I’ve been staring at the ring on my finger a lot lately. Although I received the most beautiful engagement ring a couple months ago (and I definitely have been staring at it!), the ring I’m referring to is the one I’ve worn on my right hand for twelve years. The one with the engraved words, “True Love Waits.”
My parents gave me this purity ring just before my first year of high school. We had lots of talks about what wearing a purity ring meant, and I knew that this was more than a ring. It was a commitment, a big one! What was my commitment exactly? To save sex for marriage, yes, but how else did that affect my day-to-day lifestyle?
As the years have passed with this ring on my finger, I’ve wrestled with questions:
- What if I never get married?
- What am I waiting for if I have a life of singleness ahead of me?
- Does this ring have any value anymore?
I decided to find some answers. I wanted to investigate for myself about the full scope of purity and why it was so important.
Purity Isn’t Just about Sex
We’ve made it about sex, but purity is about God. Purity tends to be synonymous with abstinence, but that definition falls short. The purpose of purity is not just waiting to have sex until you’re married. The purpose of purity is to know God more.
What’s more, purity is not the gospel. That means that choosing to be sexually pure cannot save us from our sin. It is through the gospel that we are made pure. Living purely is a byproduct of knowing Jesus, not the way to get Jesus to accept us.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–5 says,
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
Did you catch the end of that verse? The Gentiles did not know God. Those who did know God knew His goodness, so they trusted that He had more for them than settling for fleshly desires. When we trust God’s goodness, we understand that the Bible isn’t outlining a list of don’ts to restrict our freedom. God’s Word is giving us a better way to live, a way to live free.
In verse 7, Paul says that God called us in holiness, not for impurity.
Purity Is Impossible (without Jesus)
Because of our sin nature, we cannot earn holiness. God graciously accepts us, despite our failure to live pure lives, and then He transforms us to become holy like He is holy. When we sin, Jesus doesn’t take our purity away. We can repent and He keeps redeeming us, calling us into holiness. How can we partner with Christ in pursuing our holiness? Consider Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
We have an enemy, Satan, who works to deceive God’s children away from God’s commands. He can do that as we make purity simply about crossing a line or convince ourselves that we just need to follow a set of rules. Instead, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Living a life of purity is not something we can do on our own.
Purity is for you whether you’re single, married, or if you never marry.
Purity is a lifestyle involving your heart, your mind, your body, and you as a whole. I’m engaged to be married. But I didn’t know if I would ever get married, and I didn’t know if I would even date anyone. We’re not promised marriage. And the pursuit of purity doesn’t stop after we say “I do.” We operate out of what He calls us to in every season—a life of purity, always.
Your Purity Ring Does Not Define You
In high school, I looked up to a woman who served as a mentor to me. She noticed my “True Love Waits” ring on my finger one day, and she suddenly slipped a ring off her finger and held it before me. It was the exact same ring I had, only her letters engraved in black were no longer black. She had worn the ring for so long that you had to squint to read it, but it symbolized her faithful commitment to God. I wanted to be like her and became more serious that day about my own commitment. Rather than her ring defining her, it was a symbol of the fact that this woman, who I admire so much, is committed to letting God define her.
Your purity ring . . .
- Is not your commitment to purity. Taking it off and on doesn’t change anything. Rather, it’s a reminder of your commitment to God.
- Is not your identity. Whether you wear a purity ring or not does not affect who you are in Christ. And if you’ve missed God’s mark in the area of sexual purity, that doesn’t change God’s deep love for you. As His daughter, He makes you pure, and He is continually transforming you into His likeness.
- Is not what will keep you “pure.” Purity ring or not, when you commit to a lifestyle of purity, you will be tempted to pursue your worldly desires. We all need the help of the Lord as we surrender to Him.
I wear my ring as a reminder to seek Him when I am tempted to chase things that will never satisfy. He’s also opened a lot of doors for conversation when someone asks me, “What does your ring say?” I get to tell them about the everlasting joy I’ve found in a life of surrender to Jesus.