Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Recommended Reading

There's been a couple blog posts I've come across this past week that I want to share, because they speak on topics that I like to write about but give more clarity and a different perspective.
Sarah Moon's post, The Magical Marriage Switch, illustrates the logical inconsistencies in some of purity culture's prime arguments by showing how their teachings about sex in marriage contradict and invalidate their teachings about sex while single. I've touched on this concept of magical transformation regarding marriage before. But Sarah gives specific examples of how purity culture will flip an argument on its head when marriage is introduced into the equation. Basically, anything that sex will ruin before marriage becomes something that sex will improve after marriage.

Anna Lynn's post, Christian Sex: What the Purity Movement Didn't Tell Us, gives a historical context for the purity movement and points out the topics the purity movement failed to address. It made me think about how I never had any concept I was involved in a "movement" while it was happening. I didn't know that the things I was being taught were in reaction to something else, or that it was anything new to Christianity. This quote in particular got my attention:
The purity movement’s mantra in answer to the sexual revolution was, “Don’t have sex outside of marriage.”  Harris’ addition to the mantra was, “and don’t think about it either.”
The "don't think about it either" brand of purity was the only kind I knew. Josh Harris' challenge to live so purely that you couldn't even allow yourself to think about sex with your soon-to-be spouse sounded impossible to live up to, but it also sounded right. Because to a naive teenager who only wants to please God more and knows nothing about sex except that it's bad outside of marriage, who was I to question someone as convincing as Josh Harris?

Now, with the benefits of hindsight, life experience, and understanding of the changing currents within Christianity throughout history, I can see the purity movement with a critical eye. The purity movement made "no premarital sex or even thinking about it" a huge part of my Christian belief system. It was so intertwined with everything I believed that it felt revolutionary when I realized I didn't believe in it anymore. I've stated before that I feel bitter towards the purity movement. That is still true, even though it's gotten better as I've been writing about it this past year. But when I look back over Christian history and see the various movements that impassioned people but, in the end, were nothing more than a fad, I am saddened that the movement I happened to get caught up in was so damaging to people's marriages, sex lives, and views of themselves. I feel angry because I feel as though I was used as a pawn in somebody else's game: someone who didn't care about me--only my virginity.


  1. I have been reading your blogs but I still don't understand what you are so upset about.

    What you are blaming 'the purity movement' for, that is, teaching you that you shouldn't have sex with someone outside of marriage, is no more than has been taught pretty much by ever culture since the beginning of the human race. Correct me if I'm wrong! Maybe at certain times and in certain places it was considered more or less okay for men, but not always and in every place, for sure! But as for young women, you are upset because you were taught what every culture has taught their young women since the beginning of TIME. You write like all this was somehow invented by what you call "the purity movement." If it is a "fad", it's one that's been around for at least as long as there has been any written history...and probably long before that.

    1. If historical precedents justify current belief, then things like racism, slavery, and government-sanctioned torture should be just as acceptable practices today as valuing a woman's virginity before marriage. Women have been treated like property throughout much of history, too. Is that worth keeping around just because it's an old concept, too?

      And the purity movement I write about is a fad because because it took a very specific form in the 1990s. I'm not talking about the basic misogyny that has existed throughout history, though that certainly plays into the issues.

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  3. So you compare your experience with slavery, racism, and government-sanctioned torture. Unbalanced much?

  4. It wasn't Joshua Harris who came up with the idea "you shouldn't think about it either". It was Jesus who said that first...."If you look at a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart..."

    If not Jesus, then modern brain science tells us that the #1 sex organ is the brain....I think it's kind of goofy that anyone would think that you could successfully combine not "doing" sex outside of marriage with freely "thinking" about sex outside of marriage. That's pretty much a disaster any way you look at it. I don't think Joshua Harris was really revolutionary in saying that.

    Basically, if I set my mind not to "do" it, and then sit around "thinking" (fantasizing) about it, I can pretty much just kiss my good intentions goodbye....they're not going to hold up too well over time...simple fact of human biology/psychology.

  5. http://www.goodmorals.org/smith5.htm

    Not sure if you have developed any philosophical understanding about the meaning and purpose of sex. Seems many people today have implicitly accepted the idea that sex is "for" recreation. Best to settle that out in your mind before you try to make big decisions. Why the human race would have evolved to have 'recreational sex' is beyond me. Maybe we are just playing with Nature's Design and are not going to get any better results than we do when we do it in other areas, such as nutrition or the environment.