Crosswalk.com, Surviving Adultery and Divorce

Living in Purity in an Impure World

To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven (Karen Sunde).

I’ve spent a lot of time lately contemplating sexual purity. Before I was married, I held to very high standards of purity. I never allowed myself to be in a situation where I might be tempted to compromise my standards. I filled my mind with scripture every chance I could, and I made sure I never looked at anything improper. I was very cautious about the types of books and magazines I read and the movies I saw. I followed the scriptures that say Flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18) and I will set no evil thing before my eyes (Psalm 101:3).

After I was married, I recognized some hints of sexual immorality in my husband. Whether it was the occasional dabbling in pornography or talking about women in a manner that made me uncomfortable, I was repeatedly told “that’s just the way men are.” I knew that men were wired to be visually oriented, and eventually I became convinced that this “minor” sexual immorality was unavoidable for men.

Since my divorce, I have begun to realize just how much my beliefs toward purity had become skewed during my marriage. I wondered if remaining pure until I was married again was really necessary—really what God expected of me.

About a year ago, I was introduced to the book Every Young Man’s Battle. I was visiting with a pastor friend who recommended I buy it and take my teenage son through it so that he does not repeat the mistakes of his father. I bought the book and read it myself so that I could determine if it was something my son needed.

As I read the book, my eyes were opened to just how much my belief system had been warped by my husband. Not only does God want us to maintain our sexual purity, but He says that it is possible—even for men. His word gives us examples of those who maintained their purity (Joseph in Genesis 39) and those who compromised their purity (King David in 2 Samuel 11). He says that even looking lustfully at a woman (or man) is the same as committing adultery with that person (Matthew 5)! God’s standards are so much higher than mine had become!

After reading the book, I committed to walk in absolute purity before my God. Not only do I want to model that purity for my three children, but I want to save myself for that special someone so that I can present myself pure and give myself fully to him.

As I strive to keep myself pure in mind and body, I pray that my future husband is doing the same. The longer I travel this path, the more I realize exactly how important purity is—especially in light of what I’ve walked through.

You see, I have a trust issue. Because I caught my husband cheating on me, I am finding it very difficult to trust men. As a matter of fact, I’ve determined that I will NEVER trust a man again. Men have proven to me that they are not trustworthy. But, my God has proven COMPLETELY trustworthy. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that I only commit to a man who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Even though I will never trust a man again, I WILL trust God who is in a man. I WILL be able to give myself to the man that I know God has ordained for me, to the man who is seeking to be all God created him to be.

I’ve chosen to take my purity to extreme levels—even in the Christian realm. Nearly two years ago, I prayed that God would not bring ANY man into my life unless it was the one He has ordained for me. I seem to have a built in discernment that causes me to be almost repulsed by most men. I can tell within a very short meeting whether I am even interested in pursuing friendship with them—let alone a dating relationship.

In the very brief time I was on a dating website, I realized that it was a complete waste of time—perhaps even antithetical to what God would want. After meeting a single individual from the website, I realized that the very nature of online dating sites allows you to pursue multiple men/women at the same time. By pursuing even friendship with multiple people of the opposite sex, you are placing yourself in a situation that allows you to lead people on, allowing them to think that you are interested. It is actually allowing you to practice infidelity rather than practice commitment and faithfulness.

I know my opinion is just that—an opinion. Many—perhaps even most—will strongly disagree with me. Online dating sites CAN be used as a great way to meet people. I even know several couples who are happily married after meeting online. But, it is probably rare to find the people who use them to meet one person at a time. A year after I initially signed up for a dating site, I don’t think I could ever be actively involved in one again. (Here’s the caveat…God can use any method He wants to bring the right person to you…including an online dating site. As I’ve said before, I truly believe that God led me to the dating site in the first place, and I did make a great friend through my involvement.)

So, what does purity look like for me—and hopefully for my future spouse?

  1. I pray daily that God will cleanse my mind of even the hint of sexual immorality. I pray that he will allow me to keep my mind focused on Him and my eyes from looking at anything impure. I was recently invited to see a very popular movie. I immediately noticed that it was rated R, so I dug a little deeper to see why it was rated that way. I noticed the theme of the movie involved infidelity (which if you’ve ever lived through it, there is nothing entertaining about it). Then, I noticed the language. My entire being was repulsed by the thought of sitting through a movie like that, so I declined.
  2. I am contemplating all male friendships and whether they are appropriate. I don’t want to lead any man to believe that there might be a possibility of something—now or in the future. I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I have given the wrong impression and suddenly I’m faced with the uncomfortable position of saying no to any type of advances. I find that it is safest to simply avoid being alone with men.
  3. I pray daily for my future husband, that he is seeking God and giving God every part of his life. I pray that he is keeping his relationships pure. I pray that he is repulsed by dating websites, by women who would lead him to temptation. I pray that he protects his eyes from looking at women lustfully. I pray that he is practicing fidelity by focusing every ounce of his energy on God and his family.
  4. I pray daily that my future husband has a passion for marriage, an overwhelming desire to be in a committed, covenant relationship. I pray that he recognizes the value God places on the marriage relationship and how it allows us to grow in holiness. I pray that his heart will be pierced by verses such as Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord and Proverbs19:14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.
  5. I pray that God will prepare me for marriage, that I will be the wife of noble character that is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). I pray that I would be cleansed of all emotional baggage that I carry from my past, that all wounds would be completely healed. I pray that God would give me the strength to trust Him so that I can trust the man whose heart is completely his.

God created marriage to be pure, to develop holiness, to reflect Christ’s relationship with his Bride (the church). God says that it is not good that the man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). He wants us to have companionship, to learn to love more completely. Marriage is designed to sharpen us, to teach us to love unconditionally, to allow us to give and receive love freely. Marriage—done right—makes us more like Him. Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it (Dr. Karl Menninger).

I pray that my heart is so lost in God that a man has to seek Him to find me!

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love (Henry Ward Beecher).

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22 thoughts on “Living in Purity in an Impure World”

  1. Denacyd

    TRUST, man did you strike a nerve with that, not only am I going through painful divorce where I have been betrayed but I have also had to endure my wife cheating on me in the past with someone in authority within the church. I too have deep trust issues, how you feel that way toward men I am the same way with women. I have also had close family members betray me in very hurtful ways. I don’t know outside of God will I be able to ever trust at a profoundly deep level again. I realize though that to have a healthy relationship trust is a necessary ingredient but when you trust someone deeply you are taking a risk, a risk of being hurt again. Its like you get hit by truck on the side of the road, its hard to walk along that road again…

    Wayne88

    1. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. It angers me greatly to know that men in authority at church would take advantage of women, but I know they are only human. When I caught my husband cheating, I was more hurt by the damage he did to Christ than how it impacted me. Fortunately, God has redeemed the situation. But, regaining trust is very difficult. By nature, I am a very trusting person. However, I’ve found that it’s much more difficult for me to open up now. As time goes by (it’s been four years) and I allow God to heal my heart, it becomes easier. As I said, though, I will never fully trust a man because humans are not trustworthy. It is trust in God that gets me through. That is why it is of utmost importance that I seek Him daily and follow His will for me. If He tells me to do something, I must trust Him. If He tells me to walk away, I must trust Him. He has proven Himself completely trustworthy.

      Yes, it’s hard to walk the road again. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes submission to God. It takes experiencing God’s goodness and faithfulness. It means you must risk being hurt again. But, God promises that His plans are for a hope and a future. He will make something beautiful out of the rubble of our lives. Just give Him permission to use your life and the time to arrange all of the circumstances! You will be glad you did!

      1. Dena, I noticed you went right to the failure of the man and men in Wayne’s situation instead of the issues of Wayne’s wife.

      2. Wayne and I have communicated at length, and he knows my heart. It takes two to have an affair–a man and a woman. However, when one involved is a spiritual leader/pastor (as my husband was), it takes on a new level. I know from experience that men in spiritual authority often take advantage of their position, of the trust that women often put in them. The book of James says that those who teach will be judged more strictly. Pastors and other church leaders who take advantage of their position and use it to manipulate women do draw my ire very quickly–in large part because they are so often held up in our society to prove that we as Christians are all hypocritical, liars, and everything we claim to hate. It breaks my heart when someone in a position of leadership profanes the name of Christ by choosing to walk in immorality. However, that does not in any way absolve the consenting woman (in this situation) of her part in the relationship. I absolutely believe my former friend was just as guilty as my ex-husband in the destruction of our marriage and the damage done to the church. However, my ex-husband was endowed with the trust of many people in his position as pastor, and he will be held to a higher standard.

    2. Wayne; we always look to Jesus as our example. The Lord knew Judas would betray Him yet He loved till the end. Why? Because that is His nature. It matters not what others do to us anymore because our nature is being transformed to His nature. I like to call it the tough skin of love. Just keep allowing the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in your life and eventually you will find that trust. Love always trusts (1 Cor 13)

      James

  2. Dana,
    Your blog hit a nerve with me. Trust is precious and I too had it cruelly taken from me by infidelity. I felt that after 30 years of marriage he deserved a second chance but he was determined to follow the path he chose of infidelity for a second time and I chose divorce. For the sake of our children, but mostly for my own peace, I have put the past behind and asked God to allow me to forgiven him. I no longer want to be angry or bitter nor convey that to our children. They too have to decide to forgive their father just as he one day must ask to be forgiven. I look forward to meeting a God-loving man someday and know that God will bless me to trust and love again. Hold to your standards because they are the right thing and ask God to help you forgive so you can move on with your life and enjoy it.

    1. Janet, I am right there with you. I, too, chose forgiveness–only to have my hopes dashed again. I walked away for me AND my children. Despite his choices, despite his lack of repentance, my children and I have become happy and healthy. We are enjoying our lives, patiently waiting for God to bring that God-ordained man to us. Yes, we must put the past behind us. We must forgive. We must move forward. If we choose not to, we are living in bondage.

      Thank you for sharing your story! Know that you are not alone!

  3. denacyd

    “I will never fully trust a man because humans are not trustworthy. It is trust in God that gets me through.”
    Amen to that!! Its not only trust issues either, I struggle with anger and unforgiveness towards the people that have betrayed me.
    I realize its a process but its still “tough sledding”.

    Wayne

    1. It is a process, and it is a tough road. Anger and lack of forgiveness are normal. It comes with time. I remember the day God told me to walk up to my ex-husband’s lover and extend forgiveness. I didn’t want to. I didn’t mean it when the words came out of my mouth. But, I chose to walk in obedience. As the words came out of my mouth, Christ’s forgiveness flowed through me and set ME free! The forgiveness wasn’t for her. It was for me. It was a huge step toward healing.

  4. Thank you Ma, for your article….truly GOD worked through your sanctified vessel to speak to me….every day, we will NOT relent but seek to be HOLY, SANCTIFIED….HOLY SPIRIT will continue to STRENGTHEN us(not by might but by my SPIRIT says the LORD)…..we are HOLY just as our Father is HOLY in every aspect of our lives including GOD’S laws against sexual immorality.
    Your articles have blessed me so much, may GOD continue to BLESS you and your 3 children ABUNDANTLY on every side, in JESUS NAME.AMEN!!!
    All the way from Nigeria, GOD BLESS you!!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that God can use me to bring a little hope and encouragement to a world that desperately needs it. God Bless!

  5. Living in Purity in an Impure World, Spiritual Living, Christian Faith (Full Article)
    http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/living-in-purity-in-an-impure-world.html?ps=0

    Dear Dena,

    Thank you for your article because it is helping me win the battle for mental purity.
    Certainly Jesus wants us to have pure thought lives. Albeit, when you read carefully the verses from Matthew 5 that you cite in context, you will see that Christ certainly is not saying that thinking of adultery was equal to committing adultery. Instead, He is making the point that entertaining the thought of committing adultery can lead to the actual commission of that sin. He was, as the context makes clear, talking about the problems that our thoughts can get us into. I know that most of us Christians have been told that the thought is the same as the deed, but that is not what Jesus is explaining here.

    In Christ,
    Jim C.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jim. I agree completely. I may not have worded that the best that I could have. Jesus was pointing out that the attitude of the heart is of utmost importance–in direct opposition to the Pharisees, who put heavy burdens on people making them follow their man-made laws. He compared them to white-washed tombs with a clean outside but who were empty inside. They totally ignored the condition of their hearts. The heart is the well-spring of life.

      I have watched an adulterous relationship grow from small, occasional thoughts to a day-dreaming lust to a full-blown physical relationship. It begins with a series of small steps in the wrong direction, steps that begin in the mind. My argument is that God tells us to flee, to avoid even a hint of sexual immorality. That’s a tough command, and it requires drastic measures.

      I was asked recently how far was too far in a physical relationship. I would have answered differently a few years ago. Today, I see maintaining my purity as a battle of the mind more than a battle of the body. I ask myself, “How far must I stay away to maintain my purity.” I want to walk with such a level of purity and integrity that the opportunity to compromise never presents itself.

      God bless you in your battle for purity! I will keep you in my prayers!

  6. Thanks for writing this article. As someone who has struggled in this area myself, reading about your desire for purity is an inspiration for me. As a single Christian I want to live a pure life. I have come to realize that my desire to remain pure is directly linked to my love for Jesus. Instead of trying to focus on what not to think, my thoughts should be on obedience to Christ. As my desire for Him grows the desires of this world will fade. This sounds rudimentary for most but for myself coming from a legalistic background it is a paradigm shift in thought process.
    Thank you again for the encouragement.

    1. Thank YOU for the encouragement! I am glad that God could use my words to encourage you. Purity is a battle and a gift. Your desire to live in purity will take you a long way, but it is your relationship with Christ that will take you the distance. I highly recommend the Every Man’s Battle series by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn. Also, Andy Stanley has preached a great series on The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating (http://northpoint.org/messages).

      I will tell you that the more I press into my Savior, the less of a struggle it becomes. He purifies my heart and my mind. I am so thoroughly enjoying my daily walk with Him that I am content as I am. I trust Him to handle all the details of my heart in His time. And, I look forward to the day when He blesses me with the man He is preparing for me!

      God bless you, and you are in my prayers!

  7. Dear Dana, thank you very much… I am really blessed by your devotions especially this post. I experience the same issues in this area – fighting off lustful thoughts, gnawing thoughts of jealousy, anger, resentment, bitterness when I should follow Christ’s and your example of forgiveness and obedience and love. About your purity prayer list – I shared this to my small group of single women and we all agreed that your prayers are ours too! We claim the Lord’s answers to each item on your purity prayer list in Jesus’ name! Finally, I would like to thank you for being bold and courageous to share the love of Jesus in this blog as devotions that would refresh others. It shows that you know who your God is and you are intimate in your relationship with Him, and that glorifies Christ. You are a blessing and a source of inspiration, and I am so encouraged by your words. Your children are so adorable, and I know God has given you a promise (I have a similar one! sometimes I feel panicky when I’m down and out and demand — yikes — I want it to be now now now) and your patience will be rewarded. I pray God will bless you, your family and your ministry. To God be the glory!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! So amazed that God can use my simple words to bring encouragement to others. As for the promise, I am so close to seeing it come to fruition–I can feel it! And, the work God has done in me as I wait is beyond amazing! Look for a future post (possibly on Crosswalk) on the Work of Waiting. Praying God gives you all strength to hold out for God’s best!

  8. Thankyou for your blog. I live in India, and many of these issues, though present in the church are never talked about but brushed under the carpet. God bless you as you walk into your “promised land”.

    1. Thank you. The church here is only beginning to talk about these issues, but I am finding that they affect SO many in the church today. God didn’t shy away from these topics. We shouldn’t either! God bless you!

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