap on the floor! You deserve this. You may not think so but I certainly do."
I won't pretend it's easy to get your innocence back, or to keep it for that matter. You have to want it. To fight for it. To ask for the supernatural strength to adopt it as an identity. Getting clean is a messy business. You have to pick yourself up, wade through the muck, and strip yourself of the lies you've wrapped yourself in. You have to listen when Jesus says, "You are good enough. You are made new. You are not too dirty for my blood to make you clean." And then you have to nod your head, take his hand, and "proceed in a specified direction." In other words, any direction that leads you toward light and not back to that darkness He kicked in the pants thousands of years ago.
As you walk down that path, you'll find a door. And behind the door is the definition I left out (did you catch it?). "To give birth; to produce." Not saying you should go get married and make babies right now (though it's a lovely prospect). But give life to SOMETHING. It's part of your calling as a woman. And the ability to give life comes out of the purest place in you. It comes from innocence. From hope. From the belief that darkness will never win. That life and goodness were fought for long ago and came out on top. That they are being fought for now with every encouraging word you offer, every smile you spread, every kind deed you do, every seed you plant, every dream you follow deeper into the heart of God, every piece of art you create, every kiss you spend on (or save for) "the one," every moment you take to thank Jesus for something, every breath you bestow on a prayer, every miracle you ask for, every revival you start, and every place you stand, feet planted, and say with your hand on your heart, "Heaven can live here... now... forever."
This all started because of one baby boy. My baby. I watched a movie the other day in which the people performed heinous acts of murder, sexual sin, hatred, the filth of human existence (don't ask me why cause I sure-as-babies-are-cute don't know). And as I was watching, I looked down at the boy in my arms who gave me a huge smile, eyes glittering, innocent and void of the horrible images on the screen behind him. And my heart hurt. Not because of the fallen world we live in. But because of how desensitized we are to its fallen state.
When did psychopaths on killing sprees become thrilling? Or men and women who craft together strings of obscenities appealing or exemplary? When did sex-centered tv shows become our not-so-guilty guilty pleasures and horror films the most box-office-busting form of entertainment? In my lap sits life, goodness, purity. To think that one day, he would find these images worth his time is saddening. I do not want him to lose the innocence that the world around him tramples on like a forgotten blanket, once a source of warmth, joy, and shelter and eventually a doormat we wipe our feet on as we go about our daily business.
My point is, we've all lost some purity in one form or another. It may be sexual. Or it could be a purity of the heart.
But I want it back.
I never want to watch one human kill another and feel nothing, even if it is fiction. I don't want to hear a rant of cuss words and not even blink. I don't want to watch two people engage in promiscuous activity out of wedlock and continue eating my popcorn like "Heyyy! This is totally normal and acceptable." It's not normal. Or at least it shouldn't be. Because it's definitely not acceptable.
I know things are only due to get worse. It's part of the world ending (beware, doomsday preppers!). But I also know that some things are due to get better.
Us. We can be better.
I want to be the light in the dark. I want to be the breath of fresh air that's recognized when someone momentarily steps out of the staleness. I want to be the white dress in a sea of booty shorts. I want to fill my eyes and ears with that which gives life. Because if I don't, how can I ever give life... Or life worth living... to anything? I want to remember the purest place. To protect it. To share it. To replicate it.
Purity is not a title you slap on as an afterthought. It's a path, a door, a carefully collected fruit basket, a life-giver. It's something you bear - to the movie theatre, to your coffee shop rendezvous, to the wedding night, to the end. So bear it. And bear it proudly.
For few remain who will.
"Above everything else, guard your heart - for from it flow the springs of life." - Proverbs 4:23