We must realize how much the idea of purity influences the church’s relationship to the rest of the world. Purity laws were instrument in Jewish religion and ethics. And there is some beautiful insight into this form of ethics for an ancient, pre-feudal society. Those who are peasants and in poverty can be more righteous than kings in the eyes of God. Such an ethic provides the foundation for someone like Jesus to come into the scene and proclaim the kingdom of God with all of its ramifications. Jesus, as a peasant, could be more righteous and have greater credibility than King Herod or the Pharisees.

However, in modern times, we must be aware of how our longing for purity influences the way we treat non-believers. If one mentions, say, homosexuality to a Christian who does not support same-sex marriage, the emotive response is to view the homosexual as unclean. Given a hyper-perception of the world as either clean or unclean, it makes sense why certain pastors accuse the LGBTQ community as being under the strong influence of demons. Demons, after all, are often referred to as unclean spirits in the bible.

As Christians, it’s important for us to recognize that we will have a tendency to view the world in terms of purity or ‘clean’ and ‘unclean.’ Such a tendency is not bad in itself. After all, it is one of our pillars of morality. However, we must not allow this tendency to cause us to scapegoat members of a community or a practice that we see as ‘unclean.’ We must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (i.e., not against individuals), but against the dark principalities and powers (i.e. the greater evil in the world, beyond individuals, that holds people slaves to depravity, oppression, etc.).

Recall the numerous times in the Hebrew Bible when prophets declared that God seeks righteous and justice more than adherence to purity laws. Justice, righteous, and love come first, and purity follows. Too often, we think it works the other way around. Purity is the fruit of righteous seeds.

Additionally, we must remember that the Holy Spirit makes us clean. When Jesus confronts the man possessed by the “legion” of demons, Jesus is in a situation that is entirely unclean to a Jew. There are pigs, graves, Gentiles, demons, the man is naked, etc. However, Jesus does not allow this matter of impurity to keep him from liberating the man and making him part of the kingdom of God. We must be willing to ask for the same strength and be willing to ‘get filthy’ in order to help others find the healing and liberation of Christ.