Faith had given him a glimpse of something holy and rare,
a passion most pure. And despite the raging desire pumping
through his veins at the moment, he meant to have it as well.
With—or without—the woman before him.
—Mitch Dennehy, A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman
Purity. Regrettably, a rare commodity in today’s world—except for those committed to doing things the right way—God’s way. Yeah, yeah, I know it seems passé to even talk about purity in a world where approximately 70 to 90% of people will live together before marriage, but the truth is that purity before marriage is a key component that God (the Milton Bradley in the game of life) set before us to show us the way to blessing in a relationship or marriage. Because regardless of what the world wants you to think, it was God who created marriage and intimacy in the first place, so He knows exactly how to make it work.
My good friend, Casey Herringshaw, is wrapping up an exceptional series on not settling that I hope each of you will check out on her “Committed to Purity” page. Last year, I was privileged to be a contributor to her “Purity Before Marriage” series that you will also find at the link above, but I thought it might be beneficial to repost my article here today as well at the end of this post. Ironically, just as I was getting ready to do so, a dear reader friend of mine sent me a letter asking me to pray for a situation that could involve “purity” down the road, so this is for all those young women out there who love God but are struggling in today’s amoral society. I SO feel for you and SO understand where you are coming from. I have been there during one of the most “free love” eras of all time—the 60s and 70s, and I want to offer you some encouragement and proof that the most potent kind of passion you can ever experience is truly “a passion most pure.”
July 11-12, 2012: Join me at Seekerville for my July blog, “The Queen of Quirk,” where we’ll talk about giving your characters fun and memorable quirks that will enhance your writing. One comment puts you in the drawing for your choice of any of my books including my October release, A Love Surrendered, Marcy and Patrick’s prequel, A Light in the Window or book 1 of my new “Heart of San Francisco” series Love at Any Cost. Hope to see you there, and here’s the link:
Have a GREAT weekend, and here’s the post that appeared on Casey’s blog on April 7, 2011.
It grieves me to admit it, but as a “wild child” of the 60s and 70s, purity was the very last thing I was concerned about. But … I am happy to say, the very thing God used to give me the desire of my heart—a man who would cherish me with all of his. In short, the kind of love born of … well, to coin a phrase … “a passion most pure.”
As number twelve of thirteen children in a pretty dysfunctional family, I was starved for love, so let me tell you—the “free love” era of the 60s and 70s sounded real good to me. Only guess what? It wasn’t free. Nope, it cost me a bundle in heartbreak, low self-esteem, depression and a few other things that impacted the rest of my life … and not in a good way.
But, oh, the pull of romance for a little girl who never felt loved! From the age of eight when I first sneaked downstairs to watch forbidden romantic movies while my parents were asleep, to the moment I turned the last page of Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve, I knew I wanted to be loved like that. To have a man think I was beautiful and to be loved, cherished and protected as the most important thing in his life. To be special to someone who was special to me.
It wasn’t until I was 23 years old and gave my heart to Christ that I finally understood that I was “special” to someone. Maybe not to the boyfriend who dumped me or the boys who told me they loved me to coax me into loving them, but to a God who said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” —Jeremiah 31:3. And oh my, how my life changed on a dime!!
I went from being heartbroken, used and abused in my quest for love to channeling all that passion for romance into loving God, drinking in His love, submerging myself in His Word and basking in the glow of being “special to Someone who was special to me.” I finally understood that the kind of love my heart longed—and the kind of love He longed for me to have—was rooted in Him, in His Word and in application of His precepts.
You see, I like to think of God as Milton Bradley. He made the game of “Life” and wants us to win (reap His blessings), so he gave us the rules to follow (His precepts). In fact, this is the key message in A Passion Most Pure—Deuteronomy 30, choosing life or death, blessing or curse. It’s really quite simple. If you choose life (doing things God’s way), you will be blessed. If you choose death (doing things your own way), you will be cursed. God didn’t set it up like this to “lord” it over us, no pun intended, but so He could bless us with good things simply because He LOVES us!
So many young girls today equate strong sexual feelings with love, so they move in with their boyfriends for a while, may or may not get married and then wonder why the marriage or relationship doesn’t work. Because although sexual attraction is nice, it doesn’t sustain a marriage or a relationship and will eventually fade when the marriage or relationship does. Not only that, but I truly believe young women cut themselves off from God’s blessings in a relationship when they go against God’s precepts (the Deuteronomy 30 principal mentioned above).
I believe this so strongly, in fact, that I drummed it into my kid’s heads from little on. Imagine my joy and shock when my college-age son told me what he said to his roommate, a Christian young man who was sleeping with his Christian girlfriend. “But I thought you loved her?” my son told his friend, and the friend answered, “I do, which is why it’s so hard to stop.” My son’s response? “No, because if you really loved her, you’d want God’s best for her instead of cutting off His blessings by giving in to your own lust.”
Let me tell you—that was a “proud mom” moment, for sure!
Now for anyone who says, “That’s all good and fine for you, Julie, but it’s just too difficult to stay pure in today’s amoral society where everyone is doing it and morality is considered odd. As mentioned above, one of the key Scriptures in A Passion Most Pure is Deuteronomy 30, and Vs. 11 comes right out and says “it’s not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” Why? Because Vs. 14 says “it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Notice it says “mouth” first, “heart” second. I believe that speaking and praying God’s Word over and over helps to put it in your heart so you can obey it.
And for those who call purity prudish? I hope you all agree there’s nothing prudish about my heroine, Faith O’Connor in A Passion Most Pure, just as there was nothing prudish or unrealistic about me as a new Christian in my twenties. We’re talking real women with real desires trusting God’s Word to lead them to His best. Easy? No. Doable? Yes, with God’s grace! Before I was a Christian, I was honest enough to know that doing things my way had never yielded me any happiness, only heartbreak. But, WOW, once I started applying God’s precepts, the blessings started to flow and heartbreak took a hike.
Believe me, I know because I’ve lived it, proved it. Whenever I went out on date, I would set moral boundaries (just like Faith did with Mitch in A Passion Most Pure). I soon discovered when guys realized I meant what I said, most of them didn’t take me out past four dates. This happened once with a guy I particularly liked and had a lot of fun with, so I actually phoned to ask him why he’d stopped calling. He basically told me that yeah, he’d had a great time, too, but that he could “find a girl who would give him a great time and sex as well.” I was stunned, but soon realized that what God’s morality was actually doing for me was keeping the wrong guys away (along with the hurt) and saving me for the right one AND the right time (my honeymoon). In fact, setting moral boundaries was such a part of my single Christian life I actually told my husband on our fourth date I really had enjoyed dating him and wished him well. “What are you talking about?” he asked, and I told him about my four-date experiences. God bless that man because he promptly asked me out for the fifth time, and the rest is beautiful history! This year I am celebrating 34 years of wedded bliss to a man who makes me feel as if I am living my own personal romance novel.
Seven years into my marriage, the realization of what God had done for me came full circle one morning when I was still half asleep and feeling down about a nightmare I had. In the dream, I’d been single and depressed about the fact that no one would ever love me. Trust me, as the only unmarried one in a family of thirteen kids until I was 28 years old, the loneliness and despair in that dream felt more than real! All of a sudden my husband moved in the bed beside me, and the following Scripture drifted in my mind as gently as a whisper from God: “God honors those who honor Him.” I remember lying there with tears in my eyes because once again, God had proven His Word true. And since He is “no respecter of persons,” what He did for me, He can do for you!