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3 Myths of Purity Women Buy Into

Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NIV) says that "wisdom is better than weapons of war," so let's wise up to the truth behind some of the myths that women often believe.

The battle for sexual purity is one that every woman fights, regardless of age, race, educational background, or marital status. While the battle for sexual purity may look a little different depending on the season of life you're in, embracing God's plan for sexual integrity is the only sure-fire strategy for victory. Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NIV) says that "wisdom is better than weapons of war," so let's wise up to the truth behind some of the myths that women often believe.

As long as I'm not engaging in sexual activity, I'm sexually pure

While I hate to rain on anyone's purity parade, sexual purity is not measured only by what you choose to do or not do in a dating relationship. It's also measured by the fantasies you entertain, the books you read, the TV programs and movies you watch, and the websites you visit.

Sexually suggestive media can be a major stumbling block for single women. Coming home after a long day's work to an empty house with no accountability makes it very tempting to turn on the tube, unscrew your head, and put it under the sofa as you allow Hollywood to fill your mind with sexual images and innuendoes.

Sexual integrity isn't just conducting ourselves appropriately in romantic relationships. It also includes the choices we make to guard ourselves against being sexually stimulated even when alone. Ephesians 5:3 (NIV) sets the standard that "among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality." Such hints include explicit romance novels, soap operas, TV programs, and movies that glorify sex outside of marriage and create unrealistic expectations in relationships.

Loneliness can also lead to the temptation to connect with others through the Internet where women as well as men are falling into the cyber-porn trap. According to a recent poll through Christianity Today's online newsletter, 34 percent of readers admit to intentionally accessing Internet porn.

Therefore, even if you are not in a romantic relationship, be aware that sexual purity includes guarding not just your body but your mind and heart as well from these influences.

If I hope to find a husband, I need to dress sexy

As the lead singer on her church worship team, Allison often dresses to draw more attention to her body than to God. She often wears blouses with plunging necklines and clingy short skirts. Even the godliest of men can't help but be somewhat distracted by her. A few guys at church have asked her out, but it doesn't take long before most begin pushing the envelope, trying to coerce her into becoming more physical than she intends. "Why can't guys just look and not touch until they are married?" she wonders.

The myth that women need to dress sexy to turn a guy's head assumes three things. First, that no man is capable of finding a woman attractive unless she reveals excessive amounts of skin or curves. While men may not be as attracted to women in ankle-length muumuus, they are capable of using their imaginations, which many confess to doing far more often than they should. If a guy is interested in a healthy relationship, he's certainly not going to pass you up because you aren't dressed sexy enough. If he does, be glad. He's not the kind of husband you would want anyway.

Second, it assumes that a godly man can be caught using ungodly means. Any fisherman will tell you that whatever bait you use determines the kind of fish you will catch. You don't catch a rainbow trout using catfish bait, and you don't catch a respectable guy wearing immodest clothes. If you dress sexy to catch a guy, you'll catch a lustful one who is likely to have his head turned again by the next scantily-clad woman who walks by.

Third, it assumes that women have absolutely no responsibility in helping men guard their own eyes against lust and sexual immorality. However, Luke 17:1-2 tells us that it is better to be cast into the sea with a millstone around our necks than to cause a brother to stumble and fall into sin.

Getting married will solve my sexual self-control problems

Marriage is more about ministering to the needs of another than about having our own needs met and problems solved. Yet too many single women mistakenly believe that marriage is the ticket to personal happiness. As a matter of fact, psychologists studied 15 years' worth of data on 24,000 people and found that "being married boosts happiness only one-tenth of a point on an 11-point scale … most people are no more satisfied with life after marriage than they were before … and although happiness rises after exchanging vows, most people return to their pre-marriage level within two years."

Here's what I've discovered, even in the midst of a good marriage to a great guy: Putting a wedding ring on your finger doesn't necessarily remedy sexual temptations and emotional longings for other men.  Sure you hear the expression, "she only has eyes for him," but by human nature, women notice and can even feel overwhelmingly attracted to other men, even when happily married.

How you deal with pre-marital temptations is a very good indicator of how you will someday handle any extra-marital temptations. Exercising sexual and emotional control as a single woman provides the practice you need in order to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally faithful to your husband if you choose to marry someday.

Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience. I wish I had practiced guarding my mind, heart, and body more faithfully prior to marriage. After a few years, I grew weary of resisting extra-marital temptations. In desperation, I cried out to my husband, "You just don't meet my emotional needs!" Greg lovingly responded, "Shannon, you have a Grand Canyon of emotional needs, and even if every man in Dallas lined up outside your doorstep to spend time with you, it wouldn't be enough. Until you let God meet all your needs, there's nothing that I, nor any other man on the planet, can do to satisfy you!"

Through many years of reconciling my own issues, I realized that all of my pre-marital and extra-marital temptations boiled down to one doubt that plagued me all my life, a doubt that plagues single women especially. I simply didn't believe God was sufficient to supply all of my needs for love, attention, and affection. I didn't understand that only His grace, not another set of rules or boundaries, could help me stand firm in the face of temptation.

Many women say, "But how can God, who I can't even feel physically, satisfy my desires?" Remember that sexual desires are not just physical in nature. They are mental, emotional, and spiritual longings for intimate connection. Consistently spending quality time alone with God provides for our mental, emotional, and spiritual longings and provides the grace to control our physical desires as well. But we must receive this free gift of grace and put it into practice.

Sweet surrender

If any of these myths awakened you to the fact that you are standing in the line of fire in this battle for sexual integrity, wave a white flag of surrender to God. He longs to usher you to a place of safety and security and for you to taste the sweetness of victory against sexual temptations.

Shannon Ethridge, author of Every Woman's Battle (WaterBrook Press), is a speaker, lay counselor, and advocate for sexual integrity. She founded Well Women Ministries to teach women the joy of pursuing a passionate relationship with Christ.