Will Someone Give a Crap about Purity Culture?

I found myself crying out to the Lord tonight.

Not in pretty prayer language, either.

“Oh, God, why did you let this happen?

“Do you even give a crap about how purity culture affected me—and my brothers and sisters and so many more?”

Because I learned today about yet another victim of sexual assault.

Someone whose parents went to great lengths to protect them from the horrible evil ungodly immodest worldly world around them.

But it didn’t matter.

They ended up becoming part of that statistic about sexual assault anyway.

Maybe you’ve heard it.

1 out of every 3 women.

1 out of every 6 men.

And it’s everywhere.

Even in the purity culture circles.

Especially in the purity culture circles.

And it’s horrible that it happens.

But the most infuriating is when people don’t even give a flying flip, don’t even have enough compassion to stop and listen to the cries of the wounded and broken and bleeding who are still dealing with the effects of purity culture.

I’m not even going to get into defining purity culture other than to say that it was—and unfortunately still is—a culture that emotionally castrates its young people and leaves them scared to even think about sex.

Even though it simultaneously holds up marriage as the only real path for everyone.

Especially women.

But no matter.

Because we don’t give a flying flip.

Fellow cult survivor Emily Elizabeth Anderson wrote a Facebook post the other day about the promises that purity culture made to Anna Duggar.

That would be the wife of child molester Josh Duggar. Yes, from that Duggar family.

Emily’s post was phenomenal. And it went viral.

Right into the hands of Lori Alexander of Debt-Free-Virgins-Without-Tattoos-are-the-only-Godly-spouse-material fame.

She lost no time in making her own post, shredding Emily’s words and justifying Josh Duggar’s despicable actions while simultaneously calling Emily a “feminist and humanist”.

Emily is a committed Christian who believes in saving sex for marriage.

But Lori’s words send a chilling message:

I don’t give a flying flip about how these teachings have harmed you and millions like you.

I only care about following “the truth”.

To Lori and all those like her, I want to let you see what it’s like to be a victim of purity culture.

Because I’m completely sick and tired of people pontificating about things that they not only have not experienced, but have helped to make worse.

I was raised in moderate purity culture. My parents taught courtship to us kids. Sort of. I mean, it was the culture around us. Everyone courted. I had friends who thought dating was a sin.

My parents had dated, but had waited for sex till marriage. So I knew that dating didn’t automatically lead to sex, and I didn’t believe it was actually a sin–just a bad idea.

And I thought that the idea of dating the dad for three months to get his approval before beginning a relationship with the daughter was stupid. Get his blessing, sure. But it’s not his relationship!

And while I believed that women should dress modestly so that men didn’t lust after them, my dad taught me that it was MY responsibility to not lust, regardless of what women around me wore.

But that didn’t stop purity culture from completely destroying my romantic and sexual side.

I still remember when I was 13 and our family held a hymn sing in our barn. It was so much fun, with a bunch of other homeschool families who showed up and helped raise the rafters of the old bank barn.

And it left me feeling guilty.

Because I had a crush.

On the girl who I had somehow ended up sitting next to.

She was cute. And a good singer.

Also, I think maybe she liked me.

But I was 13.

And you’re not allowed to have romantic feelings when you’re 13.

Because you’re supposed to wait until you’re old enough to actually get married.

In fact, you’re not even supposed to feel romantic towards anyone until God taps you on the shoulder and says, “She’s the one.”

And then all of a sudden, the romance will turn on.

Don’t we all wish it was that simple?

So here I am.

Twenty years later.

Still single.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to be single.

Just like it’s okay to not own a car or even have a driver’s license.

But it’s quite another thing when you want to drive and you’re prevented from taking driver’s ed.

Actually, in my case, it’s not that I wasn’t taught.

It’s that I now have to reprogram from 20-odd years of the wrong instruction on how to drive the car.

I’ve tried to do the romance thing.

But it’s really difficult when you’re not even sure what the “accepted norm” is.

Do you kiss, or not?

Do you hold her hand, or not?

Are you taking things too fast?

Oh wait, this is actually a snail’s pace?

Should you try online dating?

Do you say hi to the cute girl who happened to visit your church?

God forbid that you come across as desperate. We all know—and hate—“those people”.

But they say you need to take risks.

How risky is too risky?

Oh, and I’m a busy professional who’s also active in church and ministry. Where do I find time for all the dating that “they” say I’m supposed to be doing so I can find the right one?

Meanwhile, the dating pool gets smaller by the day.

I hate even writing about myself because it sounds like a pity party, and I can just see my friends gathering around to try to help me, to reassure me, to tell me that I’m a cool guy deserving of a good lady.

That’s not the point.

At all.

I don’t want sympathy.

I just want the people like Lori Alexander to stop what they’re doing, shut up, and give a crap for once.

And I want them to STOP HURTING ANY MORE PEOPLE.

Because I can assure you of one thing for certain, Lori:

In that Bible you claim to follow, Jesus says that we will know false teachers by their fruits. Well, if the truth is leaving a trail of torn souls, crushed spirits, and covered-up sin—

It’s not the truth.

 

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2 Replies to “Will Someone Give a Crap about Purity Culture?”

  1. I understand the struggle. I finally for myself made the choice when it comes to actions such as handholding, kissing etc, I don’t have any problem with it as long as it’s a part of the progressing relationship. However especially the kissing needs to kept at a minimum so as not to become heavy petting. If someone struggles with any of it, then choose to keep all of it at a minimum and explain to the person you’re seeing, that it is a struggle to stop at the appropriate place and have them help keep the relationship about learning to know each other in the other important ways. If the person you’re seeing truly cares for you, she will want to help you not do anything you later regret. My sister once said this, (and I treasure it), “Any 2 people can have a great sexual relationship but it takes learning how to get along outside the bedroom that is the most important while courting. Any 2 people who truly love each other will learn how to please each behind closed doors.” Yes, my sister has a beautiful relationship in her marriage. Her and her husband chose to make their relationship a priority for their marriage.
    As far as the sexual abuse that goes on in some of these circles, yes, it breaks my heart every time I hear about it. I struggle accepting that people who call themselves Christians could EVER GET INVOLVED in such a sin. Because I believe any person who truly loves and follows Christ, will distance themselves from such actions AND will get counseling if they see they have a weakness for such sin in their thoughts before it turns to actions. We always think about things before turn them into action. If you have been abused or seen abuse, get counseling so that the cycle of abuse stops with you. Learn healthy behaviors so that others are always safe and enjoy spending time with you. I became somewhat of a recluse for awhile, because I didn’t know how to progress past the emotional and verbal abuse I had to deal with as a child. Through counseling, I’m learning to let go of pain and fear to become a healthy, happy person.

  2. My brother in law shared the post by Emily Elizabeth Anderson on Facebook and the reactions from Christians made me so. angry. And yet, I realized that people will always have opinions about things, and strong ones at that, without any kind of inside view. And that includes me with some things. Doesn’t keep me from being angry, but still.

    I appreciate your thoughts on this though because I also had to vent to someone who understood (my sister) after seeing people’s ridiculous responses.

    Totally identify with the dating confusion. I ended up marrying a guy who stuck with me through it all, including dumping him at one point, but went on a bunch of non-dates with random guys because I was afraid that even a single date meant committal. My first actual date with a guy was extremely awkward because I had no idea what was expected.

    Also. So much guilt over crushes through the years. My journals are littered with me beating myself up for thinking too much about guys.

    Cut yourself some slack and allow things to be awkward, laugh it off, and start with just being friends with a whole bunch of girls if that helps. 😛

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