TCI contributor Alastair Roberts has characteristically nuanced reflections about the wave of articles criticizing a Christian “purity ethic”.
From his post:
Further, as we have not attained to the full level of maturity in Christ, the form of Christian ethic has not yet been internalized, which means that it can still come to us as an external command. While the ethical instruction and direction that we provide to children and teenagers have deeper integrating rationales, they are often not yet able to grasp this. This doesn’t make the ethic any less integrated. It just means that the integration of the ethic hasn’t yet been subjectively apprehended. Of course, we labour towards that end, but in the meantime, the moral imperative of ethical commands as yet not fully subjectively integrated is still present.
This is important when it comes to the question of a purity ethic, which will often have to be addressed to people who do not yet truly grasp its integrating principles. We want teenagers to understand why it is wrong for them to engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, and why it is important to comport and clothe themselves in a non-sexualized manner, but the fact that many do not yet appreciate why does not negate the ethical coordinates of the situation. In our laudable desire to communicate the integrating rationale of Christian sexual ethics, we should not neglect the objective force of those ethics. This may take the form of telling teenagers that certain actions are wrong and forbidding them to engage in them, even when they do not yet understand why.