MISSIONARY SURVIVAL GUIDE #9: SEXUAL PURITY

man-purity-ring“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

– The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:18

I`m beginning to suspect that sexual purity may actually have no definition in the modern, secular world.  After all, the cultures of the earth have evolved over its long history into a multicolored tapestry with varying shades of morality.  “What is pure anyway?”, “Who’s version of ‘right and wrong’ do you mean?”, or as the Roman governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before His crucifixion, “What is truth?”. (John 18:38)  Without the eye-opening power of the risen Christ in a person’s life, it can be difficult to relate God’s standards for sexuality to them without coming off as judgmental.

purity 2That is why we’re once again targeting the Christian missionary, as sexual purity will be crucial in carrying out your assignment.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Heyyyy!  ALL Christians should take sexual purity seriously!”.  I applaud you right here in this coffee shop for thinking that way. While I wholeheartedly agree, there are a number of reasons why i’m including this in the survival guide.  First though, lets clear the air; the Lord God created sex, it is good, it is even holy, as it rehearses the power of creation that He shared with us in our design. (Genesis 1:28, 5:3)  What becomes sin is when we abuse this gift by taking it outside of the guidelines that the Creator has set for them. You can spend all day trying to explain this in detail, and may in fact succeed, but it really all comes down to accepting that there is a being far greater and wiser than you; One who knows how best to respect and utilize what you have better than you yourself. 

purity-12-8-2011For the Christian, remaining pure helps build an intimate relationship with God and His Son.  The Holy Spirit also flows much more freely and we enjoy an increased sensitivity to His will, His protection.  However, for the missionary it also assists us in carrying out our primary purpose: standing as ambassador’s for Jesus Christ in foreign lands.  Remember, you may be all they have to get any understanding of our hope in Christ.  That means eyes and hearts watching intently, some with anticipation of knowing the Lord, others with a desire to see failure.

1johnWhich brings me to another point; you cannot expect the standards of sexual morality to be the same as in your home country.  Depending on where you travel to, what is considered socially acceptable may be lower or even considerably higher than what you’re used to.  For example, in many Arab countries, kissing in public is frowned upon as is conversing with a woman instead of addressing her husband.  In Japan, communicating with the opposite sex can be complicating to foreigners as the Japanese use more indirect cues to get messages across.  In my case, this can mean that my relaxed but direct conversation style can come off as flirting whereas in the U.S. it’s how many of us talk to each other.  The point is to be aware of the image you are portraying on assignment because you are in a sensitive situation.  You may be presenting the changed life that Jesus can bring to people for the first time or helping to clear up misconceptions they already have about Christians.

Lastly, you want to stay spiritually potent in the Holy Spirit and as the Apostle Paul stated in the quote above, sinning sexually actually hurts yourself.  Our mind, spirit, emotions and soul are involved in this thing and now that we have the Holy Spirit we become much more aware of that fact when we sin than before.  Your mood suffers, you feel defeated, maybe you don`t want to read the Bible or tell anyone about Jesus because, how could you?  No one wants to be a hypocrite.  Though the grace of the Lord works in a merciful way that the law of the world can`t grasp, the reality is that these feelings surface and latch on to us when we succumb to temptation.  However, all of this is inner turmoil, what about the fallout from what has happened?  Whereas back home, church leaders and mentors are ready to help and what you did MAY be forgiven by a more Christian influenced society, that last value may not be so prominent at your post abroad.  Rumors spread, truth gets blown out of proportion, and you will be subject to their ways of assessing an individual who messed up.  All of it can happen and endanger what Christ has for you to do.   

"Sex Is Not the Problem, Lust is", an awesome book by Pastor Joshua Harris.

“Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust is)”, an awesome book by Pastor Joshua Harris.

Ah, but we serve an amazing God who forgives what we could not even look at, once we come to our senses.  So what are some practical things we can do to maintain our sexual purity in the Lord?  Accountability; first, to God by spiritually digesting scriptures that deal with this challenge, and then with fellow believers where you’re posted, preferably of the same gender in this case. Pray together with those you trust and who won’t hold your current weaknesses over your head.  If the internet is a pitfall for you, try to spend more time outdoors witnessing or doing other missionary work; why not read the word of God in a park or at a cafe?  Fasting is also a powerful tool to sharpen your spiritual perception and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you, it just takes further preparation and understanding of the discipline.  What we`re aiming for is using Godly wisdom in narrowing the avenues in which temptation travels to our doorstep. 

Does that gorgeous face you`ve been trying to win to Christ cause you to stutter or forget scripture?  Maybe you should hold off on witnessing to the opposite sex alone and spare yourself trouble.  It may seem excessive at first but in the end, when you stand before God alongside saved men and women of every race and tribe, it will all have been worth it.

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