Emotional Purity: Part 1

I’ve come across a couple different articles recently which challenge the idea of emotional purity. I even saw one saying that saving your virginity for marriage is a bad idea too—posted on Facebook by a homeschooled Christian. These opponents of emotional purity usually point to Joshua Harris and the Ludy’s as being the culprits behind this harmful idea.
I find it interesting that most of the people I see criticizing the idea of emotional purity are homeschooled Christians who grew up in the so-called “purity movement.” I did not grow up in this movement, so perhaps what they experienced was harmful.
Growing up, I hardly knew any other homeschoolers. I didn’t go to a church youth group and was not immersed in the “purity culture.” The people I was around were public schoolers who didn’t care about purity. In fact, they cared very deeply about the opposite. For many of my peers, trying to date and be physically intimate with the best looking girls was a big priority for them.
I never had any desire to date or participate in that culture for a couple of reasons.

First of all, my parents made it clear that my siblings and I would not date. I didn’t really consider why, but I didn’t care because I wasn’t interested in girls or relationships or marriage or anything up through middle school and into high school.

Second, my peers would talk about girls like they were pieces of meat to be consumed. The sheer selfishness was unbelievable, and not something I wanted to participate in. I remember walking toward the buses after one of my high school football games, and our cheerleaders walked passed us football players to get on their bus. However, they couldn’t walk past us without several of my teammates whistling and throwing out catcalls. I was ashamed to be associated with such people.
“Stop that!” I yelled to the guy nearest me.
“Why?” the guy asked, incredulously, “They like it.”
I was stumped for a second, thinking he was probably right. They did seem to be enjoying the male attention.
“They’re people! Not animals!” I finally replied, feeling pretty pathetic as my words had no effect. I said no more and instead mentally checked out of the scene as the scantily-clad cheerleaders sauntered past.
On a bus-ride to one of my team’s away basketball games, I recall one of my teammates talking about how he got someone else to call his girlfriend and tell her he was breaking up with her.
“Why would you break-up with her? She’s hot!” someone said.
“I’m just tired of her. I want someone new,” he replied. And that was considered an adequate response which needed no further explanation.
This, and much worse, was what I came to see as normal behavior between guys and girls, and it was sickening. Very few really cared about the well-being of the opposite gender. They only sought to use and abuse, both physically and emotionally.
Later, as I began to spend less and less time at public school, and ended up joining a homeschool writing forum, I became a witness to a new problem. When I joined that forum, the idea that two people could “fall in love” just through communicating online never even occurred to me. But it happened. A lot. Something about the nature of online communication makes it easier for people to open up and share deep and intimate parts of themselves with other people, people they’ve never met. The caring or understanding of the other person is often enough to push someone over the edge emotionally. Often times these emotional entanglements were due solely to ignorance. Other times, there was deliberate manipulation involved.
In fact, the frequency and scale at which relationships would pop up caused many to call that writing forum a dating site for homeschooled writers, and I think that was probably pretty accurate. There were even real-life “love triangles.” Oh, joy. I became a witness to an incredible amount of pain and regret caused by the failure to maintain emotional purity, and guard hearts.
This is what I have witnessed, and it’s why I’ve found the advice of the Ludy’s regarding emotional purity to be so right, loving, and God-honoring compared to the alternatives I’ve witnessed.
Because of this, I find it rather saddening when I hear others criticize the notion of emotional purity. However, I have not been among the purity movement, so I must therefore consider what these writers have to say. Do they have a point? Is the idea of emotional purity actually harmful?
In an upcoming series, I’ll be addressing some of the concerns and objections with emotional purity. In the meantime, tell me your thoughts. Is the concept of keeping ourselves emotionally pure for our future spouses a good thing, or a bad thing? Is there a balance? Is it impossible? How would you define emotional purity?
Click here for part 2, “What Is Emotional Purity?

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  1. Hi Reagan,

    I have a few things to say on this subject. First, I too have have witnessed some every disturbing love affairs at our local public High School when we went to watch our friend play in football with the High School team. It was dreadful! We girls had to turn our heads it was so bad.

    Having said that, I am still not guiltless in this area of impure feelings. There were a few years in which I greatly struggled in this area of keeping my heart pure before the Lord, for my Dad, and for my future Man. I guess I thought I could keep a good hold on things because I “knew” how to act in a pure way, and keep my feelings to myself. “The heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked…” This verse is so true! I can see that now, but a few years ago, I was blind. I thought I could entertain those feelings and remain undamaged.

    Around this time I began reading a few books (“Joyfully at Home” by Jasmine Baucham, and “Its not Complicated” by the Botkin ladies) and before long, I was goaded by the Holy Spirit to cease from thinking and entertaining these feelings. God knew my heart, and with His grace and compassion, He showed me how to leave my feelings behind.

    This is a hard subject. Having said all of this, I know that it is possible to keep yourself from temptation. “Fall asleep” (a term we like to use around here), and one that means that we must stop looking for The Person, and rest in peace, taking satisfaction in the Lord's Will. This alone, desiring to trust in His timing, and see what wonderful things He will do keep me from returning to those impure thoughts. It is better to be free, than to be bound by selfish, lustful feelings that lead no where.

    I hope this answers your questions!

    Has your sister read those books I mentioned?

    In Christ alone,

    The eldest sister & singer

  2. Hey Jessica,

    Yeah, public schools are full of that kind of stuff. The more disturbing part is how some parents actually encourage their kids to “experiment” and engage in that kind of behavior.

    I haven't met anyone who is guiltless in the area of impure thoughts or feelings. I certainly am not guiltless. I can relate to your story somewhat, I thought I knew better than the wisdom I was being given, and that led to consequences.

    I think it's very interesting that you describe the problem as being thoughts, and entertaining the feelings. I think you are touching on the root of the problem. Feelings are often just the side-effects of our thoughts. We can't control our feelings, but we can control what we think, and what we allow ourselves to think influences what we feel.

    Where we get in trouble–in regards to emotional purity–is when we want something that doesn't belong to us, or isn't time for us to have, and so we encourage the feelings when we should not. Emotional lust I guess you could call it.

    I'm glad you were mature and humble enough to realize your mistake. I've seen a lot of people enter into this same predicament where they have to choose between their feelings and what they know is right, and so often they choose their feelings, which results in them later rejecting everything they used to believe in order to justify their actions.

    I agree. It is a hard subject, but I also agree that it is possible to reject that temptation. We don't have to be at the mercy of our emotions. And you are so right. It is a burden to constantly be worrying about if someone likes you or not, or how to get other people to like you, and all the other negatives that go with indulging in “crushes” or “impure feelings”. Feelings can be unavoidable, but what we do with them is completely within our power. It's extremely freeing to lay all of that side and just consider what good you can do for other people, rather than wondering or wishing that they be yours.

    That does answer my questions, thank you, but I have another question. 😀 Many opponents of the concept of emotional purity say it eliminates the possibility of having deep, platonic friendships with members of the opposite gender. What are your thoughts on that?

    And my sister has read “It's Not That Complicated,” by not “Joyfully at Home.” I asked her about the Botkin book and she said what she remembered is that the book advised treating each other like brothers and sisters. Personally, I've found that advice to be more confusing than helpful, even though I know it's Biblical. Or at least I used to. My experience with male/female friendships has also shown me that it is, in fact, quite complicated, despite the book title. Maybe I'm missing something, or should read the book.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Hold fast,


  3. Hi Reagan,

    I hope you don't mind me jumping on the bandwagon to answer that last question that you asked Jessica, and she can add to what I am going to say if she wants. 🙂

    As far as emotional purity eliminating “the possibility of having deep, platonic friendships with members of the opposite gender,” I think that observation is absolutely correct. Now before you think that I agree with the opponents of emotional purity, let me explain.
    We have observed, as a family, “deep, platonic relationships” between members of the opposite genders that have all ended in the two “friends” being entangled in a deeper relationship than they wanted initially, and caused them to leave the friendship disappointed and lost. This observation has led us, Dad in particular, to believe that it really is not possible (for most people that is) for young men and women to have deep friendships with members of the opposite sex without there being any emotional consequences. I truly would admire any person who can have such a friendship without: giving off the wrong message that they were in a relationship with the person they were just “deep friends” with; causing the opposite party to assume there is more to the relationship than just “friend-ness” (I know, I know, that's not a word. :P); getting entangled themselves in impure thoughts and feelings.

    So to sum up all that, basically emotional purity IS an opponent to deep, platonic relationships and rightly so. Now, that doesn't mean I don't believe that young men and women can't be good friends! My sisters and I have some very good friendships with young men in families who are friends of our family, that have been kept in a family context, and not one on one. I just don't think it's right or very possible to have a deep, one on one friendship, outside of the family context, that doesn't harm either person emotionally.

    Hope that answers your question! And Jess, please rescue me if I said something wrong! 😀

    In Him,

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  4. Hey Brigid,

    I don't mind at all! Thanks for adding your opinion. The more the merrier. 🙂

    I find your answer rather humorous because that's actually exactly the same conclusion I've reached. It took me having several deep–what I thought were platonic–friendships with young ladies to crash and burn before I finally realized the truth of what you're saying. I was naive, and I think that the idea you can have a deep friendship with someone of the opposite gender and have it remain there indefinitely is also naive. C.S. Lewis says as much in his book “The Four Loves.” I'm sure it's possible for there to be exceptions though.

    Certainly, you can have valuable and uplifting friendships, just not on the deep intimate level like you can with someone of the same gender.

    I don't think you are in need of rescuing. I thought you explained that very well, but I guess we'll see what Jessica says. Haha!

    Hold fast,


  5. I saw your post on raising homemakers link up and I really enjoyed your post.
    Yes, I am one of those raised in a very unhealthy unbalanced purity obsessed culture and it was damaging for me and many girls I know.
    However this doesn't mean I don't value smart, wise inter-gender interaction.
    Personally I believe thins can be boule down to one word: integrity.
    If you are interested in someone- GO for it! If you don't see building a life with them, are married, or are to young to have a relationship (an age that is as unique to each person) than act accordingly.
    I enjoyed your non- accusing tone and will be checking out more! 🙂

  6. Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!

    That's very interesting. It's sad that some have taken a good idea and made it into something harmful. I have have a lot of experience with the other side of the spectrum–non-physical purity not even being considered at all.

    You'll have to tell me what you think of next several posts in this series. The next one is scheduled to go up Friday.

    I agree that integrity is very important, but I've also found that sometimes even well-meaning people of integrity can sometimes make mistakes just from a lack of knowledge, or not really understanding a situation. So I think boundaries can be helpful.

    Thanks again for the comment!

  7. Hey Bro! You are so right about this! I have regrettably not been pure in this area. And this is even after I posted on my blog about how important it is to be emotionally pure before you are ready for a serious relationship. In fact, it took me this long to read your post because I _was_ struggling with wanting to avoid the truth I knew you would be sharing.

    I would totally agree about online social sights. It is so easy to “put on a good face” and become emotionally attached just through chatting or commenting! Even among homeschoolers like me. Ouch.

    Keep standing strong for the Truth, Reagan, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

  8. I think that if your goal is not marriage, you should not be in love or be in a relationship. Furthermore, I discouraged people from having relationships before they're ready, or at least almost ready, to be married. However, being in love–even in the teenage years–is entirely wise and appropriate as long as strict standards are set. If a teenager–or anyone, for that matter–is in love with someone, they need to be sure to moderate their love so that if that person doesn't turn out to be the one, that none of their heart will be stuck with that person. I know a lot of conservative, Christian teenagers who have been in love. In every situation where it was done properly, it always did them more benefit than harm–and ultimately, there was no harm done–even when their first love failed! Even the heartbreak drew them closer to God! And in the cases where they were careful, discreet, and prudent in their love that failed, and now they're in love with another, they have absolutely no lingering feelings for their first love. This is what emotional purity is: being able to give your whole heart to your spouse. Before you're engaged, humanly speaking, you don't know who you're going to marry–but you're not going to be interested in a relationship if you're not in love to some degree. So it's not a bad thing to have been in love with someone else before your spouse, but it is a bad thing if there is a big mess involved that everyone will remember.

  9. Oh, something I should have specified about teenage love: I think that, as a general teenagers should not confess their love to each other. That way, there won't be a romantic environment.

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