Modesty and purity are both heart issues. As are immodesty and impurity. If the heart is not dealt with, the outward reality is just perceptions and facades. That's all.
Recently I read a post (I would send you to it, but I can't remember where I read it), that broke my heart. In an evangelical church, a full figured girl was chastised regularly for how she dressed, and how it was causing provocative thoughts and sinful actions in men.
Based on her descriptions of what she was wearing, I would say that the problem wasn't her problem. She was not dressing immodestly. The problem was in the disgusting hearts of the men and boys in her church. No matter how she dressed, their minds still would have been in the gutter.
Because purity starts in the heart. And so does impurity.
In conversation recently, someone made the comment to me that if a boy loved a girl, he would not have taken her purity away from her.
Purity. Not virginity-purity.
Well, I am here to tell you, no one can take your purity away from you-EVER.
I am no longer a virgin. I waited until I was married before I ever had sex. Because I am no longer a virgin, does that mean I am impure? That I have been impure since the first time I had sex? Absolutely not! No one, no Christian, would ever say that. The Bible certainly does not teach that.
Furthermore, a woman or man, boy or girl, who have been molested or raped, have not had their purity taken from them. They have been violated. They have been sinned against. They have been wronged. They probably feel impure or dirty, but they aren't. They have not sinned. We shouldn't treat them like they are impure. The Bible certainly does not teach that either.
I do believe the Bible teaches that sexual sin is wrong. Sex before marriage and outside of God's parameters is sin. 1 Corinthians 6:18 emphasizes that sexual sin is on a different plane than other sin. Every sin that a man does is outside the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his body. I would hazard an opinion that generally those who live out impurity in their lives were impure in their thoughts beforehand. Sexual sin and impurity are extremely serious and have far reaching consequences, but they are not the unforgivable sin.
Purity starts in the heart. This is the key thought. Furthermore, the Bible places a premium on purity-purity of the heart.
Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's meat nor with the wine he drank. (Daniel 1:8)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
To the pure all things are pure. (Titus 1:15)
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth what is good; and an evil man, out of the evil treasures of his heart brings forth what is evil. For out of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
Your virginity is precious. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. But our virginity is not our purity.
If we equate our virginity with our purity, then what happens when we lose our virginity in any context besides marriage? Are we then impure? For how long? Forever?
While your virginity cannot be restored, your purity can be. Psalm 51 resonates with this thought. After some pretty memorable sexual sin, David is confessing his sin and asking God to wash him and make him whiter than snow.
Women are the ones with more visible and tangible consequences of sexual sin. Guys don't get pregnant. The whole physical setup of sex makes for a penetration of the woman. It is in our bodies. Not so the males. Women are much more invested in the sexual act. We equate sex with love.
We need to love the sinner and hate the sin, not allow the sin because of the sinner. We also need to make room for repentance and forgiveness and complete restoration. We need to allow room for grace and a way home. When the prodigal son repented of his sin and came home, his father RAN to meet him. He didn't have a laundry list of issues, he killed the fatted calf, clothed him in the best robe, and restored the son to his position of sonship.
I think we do need to teach sexual purity and modesty, but we need to emphasize the purity of thought and heart. We need to be less concerned with how this sin makes us look on the outside, than how the inside is reflected on the outside. We need to be more concerned with reaching hearts than buffing up facades.
I don't know exactly what the answer is. I am wrestling. Repentance and grace. Forgiveness. How does it all fit? Where do we, as Christians, who desire to uphold the teachings and standards of the Bible, fit into the equation? What is the balanced approach? The Christ-like approach?