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They’re not defined even by their own meager virtues. Moreover, they find that “for those who love God, things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This does not by any stretch mean that past sin wasn’t sin — one of my best friends is an eleven-years-sober addict who did dreadful things during his worst days — but it does mean that their past now gives them a unique ability to reach suffering people.

Their terrible stories and past pain have been redeemed, transformed into instruments of grace and mercy.

If anything, however, the sales numbers understated its influence.

It was part of the foundation of Evangelical “purity culture,” and it revolutionized parenting and dating for countless Christian parents and families. I was a youth pastor for a few memorable months at the height of the courtship craze.

One of my first acts as youth pastor was to lift the ban on dating.

Ending legalism is not the same thing as sanctioning sin, and I have no idea if there was more or less extramarital sex as a result of the dating ban or the purity rings.

They are not and were never the “special” sins that created particularly acute separation from God.

A girl would walk down the aisle to marry a man who loved God and loved her, and she’d feel a shadow on her soul.

In point of fact, the gospel message rests first on bad news, then on indescribably good news.

This is what writer Katelyn Beaty called the “sexual prosperity gospel,” an “if/then” transactional relationship with God that manufactures a series of promises from scripture and then creates a form of Christian entitlement and expectation.

“I did what you asked, Lord, now may I see my reward?

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