By Guest Writer
The ring was a symbol and a lie. “A symbol of your purity,” my parents said as they gave it to me, and a lie because I knew what my fumbling hands and the hands of another had already enacted. As long as I wore that ring I felt like a fraud, telling a story that wasn’t true about my heart, my body, and my intentions.
I had made no promise to wait for sex until marriage. The promise, like the ring, was hoisted on me by well meaning but misguided parents, leaders, and teachers. I thought waiting looked like white-knuckled and gritting determination. And by my late teens or early twenties, waiting for marriage was equated with “[burning] with desire” (1Corinthians 7:9). I did not understand that purity is a gift from God to me—not a gift for me to give to Him. And I did not understand that chastity was a spiritual discipline, not a rote one born of shame and demand and the seeds of legalism.
Chastity is only truly practiced by one whose spirit is alive with Christ, whose restraint is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is not and cannot be produced in someone who is merely there for the show. It is not proven by signing cards promising to wait for sex until marriage, nor by wearing a purity ring or a bride wearing white on her wedding day.
Chastity is practiced by a person who makes a habit of presenting their body again and again and again, “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1), and as an act of worship to the God who made their body, loves their body, and cares deeply about their body. It is practiced both inside marriage and outside it, both in the avoidance of sex and in the participation of it within marriage. It is not something one loses when they enter into marriage, but it is something one carries with them. Chastity is as necessary for life and godliness as goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and joy.
I wear a different ring these days, a small rose gold one with a beryl stone within it. It communicates a promise of fidelity, service, and love to my husband. But it also communicates to me that I am not released from a practice of chastity simply because I wear this wedding ring and sex is permissable. I still practice the discipline of chastity, of asking the Spirit to help counter sexual thoughts that have no place in our marriage, of making a practice of saying “Yes,” in marriage instead of “No” (1Corinthians 7:2–7), of recognizing and submitting to what is beneficial instead of being mastered by desires and thoughts (1Corinthians 6:12–20), and of bearing the fruit of the Spirit in all its forms in our marriage.
Before committing to wait for true love, one must know they are truly loved by God. We need to know that His Spirit is there to help us in our weaknesses and to empower us to walk in all that He has for us.
Written by Lore Wilbert