In one of the early releases of iOS 11.0.1, Apple introduced a feature to iPhones called Do Not Disturb While Driving. The reason for this feature is obvious: allow people to drive without the distraction of a phone, but give folks who text them a little information to know why they are not getting an immediate response. I have appreciated being on the receiving end of these texts.
But I noticed something after enabling this feature on my phone which actually disturbed me. Messages received while I was driving were responded to, yes, but those messages were also then marked as “read.” Due to this, I was not reading messages I received while I was driving, because I had no idea there was a new message to read. The unintended consequence of the do not disturb option for me was that I was now missing messages entirely. The problem was, from my perspective, that even though this feature allowed me to respond safely while driving, it didn’t take into account everything that I desire in the app.
Sometimes, by trying to fix a problem, we can create more problems, or at least an environment where they can grow, if we don’t properly identify the problem nor attack it correctly. We must be able to properly identify problems to be fixed and go about the fixing with the right mentality, or we will just cause other problems.
The Tebow Effect
Tim Tebow may be the United States’ most famous virgin, at least in the sense that he’s famous for his virginity. Our sex-crazed culture is simply infatuated with the idea of a college and NFL football player who chooses not to be sexually active — even to the point where many despise his choice and would attempt to sabotage it. His reasons for his commitment don’t matter to the watching world — all they hear is “I’m saving intercourse for marriage.”
I remember growing up and, where I was from, ‘virginity’ was the key word. What I mean is:
You could do anything you wanted, as long as you didn’t have intercourse, and still maintain your virginity.
The ensuing problems were evident. Unmarried people had permission to act however they wanted, as long as they didn’t technically have sex. This opened the door for all sorts of wickedness which is inappropriate to mention here. Just be sure that as soon as you give sinners a line to not cross, they will find every way to get as close to it as they can and twist it to suit their iniquitous desires.
The unintended consequence of a virginity-only focus is for lustful people to do everything but lose their virginity, yet still consider themselves to be OK. The problem is that all of these other acts are also sexually immoral, violations of God’s law, and damaging to the individual and their future marriage!
I Will Show You a Better Way
What if, instead of focusing on virginity, we focused on purity. Rather than focus on what we need to avoid to keep from getting dirty, we focused on what we ought to do and think about to be pure of heart?
The idea is this — your problem isn’t only keeping unstained from the world. Your problem is that you need to be conformed to the image of Christ. Young people’s problems aren’t solved by showing them how to remain a virgin, their primary need is that they need to be taught to focus on purity.
Philippians 4:8 ESV
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The antidote to sinning isn’t just not sinning. Just as the redemption bought for us by Christ wasn’t just his payment for sin on the cross, but his active obedience to God in all ways. To put it succinctly, Jesus lived a pure life. James reiterates Proverbs 3:27 when he tells us that whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:17). There is more to avoiding sexual immorality than just being a virgin, just as there is more to living a pure life than just avoiding a list of sins.
Pursue purity. Seek it. Think about what is just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Focus on God’s atonement for you provided in Christ and on His perfect attributes. And don’t sell yourself short like those who have kept their virginity, but gave away all other manners of purity.
- Don’t just ‘not steal’ — work hard and give to those in need (James 2:15-16;Eph 4:28).
- Don’t just avoid bad doctrine — put on Christ and learn of Him (Eph 4:15).
- Don’t simply avoid worldliness — thrive in the world without being of the world (Phil 2:15;1 John 2:15).
- Don’t rely on Jesus to forgive your sins and pay for them without also trusting in His righteousness as your own (2 Cor 5:21).
God has given us methods in His Word to refocus our thoughts and desires on that which is pure and good. In some cases, it is a permanent redirection from evil. In other cases, it’s to maintain a proper focus while we are waiting for something we cannot righteously have at any given time. We should trust Him and His ways!