A brief story about a Purity Ball in my Sunday newspaper catches my attention. There is an image (a church altar decked in lace like a bridal veil) and there are words spoken by a twelve-year-old girl (“I’m saving my purity for my husband”), and I feel troubled, as if there is a small pebble in my shoe.
I don’t know why I am troubled. These are my people, after all. We speak the same church-y language, we love the same Lord. And goodness knows we need more fathers like this one, fathers who dance with their daughters and whisper prayers over their heads.
It would be easy to keep turning the pages, forget the nagging pebble, but I do have an eight-year-old daughter, after all. I hold the paper still and say to the sky, “Lord, do you have wisdom for a firstborn girl raising a firstborn girl? I’m troubled, and I don’t know why.”
And I can’t say if it’s an answer to my prayer but what comes to me is a story: the woman at the well. The woman with five husbands and one who wasn’t even that. Considering her, I decide that she wasn’t created for a husband (or five). She was created for Jesus.
In fact, she was so highly esteemed by him that Jesus chose her to be the first to hear his earth-shattering news: the Messiah you have longed for is here. I am He.
I want to take this lovely twelve-year-old girl by the hand, look her in the eyes, and try to explain (but how to explain?) that purity isn’t some thing wrapped up in a box. It isn’t a commodity exchanged for a price. It’s a fire, it’s a light, it’s a fountain, and, yes, it turns the values of this world upside down because it’s holy and it’s a sacrifice.
What I would try to say is something like this: purity is a renewable gift, not a thing to grow dingy and worn (though I’m not quite sure who is the giver and who it is that receives, is it me? Is it Jesus?).
But the best news of all? Husband or no, you are invited to live the kind of love story in which even a prostitute can be the belle of the ball.
So, dear little girl, may your light shine, may my light shine, may the light given my daughter and my sons shine and shine. For He is ours, and we are His.