Purity Culture is a Dysfunction

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Personal Blog, Psychology

I need to hijack my own blog for a moment. I’ve been reading a lot lately and thought that I should write something about all those faith and feminism blogs on the purity culture.

There has to be a way to teach a healthy sexual ethic without it becoming just a way to shame people.

Here is the thing. I never really knew that is what they called it. Over the years I’ve seen and heard it all about some of the ideas that have used to support the purity culture. And I don’t really agree with it. And I have a theology degree. I can say what I want on the subject even if it won’t sell books or be popular. The purity culture has been so damaging to the developing minds of many teens and young adults. Oh, I did study youth ministry and when this came up ever so often, mainly outside of class, it was strange even then.

What I did learn is that basically there are some who see it as their mission to put down any one who does not meet their standards or ideals. And who really could ever meet those standards any way. Jesus was homeless and hung out with all kinds of savory and ordinary people.

Slut shaming needs to end, that kind of bullying is just mean and is uncalled for and is immature.

My question is… Why the hell are you even interested in how people should dress or what they do between the sheets? I’m not saying you are free to do the Fifty Shades of Grey stuff on the first date, as much fun as that can be, but why are others wanting to be all judgmental. The issue I see is that some want to bring shame on those who wear the wrong thing or do something outside of marriage.

I eventually started to think that some of my own experiences were way off bad. I don’t want to go in to details but I like a good snogging. I won’t lie, and it doesn’t come around often enough for my tastes. Just hours of snogging and playing around, it’s just so much fun with some one you love. Nibbling on her neck, caressing her cheek, and maybe even playfully exploring her ticklish spots during a photo shoot… wait, what was I talking about. Oh, yeah… how people are the ones bringing shame. Good thing God forgives, but I have learned that people do not like to forgive or forget things. And who cares what they think, right!

The purity culture finds its roots in a dysfunctional church that wants to fix it’s people instead of allowing the creator to have authority. The creator has the authority and is ever so forgiving, while this dysfunction does not through it’s control tactics. That is the real issue going on.

This purity culture thing follows some strange logic that basically means that even thinking something normal can be thought of as bad. Well, they don’t exactly differentiate between lust and normal human thoughts that we were made to have. The human race wouldn’t have survived with out those thoughts. You just can’t win with these people. There will always be something new that can be used to judge the next level of standards. It will be an ongoing cycle, no one would be allowed to ever have contact with another human again just to avoid any thought. Basically, avoid it at all cost. It will lead to a lot of unhealthy issues to even try to keep up with the purity culture. It will lead to some crazy ideas to even begin to fit in to that way of thinking.

Important Must Read: You Child’s Virginity is NONE of Your Business Purity does nothing to teach about consent and bodily anatomy, it doesn’t even teach anything about post marriage communication. Your child’s virginity is none of your business, but giving them the tools they will need for adulthood absolutely is your business.

Relationships are not an obligation
Dianna Anderson’s Consent Love Respect

The Other Journal article: naked-and-ashamed-women-and-evangelical-purity-culture

The full essay from Naked and Unashamed: naked-and-unashamed-women-and-the-evangelical-purity-movement

Go read Randy Elrod’s book Sex, Lies, & Religion, while he doesn’t address the purity culture directly, he does target the dysfunction and the results that it has caused. http://www.amazon.com/Randy-Elrod/e/B00325JEQ6

5 Things to Think About Before Having Sex

5 Uncomfortable Things the Church Needs to Start Talking About

When Purity Culture Hurts Men Too

And to round things out… Why sex is for marriage only, 8 benefits of waiting

5 things Christians should know about depression and anxiety

11 common misconceptions about people who have never been in relationships

And for those who need more about what some women experience…
The New Church Lady

Additional information on depression from Science Based Medicine: Depression Re Examined A New Way to Look at an Old Puzzle

I keep finding more information and even must read articles like this. Relationships are hard enough, but when you have outside pressure to be something you are not then anxiety will cause problems.
4 Truths About Sex in Relationships that no one wants to admit

And for another list: No Shame Movement

There is so much real information out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and read a lot. I’ve spent way too much time in anxiety over saying too much and feeling emotionally threatened when I shouldn’t have. I know many more books and articles need to be written. Hopefully the list of other articles will help with perspective. Seems the resulting anxiety and depression will be keeping counselors busy for many years.

And from Dianna Anderson: Marriage is a Covenant not a Contract

From Kelsey Munger: Slut Shaming Evangelical Style

Rollingstone Magazine: Millennial Sexual Revolution, Relationships, Marriage

Joshua Harris I want my teens back

On Letting Go of Objects and Obectification

Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids What is being taught is that kids or anyone has to be good to loved. The idea is to love people, not wait till they are good enough to be loved.

And there is this… The difficulties of Running a Sex Inspired Startup

And from Candace Ladd…
true-love-waits-maybe-what-i-learned-from-surveying-my-friends-about-sex-and-purity-culture Especially pay attention to the part on those associating as LGBT, much work needs to happen in teaching to include everyone.

New Study On ‘Slut Shaming’ Shows It’s More About Economics Than Sexual Partners from Elite Daily

Purity Culture Not Pure Even the leaders and authors of the early days dealt with those who made up rules that oppress people.

Sarah Evonne’s Your “Virginity” Is Not a Gift and Other Thoughts I do realize there is a gap between what is taught on the upper levels of theology and what is practical on the everyday person. It is impacting people with unrealistic ideals and adding anxiety when it isn’t necessary.

4 Lies Church Taught Me About Sex There is still a lot of work to do on the way sex is taught. Guilt has been associated with sex even well into a marriage.

XO Jane: IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity and I Wish I Hadn’t Waiting or not probably wouldn’t have changed her anxiety. And a reply- Christians Stop Staying Pure Till Marriage

The Surprising Source of Our Sexual Morals
and the source material available for download: Female Economic Dependence and the Morality of Promiscuity

How Casual Sex Can-Affect Our Mental Health The grass may not be greener on the other side.

This is a must read:
Rollingstone: The Forsaken A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families More and more stories like theses are happening. When I was in Seattle I noticed a lot of the homeless were very young. What ever the reason, there is a problem of rejection that needs to end.

Masturbation and the Church’s Insistence on Policing the Bedroom Behaviors of Adults The post focuses on women who masturbate, which by the way is something that comes naturally. (ok, maybe pun intended)

Christian Masturbation – A Defense (Part 2)

10 Things No One Tells Men That Will Make Them Better Lovers Sad to hear that Sue is off the air, that got me through seminary better educated. Not much ever gets taught about actually having sex, and even if you think you are ready consent is the most important. Take your time with her to get things going, especially #7. And yes, you can feel it when that happens, even then it still doesn’t mean she is ready, just wait on her.

5 Bad Sex Ed Teachers

Philip Yancey – Christianity’s Negative Stereotypes

Single Saved and Still Thinking About Sex As if any of us ever quit thinking about sex. The conversations need to change and be open to what really is going on.

The Most Important Thing Teen Girls Should Do But Don’t and there are lot of comments to read too about staying away from shaming.

9 of the Biggest Lies Christianity Tell Her Us About Sex and Marriage

Why Don’t Guys in My Church Ask Women Out on Dates Lol, I’ve been avoiding that meat market for ever, but that’s just me. While some use a church to meet people, feel lucky if it’s not happening at your church. It is OK to casually make friends and build a support network, making assumptions is not. Also there are a lot of assumptions that dating or spending time together has to lead to marriage. It’s OK to spend time learning more about someone without assuming it has to be heading to marriage even if romance is involved along the way. I would avoid dating and still do just because I didn’t like the pressure until I learn more about her. I’m naturally very comfortable with socializing with women. It is annoying that normal conversations and general flirting has to mean something more than what it really is. Casual encounters doesn’t mean casual sex.

Kink 101 For Purity Culture Survivors

How I’m Overcoming Shame In My Sex LifeEven those who save sex for marriage have to deal with feelings of guilt.

Professor live-tweets her son’s abstinence-only sex ed class

I was always glad I had a health class that covered reproduction and even sex issues. Moving to a small town after wards was heart breaking that such things were not taught. Churches were useless on actually teaching anything. Kids back then were definitely into a lot of oral sex but didn’t readily discuss much, today the kids are just more open about that. A few smart ones may know real facts and concepts, others still haven’t a clue what really is going on.

Let’s Talk (Frankly) About Sex

Yes, Women Fantasize: The Psychology Behind The Most Common Female Sexual Fantasies

‘I want a world where disabled people are valid sexual partners’

What’s it like to be a born-again virgin

How Purity Culture Hurt My Marriage

Modest is Hottest? Sarah Moon explores more of the problems with the Purity culture.

4 Lies the Church Taught Me About Sex

Megachurch pastor rejects his father’s bigotry: Jesus would want you to bake a gay wedding cake And a well written article of the realities. Guest op-ed: Don’t believe gay-friendly version of Georgia pastor Andy Stanley How about standing up against the bullying, rejection, and hate out there by pointing it out and allowing correction and growth. While leadership may be going in a better direction, the followers are still needing to catch up. It was always heart breaking to attempt to welcome everyone but the people would have such a wide variety of opinions.

It also was horrible hearing all the comments about being single, few ever write about how devastating that is. You’ll find some one when you’re not looking, God’s got someone for you, when are you getting married, etc. Maybe one day people won’t be thinking something is wrong with being single.

Parallel to the Purity Culture is also the CCM, Contemporary Christian Music… I Am a Secretly Atheist Female Backup Singer for a Popular Christian Contemporary Recording Artist. And I Have Stories. The “Christian Sexy” and the “holier than though” reference caught my attention to help emphasize the problem that is deeply rooted in culture across many levels and topics. I really need to research the “Christian Sexy” topic more. I’ve always been a supporter of women in music, not just a few major artists to front the labels but a good balance of talent. OK, my preference, but that’s me. Becky the Golden Calf of Christian Radio OK, here’s the point of that, there is a targeted demographic and very little interest in branching away from that for others. You never have to fit into someone else’s expectations.

Teaching Kids about Sex – Wilderness (Part 1) More and more are seeing the need to start the discussion early and to keep the dialogue going. To quote a philosophy professor, “If you are not teaching your kids, I will…” Even if you just tell them not to do it, they will learn from some one and each other. I mentioned earlier that after moving to a small town/rural area how bad the education was from churches and schools. Information is important. Many volumes of psychological case studies have been dedicated to issues of wrong information and the results of trauma from people not ever being able to live up to parental ideals.

Shame-Based Sex Education: Lessons From Elizabeth Smart

The case for starting sex education in kindergarten

After a First Time, Many Second Thoughts

My Journey and Why I Left Purity Culture, Part 3 Eating disorders and body issues have drastic results.

SEXUAL PURITY AND THE POOL BATTLE PLAN This is so true. When I started college in Florida I thought it would be good to get away from some of the purity culture, not knowing what it was at the time, since the beach culture was right there. For the most part, people avoided the crowds, party scene, and traffic. But after a while I did notice more and more how the purity culture teachings were become more damaging from some people. As a rollerderby photographer, I have to distance myself away from those who think it’s about anything other than the sport.

Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea Marital rape is still an issue, even worse in other cultures too.

Holly Madison Reveals Hell With Hef in Playboy Mansion I’ll just leave this here for reflection. She say’s it best in her own words.

scarleteen: Getting Married When We May Want Different Things From Sex

Lady Gaga has it so right, born this way… The Greek word Physikos has been uses wrong, it’s actually “produced from nature.” Clobbering Biblical Gay Bashing Learned this long ago, even though some people still want to teach other wise.

Secrets of “Virgin Nation”: True Love Waits, Silver Ring Thing, and the real story of how evangelicals linked purity to America’s salvation

From the Shaytards, When The Kids Go To Sleep. The Sex Talk (WTKGTS #115) Parents didn’t always give the talk, now you’ve got to be pro-active…

What I Learned from Joshua Harris I’m sure I could write too much on this subject. I never read the book, but endured the fall out teachings from it. I share a lot of empathy for the author of this article, the conservative teaching is that thoughts are bad. Some one out there needs to know that going out on a date really isn’t a commitment, it’s just a way to find out more about a person. I needed a book that encouraged dating, that it’s OK to go out with someone and it not work out after the first or a bunch. Also, I just don’t like being used for a free meal or activity, but then again I don’t always catch the social aspects of stuff most of the time. Everyone is different, and there isn’t one set way to do things.

This is an important read:
Naked and Ashamed: Women and Evangelical Purity Culture The studies already exist about how shame has been increasing. There are so many good quotes here. The purity culture philosophy wants to even blame women for thoughts, not much different from what abuse victims endure. Found on amazon: Introducing Body Theology I’m just excited that the data exists to help, and saddened that the shaming even happens.

My atheist porn star friend made me a better Christian Good for this writer to learn this…

Christians Shouldn’t Be Culture’s Morality Police Another important read. It’s not a new idea. People have been facing this for a long time while the Evangelical/fundamentalists keep spiralling down to more legalism.

Check out #purityculturetaughtme on Twitter

The Sex Myth: why we’re not talking about not getting laid

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Have the Orgasms I Deserve

Important read: Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”
There is a lot of research in this one article on the use of apps like Tinder. There is much information on both sides of how men and women are treated. Of course the girls had to explain what it meant when a best friend had “man candy” aka penis-in-pocket, still disappointed in that since I don’t want to be one of those… Sigh, I do feel for the ladies in the article who aren’t having orgasms, hopefully they learn to take better control on what is happening with what they need.

NPT: Children’s Health Crisis Sexuality You’ll be surprised at what decisions they will make given the support.

A lady after my own heart: High Heel, Harleys, And Sexual Frustration No need to compromise who you are. And yes, that pent up sexual frustration doesn’t get any easier. I’ll be somewhere working on my abs…

Consent and mutual respect are not taught, or hardly ever mentioned. Teens Talk About Backdoor Sex Coercion is not cool. Teen girls also endure boys sending photos of body parts without consent.

What Sexuality Looks Like if You’re Single

Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition here is a quote from author concerning consent: “PS: I just texted my own teenager for her view. She texted back: “A lot of truth to this. I think dubious consent is the greatest problem of my generation.” ” and to go along with that, another quote: ” Mature women can generally make up their own minds about what they are and aren’t prepared to do in bed. That is a private matter among consenting adults, although I don’t know a single woman who thinks that a man insisting on anal sex is anything other than a depersonalising act of aggression.”

  1. Thank you for including a link to my blog post.

  2. I came here from the “Naked and Ashamed” article over at The Other Journal. If you read my post there, you’ll see the dire consequences this can have for an adolescent male, since that is a crucial stage in life where the psychology therein is being shaped and molded, often for the rest of his life. God is trying to lift this burden off my shoulders; He’s got his work cut out for Him.
    You also hinted around something worth noting too. The leaders and cheerleaders of the Purity Movement are self-righteous hypocrites who, I believe, have a desire for today’s youth to be as miserable and repressed as they are. In other words, they’re modern-day Pharisees. And from what I gather, Jesus didn’t seem to be crazy about them.

  3. Tim says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Daniel. I appreciate the list of resources you’ve puled together here.

    • I had been wondering if it was too much as I add to this blog over time, but there are a lot of hurting people. Maybe a few different perspectives will help someone in some way.

  4. Tia says:

    Through our years and years and ye….. you get the point, of friendship I have shared some of my innermost thoughts with you. This information hits the nail on the head. The way I grew up, is unfortunately the way it still is around these parts. My husband and I are of the minority of our peers in teaching our son to embrace a healthy sexuality. Permit porn, no. Accept that it’s natural to be curious, yes. Discuss what a healthy sexual relationship is with another human, yes. Teach that people are not meat, yes. Share damaging effects that pornography can have on ‘our’ brains. Not just his, ours. As things come up, we share openly and speak candidly about the topic of sex. It’s not taboo, it’s not dirty, it’s not wrong, it’s life, passion and hopefully for our son will be of love.
    My desire is for him to follow God’s plan and be the healthy lover of one woman… Will he? I don’t know. I pray for it, but I will not be disappointed, nor shaming if he makes the choice to experience sex before marriage, as I did. I will not require him to stand before a congregation and apologize to humans for doing what comes natural to us, as I had to. Not because of sex, but because I got caught, became pregnant. – Had I not gotten pregnant, I would have never had to apologize to my church. Rabbit trail.
    As a family we will continue to do our best, as the adults in my life did… The different approach in parenting a hormonal teenage boy, has isolated us from the self righteous folk who cast judgment to divert attention from their own skeletons.
    Thank you for this blog. I’m glad to know, once again, that I am not alone in the fight.

  5. Thank you for including my post in this! It means a lot to me to see my story reach new people and help raise awareness about how purity culture had such a negative impact and how it can contribute to the development of eating disorders, or at least to body image issues.

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