Purity Culture

Purity seems to be the talk of the town on my favorite blogs. Elizabeth Esther talked about it here and here, Sarah Bessey talked about it here, and Rachel Held Evans talked about it here.

I am so glad this conversation is happening, but I couldn’t really articulate why. I “saved myself” for my husband, and that isn’t a decision I regret. I dress modestly (this term is relative, I know) because I want to. So why, if I seem to buy into all this, am I so happy that people are talking about Purity Culture this way?

Then I read this post by Calah Alexander and this post by Joy on Deeper Story, and it clicked.

I can’t stand “Purity Culture”. That’s why I’m happy this conversation is happening. Purity Culture is based on shame, fear, and misinformation. It taught me that my body is something to be ashamed of and to hide. It taught me that sex is a deceptive monster (but that it magically becomes a wonderful thing after marriage–and that my brain would and should easily make that transition). It taught me that I needed to be afraid of my emotions, my thoughts, and my questions. Purity Culture told me my worth would decrease with the number of impure thoughts I had, impure actions I committed, and how much leg/cleavage I showed. In Purity Culture, your worth is not based on being a child of God–your worth is based on your emotions, your actions, your thoughts, and your dress.

However, after reading these blogs I see us moving in a new direction. We are moving away from shame, from fear, and from the scare tactics that run rampant in Purity Culture. We are moving toward grace, we are moving toward love, we are moving toward our inherent worth, we are moving toward genuine conversations, and we are moving toward understanding. We are changing the way we talk about sex, modesty, and purity with each other and our children. As our view of these things are under increasing attack from the “Purity Culture vs. pop culture” fight, I don’t think anything could be more timely and more healthy.

It is time to heal and it is time to rebuild. Let’s move away from the shame of our pasts and look toward the future. Let’s make sure those who come after us never have to feel the way Purity Culture made us feel. Let’s make sure our children know they have worth, they are important, and even if they make a mistake they are still loved and their worth hasn’t decreased at all. We have been set free from our past, and let’s make sure we bring up the next generation in this freedom.

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