|Purity, Popularity & Some More Thoughts On Penny Pinching
Category: Bible Study Devotionals
I posted a blog a few weeks ago talking about how purity is like penny-pinching, and how practicing modesty can be compared to saving your money for something you really want. I received some great feedback from it and felt humbled that God had used it to encourage so many people.
But if you’re anything like me, God likes to have you dwell on stuff for awhile. And awhile longer. And awhile longer.
Until here I am again.
One of the things I briefly mentioned in the last blog was that penny-pinching, or purity for that matter, isn’t popular, but that it’s worth it. As I sat and pondered that statement, a thought occurred to me:
There is always a battle before the happy ending.
“What does that mean?” you might wonder, “And what does it have to do with penny-pinching?”
Everything. And a lot more than you might think.
I remember one incident in particular that happened years ago—several. As a matter of fact? I was just a kid.
I was just starting preschool. I was a bumbling, bright eyed four-year-old who had an obsession with jean skirts and dug holes in sandboxes to try and get to China. I was sitting on the jungle gym that warm Fall day when an older boy, I’d say second grade, walked up to me.
“I like you” he boldly proclaimed with a sneaky smile.
I didn’t understand what that meant. He liked me. That was cool. I liked a lot of stuff too. Car rides, Disney movies, dolls.
What he meant by he “liked” me didn’t really sink in till he leaned in a few seconds later and attempted to kiss me.
I snapped. Well, as much as four-year-old could snap.
I shrieked with my little voice and ran up to the top of the jungle gym cowering in fear. Imagine my surprise when this boy and his friends began climbing after me! I shrieked again as I mounted off the other side of the bars and began running for my life.
“Just let me kiss you!” he shouted behind me, “you KNOW you want to…”
Did I? Because my initial reaction to scream bloody murder hinted otherwise.
He chased me around the playground for 15 minutes. I don’t think I ever moved so quickly in my entire life. The boy wouldn’t stop till he got his kiss, but I wasn’t giving up without a fight. I finally climbed up into the treehouse that hung high above the school, I couldn’t believe my tiny little legs had made it all the way up! I stuck my head out the window and panicked when I saw that this boy and his friends had found me and were climbing up too!
“We’re coming for yoooooooooou!” he sung immaturely.
Surely, this was the end. I was petrified.
Suddenly, as if the clouds opened and the heavens sounded with a mighty trump, the school bell rang, and like that, all of the teachers began to gather their students and lead them back into their classrooms—including the second grader and his friends.
While I was thankful the boys were gone, something very important was missing: ME.
I was so shaken by what had happened, I had no intention on leaving that treehouse. No one noticed I was missing at all. I sat in that treehouse for the rest of the day until school let out and I was nowhere to be found… oops.
I broke out in tears when my teacher finally found me. I looked all around, weary of that boy, scared he was gonna jump out of the corner like the boogie man and come after me again. As I clung to her leg and told her what had happened between large gulps and sighs, she looked down at me sweetly and cupped my face as she spoke these words:
“Sarah, he just wanted to kiss you. Why are you acting like such a baby about this?”
Uhh, maybe because I still technically WAS one?
My teachers words rung in my head on the way home that day as I swung my legs in my carseat, finally happy to feel safe again. Had she really thought I’d been a baby about it?
When I got older, I found out a phone conversation had taken place after school that day addressing the matter, a phone call where my teacher stated, “Boys are curious. We don’t punish curiosity. Sarah needs to learn to suck it up and experience these things.”
Needless to say, I never returned to that preschool again.
Regardless of what my teacher had said to me, and despite my clueless adolescence, something deep down knew she was wrong. That boy was mean and rough and dirty… and he had ugly shoes too! I never believed boys had cooties, after all, most of my friends were boys. Still, I had this sense inside of me that a kiss was a special thing, and mine didn’t belong to him.
This is all so intellectual for a four-year-old, but I always was a strange child. I played in dirt, talked to plants and was scared of the Barney theme song. I was an enigma.
I’d like to think God had a hand in that whole situation. Sure it’s funny and I can look back and laugh, but even then, He was keeping my heart safe. He gave me the good sense to know when to run—literally.
See, before I was even five, I practiced purity, and before I was even five, it was STILL unpopular.
Life is a lot like this scenario. You may not be leaping jungle gyms to get away from assertive second graders or get called out by preschool teachers, but there are people out there who want to take advantage of you, and the even sadder reality, there are people out there who don’t understand why you won’t jump at the chance.
A few years back, I got a message from some stranger on MySpace (you know, the thing that was popular before Facebook) asking if I was interested in being “friends with benefits.” He even had the nerve to asked where I lived so we could “hook up.” HA! What on earth gave this dude the impression I’d be remotely interested in that idea—the scriptures on my profile? I was shocked!
An even bigger shock however, was how someone I knew reacted when I recalled the tale, chuckling about how silly it was. She wasn’t laughing.
“You didn’t do it?!” her eyes lit up in disbelief, “I would! I seriously can’t believe you said no!”
I seriously couldn’t believe she’d thought I would say yes.
Titus 1:15-16 says, “To those who are pure, all things are pure, but to those who are tainted, stained, and unbelieving, nothing is pure because their minds and their consciences are polluted. They claim, ‘I know God’, but their actions are a slap to His face.”
Welcome to the state of the world.
To a culture where pleasure is a mouse click away, they don’t understand why we live the way we do. They don’t understand why we wait till we’re married to have sex, they don’t understand why we practice things like modesty and self-respect, and they don’t understand why we should believe in something like fidelity when there is “so much out there” to experience. They don’t get. And if I were being brutally honest, I think sometimes, we don’t get it either.
We think “purity” is just this clean, abstinent thing we do because God tells us to. Like He got bored when He created us and chose to entertain Himself by giving us all these desires, only to tell us we can’t use them and see us squirm, and heaven forbid we disobey and get struck by a bolt of lightning. You know how He does that… (not.)
Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps God tells His people to practice purity, because there is more to pleasure than just feeling good? Could it be that He knows something we don’t? That possibly following His way of doing things will leave us with a deeper satisfaction? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, purity isn’t about being held back from something great, but holding out for something better?
Contrary to the image pop culture has given Him, God is not a cosmic killjoy. He didn’t give us the longing to want to love and be loved for no reason. God, believe it or not, gave us desire. He doesn’t tell us to walk in purity to kill it, rather, He tells us to walk in purity to control it. He knows the atmosphere in which those desires are not only meant to be used, but best experienced.
That doesn’t sound like a cosmic killjoy to me.
Purity isn’t going to be popular. It never has been, it never will be. As a matter of fact, as the world grows darker, the more hated it will become. But no good thing ever came without opposition.
You WILL be mocked because you object to a stranger’s steamy pass. YouWILL be criticized for saying “no” to someone because you have a standard you refuse to compromise. You WILL be called a prude (among other things) for not wanting to partake in some of the popular trends your friends are into because you believe there’s something worth more. And yes, you WILL get a few weird stares when you run up the treehouse and refuse to kiss the second grade boy because you know he’s not “the one” (past the hormonal surge, I’m sure he was a nice boy, just not the boy for me.)
There is always a battle before the happy ending. A few dragons need to die before you get to the top of the tower, but what waits in the tower for you, is what makes every fire, every fight and every test worthwhile. It’s the beautiful result, it what makes the journey worth waiting for—it’s what makes the story worth telling.