As I've been reading the recent deluge of blog posts and comments on virginity, I've noticed a difference between how most people are handling the topic compared to what I'm doing on my blog. When I began questioning the purity movement, I questioned all of it, down to the root of the culture, which is the belief that sex outside of marriage is a sin. But the majority of these Christian bloggers are keeping the discussion within the bounds of only calling into question the language of shame and guilt and the way purity has been sold. So far, I haven't seen anyone, aside from stray commenters, dare to go any further. Purity is still a very worthwhile goal to them, and sex outside of marriage is an unquestionable sin. When Elizabeth Esther wrote about idolizing virginity, she was accused of being "soft on sin." Her response, which I think was very beautiful, clarified that she still believed it was a sin and is telling her children to wait for marriage.
I do not have a problem with any of this, aside from wishing that more Christian voices would dare to challenge the standard interpretation of scripture in this area and really evaluate the fruits of our commonly accepted beliefs. Calling out the culture of shame and guilt is a wonderful first step. We need Christians to recognize that we cannot use just any tactic to get our fellow believers to avoid sin. The end does not justify the means. When you tell lies or exaggerate the truth, it has negative consequences for the people you sold the lies to. I know that getting anyone to change their interpretation of the bible is incredibly difficult and will not work most of the time. That is why the recent blogging is so great: it separates the sin from the purity culture and speaks to those who may never change their core beliefs, but are capable of recognizing the need for a change in treatment of sin and sinners. In this way, that discussion is probably much more effective than mine, in the way that it can produce more immediate change.
My problem with the purity movement was not isolated to the way purity was sold to me, although that was a huge part of it. I took issue with the fundamentals of how God created us and what defines marriage. I don't expect to change anyone's biblical interpretations, and I don't want to spend my time fighting for that. Most of my writing here is purely for myself. It's a space for me to get my thoughts out, to explain and possibly defend my choices, to figure out what I believe. But I do also hope that it can give a new perspective to someone who comes across it who may be questioning what they believe about virginity. I realize that many of the Christians who are participating in this discussion would view me as being soft on sin, or would think that I have over-zealously thrown out the baby with the bathwater. But on the contrary, I was very hesitant to ask, "is all sex outside of marriage a sin?" and I debated the issue a lot in my head before ending up on the other side. I wasn't trying to justify my desire to have premarital sex; at the time, that option was nowhere even near a possibility. In a way, my decision to quit purity and question the sin was against my will. I didn't want to depart from the theology of all my friends and family and teachers. I didn't want to come into conflict with them over this in the future. I knew the judgement I would incur from others who believed as I had when they realized I was no longer "on their side" in this issue. It would have been easier in those ways to turn off my brain and keep believing what I was taught. But my reasoning and heart led me elsewhere, and it's really hard to fight your conscience.
I support anyone who makes the choice to save sex for marriage. I understand those who believe it a sin to do otherwise. And I am rooting for people like her who are shedding the purity culture while keeping their values regarding sex. But I am not them.