Purity

My thoughts have been very serious of late, and so, I shall return from a blogging absence with no hoo ha or excitement and just jump right on in there.

Purity.

AH YOU SINNERS, CLEANSE YOUR WICKED WAYS!!!! (this is a joke)

Why am I stating that is a joke? Because purity is one of those words that has been twisted and warped. Perhaps this is only in my mind, but for me it is a damaged word. Pure – in the sense of pure gold – is not twisted, but put any form of religious connotation onto it and it is messed up for me.

This is a subject I want to delve into (if I manage to get into write mode more often) and theology will follow, however, for now here is some of my waffle on the subject.

Innocence and naivety have always been teased out of me, and purity has generally, in my experience, been put into the box of either innocence and lack of exposure to the world, or a naivety of what the world really was.

I have not always lived a pure life. I have tried and failed, and I have decided I didn’t want to try as it was a waste of time. I am now in the place of desperately wanting to be pure but it really ain’t that easy in the end.

The thing is though, when we talk about purity the first thing we think of usually, is sex. Sex is sex, no more no less. Purity is so much more. Blessed are the pure in heart – Jesus says in Matthew 5:8. So if it is about the heart it comes a long way before we get to sex.

Purity covers so much of who we are and how we speak. It is not something we need to run from, hide from or cower from, it is something we should seek out.

The thing is, as my mindset changes, as I begin to try to work out the meanings of all of these words – honour, purity, love, grace, hope, joy – and seek to see what the bible is wanting to say, I find a pure heart is something I want. I want to encourage those around me in seeking after purity, not for the sake of judgment or condemnation but because with a pure heart we are able to see more of God.

So many conversations I am in, part of, the instigator of, have at some point a joke, innuendo, direct reference to something that could not be considered pure. It is almost like there is a certain pride to be had in being a ‘cool Christian’ (I don’t know what that looks like either). We can show the world that although we still believe in these ancient texts we know what you are dealing with, we are relate able. The problem with this, is that in our desire to seem ‘normal’ we lose the very thing that makes us different in the first place.

I learnt a lot about the world whilst in the police. When I joined I would blush if someone said ‘sex’, now I almost take pride in the fact that it is only the rudest of conversations that will make me blush (please don’t try!). I have worn this fact almost as a badge of honour, and am more than happy to take a joke one step further to show ‘I am more worldly than you’.

It is a ridiculous way of thinking, and one I am truly ashamed of, the thing is though, that we so often don’t realise the power of our words. If I, in a moment of warped pride state something in jest, someone near me can be led toward a temptation that they had previously succeeded in avoiding or resisting.

Talk of sex is important – it should not be a taboo subject in church, jokes of sex are unhelpful. They make the whole thing seem less meaningful, more common, and suddenly temptation is harder to resist. We talk briefly as a joke of foreplay, and someone else within our group loses their battle against thoughts that have been building, they sleep with their partner/watch porn or just go down an unhealthy thought pattern and the next day have to start again feeling guilty and ashamed. Our little joke has led our brother/sister in Christ to fall, but they then feel alone in picking up the pieces.

How we get the balance between not creating a taboo subject within church, not appearing judgmental within and without church and maintaining a pure heart is a mystery to me. However, it is a mystery I feel that we are in need of unraveling. A pure heart will be reflected in the way we speak of and to each other, in how we disciple each other, and in how we encourage each other.

I am pure by the blood of the lamb. That is all I have, but that is so much more than enough. It is a transformative thing. So here, I shall state – I want to have a pure heart. To do this, I need to watch my thoughts, watch my words and watch my actions.

Or that’s the plan anyway. Purity is a sacrifice. It is not something that comes from a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, as such a thing lacks purity of heart in itself. It is a matter of choosing to reject certain thoughts, or not to participate in or encourage certain conversations. It is a matter of looking to God first, and not seeking after what others might think.

Jesus was pure. He never sinned, and yet he was the one most likely to be found with those left the furthest from society. I think it is worth a go.

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6 Comments

  • I’ve often thought there is a great disparity between the seriousness of what some Christians believe about things like sex… personally, and how those same people treat the same topic publicly.

    I have several good friends who hold conservative views and who will reinforce these if you talk to them on topic within home group. Yet on occasion within the week, in comes a forwarded email joke, or perhaps a light-hearted conversation crops up that utilises the kind of themes and language that instantly calls to my mind with a sense of un ease, Paul’s words to the Ephesians about unwholesome talk.

    It doesn’t help that from my perspective they seem to do it from the relationship equivalent of an ivory tower.

    Yes, I absolutely think there should not be a taboo (but then I’m the kind of guy who rejects as foolish the notion that religion and politics should be taboo topics at the dinner table). I think taboo creates ambiguity and ambiguity leads to people going their own way… when ultimately we need to be encouraging people to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying.

  • Thank you for this post, esp:

    So many conversations I am in, part of, the instigator of, have at some point a joke, innuendo, direct reference to something that could not be considered pure. It is almost like there is a certain pride to be had in being a ‘cool Christian’ (I don’t know what that looks like either). We can show the world that although we still believe in these ancient texts we know what you are dealing with, we are relate able. The problem with this, is that in our desire to seem ‘normal’ we lose the very thing that makes us different in the first place.

    …which really speaks to me. I have enjoyed reading back through your older entries, too.
    I have a blog which is not often read, much less commented on, esp. after losing most of my readers when I left the Catholic Church to become an Anglican! I have linked to your blog, and would really appreciate it if you could drop by and say hi.
    Thanks, Autumn x

  • I have read that ‘purity’ is better translated ‘single-minded’. ‘Impure’ thoughts are part of being human and I don’t think we should beat ourselves up about them if they come fleetingly into our minds. The thing is not to entertain them and not to act upon them. If we focus on increasing social justice and being more compassionate, which is what Jesus might have wanted the ‘pure in heart’ to do, then we might not have too much time for ‘impure’ thoughts anyway. I found it very freeing to leave the Evangelical branch of the Church and realised how much navel gazing and guilt it had encouraged. My faith increased as my certainty decreased.

  • What a great post! Really mature! I love the song simple gifts. Satan fights humility constantly, but, really, we can’t receive from Jesus unless we accept his mercy. He is the one who gives us purity. Realizing we’ve missed the mark, learning more about the standard He set, are a grace that allow us to receive mercy. Purity isn’t something we give ourselves. It’s something we receive from Christ–ongoing conversion say the Benedictines, life as penitents say the Franciscans. Tis a gift to be simple. Tis a gift to be free. Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be, and when we find ourselves in the place just right, twill be in the valley of love and delight. And in turn, turning, shall be our delight. until we turn, turn, turn out right. And in in turning we shant be ashamed, until we turn, turn out right.

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