I've Been Abused; Am I Still Pure?

February is the month of love. Many of us will be swept up in the emotion of it all, either googly-eyed and heart sick over the love in our lives, or crestfallen and heartbroken over the lack thereof. Because of that, us older, married types will seize the opportunity to teach you about God's plan for love, romance, and sex in the hopes that you'll grab on to His plan for your love life. Until recently, I didn't realize that teaching about God's plan for romance, specifically His standards for sexual purity, could pick the scabs on some serious wounds. That's why I'm so glad that Amy wrote these brave words to us in a comment on a previous blog post.

"For someone (such as myself) who is a survivor of sexual abuse, this type of post seems laden with condemnation. I'm sure that was not at all y'all's intention, but I felt like I needed to make you aware of this. We (those of us who have experienced severe sexual abuse) had no option to protect our purity—it was taken from us without our consent. It seems that such circumstances are often glossed over or ignored in the Christian community as a whole. "I would really appreciate some discussion on the topic of purity that includes something aimed at those such as myself who feel judged or looked down upon when this topic is broached. I don't know if this is a lack of knowledge, a lack of thought, or what, but it seems it is always 'overlooked.'"

Amy's right. For girls who have been abused sexually, the game is changed. It's no longer just a question of, "Will I choose to avoid sexual sin?" but becomes a matter of, "How can I move forward when sexual sin was committed against me?" I'm not a counselor, and I don't have words deep enough to heal the damage that has been done. But for Amy's sake, and for the sake of all other victims of sexual abuse who feel "overlooked" in the conversation of purity, I want us to dig in to God's Word for answers on this tough topic.

First Things First

Before we even begin to pry the lid off of the question, "Am I still pure?" there's a more important issue that needs to be addressed. If you've been hurt in this way or have made the mistake of sinning sexually, you are likely asking this gut-wrenching question: "Do I still have value?" The answer is a humongous "yes!" You don't have to take my word for it. Jesus illustrates this clearly through His interactions with women in the New Testament. In John 8:1–11 Jesus encounters a woman caught in the act of adultery. Sure, others heaped on condemnation toward her, but not Jesus. He stood between her and her accusers as a human shield and said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (John 8:11).

Jesus' love is not rooted in what you do or what is done to you, it is rooted in who you are.

Hop back a couple of chapters to John 4, and Jesus encounters a woman who had had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. The Bible doesn't fill in the details of her story, but we can assume that five broken marriages had left deep scars on her heart. Had she been abused and used up by those men? We can't know for sure, but we can know that her past did not disgust Jesus or cause Him to turn away from her. He treated her with dignity, love, and compassion. No matter what happens to you or what choices you make, God loves you. Ephesians 1:4–5 is a promise you can take to the bank.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will."

Go back. Read it again. When did God choose you? When did He decide to adopt you as His own? Before the foundations of the world. Before you were created. Before you had the chance to sin or be sinned against. That's because His love is not rooted in what you do or what is done to you, it is rooted in who you are. But . . . what about my purity? We often boil down the message of sexual purity to one word: wait. The big idea is that it's God's plan for you to wait to be sexually involved until you are married. And that's true. God's best is for one man and one woman to wait to experience sexual intimacy until they are married. But what if that has been taken from you? Our eyes can be clouded by our experiences, emotions, and the influences around us. But God's Word is like Windex for the soul. If we look there for answers, we can find clarity. Here's what God's Word says about your purity.

  • Matthew 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God."
  • In Hebrews 13:18 Paul said, "Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things."
  • Proverbs 17:13, "The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts."

Notice that these passages discuss purity as a matter of the heart. He sees your heart. He sees that you did not want what happened to you and did not pursue it. He is not confused about who is to blame or who missed the mark. Despite the pain, He knows if you have a heart's cry like Paul's, "I desire to act honorably in all things."

There is no wound God's love cannot heal.

Purity is a heart's desire to honor the Lord that extends to our choices. If you have been sexually abused, it is not your purity that has been taken, but your innocence. You've paid a heavy price, and I don't want to gloss over that. It makes the momma bear in me what to stand up on her hind legs and roar! But it also makes me want to show you, that there is no wound God's love cannot heal.

You Get a White Robe

When sin (either our own or the sin of someone else) drops a nuclear bomb on our lives, it can be difficult to see beyond the blast zone. But there is hope that one day everything will be set right. Revelation 7:9–10 describes that day,

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!'"

Jesus died on the cross to fill the great chasm that sin creates. One day we will celebrate that with Him. Did you notice what we will be wearing? White robes. Why do brides wear white on their wedding day? As a symbol of purity. It is no accident that this is what each of us will wear at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. None of us will deserve to wear them. Our lives are all soiled by sin. But God will clothe us in white, because His sacrifice provides a way for us to stand pure and blameless before Him. If you are struggling to feel pure in the wake of sexual abuse, let me encourage you to say Psalm 51:7 as a prayer.

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

No matter what happens to you, God is able to take the grime and gunk and wash it clean. He is able to heal what is broken and set right what has been turned upside down. The God who approached the adulterous woman and the woman at the well with compassion, understanding, and hope offers those same things to you, sweet girl. Condemnation is not His style (Romans 8:1). Eternal, everlasting, sacrificial, unchanging, compassionate, tender, love is.

God is able to heal what is broken and set right what has been turned upside down.

If you have been abused, we want to do our best to love you like He has. No condemnation from us here. We are praying for you, knowing that God will keep His promise to work all things, even the worst things, for your good (Romans 8:28). Also, if you have not already done so, we want to encourage you to tell a wise, older person such as your parents, pastor, or youth pastor about what has happened to you. They will be the best resource to help you see God's truth clearly. After you've talked to someone in your world (that really is the most important first step), here are some additional resources for you to check out.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.