Friday, February 8, 2013

Female Bloggers Talking Purity

...3 serious posts in a row? 2 of them after I wrote a serious post apologizing for the unlikelihood of serious posts in the near future? SURPRISE!

Those of you who connected with the blog I wrote last August about emotional purity may find it interesting that the issue of purity is suddenly gaining momentum in the blogging world, specifically in the world of female evangelical bloggers. Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has rounded up some of the more prominent posts floating around, and they're all worth reading, really.

I don't agree with all their conclusions. (But it's a large variety of them, so I'd hardly expect to.) I do still believe in saving sex for marriage, and I believe in encouraging that, which some of these bloggers now argue against. But I am delighted that some of these questions are being asked, because I have some serious issues with the way that the issue is being addressed in the church as a whole.

The "emotional purity" concept has good intentions but horrific consequences when taken seriously.

I have heard many teachings on modesty that turn into blaming women for men's sin, when in most other situations the church teaches we are each responsible for our own sin and our own self-control.

I meet people growing up in the culture of purity who frequently have odd and unrealistic expectations of their future relationships because of these teachings. These people often go into marriage with no idea how to cultivate a healthy sexual relationship.

I think the emphasis on avoiding sexual images and situations often ends up oversexualizing everything.

In an attempt to keep the "unmarrieds" from having sex, the church makes promises it can't keep about relationships, marriage, and sex, which leads to disillusionment for people who did everything the right way and never saw those promises fulfilled.

The metaphors and intensity with which we talk about purity hint to those who are not virgins that they are unloved and unlovable. I'm thinking illustrations like the one where a chocolate bar is covered in various gross things and the conclusion is, "Nobody wants that." Or where the $10 bill is ripped into pieces and we're told what was once valuable is now useless.

I'm glad this issue is being discussed actively right now. Hopefully it will make some people think and pray through what they have been taught. Even if they end up coming back to the same core belief that sex is intended for marriage (as I did), questioning and reexamining your beliefs is never a waste of time. It gives you the opportunity to see where those beliefs have been tainted by shame, judgment, and self-righteousness, and to work instead to season them with grace, compassion, and humility.

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