What About Emotional Purity?

This is one of the most dangerous and unbiblical teachings I've seen out there for Christian young women (or men for that matter). It's been written about in most courtship books, but Heather Paulsen took the cake when she wrote Emotional Purity: an Affair of the Heart. Since I'm sure many of you have heard about this topic before, I'm simply going to point out what is so damaging about this teaching and what you should be watchful of.
1. The entire concept is based on fear. Fear of getting hurt, fear of a broken heart, fear of making mistakes, fear of pain, fear of failure. Now we are told countless times throughout the Bible that we are not to fear anything but God. Fear can easily turn into sin when it prevents and holds us back from trusting God. When we keep fear in our hearts, we lose faith and trust in who God is, and instead lean upon our own understandings. We are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), we are not to have the spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7), we are to trust in The Lord (Prov 3:5). We need to replace the fear in our hearts with faith. And guarding your heart? Most of the time that's just another way of saying you are scared to open in.

2. It perverts something that is natural. God gave us emotions, and having feelings or attraction towards someone of the opposite sex is completely 100% normal! It's not wrong for a 15 year old girl to be attracted to another teenaged boy. That is nature, how God designed us my friends! It isn't something to be ashamed of or to think of as un-natural, or even worse, think of it as a sin. Does it need to be controlled? Of course. Are there ever cases where it is wrong? Yes. (i.e. you shouldn't have feelings for a married man..unless he is yours! haha) But cut and dry, the whole idea that having feelings for the opposite sex is wrong is perverting something that is normal.

3. It causes a prideful spirit. I've never had a crush before. I've never had my heart broken. I'm saving my heart for my husband. I've never said I Love You. Wow. Aren't you so spiritual? Emotional purity seems to bring on a self righteous attitude of what you have (or haven't) done. You end up looking down on other girls who don't guard their heart as well as you do. You might even turn down or come to resent your future mate because he wasn't as "pure" as you were. In many cases, girls who go overboard on guarding their heart become judgmental and proud.

4. It transforms a normal functioning heart that feels into a piece of useless stone. It creates this zombie-like state where you constantly shut down your emotions. It's unhealthy, it's not a heart after God, and it isn't Christian. And the saddest part is that on the day you are finally "allowed" to open your heart, for many the damage has already been done. It can cause years of taking down walls, learning how to feel, learning how to love and be loved. It can cause a lifetime of struggle in handling normal human relationships. Sadly, emotional purity often causes some serious dysfunctional issues when it comes to future relationships.

5. It promotes the idea that giving your heart away prior to marriage = damaged goods. Girls, please do not believe this because it is not true! When you give a piece of your heart away to anyone, yes it's gone forever, but that doesn't mean you have less of a heart afterwards. The more you love others, the more love God pours into your heart! I love Jesus, I love my parents and siblings, my husband and daughter, I have loved many friends in my lifetime. I've given love away only to have people reject it, I've loved and lost. But you know what? I still have room left in my heart to love someone else. By the grace of God I will always have a heart overflowing with love. It really is a dumb concept if you take a minute to consider it. Oh no, I already gave all of my love away to the people in my life right now, if God gives me another child, I just won't have any love left for them. Oh, well! I was going to say that to be fair, let's only consider romantic relations, but in this case, giving your heart away applies to every relationship. Considering that we define having an emotional attachment as "giving your heart away." (technically all of my pets, past, present, and future have all "taken" a piece of my heart as well.)

6. It makes heartbreak out to be worst thing that could EVER happen. Do you know my worst heartbreak was with a friend of mine that actually was *gasp* a girl? Not even a boy, imagine that. To make it simple, she stabbed me in the back. In a big way. I was sick over it, my trust had been so betrayed I never thought I'd be whole again. I didn't want to trust anyone, I didn't want to ever take a chance again when it came to my heart. It took some time but I eventually healed, only to have it happen a few more times which sealed the deal. I was done getting emotionally involved with people because it only lead to heartbreak. I was tired of feeling broken and used.

The next time I trusted someone it was the man who I ended up marrying. That was the scariest leap I took but it ended up being the most worthwhile chance I had ever taken. It's been awhile since all those prior heartbreaks and you know what? Looking back I still don't regret all the experiences I had in those relationships that fell apart, and if I could go back in time, I honestly wouldn't change a thing. Yes, I got hurt, and heartache is never something one desires. But it's simple, life goes on. You get through the pain. I do not have a damaged heart, I have a heart that has loved and been loved, taken courageous jumps of faith, felt much pain and known heartache. Damaged? No. It has simply experienced life.
I think it comes down to this; are you willing to trust God fully in every area of you life, even if that means experiencing pain and allowing Him to heal you? Are you willing to open your heart and take a chance? Guard your heart against lust and impurity (along with pride, fear, envy, idolatry, selfishness, etc. Why do we put such a big focus on impurity when there are so many other things we should protect against?). Ask God to cleanse your heart daily and show you any hidden sin that might be within your heart. Let God lead and guide your heart and life, and learn to trust Him with everything, even your fears! Don't be afraid to open your heart and don't be afraid to love. If you are close to the Lord, he will always be there to help you in every situation and stage of life. Emotional purity is important and something we don't need to overlook....but it needs to be balanced. (EDIT: thank you for the commenter who brought it to my attention. By "balance," I mean that it should be balanced with the points brought up above. For example, Balance meaning that girls liking boys, is by no means impurity, which this book suggests.) I pray that this post could be helpful and give you some things to think about and consider when it comes to this topic!

Until next time, Marie Danielle


  1. Thank you!!! This sums up my thoughts exactly!!!

  2. Dear Marie,
    I know you are coming from a desire to encourage, and I enjoy your blog so much! But I have to say, I completely disagree with this one. You end by saying that "emotional purity is important and something we don't need to overlook, but it needs to be balanced." Balanced with what? Emotional impurity? Anyways, I'm sorry-I don't want to turn this into a debate on your blog in any way, but just wanted to share my thoughts in a loving manner. If you're interested, here's a post my sister wrote on the subject: http://onebrightcorner.blogspot.com/2010/10/honest-heart.html


  3. This is really good! I get so irritated at people decreeing that it's sinful to have feelings. When I was 13 I had a crush on a boy I grew up with and I seriously thought I was going to hell because I thought he was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I literally came to my dad crying and explaining that I had sinful thoughts and I sort of explained to me that it's okay, that it's not sinful, it's natural. My Sunday School was not very good for my emotional growth!

  4. I definitely agree. I've had it said many times to not crush on the opposite sex during my teens, to keep my heart pure. But my parents always taught me that attraction to the opposite sex is natural, something we're born with, and nothing to be ashamed of. I'm thankful for parents who taught me the difference, otherwise I might have had it much rougher in my teens. Thank you for this post!

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  6. I agree!! Feelings are not sinful - its what you do with them! :) Thanks for this post - very encouraging!!

  7. I agree with you on this one! I read that book, and I admit I own that book. I felt like trash, after reading it. Like I would never deserve to marry.. I had a few crushes and a serious boy-friend before I met and married my husband. While my sister had the stand point of, point number 3. I felt like she was better then me. Anyway, I really agree with your post. And I thank you for posting this... Keep up the great writing!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really connected with this. :)

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I feel this tends to be an area that needs balance in the Christian walk, and that this viewpoint is almost as damaging as one of complete sexual sin. The important thing to remember is that the sins: lust, pride, anger etc. are from your own heart, and even though being in some situations may expose them better, staying away from relationships isn't going to make them go away. Also, I really enjoyed you pointing out about how this causes pride in some people: something I see a lot in my youth group. We tend to separate into our gender groups and if a girl talks to a boy a lot or sits by him they begin to get stared at and looked down upon by other kids. It also sets up this pretense where nobody can do anything nice for someone of the opposite sex without it being 'flirtatious'. Thanks for being willing to post this and offering some valuable insight!


Hey there! Thank's so much for taking the time to visit my blog. I love hearing feedback from my readers, your comments bring sunshine into my day! Please no anonymous commenters, sign your comment with your name or a nickname so I know who you are! :-) Wishing you a fabulous day, XO, Marie