There’s a lie still weaving its way through Christian circles. It’s the thought that purity is merely refusing to participate in certain sinful activities. It started when, in hopes to strike fear into adolescents, we began setting up various rules and regulations about what makes us pure. People became identified as pure when they abstained from sex until marriage. If they wore a purity ring and didn’t ride in cars with boys, surely they were on the right path! But because we missed the foundation of what being pure actually looks like and why we should strive for it, we had many Christians that were remaining faithful to a point but coming as close to the line as possible. “Okay, so if I can’t do this, then what about this? How much can I do and get away with it?” “Surely, a little of this isn’t as bad as that, so I’m still good right?” Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard some of these questions or even thought them yourself.
A Heart Issue
Now, I’m not saying we should toss out all the boundaries and rally in a free-for-all. But I think the issue is much broader than whether or not a person has “saved themselves for marriage.” Purity is a deeper concept. It’s not just about physically remaining abstinent. A woman can be impure by giving intimate parts of her mind away that should be guarded and kept only for her husband. It’s an issue of the heart. It’s possible to appear squeaky clean from all views on the outside and yet still have a heart full of dirt.
The Filthy Truth
Surely, being pure does also include fleeing from all aspects of sexual sin, but we know from scripture that our actions come from what’s within our hearts as Jesus stated below:
“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man…”
Jesus also said that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent, has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). He exposes the fact that even if a person has not acted on a sin physically, they are guilty if they have even entertained the thought of it. We see actions, but God sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). So what does this mean for us? I believe if we look into our hearts with honesty, we will all see that we are not pure. Our thoughts, desires and actions are all tainted by the fall and we all fall short of the standard (Romans 3:23).
It Was Granted
Maybe you’ve read about the woman in Proverbs 6. You know, the seductive adulterous woman that lays in wait for prey. Well, you can go ahead and insert my name there. I was that girl. I may have never stolen another woman’s man, but I was most definitely an unclean woman. Did you catch that? I was. Not I am, but I was. When I was a new believer, I struggled with tons of lies because of my past. “No Christian man would ever marry me. I’m damaged goods” and “Could God truly forgive me?” Another lie I believed was that I was not allowed to wear white on my wedding day because I was not a virgin. I now know how untrue that is but have come in contact with Christians that still hold to it. But what is the real reason behind wearing that beautiful white dress? To point us back to Christ:
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
Marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church. When a bride dresses herself in white on her wedding day it is to point to this very event in scripture: the marriage supper of the Lamb. “It was granted her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and pure.” Christians, we did not gain the ability to be considered pure by our own actions. It was granted to us by our King. His righteousness is what makes us pure. If you are in Him, no matter what your past looks like, you have been cleansed. You are pure. Praise the Lord!
I’ll never forget when a dear friend of mine told me she dreamed of wearing a pale pink dress on her future wedding day. I was so surprised because she, unlike me, had honored God by waiting to be married. Surely it was her of all people that should wear the pure white dress! But she said to me, “I think you should wear white. Because look at what God has done. He has changed you so much. That’s a reason for someone to wear white!” She understands redemption. Some of you are like my friend. You’ve waited for your husband and guarded your heart. Praise God for this! He has held you back from much heartache for his glory. Some of you are like me. You’ve given yourself away and sometimes the consequences are unbearable. God promises to turn it for your good and his glory. Praise him for that! Did you know that God sees us all exactly the same? When he looks at any one of us that make up the Church he sees the righteousness of his Son. The only righteousness worth clinging to. Someone who thinks a woman is disqualified from wearing white because of her past before Christ has a very shallow knowledge of grace, the Gospel, and their own depravity. If it were not for the grace of God we would all be significantly more sinful. If you have not traveled a particularly dark path, you should thank the Lord for his protection, not your own righteousness.
The Blood of the Lamb
As a born again Christian, I believe to choose a darker dress for the purpose of displaying my lack of chastity before turning to the Lord would give the impression to the unsaved world that Christ can’t truly cleanse. That his grace just can’t quite cover that sin. But that’s far from the truth. His grace abounds! (Romans 5:20).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
He has made us all pure; therefore we can glorify him by allowing the world to know that it is only Christ that gives us a reason to wear white. That should be our only reason. When we wear a white dress for the purpose of showing off the purity of action we have achieved, we make much of ourselves. When we do it to reflect the truth that the blood of the Lamb has made us white as snow, we make much of Him! We say to the world, “Look at what He has done. I am not worthy of this adorning but He has covered me in his righteousness.”
Firstly, I want to speak to the girl that has been running from God and so far has refused to turn to Him. Maybe you stumbled upon this post not knowing what you were getting yourself into. Maybe you’ve willingly treaded the wrong path as I did or you think you will be saved because of the good you’ve done. Either way, God is drawing you near. He wants to save those that will come to him in humility knowing they have nothing to offer. Turn to him. He is the only way. There is no life apart from Christ.
To the girl that has followed Christ from a young age and committed yourself to guarding your heart from sin. Keep fighting the good fight. Keep fleeing temptation and don’t give in. Your Father in heaven is not holding out on you. He is protecting you from more than you could imagine. Take it from me, you don’t want the pain of that life. I am so encouraged by young women like you.
To the gal that is like me who has turned from your sin and given your life to Christ but still struggle with your past. There is much healing for you in the Lord. Your Father is the ultimate repairer of the heart he created. He will use your past in ways you can’t fathom. Do not despair, he has redeemed you from the pit (Psalm 40:2). Don’t believe the lies that are thrown your way. He is faithful. He has forgiven you. And he sees you as pure. And one day, Lord willing, there may be a godly man that sees you just the same.
My husband grew up in the church. He was saved at the sweet age of 8 and has followed after God’s heart ever since. He saved himself for me. A gift I wish so much that I could have reciprocated. I never in a million years believed that a man like him would marry a woman like me. I am tearing up as I type this just thinking about God’s grace to me through him. The night that I told him about my past I became very insecure. I feared he was second guessing his pursuit of me. But instead he told me he loved me for the first time. He said “I love you. When I look at you, I see the purity of Christ.” Imagine me ugly crying at this point. His humility amazes me. This is how we should view each person in the body of Christ. We are no better than any other person because we abstained from something they didn’t. We are all made pure in Christ.
I didn’t write this post to tell you that you better wear a white wedding dress. In fact, I wore ivory. But I had heard numerous comments regarding this topic that inspired me to look into it further. None of us deserve anything from God. But He has lavishly poured out His grace upon us. He is so good to His people. Because of what He’s done, we all can stand unashamed and speechless in His presence…and wear that pretty white dress. Or pink. Whatever your heart desires.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
By Brittany Allen
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 2.