Last night, I made a comment on a friend's Facebook post regarding what God says about sexual intimacy - specifically that two persons who engage in a sexual act together are linked in spirit by this act. And as a single woman, I'll admit - I'm looking for someone who is not linked to anyone in this way. (Read: I hold virginity/celibacy in high regard.)
When I woke this morning, a friend of this friend had responded, tearing into the "purity culture" and calling it "total BS" that I couldn't have a completely fulfilling relationship with someone who has had sex with someone else without that other person being a third presence in our relationship. She cited her own experience as the authority on the matter, and then added that "either you believe that God can make people new or you don't."
This is precisely the kind of argument that has taken over in our world, and it is why we are facing a crisis not only of faith, but of truth.
This world is all-too-willing to say that God (and His truth, His standards, His values, His commandments, etc.) has perverted this world, but the truth is that this world has perverted God.
Let's start breaking this argument down, shall we?
First, let's start with the idea of a "purity culture," as though purity is just one idea among many and as if it is a thing on its own. There is not much of a purity culture to speak of at all outside of those who believe God's word on the subject; the secular world, despite even the scientific, health-related reasons to subscribe to an idea of purity, is not espousing purity. Not by a long shot. We have replaced real talk about sex with a celebration of it. We stopped talking about the implications and started talking about the sensations. So this so-called "purity culture" is not really a thing. It's a God-thing. The two ideas cannot be separated. So let's not pretend it's a "culture" thing.
Second, the citation of personal experience as proof-positive for the argument places this individual above God in matters of truth. "I can tell you from experience that the Word of God is not true." That's what "total BS" means. Aside from the heavy theological implications of claiming to know more than God does about a subject on which He has been clear (not to mention a human experience that He created), this is also a claim about totality of knowledge. The truth is that we don't know as much as we think we do, not even about ourselves. What feels like it's working for us today may not actually be working at all, although it may take us several days, weeks, months, years, decades to figure that out. Who among us can look back even five years and say, "Yes. I have always had it right. I have always known that was the truth. Man, I am so wise." The honest answer is: none of us. So while this person's experience may presently be that it is "total BS," she does not know the limitations of her own knowledge, even of her own knowledge of her own heart, and she does not know the whispers in the hearts of others involved in her conclusion.
We lie to ourselves all the time. And then we tell our lies to others and call them truth. But it doesn't make them so.
Third, and here's the part that makes this whole thing harder to untangle, she appeals to God's character and promises right after rejecting His truth. "All that stuff God said about sex? That's total BS. Because He can make people new." We do this all the time. We use one statement about God to buffer us from another. We pick and choose what we need to hold onto from Him and use it as a counterbalance to what we outright reject.
God doesn't work that way. If your argument is that His character and His promise are true, His truth is a fundamental part of His character. If you buy that He "is making all things new," then you must also believe He is "the way, the truth, and the life." Otherwise, this god you speak of is not God; it's an idol. It's an image of your own making, in your own reflection, of whatever "works" for you.
By the way, if your argument is that what God says about sex is not true and your proof is that He can make all things new, you have refuted your own argument in your conclusion. He would not need to make anything new if it were not broken in the first place. Therefore, from a purely logical standpoint, the second point relies on the first - it must be true what God says about sex if He is to redeem someone from the broken experience of it. This is true with or without the theological aspect of it.
Finally, let's be real about this - sexual intimacy is unlike anything else in the created world. It is fundamentally different than any of the other troubles that we get ourselves into. The argument that "God can make people new" is true. It's absolutely true. But it's a very different thing in terms of this particular question than in regard to any other.
We'll look at that tomorrow.