emotional purity summary

Book Summary & Notes: Emotional Purity by Heather Arnel Paulsen

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Emotional Purity

by Heather Arnel Paulsen

Published: 2007 by Crossway Books

Chastity | Dating (Social Customs) | Christianity | Marriage

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Resonating Quotes:

Many singles walk around with battle scars – emotional wounds created by undefined intimate friendships

When you experience intimacy without commitment, you are playing with the heart of a fellow brother in Christ, and you will violate emotional purity.

“You want to avoid pain in your dating relationships, you are going to have to make a change. You can’t take the same path and expect a different outcome. You must take a totally new course.”

Since we are created to be different, single men and women need to take responsibility for how the other person will react to the attention each is giving. We don’t want to cause a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble, stray, or lose his or her focus on God.

While most of the advocates focus on teaching the importance of being physically pure as an act of obedience to God, Heather, emphasizes the best preventive measure: EMOTIONAL PURITY.


The book starts with the story of two Christian young adults, Tracy and Mike, who are both growing in the Lord. One could say that they are both financially, spiritually, and emotionally ready to enter a relationship, or so it seems. 

Avoiding Early Intimacy

A common trap so frequently repeated by singles. In a society where friendships between men and women are common, accepted, and encouraged, why do we have so many broken hearts? Why are emotions spent and hearts bonded, with little or no thought that there could be another path?

We must resensitize ourselves to the importance of guarding our hearts against the “just friends” battle wounds.

Physical intimacy – we call it by many names: petting. making love, having sex, making out – the list is endless.

Emotional intimacy – a close, private relationship that would involve strong feelings, passions, and the senses. Your heart and the heart of the other person are connected and you share a deep bond. You both have a strong, private, personal relationship that stirs up deep feelings.

How dangerous is flirting and intimacy before commitment? When you use a great deal of your mental energy on guys, even if you are not sharing deep emotional feelings, you can cross the line with your thought life. Emotional intimacy will bring about physical intimacy.

Emotional intimacy is the kind of closeness and familiarity that stirs feelings and senses that promote a bond, a union that God reserves for the marriage relationship. The Bible states, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” (Heb. 13:4)

As Mike Farris puts it, “If a young person starts “falling in love” at 13 or 14 years old, emotional commitments are made and inevitably broken. Pieces of one’s heart are given away. After a while, emotional entanglements lead to physical activities. So-called minor activities are first. The activities get more and more intimate as the months and years drag on. After one has been a part of the dating scene for three, four, or five years, the natural physical response to romantic love sexual intercourse is tantamount to inevitable.”

Mixed messages. Because of the unspoken bond, a lot of people get confused. “Am I his girlfriend? or just his friend?”. When feelings aren’t defined, you’ll be left wondering and playing the assumption game.

On the other hand, if the relationship is clearly defined, there’s clarity and stated expectation.

Even if you have a broken past, you think you’ve messed up and you could never be pure again, stop right there!

God’s love and grace for you are bigger than any mistake you have made. He is the healer of past wounds. He longs for you to turn to Him and give Him all your baggage.

Finding Good Guidance

Emotional purity is a new concept for most of us, so it takes time to process. A contributing factor has to do with previous generations. Generations don’t mingle with each other and share ideas, thoughts, wisdom, and feelings.

Society today is different than it was in the past. A hundred years ago, young men and women were not allowed to be free in their time together.

In Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, Christopher Schlect examines why as a society we have the idea of “separation of generational influence.” He writes, “Grandville Stanley Hall taught that each generation is, or should be, superior to the previous one, and therefore needs to break free from those which precede it.”

Most people believe they can gain more insight from their peers than from their old-fashioned parents of grandparents. We have looked to our peers, and not our parents, for spiritual growth and emotional guidance.

Youth groups and singles Bible studies present a dangerous breeding ground for youth and singles when these studies are peer-led. Where there is no one older guiding the group, teens and singles are not protecting themselves. Teenagers need older folks, and singles of all ages need guidance as well.

In Titus chapter 2, Paul addressed the issue of the mixing of generations. He said that both older men and women are to teach and exhort younger men and women in different areas.

Emotional purity remains protected when older guidance plays a role in our life.

Older men are instructed to teach younger men to be sensible, examples of good deeds, pure in doctrine, dignified, and sound in speech.

Younger women are taught to love their husbands, love their children, and be sensible, pure, kind, workers at home, and subject to their husbands so that the Word of God will not be dishonored.

Even Solomon, the wisest man in all history, repeats the idea of having mentors. In the book of Proverbs: “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (1:8). “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings” (4:20). “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you” (7:1). “And now, O sons, listen to me and be attentive to the words of my mouth” (7:24).

Young people need advice and the input of the God-fearing people. A great deal of blessing and freedom comes from a heart willing to seek guidance from the wise.

When you experience intimacy without commitment, you are playing with the heart of a fellow brother in Christ, and you will violate emotional purity. With so many singles receiving intimacy – spiritually, emotionally, and physically – from members of the opposite sex, marriage is no longer special.

Strive toward emotional purity, and one day you will reap the rewards. When someone gives away so many pieces along the way, the future husband or wife will not receive the whole heart.

Guarding Your Heart

God created women with hearts that are more sensitive and emotional than men’s. (See 1 Pet. 3:7, Eph 5:25, Titus 2:3-4, Col 3:18)

Men’s inspired command is to love their wives and to be understanding with them so as not to hinder their own prayers. (1 Pet. 3:7). Titus 2:4-5 instructs older women to encourage younger women to love their husbands and children.

God created male and female to represent His whole being. He is the God of understanding and can open our eyes to purity in all areas.

Since we are created to be different, single men and women need to take responsibility for how the other person will react to the attention each is giving. We don’t want to cause a fellow brother or sister in Christ to stumble, stray, or lose his or her focus on God.

Most of the time when we see the word love in the Bible, it is the Greek word agape, a love that earnestly desires and wants the best for another. The Greek word mentioned here for love is phileo, a love a wife is to have for her husband. means friendship, an emotional attachment type of love.

In a survey about women and her first love, only 17 of those 116 women married their first love.

Sometimes, we steal the hearts of the men around us. How? By defrauding each other. Defraud comes from the Greek word pleonekto, which means “to have more” or “to gain or take advantage of another, to overreach.” Defrauding means “one eager to have more, especially what belongs to others.”

Webster defines defraud as “to swindle or cheat.”

You defraud people when you use them or cheat them of something they need to save for someone else. When you play with the emotions or expectations of someone without expecting to satisfy them in a righteous way, you are defrauding him or her. You are teasing him/her with what he/she cannot have.

You cannot satisfy another person until you make a commitment. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NASB) states: For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”

In our society, there is a common acceptance of defrauding one another in uncommitted, emotionally intimate friendships between men and women. We have become desensitized to the emotional purity of our friends. We defraud each other in this arena without even realizing what we are doing.

Having intimacy with no long-term commitment – you defraud each other. You are taking time, energy, and emotions from each other. You take parts of each other’s hearts that do not belong to each of you.

For Guys Only

The female heart is a mystery to most men. Women are emotional, they tend to become emotionally charged in different ways than men. We are emotional in all relationships and can become emotionally connected in a matter of moments. For example, if you are paying special attention to a young lady and you have no intention of taking this relationship to the next level, you are emotionally charging her up. She’s already planning your wedding and naming your kids.

It is important to be very careful about how you treat the women in your life. The female heart should be protected. Toying a woman’s emotions without commitment may reap a lifetime of paying the price. The joyride may be an emotionally satisfying, ego-stroking, and self-pleasing experience, but it could both hurt you. Think of this: Your future wife, is she remains emotionally whole, will have all of her heart to five to you and to you alone.

A man’s tender attention and smooth words can steal a girl’s heart. However, the young girl in the Song of Solomon requests repeatedly not to arouse or awaken her love until she pleases (2:7; 3:5; 8:4). Men, when you treat a young lady as “special”, you may be whetting her appetite for marriage.

This does not mean you have to stop talking to women, but you need to be aware of what to day: Talk to all girls equally. The more you share with a young lady, the more you may be causing her to draw closer to you. Girls believe your actions more than your words.

However, understand that the way a girl reacts to how you treat her is not all your responsibility. She must look at how you treat all girls. This is why if you are not interested in a young lady, you must treat her the same way you treat all your other friends – male and female.

Defining the Friendship

Can a man and a woman be “just friends?” Is it wrong to have male/female friendships? Of course not! However, the danger is the emotional free-for-all that Christian singles play around within their relationships. Emotions are given, tossed about, and sometimes stolen without a cost.

How to manage expectations: Avoid treating friends of the opposite sex as special. Simple. treat them as you would anyone else.

When spending time with male friends, you can ask yourself these questions that can help you maintain emotional purity:

  1. Would I be treating him this way if his wife were here?
  2. Would I be thinking about him if I were married?
  3. Would I be saying this is my husband were here?

Protecting Your Relationships: First, Commitment, Then Intimacy

Protecting your heart is a difficult task, but is essential if the goal — to save all your heart for your future mate – is to be fulfilled.

For some, protecting your heart may require less flirting; for some, it may require not giving special attention to a friend.

Only after we enter into a lifelong commitment with God may we come into the Most Holy Place of intimacy with Him. (See Heb. 9:1-7; Exod. 25:22)

Step one: a life-long commitment. Step two: intimacy. It is impossible to love Him before step one, and He does not let us get to know Him personally before the commitment. He desires for us to be obedient, and then the blessings follow. Obedience expresses love. (See Phil. 2:8-11)

His ways always have long-term benefits, unfortunately, we have a tendency to gravitate to the short-term pleasures. Look at the big picture. God’s ways are always better than what we could do for ourselves.

Being able to react to your brothers in Christ (and their unmet expectations and ungodly thoughts) with the self-control of the mind and actions will be a testimony that God is at work in your life.

When we view our relationships through the model of Christ and the church, we see no intimate friendship stage. Once we experience intimacy with the Lord, we have already made a lifelong commitment.

When there is no commitment or hope of a long-term future with a man, the emotions stay in their proper place, not focused on the what-ifs but on the now. This will take self-control, many prayers, and a few reality checks, but it will save heart pain in the end.

Learn True Contentment

When we allow envy to creep into our lives we allow the envy monster, Satan, to have his way. Singles must avoid envying those who have relationships are those who are married.

Just because you are single does not mean God loves you any less than he loves your married friends. God loves you the same.

The key to contentment: fully let go of yourself and take the attitude of Jesus. (Phil 2:5-8; Matt 26:39). Be content in Christ alone. It means you are at peace – whether married or single.

Watch Your Feelings

Foundational feelings – these feelings are answers to our deep questions such as: What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? A believer should have a fundamental sense of who he or she is according to God.

Surface feelings – these change daily and are reactions to what may be going in our hearts. Sometimes, we allow our surface feelings to dictate happiness or sadness, satisfaction, or disappointment.

Some unruly feelings of a single person:

Jealousy – “Hey, I’m single. I don’t like it, and I won’t be happy until I’m married!”

Pretending – a person makes it clear that he is she is available. This is acting and manipulating, putting on a show – and it’s wrong.

Sad singles – people who present their sad case of singleness to all their friends. They make sure everyone knows they are on the hunt for that special someone. They register with Christian online dating hoping to find “the one”. (Not all dating services are bad. However, if someone uses it for desperation, she may lower her normal standard just to catch a date.)

There is an endless list of deterrents: sleeping too much, overeating, under-eating, excessive spending, smoking, overexercise, gossiping, gambling, drunkenness, pornography, romance novels, obsessive self-focus, alcohol.

God is the God of all feelings. When you keep busy to avoid something, you may not have time to be quiet before God. He asks us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10a)

What God thinks of you:

  • I am a person for God’s own possession (1 Pet. 2:9)
  • I am God’s child, and I call Him Abba (Rom. 8:15)
  • I am redeemed through Christ and have forgiveness (Eph. 1:7)
  • God loves me, and I am precious in His sight (Isa 43:4)
  • I am lifted and carried by God through all trials (Isa. 63:9)

This is the point of single life: securing your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Know that God is the One who satisfies and makes you complete. Spend time before Him, and quiet your hearts. Seek Him first, not a mate. Give Him your heart, and His blessings will follow your obedience.

Creating Safe Ideals, Seeing Christ’s Design

The core of emotional purity is waiting on God’s timing. Waiting for God is not always an easy task, but in the end, His blessings will far outweigh any blessing you can imagine.

Marriage is a place for companionship and deep intimacy.

Emotional purity before marriage allows the greatest opportunity to become emotionally intimate with your mate during the marriage.

There’s a common thread in happily married Christian. First, they each went into marriage with an attitude of giving 110 percent, not with a “what can I gain from this?” attitude. Second, their hearts were thankful to have someone with whom to worship and serve God. Third, they had realistic expectations. They did not depend on their mates.

God created marriage to mirror our relationship with Him and the love He has for us. The church is the bride, and Jesus is the Bridegroom. (Rev. 19:7; 21:9).

God longs for earthly marriages to point people to Him and to show His perfect love.

Preparing for Marriage

  1. Pray for your husband now. Aw sife who prays for her husband is a powerful tool for the kindfdom of heaven.
  2. Learn subsmission. (1 Co 11:3). Submission does not include manipulation.
  3. Protect your emotions so you are free to be the love-giver of the family.
  4. Prepare. Being ready to set up a home will prepare you for the mental and emotional changes that will take place within the first years of marrriage.
  5. Stop treating men as if they are our husbands.

Remember that one day you will have a family. You must make decisions today that will positively affect them later. When you don’t prepare for marriage, you can experience frustration when expectations ar enot met.

For Guys Only

Consider the following:

  1. Start praying for your wife and family. YOu will reap what you sow.
  2. Practice being a leader.
  3. Ask God to teach you what it means to protect your wife and family.
  4. prepare your home. Spend your money wisely. Think ahead and o not live for the moment.

The Joy of Singleness

Enjoy your single years. Rejoice in God’s allowing you to be single and serve and enjoy Him distraction-free. Chances are, you will be married a lot longer than you will be single.

Guard your emotions, and protect your heart from making mistakes. Save yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically for your mate.


Emotional Purity is not a step-by-step book on how to find your future mate. Above all else, the author points us to find our security and satisfaction in Jesus alone.

I like how heather uses storytelling and scriptures. There is no sugar-coating! This is a shot straight to the heart for me.

Emotional Purity is not for the faint-hearted. I felt there were a couple of chapters that seemed written directly to me.

I highly recommend this book to all single young women AND men. In today’s society, we tend to highlight the importance of physical purity while completely missing the fact that it begins with the heart. 

Pay attention to the WISDOM in this book. Observe those little thoughts and fantasies that enter your head. Stop them before they grow into a snowball in your heart!

If you want to break free from the world’s standard of dating and friendship-coated romance, and if you are tired of having your heart broken, again and again, this book is for you.

Read this if you wish to be called boring, out-of-date rather than being called disobedient by the One who matters.

Nutshell: Guard your heart by avoiding early intimacy in relationships.

Suggested Further Reading:

  • I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
  • Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • Set-apart Woman by Leslie Ludy

Thanks for reading! Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart

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