Raised Quiverfull: The Impact of Purity Teachings

Do you feel that the purity and courtship teachings you were raised with still have lasting impact on your life today? If so, how?

Joe:

Yes.  It caused us to have six children and made my wife scared of sex.  While I love my six children, a smaller family would have been a better choice for both of us.  I, for one, am not cut out for so many children.  Every day is a constant battle of sanity.  And yet, as I said before, I really do love my children.  On the other hand, never does a day go by that I am not embittered by the teachings of sex in mainstream Christianity and even in much of our culture today.  A woman is expected to shy away from it and a man is expected to be a rabid dog to get “it”.  There is no room for compromising the status quo.  Because of this, our first six years were hell in the bedroom.  Even now, there are some lingering effects and yet, when a couple works together, completely and wildly in love with each other, even the chains of artificial bandage can be broken.  And we will be victors.  I guarantee it.

Latebloomer:

The effects of those teachings were predominantly unhealthy.  They made me feel responsible for helping men avoid all sexual thoughts about me.  I could never relax and just be myself because I had to guard against flirting or looking attractive.  Although I’ve escaped most of the damage from this mindset, I still occasionally feel guilty about too much eye contact with a man or about dressing too attractively.

Libby Anne:

First, I regret that I never dated anyone else before dating and marrying the man who is now my husband. I wish I hadn’t been taught that crap about “giving away pieces of your heart.” I regret that I never had sex before I lost my virginity to my husband. I wish that I’d had the chance to gain experience, and that I hadn’t been taught that sex before marriage was wrong. My husband never saw my sexual or emotional virginity as a gift – it didn’t mean anything to him. And further, the purity teachings I was raised with gave me sexual dysfunction that I am still dealing with today.

Lisa:

I’m sure they do, I can’t tell you the full extent (yet). Concerning purity, I have issues with physical touch, feeling dirty or sinful whenever I feel like something is impure. Like a male friend (not boyfriend) touching my arm or giving me a hug. I’m surprised I have a rather healthy image of sex compared to others who left the P/QF movement. Some are deeply afraid of anything sex, I guess I’m lucky I can still view it as something positive, something to be treated with care but not something that will kill you or cause you to do drugs. I’m still not sure what I think of physical touch or even sex before marriage and I’m taking my time to make up my mind on that one.

As for courtship, I abandoned those teachings for the most part. It’s supposed to protect you from bad feelings, thoughts, fantasies. But it just doesn’t do that. You still wonder what it would be like to kiss a guy, or how your Prince Charming looks, or anything that’s normal for young adults. If you’re easily pushed into making the wrong choices, something along the lines of courtship might be better, but I think if you’re not one to be talked into having sex “just to prove you love your partner”, you don’t need a bodyguard every time you grab a cup of coffee with your date. I also think that it’s important to have talks without the factor of embarrassment – some things you don’t want to discuss with your little brother next to you. Of course, there’s more to a person, there’s a family behind everyone and taking a look at that is important too, but not in such a heavy fashion as courtship attempts to do it.

Mattie:

Not if I can help it. Perhaps I’m a lot more cynical than I would be otherwise, and I suppose I enjoy the freedoms I have now more than I might if I had always taken them for granted (wearing a bikini, for example).

Melissa:

Yes. I still feel instinctively suspicious of men. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I am still feeling that way, but a good example would be when I was at a LGBTQ resource center I found myself thinking “I can relax here because all these guys are gay” and then felt surprised that I had just thought that! I also still have a hard time believing that it is okay for me to desire sexual pleasure, I sometimes still find myself feeling guilty for wanting sex, or feeling like my partners needs should come before mine and having hard time expressing my own desires. I also have to overcome guilt for sometimes needing to say no to sex, because I was taught to believe that it was my duty to always be sexually available, and that not being sexually available risked losing that partnership.

Sarah:

The teachings I was raised with still affect me to this day. In my marriage, it was very hard for me to move past the expectations I had of my husband and myself. For example, I was taught that all men ever want is sex, so I expected that my husband would always initiate and pursue. When he turned out to be a normal person who liked to sleep or watch TV sometimes, I started to think there was something wrong with me. Another area where I was affected, was the fact that my husband had dated more people than I had before marriage. He had more experience than me, and I often felt jealous of his past. I treated him like damaged goods for quite some time, and that’s something I wish I could go back and change. Once I was able to shake of the brainwashing, I realized I am very happy he dated other women. He knew exactly what he needed in a partner, whereas I was just guessing.

Sierra:

The good news is I think those issues can be completely worked through. I have dealt with the issues I wrote about above [See Sierra’s answer to Purity Q. 3]. The only lasting effect for me is that I absolutely detest long skirts. I can’t wear them. Anything below my knees gives me horrible flashbacks.

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Raised Quiverfull Introduction — Purity Summary

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • ScottInOH

    Joe:

    A woman is expected to shy away from it and a man is expected to be a rabid dog to get “it”.

    Melissa:

    I also still have a hard time believing that it is okay for me to desire sexual pleasure, I sometimes still find myself feeling guilty for wanting sex.

    Sarah:

    When he turned out to be a normal person who liked to sleep or watch TV sometimes, I started to think there was something wrong with me.

    Yes to all of these. (Interestingly, Melissa’s comment can apply to a cisgendered straight man, as well. Men/boys are supposed to want it all the time, but they are supposed to suppress that desire. Then it’s magically OK to want to have sex with your wife.)

  • Johanna

    Lisa’s comment that she began to see sex “not as something that would kill you or *cause you to do drugs*” really hit me. I had just been talking with a friend about how there was this weird expectation that if you strayed from the “straight and narrow” in no time you would end up as a druggie. It’s like drugs were the ultimate boogie-man that would definitely get you if you ever experimented with something like paganism or sex or rock music or just doubted your faith.

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