Khutso Mokgehle
07 May

By Khutso Mokgehle

My sexual purity journey started in 2000/2001 when I was about 11 years old. The journey started when my mother had a conversation with me, some would call it "the birds and bees", but for us, it was the sexual purity conversation. 

My mother started the conversation by asking what I knew about sex, and she took it from there - what I remember vividly was when she told me that sex before marriage was sin. This opened up a lot of questions to me. If it was so, then why were so many born-again Christians engaging in sexual sin? My mother then said, "maybe you are supposed to be the first one to live a sexually pure life so that other people can be inspired". This was a simple statement, but for me, it was a task, I wanted to prove to other young Christians that it was possible to live a sexually pure life. 

I had no role model, even though we belonged to a community of believers, many of them dated and subsequently were exposed for engaging in sexual activities or they would just fall pregnant. Since I had no role model, I had to ensure that I became a role model for young people who would come after me. So, the journey started. 

I was vocal about it! I wanted it. One of the decisions I had taken at that time was that I will not date. I was in the senior grades in primary school and at this age, my classmates and friends were starting to experiment the whole dating thing. This was done in innocence (and curiosity) by my peers and there was a bit of shame in it, so publicly declaring my standing point regarding the sexual purity issue was a walk in the park. A year or two later I was now in secondary school. 

Secondary was nothing like primary school. Dating was a thing! Not dating was now an embarrassment - what is wrong with you? I was still determined to maintain my sexual purity standard, but it was not easy. What made it harder was the fact that I was growing and had temptations myself. Thank God! I was raised in such a strict home that it was not possible to do anything off without my parents noticing, this really helped to a certain extent, but it was obviously not sufficient. 

Looking for a verse to support me

I held tightly to my belief because "my Mama told me so", however, one day during lunch my classmates mocked me for not dating and I replied, "sex before marriage is sin".  My classmates then asked me to give them a scriptural reference. I was dumbfounded! I had not thought of it. I did not know what the Bible said about the matter except what my mother had said. I went home that day with an intent - I will read the entire Bible and get the verse to prove them wrong!

I could not find the verse

The first time I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation was a time I wanted the verse that said "sex before marriage is a sin"; I did not find it! 

I am happy that I did not find a verse that directly said that because God revealed way more than I expected. This was the beginning of unending convictions and guidance from God regarding sexual purity, holistically. Allow me to take you through all that I have learnt - this is not in any particular order as I cannot recall exactly where God started but it has been an unending journey of discoveries. 

Lesson 1: Knowing the word for yourself

During that time, I remember my parents sharing about the temptation of Jesus during the family devotion. My parents were talking about how the devil used the Word of God to try and manipulate Jesus Christ to sin and how Jesus Christ fought back using the Word of God. Mama and Papa were talking about how this is a warfare! Often times as Christians we believe warfare is about shouting and wrestling with the enemy but actually, it is at that moment when the devil gives you a message contradicting God's word, waiting for your downfall so that he can destroy you. Think about Eve as well, that was warfare and since Eve did not know the Word for herself, she fell. 

This made me understand why it was important for me to know for myself what the Word of God said about sexual purity. My failure to respond to my classmates was testament to the fact that if I was planning on living a sexually pure life but did not know the Word, I would fall under pressure one day. 

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word of God is a sword! It is a weapon we use to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). It was clear, I had to be armed with the Word! I had to know why I was living the way I was living. 

Lesson 2: Technically, I was a virgin, but God knew my "body count"

You can imagine! I was now halfway through high school and still a virgin. I was proud of myself until one day I properly read this verse; "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28). Wait a minute! How high is God's standard? I thought I was absolutely pure because I had not had sex before, but the fact that I had lusted for some boys I had somehow sinned in my heart. 

For those who think I might be stretching it too far, consider this verse as well; "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15) - If you hate, you are a murderer! God is not just looking at the appearance, He searches all hearts and thoughts. Shortly after this, I started praying Psalm 139, asking God to search me and point anything and everything in me that did not please Him. 

Overcoming sexual thoughts was one of the greatest battles, but God was so merciful and patient, one of the things God did was revealing His truths to me in so many verses that it was no longer I trying to convince myself that I am doing okay, but now pleading with God to help me to be pure in the mind as well. And after years of praying, I had victory, my mind was not corrupted anymore. 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Lesson 3: Can I really play it safe?

It was clear at this stage that I will not have sex - I understood that this was sin; but what about dating? Many people describe dating as the process of getting to know someone and see if you are compatible. Because of this explanation, this sounds logical and very innocent.

But let's be realistic. Is it really that "innocent"? One of the things I have discovered over the years is how sexual feelings are fickle! Something we don't often want to admit but it is true. Let's talk about this. We often see people eat on TV but that does not necessarily give us an urge to go to the kitchen and eat, we often see people fight on TV but that does not automatically make you combative in an instant, HOWEVER, if you watch porn - why is there an immediate unction to have sex? Sexual feelings are fickle.

Now that I had seen how easy it is to "get into the mood" I had to be careful of anything and everything that could stimulate this lust. Yes, TV programmes, certain type of music and conversation were obvious stimuli, so I genuinely stopped watching TV! 

I had to be honest; if a TV programme could have an effect on me, how much more of dating? Having a "special someone" sending me countless messages, going out on dates and even cuddling - TV programmes were the least of the sexual stimulants compared to being in a relationship. A dating relationship was a definite no-no; it had more potential to stimulate lust than the TV.

"Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." 2 Timothy 2:22

This became one of my weapons. In addition, one day I remembered the Lord's prayer "lead us not into temptations". Jesus the Christ taught us to say these words. Why is it important to be led AWAY from temptations? Because when we play around temptation, we are most likely to sin. Honestly, dating is leading us to temptations, many Christians will deny this and claim to have boundaries, and I would say boundaries are physical but sexual sin starts in the mind. 

Jesus Christ has informed us on what defiles us - it not what we put in but what is inside; "And he said, 'What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery..." Mark 7:20-21 - Boundaries are good for the physical but leave your heart vulnerable to temptations.

Lesson 4: I am not superman, and I can never be!

Over the years, the message was becoming clearer and clearer but as expected, the flesh was also rejecting and reasoning. "Well, I can have strict boundaries, I am a strong and matured Christian!" so I thought. But lo and behold 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." This is pure advice to people like me who believe that they are strong enough to withstand temptations. 

David a man after God's heart slept with someone's wife! Yes, David! In as much as we have examples of men of God who never fell, it is important to note that some fell. And we cannot claim that we will not fall even if we play close enough to the temptation - Proverbs 6:27 gives us another perspective, an analogy "Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?" this is a rhetorical question; the wise Solomon is warning us that playing very close to the fire will most likely get you burnt. 

Admitting that we are not as strong as we think we are makes us take precaution of things that will most likely trip us up. 

Lesson 5: It's not sin but ...

Like I have been saying, the flesh would always reason.

I remember one of my arguments was - dating is not sin if you are not having sex. And yes, it is not sin (except for the sexual thoughts it arouses of course). But as I matured spiritually, I also got to understand that a Christian life is not just about me but about the people around as well. 

"Abstain from all appearance of evil" 1 Thessalonians 5:22 - In as much as at face value, dating is not a sin but it sure does look like sin. In a generation where sex has been casualised; how do we differentiate between couple one, that has sex and couple two, that just dates and cuddles but are not having sex? People do not know and see what you do behind closed doors? But wait a minute; shouldn't people be minding their own businesses? They should actually but consider these verses:

  1. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matther 5:16 - Your light should shine, but not for you, rather, for the people to see! In this dark age, God needs people He can entrust with His great work, people whose light will shine, and people will not raise their eyebrows. 
  2. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 - Yes, you want to date, yes, you know that you are not having sex, but since the people observing do not know and some might be discouraged in their faith while others being encouraged to now have sex because of you, lay down your life for them, it is worth it. 
  3. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell. Mark 9:42-43 - There could be new believers in your circle, who got saved and had to let go their sinful sexual activities, meanwhile, a matured Christian is "clean dating", Jesus Christ is telling us that we need cut off anything that causes us to sin, but verse 42 paints a picture of also making sure that we do not cause others to stumble and fall.
  4. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So, this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:12 - This verse is self-explanatory. You could be matured to navigate dating without physical sin and maybe even mental sin - but in your maturity consider the conscience of others. 

In conclusion ...

There are so many things I can say regarding this but let's stop here. 

This has been my sexual journey for more than two decades. I am now married for 10 years, and I got married as a virgin. This worked for me as a single Christian, and I still advise other single people to do so. It is possible to live a "dateless" life, it has many benefits. 

I will soon share how I got married without dating. 

Take time to study these verses, pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you which way to go. God is patient and kind - take your time to carefully determine what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).

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