The case for personal holiness

April 27, 2019

A YOUNG lad once asked me, “Tito Nelson, are you in favor of pre-marital sex?”

I replied, “I am in favor of maximum pleasure.”

Now wait. Before you think what I think you’re thinking, hear me out. It has to do with holiness and happiness. Let’s look at the first.

“Holiness” gets such a bum rap these days. Mention the H word to a horde of party animals and watch them snort in derision. I mean, holiness has such a killjoy connotation that “holier than thou” is more of a taunt than a trophy.

But this only goes to show how much we have lost the true meaning of the word. Holiness is more of a state than a straitjacket of do’s and don’ts (mostly dont’s). In a deeper sense, to be holy means being meant for better and special purposes.

Think of a government vehicle stamped with “For Official Use Only.” It is “set apart” for government use. But if you see that same vehicle being used for midnight drag racing — and the people inside don’t look like officials — then in Biblical language, that car has been desecrated.

The same is true for your body. Imagine a sign hanging from our necks that says “For Official Use Only.” Whose use? Well, God created your body. What’s more, God purchased your body with no less than the blood of Christ. That means God owns your body twice over.

Therefore, our bodies (not to mention all of us and all we have) are meant to be holy. It is patently untrue to say that we have the right to do as we please with our bodies. Part of that “For Official Use Only” is God’s plan that we enjoy sexual pleasure within the bonds of marriage. This explains why holiness includes sexual purity.

Now we get to happiness. I cringe every time I hear someone teaching “God’s objective is to make us holy, not happy.” As if holiness and happiness are mutually exclusive! No wonder not too many people want to be holy; they think it is a ticket to self-imposed misery.

The real picture is “God’s objective is to make us holy and therefore the happiest we can be.” God designed us to find our deepest satisfaction in Him. If we stay being for His official use only, we will drink from that joy.

On the other hand, if we pursue “non-official” activities, we are drinking from lesser joys. Sometimes after that lesser joy subsides, we are left feeling more hollow than ever. That includes pre-marital sex.

So prioritize your joys. Don’t think holiness as a boxing match between pain and pleasure. Rather, think pleasure versus pleasure. It is a smart choice between the lasting pleasure of staying with God versus the fleeting pleasure of straying away from God.

Thus, to be holy is to maximize your pleasure. It just so happens it ain’t premarital sex.

Holy Week has ended. But for the rest of the year, indeed, for the rest of our lives, let us be “For Official Use Only”.