Sex, Strategic Righteousness, and Eternal Purposes

A Call to Purity

The stars are beautiful overhead, it is midnight, he desires her, she desires him, they are alone, she is under his cloak . . . and he stops it for the sake of righteousness and does not touch her. What a man! What a woman!

And then comes a word of magnificent righteousness and self-control. He [Boaz] says in effect, “According to custom, Ruth, there is another who has prior claim to you, and I won’t be able to proceed until all things are duly settled with him.”

The mood of American life today is, If it feels good, do it, and away with guilt-producing, puritanical principles of chastity and faithfulness. But I say to you who are unmarried, if the stars are shining in their beauty, and your blood is thudding like a hammer, and you are safe in the privacy of your place, stop . . . for the sake of righteousness. Let the morning dawn on your purity.

Perhaps you are there in the seeming seclusion and safety of your apartment or on the road where no one knows you. Perhaps she seems so willing. She may already be in your bed. At that moment, a magnificent act of righteous manhood is possible. Say to her, “Because I love you, and because I love God, and because I have seen the connection between high purity and historic purposes, we will wait.”

I promise you, God will honor that. He will honor it more vastly than you can imagine. God honored the strategic righteousness of Boaz and Ruth with the last chapter of the story. It culminates in the promise of a coming king through Boaz and a Moabite. “Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David,” and David fathered the Messiah, Jesus Christ (4:21–22; Matthew 22:41–46).

Don't be like the world. Be like Boaz. Be like Ruth. Profound in love. Subtle and perceptive in communication. Powerful in self-control. Committed to strategic righteousness.

Excerpt from A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper.

Related Resources

Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at