Was the Purity Culture Harmful and Dangerous?

Was the Purity Culture Harmful and Dangerous?

Written by My Husband, Ken, and Me

There’s an article in the New York Times called, “How Should Christians Have Sex?” In it, the Christian author, Katelyn Beaty, tries to explain why the purity culture was harmful and dangerous. She was taught abstinence until marriage and signed a pledge that she would wait for sex until her wedding night. There were purity rings, purity balls, and even journals in which she wrote letters to her future husband. She feels that instead of teaching the beauty within marriage, it led to shame and an unhealthy view of sex and one’s body.

Now, in her early thirties, she has determined that being taught by the purity movement was harmful and dangerous to many Christians. Somehow the teaching she learned about purity no longer works once you get past 23 years old and are still unmarried. She surmises that there must be a better way to teach what God requires of us. “Purity culture as it was taught to my generation hurt many people and kept them from knowing the loving, merciful God at the heart of Christian faith.”

It is hard for us to see all the supposed harm caused by the purity culture or how scarring it is said to be as many “Christian” young couples today are having sex outside of marriage and living together. Even Ms. Beaty seems to agree that the opposite approach of the “consent model” espoused by “Shameless” author Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber, “leaves her with a sense of loss.”

Rev. Boltz-Weber is quoted as saying, “’It is time for us to grab some matches and haul our antiquated and harmful ideas about sex and bodies and gender into the yard, ‘burn it,’ and ‘start over.’ She proposes a sexual ethic grounded in the goodness of bodies and of sexual expression based in consent, mutuality and care.” This certainly seems practical, but since when did reverends start straying so far from God’s Word when creating their models for Christian living and sexuality? (I suppose when they began allowing women to be in authority in the churches!)

Ms. Beaty ends her article with these words, “While I hate the effects that purity culture had on young women like me, I still find the traditional Christian vision for married sex radical, daunting and extremely compelling — and one I still want to uphold, even if I fumble along the way.” It seems that here we find one more confused voice seeking answers but unwilling to look into God’s Word for the solutions. She exposes Joshua Harris and his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” as one of the key culprits behind the purity movement and defends her view by his apology “that much of what he taught was not actually scriptural.”

We are not sure what parts of the book Joshua Harris is referring to as not scriptural, but this entire intent and premise of the book is on the solid bedrock of biblical teaching that all sex outside of marriage is wrong. God commands that the marriage bed be kept undefiled and that fornicators will be judged. We are called to be chaste: pure before marriage and faithful once married. This is abundantly clear in God’s Word which is filled with admonitions and warnings for the consequences which may befall those who engage in sexual sins.

Our children were raised during the purity culture. They went to a purity camp and learned all about being pure until marriage. They wrote out a list of the things they wanted in a spouse and prayed over it. Should we be shocked that they kept their promises to God?

The “purity culture” did not harm them in least. We are curious about this great harm that has come to Christian kids, but we surmise that much of it is related to the guilt that came when they broke their promises to God and to themselves. Our children were protected by the purity teaching (boundaries and Truth do this), but I can see that certainly the guilt and shame would have been heavier had they given up their virginity before they married. And here they would have relied on the most crucial of all teachings of the Word – that God forgives our sins.

Boundaries are highly beneficial for children and young adults. The fear of guilt and shame motivates each one of us daily, and when we fail, we know it, but we also know the answer to such guilt is to take it to the cross where all sin and shame belong, and “go and sin no more.”

Ms. Beaty appears to be searching for answers that will rightly place the teaching of purity on the positive reasons for keeping the marriage bed and bonds sacred, instead of on the shame of sex outside of marriage. So instead of passing around a cup and having everyone spit into it, then asking the last person, “Would you drink that?” she wants the Church to teach the positives of why we save ourselves for marriage.

We get it, but we can’t help wondering how we can do this without teaching the fact that each person you sleep with before marriage, you carry a piece of them with you throughout your marriage. Sometimes the piece you carry is very unpleasant and worse than drinking a cup of spit as you pick up their herpes, HPV, and a bunch of potential STDs, but sometimes it can be very pleasant memories that should belong only to your spouse, yet your mind wanders to another body at the time it should be bonding in greater intimacy with your spouse. Yes, sin has its short- and long-term consequences on this earth.

Sex before marriage is not free, but comes sometimes at a great cost, including babies outside of marriage, and worse yet, the murder of that unborn baby that follows. We wonder how much Ms. Beaty and others want to find a way to whitewash these costs by limiting or eliminating the teaching on the evils of pre-marital sex. They think that if we stop teaching how bad sex before marriage is and start teaching how important it is to keep the marriage bed sacred for its positive benefits, then the psychological and emotional scarring done to her and others when they sin will be lessened or disappear. It won’t and then they will have to find someone or something else to blame for their pain instead of the sin itself.

So, let’s turn to God’s Word on the matter and find all of those beautiful positives when sex is bound up with only one spouse in marriage. Where do we turn? The Song of Solomon? Does God give us such a complete picture of the absolute bliss of sex within marriage in this little book? Did God just screw up His Word on this important matter when He says repeatedly things like:

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:18-20).

God must not be teaching us right according to Ms. Beaty since 95 percent of His focus is on the negatives of sin (outside of marriage) instead of teaching us the positives (inside of marriage). Just look at the weight of scripture on the matter and it is nine to one negative teaching and warnings concerning sex, yet our “touchy feely can’t handle the shame” new world of Christianity wants to try to find a way to absolve their guilt and shame apart from God’s way. They do not want to take it to the cross where it belongs.

The sad commentary on our world is that when shame disappears a society collapses, and now the Christians want to jump on board the feel-good gospel. Guilt and shame are not bad things when they drive us back to Jesus and His saving grace. But if the sinner will not repent and is unwilling to cast their sins upon the cross in 30 A.D. believing that God has indeed forgiven them, and then “go and sin no more,” they are left searching for a solution other than the cross. They want to sterilize the purity movement of its accurate message of the cup filled with spit because after all, is not sex a beautiful thing? It sure is, and that is why God wants to protect us from its scars.

Is it possible that many are simply confusing the scars of their sins by blaming the purity movement because the guilt and shame hurts? We live in a new society and Church that wants everyone to “feel good” no matter what they do. You can’t even have a husband talk to a wife about overeating because that can lead to scars and pain, right? Sex outside of marriage and overeating should not be causing emotional pain, should they? So, let’s blame God’s Word for it, and if we can’t blame the Word, let’s blame the messenger and preacher who takes a strong stand against sin because they hurt me!

My conclusion is that, unfortunately, Ms. Beaty has fallen into the same game that the lukewarm Church wants to play with concerning sin. Instead of taking it back to God and allowing Him to place it on the cross of Christ, free and completely forgiven, then walking again in newness of life, they want all of the verses against fornication to be regulated to the old world, the old church, and no longer to be taught to a new modern “feel good” church. If your church is not making you feel good about who you are and your relationship with God, it is the church’s fault. Shame on them for emphasizing exactly what God emphasizes in the harms and evils of sin, especially sex outside of marriage. After all, it feels too good to be bad!

So how do we integrate faith and sexuality in ways that honor more than one’s desires, as she would like to figure out? Teach self-control and abstinence until marriage. Teach the beauty of sex within marriage and that most men (godly men, at least) do prefer to marry virgins.
Recognize that it wasn’t the purity culture that harmed Christian woman, but rather that those who failed in their promises to God and their future spouse can still find freedom from guilt and shame at the cross of Christ, but it comes at the cost of repentance (turning from one’s sin) and recognizing there still may be earthly consequences from their sin.

One cannot keep sinning in the same manner and expect to feel dead to sin, freed from sin, and alive in Christ Jesus (Romans 6). It doesn’t work that way and blaming the messenger won’t help. There is truly a lot more to sex than just two bodies enjoying each other for a short time. God intended it to be a fantastic gift within the bounds of marriage. Freedom from all guilt and shame is available to all sinners the moment we place our sins on the cross of Christ. Do so today and God will indeed restore you and make you brand new in Christ, just as He has promised.

The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.
1 Corinthians 7:34

38 thoughts on “Was the Purity Culture Harmful and Dangerous?

  1. Except you missed the mark of why teaching purity is harmful. People aren’t advocating we don’t teach sex outside of marriage is bad, but that we teach that sex is meant to be a special bond and that is why we don’t have it outside of marriage, because it is a powerful bond and we will be hurt. But teaching sex as bad has led to sexual dysfunction in women (who remained abstinent until marriage). Their bodies physically shut down because being told sex is bad their whole lives made it so ingrained their bodies see it as an actual threat. This is why the purity culture is harmful, it is ruining the intimacy that married couples should be experiencing and causing pain, shame, confusion even within marriage and those who remained abstinent. If people are doing it the right way, remaining abstinent and getting married before having sex, why do they still feel shame? Because they were taught sex is bad, and once you are married you can’t just change your mindset completely. There was an article a woman wrote about how she saved sex for marriage and it was the worst decision of her life and how when she had sex for the first time she hid in the bathroom and cried because of the shame she felt. It wasn’t the saving sex before marriage that hurt her, but the shame.

  2. I think you can absolutely teach purity without trappings such as balls and rings–which frankly seem a little creepy to me, putting forward the father in a faux-bridegroom role. The Bible has plenty to say about the evils of fornication, yes, and so does science (STDs, unintended pregnancy). Do teach those downsides, but I agree that it is best to focus on how excellent it is to enjoy a sexual relationship with one’s spouse, having no regret-filled encounters and no comparisons to other sexual partners.

    The other item missing is encouragement to marry early. Rather than making one’s status as a virgin something to be held onto for as long as possible, rather than embracing “a season of singleness,” we would do better to encourage our kids both to prepare themselves to be Godly spouses, and to look for Godly spouses.

    Howevermuch the secular world protests, the sexual revolution has inflicted huge amounts of physical and mental damage–far more than purity culture, which arose in reaction to it. But I do agree that relying on gimmicks and trappings of purity culture causes only harm if not founded in the living out of God’s Word and the saving grace of the Holy Spirit.

  3. I think the failure of many Christians to remain pure is in part a failure of their parents. On one hand there were purity balls (nothing wrong with those) but on the others there was still the dating culture that was embraced by the same parents who took their kids to the balls. Not only was there the dating culture but there was sending their kids to college to spend the majority of their time with other young people with raging hormones and the expectation that their kid would eschew the unGodly society the parents plunged them into.

    I’m truly sorry for Ms. Beaty. She is pointing her finger at the wrong institution. First it is our own lack of character that causes us to sin. We will stand before God on our own and no amount of finger pointing is going to work, only Jesus can help us (that is if we have chosen to follow him not just agree that he exists).

    Secondly she should use it as a lesson in how she will better protect her own future kids. Instead of writing articles on how broken the church’s teachings are, she should be researching the successful parents (parents whose children stayed virgins until marriage) and how they operated inside this sinful culture.

    My daughter is still young but she wants to be a mommy more than anything else. We are excited for her and talk about what a good mommy she will be. We take our children to conferences and seminars where they can meet their future spouse but if not their future spouse, their tastes can be trained to desire others who strive to live in gratitude for Christ and not use his blood as an excuse to keep sinning.

    We will be excited to present my daughter as a pure bride to her husband on her wedding day. If she is not pure, it will be because she proactively chose and planned on it, not because we fell down on the job of protecting her.

  4. How is a father-daughter dance considered “creepy”? The most important relationship in a daughter’s life is the strong relationship she has with a good father. She will be much less likely to engage in promiscuity and will be faithful in marriage. I watched a documentary on the purity culture years ago and the young daughters LOVED having this purity ball with their fathers. They felt loved and special. I see nothing wrong with this and many things wrong with our wicked culture today.

    Children must be taught to fear sex outside of marriage as the fear touching a hot stove. After all, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. He sure gives us plenty of reasons to fear sexual immorality in His Word. How can we do no less?

  5. Let me give you a couple of quotes from Joshua Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”

    “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.”

    “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”

    He didn’t only teach that sex outside of marriage is bad and I never heard any such thing while my children were being raised during the purity culture. He taught it was good within marriage; where God designed it to be engaged in just as parents should be doing with their children.

  6. You’re so right about dating to simply date and universities (bastions of sexual immorality). I know parents who mourn the day they decided to send their children to universities and have watched their children walk far from the ways of the Lord. We must do all we can to protect our children from the perversions of this culture and teach them the beauty of the Lord’s ways.

  7. I appreciate your point about marrying early. The “season of singleness” mentality is the church’s response to the secular delay of marriage which, sadly, many professing Christians imitate. I don’t make excuses for fornication; however, if someone is still unmarried in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc., they probably will have committed fornication to some degree.

    This worldly idea that adults should have the perspective of adolescents and date recreationally, fornicate, move on to the next one, and prioritize hanging out with friends and entertaining themselves all the time has been extremely destructive.

  8. I have thought it a terrible shame that Joshua Harris chose to listen to his critics and joined them in eventually condemning his own work. (Joshua, have some backbone!) His books were some of the only decent materials out there for teaching purity as opposed to the dating disaster that is the alternative, and I still plan to use them with our children. They had a huge impact on my own life.

    Thanks for writing about this.

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with you, Diana. Those who want to make him feel shame for teaching young people to be pure until marriage are simply fighting against what God has mandated of us.

  10. Father-daughter dances are great. Having strong, loving bonds between father and daughter is great. Getting girls to promise to stay a virgin until marriage is great. What I dislike is seeing young girls dressed like a bride, receiving a ring, and making pledges with their father in place of the groom. The imagery is simply too close to that of a wedding for me.

  11. They are making pledges to their fathers to remain pure until marriage. The fathers are giving their daughters a small glimpse of the beauty of their wedding day.

  12. There were certainly cases of unbalanced teaching in the “purity movement”, but to throw out all of it because of a few who were less than perfect is hardly wise or reasonable. I grew up in the thick of it, in a conservative homeschooling home where we “didn’t date” because that was practice for divorce, with a purity ring, and the whole nine yards. I had no trouble marrying well, staying a virgin until marriage, or having a great sex life with my husband. A huge part of that was having wise parents and holding the Bible as the important standard to follow.

    I think if one were to try to apply a method too rigidly as the one way people are supposed to meet, fall in love, and marry rather than following Biblical principles of chastity and respect, there could certainly be problems. Human methods should be flexible. God’s standards are not. So we should hold methods lightly while holding tightly to the Bible and its moral standards. There were some who tried to follow a method more tightly than the Bible, and that was predictably bad. But you don’t throw out the Bible because some people trying to follow it made some poor guidelines that didn’t work for everyone. Nor do you throw out the good in a movement because a few had bad outcomes.

    If your youth group or church or parents taught you that saving sex for marriage was a deal with God to have an awesome sex life in marriage and to find the perfect spouse who will never disappoint you, then they were wrong. The Bible doesn’t teach that. But I’ve never seen anyone actually teach that. I think some young people inferred that on their own and built up unrealistic expectations because of it.

    Life is going to have hard times no matter how perfectly you try to follow the rules. Jesus lived a perfect life and He ended up on a cross. If we are going to be like Him, trials are going to come. There are no promises of a great life on Earth. But following the Bible’s teachings on sex and marriage do tend to lead to better human relationships and to avoid unnecessary heartache. This is not a promise, but a general rule. God’s principles generally work out best because they fit with our design. There are practical benefits of chastity. However, the reason we obey God is not because it “works” for us, but because He is holy and His laws are good, even if they don’t result in earthly happiness in this broken world. Maybe that’s a lesson that should have been stressed more. But it was in the Book (i.e. the Bible – the one book we all need to read and live by). It was your job to read it.

  13. People always say “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover“. I however disagree. If the cover says “How to have all the perverted sex you want no matter the harm it causes, and not matter what God says about it!“, then I think it’s safe to say that book is worthless.

    I do not have any second thoughts about judging a thing based upon how culture and society promote and champion it. If the godless, god-mocking culture deride and mock a thing, you can almost be certain that thing is godly. And if they celebrate a thing, you can be almost certain that thing is evil.

    So, in the end, I feel quite comfortable judging the anti-Purity crowd by simply pointing to the cultural book cover that resulted: A heavily tattooed, scripture-twisting “lesbian pastor” who encouraged her followers to mail their purity rings to her so she could melt them down and form them into a trophy which she then dedicated and gave to feminist activist Gloria Steinem.

  14. I think it is a really important thing to count the culture of sin by teaching girls the value and beauty of purity, the Godly significance of their virginity and the importance of waiting to the Christian vision of marriage.

  15. I came from a very strict Pentecostal church. One absolute no no was fornication, you could be put out from the church for it. My boyfriend (now husband) committed the sin of fornication, but kept it secret. The guilt I felt! I still felt guilt years after our marriage, our honeymoon was tainted. And the terrible disappointment on my parents faces. It was an awful selfish thing to do.

  16. One thing that I wrote, years ago, in a sort of “open letter to my children” (intended for all young people, both men and women) on my blog was this simple fact:

    If you have sex with anyone other than the one you marry, you will never, not ever be able to look your lover in the eye and say to them, “To you, and you only, have I given myself…“, because there will always be that part of you that you gave away to someone else, which you can not ever get back again, even though you might seek it desperately, with many tears.

    Hebrew 12:17 is instructional here. While this is about losing the blessing of eternal life for simple earthly pleasure, it is also a plain message about losing rewards of any kind, regretting it, and wishing that you could undo it:

    For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

    Once you have lost that thing, there is no way to get it back. No way ever then to be able to say that you have given yourself to your husband or wife, and no one else. Even though you will wish you could, and perhaps spend many hours crying, seeking it.

    The simple thing to do is let wisdom speak: “Don’t do that!” Not because the Bible is full of commands that you see to it that you do this, or not do that. That’s not the right way to look at it. In scripture, God’s commands are designed for your good, to protect you, even though (especially though) you do not see how at the present. Trust God, that what he says you should do is for your good, that you will understand later, and will be called (and call yourself) blessed for having listened.

    The joy of marriage is the intimate and exclusive bond it shapes with your husband or wife.

    There will be a lot of people who will tell you “Oh, if you repent, Jesus will restore you”. Well, yes, and no. He will forgive, and he can restore your position as a son or daughter. But he will not (because he cannot?) undo the past and make it so that you never did a thing, and he won’t make you forget it either. You will carry that knowledge for the rest of your life, and it will be a thorn in your side.

    Paul addresses this in his admonishment to us to “Guard our hearts, for out of it flow all the issues of life“. God designs our memories such that they are permanent. What goes in, stays in. Paul reminds us of this with his admonishment. Guarding your heart is the work of protecting it by 1) daily meditating on the word of God, so that it renews our mind, and 2) keeping and conducting ourselves according to the principles that God says are for our good.

    The joy you have, every single day, for the rest of your life in waking up every day knowing that “I am my beloved’s, and his [her] desire is towards ME [only]…” is worth and beyond many earthly riches.

    I don’t have any pill to give you to make you see this. I wish I did. I wish I could make young people see love – real love – and relationship, and marriage the way they will see it when they are 50, not how they see it when they are teenagers.

    All I can say is, “IT IS WORTH EVERY LAST MINUTE OF IT” to keep yourself for your future husband or wife.

    Unfortunately, it is not something you can “do”. It is something that God can bless you with. Pray for it, and seek it in your life, and ask the Lord to help you. You can’t do it on your own.

    It will take prayer, and especially strong help from your church family. Find an elder couple in your church that have been faithfully and happily married for 30, 40, 50 years. Ask them to tell you about their marriage. What it was like to wait for their spouse. I promise you, they will be glad to tell you. And you might just come away with a renewed respect for “those who have gone on before us”.

  17. I don’t even know what the purity culture is, nor have I heard of that book. I was raised in a Christian home where it was taught that sex before marriage is a sin, and that sex within marriage is right and good, and very enjoyable. It was one of the things I looked forward to, on my wedding night. However, I do know a number of Christian women who have struggled immensely with sex now that they are married, as they were raised to believe sex was sinful and wrong – but that isn’t what the Bible teaches, so that was sinful teaching. Only pre-marital sex is sinful and wrong. Sex within marriage is good and right.
    I think *anything* taken to extremes can be harmful, but there is certainly no harm in teaching our children that sex outside of marriage is sinful and sex inside of it is good, and part of God’s plan for us.

  18. I remember reading the story of the woman who cried in the bathroom on her wedding night. I can relate-I was so incredibly anxious the night of my wedding, I refused a piece of my own wedding cake at the reception.

    I’m not quite sure why it’s assumed that the shame and guilt newly married virgins feel must only be attributed to past sins of the flesh, and that women such as myself who experienced such feelings must be lying about past relationships, as if there is no other explanation.

    I married at 30. I’ve commented about why-living a “season of singleness” wasn’t a choice for me as it took years to treat my cystic acne. Accutane and oral contraceptives was something I wasn’t willing to try to improve my appearance simply to obtain a husband while harming my health for the sake of beauty.

    So, thats probably about 1/3 of my life where I kept my body all to myself. Learning to eagerly share it with my husband and accepting that he does enjoy it has been a challenge. Discounting a woman’s fear of sex and anxieties surrounding the marriage bed is disheartening to those of us who stayed true to God’s Word.

  19. I believe most women have some type of fear on their wedding nights if they are virgins since it can be painful. However, after a while, it’s no longer painful but enjoyable!

  20. Teenagers have so much life to live and things to learn that sex…and the emotional crap that comes with it…. can certainly wait!

    It’s like my kittens…my kittens are teenagers and too busy running around the house playing and exploring all the amazing things.

    Until 18, even 20…that should be the goal of every teenager…To Learn and Explore and to Live…Sex is for the grown-ups who have conquered their territory and are ready to start their family

    I think teenagers who have sex are teenagers with very dull, sad lives and little intellectual curiosity or no opportunity to exercise intellectual curiosity.

    Even my husband (who had sex young) said, ‘You have to give the kids something else to do and think about…They have to have a higher goal”

    The Higher Goal…You want your kids to stay virgins…give them a higher goal…and not just Biblical mumbo jumbo (sorry)…but concrete goals…

    Also, dating for marriage only is key. But we’re talking teenagers right now.

  21. Concrete goals…by that I mean not just saying ‘sin’…this is a ‘sin’ but actually showing kids how everything fits together in society. Sex before marriage leads to higher divorce rates due to people not bonding properly, lower fertility rates, etc etc.

    Higher goal, especially for boys, is their Higher Calling. What do they want to achieve with their life, having a family of course, but what else? How do you work towards that? How do you obtain your goals…and how does obtaining these goals help you Get a Better Wife? Raise your own kids better?

    There are way bigger things to think about then sex.

  22. One more…

    Getting married at 22 is a great age for boys, because they have a stable sexual partner and then get their sexual needs met and can spend their energy not on Pursuing Casual Sex…but on accomplishing and fulfilling a bigger purpose/goal.

    A stable, happy, supportive marriage at a young age frees up a lot of brain power and energy for young men.

  23. Mr. Zeurunkl, you have preached directly to my heart. My husband and I are committed to teaching our two young boys a right view of sex, since we both were raised with erroneous views of it. AMEN to your teaching that though we can be restored, our sin has earthly consequences for the rest of our lives, as did King David’s. He never saw peace and he had to suffer the death of a newborn child for his sin, though he was fully forgiven by God and restored. “Forgiven” does not mean our sin never happened, although MANY in the church believe this dangerous idea (any many churches are established around this very concept, usually as a “church of restoration” here in Puerto Rico where I live and serve. Pastors who committed adultery and “restore” themselves to the pastor position in a new church of their own planting because, you know, God forgives and forgets ).

    I think that in addition to having older couples who were pure until marriage ministering to teens about this area, it is also of value to have couples who did not make it into marriage without fornication, so long as they discuss the struggles they deal with as a marriage in this area BECAUSE of their prior life of sin. The earthly consequences of sin need to be discussed more among believers, as many in the church spend their lives abusing God’s grace, thinking that grace will abound the more they sin.

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing part of your open letter with us. Where can we read the rest? I’d love to save it for when my boys are bigger. Thank you for blessing me today.

  24. KSM – I was 26 – with no past experience and I completely understand both the anxiety and the shame which you felt about your wedding night. The anxiety is as Lori says entirely reasonable and natural as with any new and potentially painful experience.

    As a very committed Catholic, brought up with the example of Our Lady, I did feel a great deal of shame, to be loosing the purity the importance and significance of which had been drummed into me and which I valued enormously. But I knew that although it was a HUGE change I was doing as God intended in entering into marriage and (I hoped) motherhood. A new vocation, for which purity is the preparation.

    The fact that a Godly woman values her virginity and is anxious at the physical side of marriage and the expectation of motherhood, all natural emotions is not a reason to stop teaching girls to value themselves and wait for marriage.

  25. Definitely you are right that girls should be encouraged to marry earlier than they do and to see marriage (not career, travel or whatever) as the priority for their lives.

  26. I was raised in Britain and we do not really have a big purity culture here- no balls or rings. However, I remember being part of a big church youth group of mixed age (ages 10 to 21) and we were encouraged to sign a pledge to God that we would not have sex outside of marriage. I cannot fault that, to be honest. I was 12 and very young for my age, and it seemed a bit abstract to sign a pledge when I had no real interest in having sex then, but for those teens that did have boyfriends or girlfriends am sure it did mean something. It was also emphasised (and rightly so) that if one had sinned already you could repent and start again pure in God’s eyes) not without earthly consequences, but to be spiritually virgins again in God’s eyes.

    I do think that was a balanced way to teach purity. Some of the young people decided what limits they would put in their relationships with their girlfriends or boyfriends, and there were those who decided not to kiss or spend much time alone together in case it led to sin. But the good thing was, the youth group did not enforce any man made rules eg no kissing or dating at all, but told us what God expects of us and that what mattered was we kept ourselves from fornication as best we could. Man made rules don’t work for most kids, telling them to know Jesus and to value what He values seems to be the best way.

  27. “A new vocation, for which purity is the preparation.”

    Your statement is exactly what I hope to teach my child-to respect themselves for God and for their future spouse. I’m also Catholic and I appreciate your reference to the Virgin Mary. I felt like damaged goods on my wedding night because of the loss of my virginity to my husband. I didn’t receive the teaching of goodness of sex WITHIN marriage-it was simply “Good girl’s don’t have sex.” Ever? Am I no longer good because I’m no longer a virgin? That’s been a struggle, but I’m learning to change my thinking. Thank you for your encouragement!

  28. Lori would you agree with this statement or disagree it would be great if you could write back the statement is this. The best gift a mother can give to her children is to obey their father.

  29. Are you aware that he himself is questioning his faith and the the Scriptures? It’s not just about giving in to his critics. Very sad.

  30. Hello Mrs. Alexander,
    I’ve recently discovered your blog here and it is inspiring. However, I’m afraid I have to disagree with you here. Staying chaste until marriage is, obviously, the way we should live. I believe that “purity culture” places to much emphasis on “the pure virgin” and “the worthless promiscuous woman”. For example, if a woman was, God forbid, raped or a victim of a pedophile, is she worthless to her husband? If a woman was promiscuous, but has converted to Jesus and ceased her sinful ways, is she a lesser woman than a virgin in the eyes of God and the Church?

    Purity culture goes too far when women who have been chaste their whole lives feel disgusted after their first time with their husband, because they have been taught that their virginity is what they are worth. Purity culture stifles discussion on what God has designed for a marriage. Instead, it make these topics taboo. A young man or woman with questions is too afraid to ask for fear of being seen as sinful. People who have made grave mistakes are driven away from God and the community because they feel like they will never be loved or accepted again.

    Modern, hyper-sexual culture tells young people that virginity is worthless. “Purity Culture” tells young people they are worthless without their virginity.

    My apologies if this reply is to an old or out-of-date post.

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