Bright Lights: A Recipe for Emotional Disaster

A good friend of mine and I have been talking lately about her concerns for her younger sister. Her sister is  a young teen, and her parents have started involving her in a group called “Bright Lights.” I had never heard of this organization before, so I looked it up. Here is what I found:

A young lady who is pure shines with a radiant brightness in this world of darkness. How can a girl stay physically and emotionally pure as she waits for God’s best in marriage?

In other words, it is the very worst sort of purity culture organization. The moment someone uses the words “emotional purity,” run like there are wolves on your tail, becuase emotional purity is a term invented by purity culture supporters who decided that “physical purity” is not enoguh. Bright Lights has books and bible studies, but also runs presents a “Radiant Purity Conference” around the country, and I think a description of the conference will help explain what I mean.

This conference will encourage young ladies to be committed to emotional purity, to walk by faith, and to wait for God’s best in marriage. Creatively presented through stories and testimonies, practical instruction, skits, and real-life examples, this conference gives Biblical answers to everyday questions and deep life struggles. The material is discreet and appropriate for twelve year olds and yet relevant to all ages. Includes testimonies from young ladies who serve as Bright Lights staff, chalk drawings, and harp music.

Conference Topics: 

Waiting for God’s Best

Living with a Purpose

Giving your Heart to Your Father

Avoiding the Dangers of the World’s Thinking

How to Delight in Jesus Our Heavenly Prince

Using Your Years of Singleness for God

What the Lord Says About Modesty

How to Guard Your Heart When You Have a Crush

Internet Cautions

There are apparently also parent sessions, including one called “40 Ways to Protect the Hearts of Your Daughters” and another called “Talking to Young Men who Express Interest in Your Daughters.” THe page finishes with comments from girls and young women who attended the Radiant Purity Conference:’

“It would be an underestimation to say that my daughter and I have thoroughly enjoyed the conference. As a matter of fact, God used you and your team leaders to reveal truths to my daughter and I that weekend. She said that she was truly transformed by some of the sessions and made a commitment to wait for the Lord’s best for her life not only in terms of marriage but other areas as well.”

I think I learned a lot about how to handle crushes. After this weekend, I’m much more committed to staying emotionally pure for my future husband. – l6 year old young lady

“The conference was amazing.  We were so impressed with the leadership and so encouraged to continue to follow God’s pattern for young ladies, instead of the world’s.  So much of the teaching confirmed what my husband and I believe and are trying to teach our daughter.  We especially appreciate the new information about Internet usage. This has long been a serious concern for us. We have been disappointed that none of our Christian friends has taken this issue seriously enough. We no longer feel like the lone voice in the wilderness.”

How to guard your heart when you have a crush” met me where I’m at right now. But all of the topics spoke to me in some way. I made a commitment to surrender everything to the Lord, to totally guard my heart to the glory of God, to live to serve God with my life, and to be a woman of vision.

“I have never been to a conference like this one! It was an amazing answer to prayer. I know your Strong in the Lord and Radiant Purity conference had a big impact on my two daughters. The teaching from the Word also changed my heart and I learned things that I have never heard before. I have been in church since I was 5 years old… that is 30 years, why is this beautiful Godly message about femininity and modesty not being preached? I realize that some churches are, but I feel I have really missed out. Thank you.”

This stuff about crushes is what is most toxic, in my opinion. As my friend Kate wrote not long ago, this fear of having a crush, this belief that any romantic attraction must either be fled or taken to its full conclusion (i.e. marriage), warps girls’ interaction with guys and renders them afraid of male friendships and even afraid of themselves.

This conference is put on by a young woman named Sarah Mally, who founded Bright Lights at age 17 in 1996 (and yes, Sarah Mally was homeschooled—I could have told you that even before I looked it up to verify it). Here is an excerpt from her book, Before You Meet Prince Charming (which is, by the way, available for sale from Vision Forum, among others):

Don’t spend time alone with one young man or single one out in a group. When you are at church, school, or other events, it is good to stay in the company of several people or in families. If you get into a long one-on-one talk with a boy, you are putting yourself in a situation that can easily cause you to open up, connect with him, and find yourself in a more-than-casual friendship. It may mean nothing to him as a young man, but to you as a young lady, it will be a distraction and an emotional tie. . . . I want to avoid deep friendships with guys until the right one comes along. It’s our desire to be close eventually with one, but not with many in the meantime. . . .

Once premature, close friendships are formed, it’s much harder to stay emotionally pure and focused on The Lord. I’m not trying to give you a list of rules, but I do want to emphasize the point that we as young ladies must guard our hearts diligently! Our natural tendency is to want to give our hearts away.

Presumably, this is what is being taught in those “How To Guard Your Heart When You Have a Crush” sessions—beware of friendships or alone time with guys, because they will render you impure. Purity culture isn’t just about what you do with your body, it’s also about your thoughts, and about the idea that a simple crush has the potential to bring an abrupt end to your “purity,” rendering you suddenly and irretrievably impure.

(Parenthetically, I think this is part of what freaks these individuals out about sexual orientations outside of stick straight. After all, if you aren’t to spend alone time with those of the opposite sex, what happens when you also feel romantic attraction to those of the same sex? In the conception of purity culture, cross gender friendships are really off limits with the exception of your spouse, and the assumption is that these precautions will be sufficient, but same sex attractions mess this up completely.)

With the title of her book, Mally buys into the princess myth. Time and again you see this in purity culture, though—the girl typed as the princess and the guy as the prince come riding for her hand. We saw this in The Three Weavers as well, and discussed some of the problems with this configuration. More than anything, though, I would simply point out that life is not a fairytale, and that if you imagine your husband will be the perfect prince, you are going to be very much disappointed when you reach marriage (as will your husband if he imagines you the perfect princess). We’re people, not fairytale cutouts.

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.

  • Jolie

    Wanna make a REALLY scary experiment?

    Look at The Wheel of Power and Control (It’s basically about the tactics used by husbands who beat their wives).

    Now, with this in mind, replace “God”/”Jesus” with “your abusive partner”. You will be horrified by how much sense this makes.

    • Ahab

      Sadly, you’re right on the money about that. With both domestic abuse and fundamentalism, it’s all about controlling others.

  • nankay

    I’m scratching my head wondering how do you know The Right One has come along if you’re not allowed to talk with a male or form a connection?

    • Seeker

      I bet these folks rant and rave about the eeeeevil Mooslins (sic) and their purity laws.

      • Miss_Beara

        They love to complain about those darned Muslims and their theocracy but they would love to start their own theocracy based on the bible and God. Allah and Koran boooooo. Bible and God yaaaaay!

        Sometimes I forget that this is the 21st century.

      • BringTheNoise

        Well, duh, teh Moozlems are setting up the wrong KIND of theocracy. They keep talking about Allah and Mohammed, rather than God and Jesus, see?

      • persephone

        Well, the Muslim fundamentalists want to take us back to the 13th century, while the Christian fundamentalists want a combination of the 1st century, 17th century, and the 1950s.

        I prefer the current century.

    • persephone

      God is going to arrange it all. But mostly the parents go around checking out prospective spouses. Arranged marriage: bringing nomadic tribal dysfunction into the 21st century.

      • Kit

        I’d say that arranged marriage had it’s time and place, and where it is the norm I think it should get some credit for being very good at creating lasting relationships. I say that very hesitantly because I think those times are long gone, and the value of having an arrange marriage as a formalized alliance between two families isn’t used anymore.

        Otherwise stated, I think arranged marriage can be effective if marriage is a form of contract/solidarity/alliance between two families or parties (ie, as a primitive form of a merger and acquisition). It simply doesn’t work in today’s conception of marriage as symbol of LOVE.

        One thing these people seem to ignore is that the whole idea behind marriage itself has changed. Marriage was not always about love!

      • Patrick

        Well, legalized spousal abuse also seems to facilitate long lasting relationships. But the value of a relationship isn’t in it’s length.

      • brbr2424

        I live in CA and have a friend from India who had an arranged marriage. In that case, religion has nothing to do with it. Both families do a full vetting on the other party. They look for graduate degrees and which schools those degrees are from. They also look at medical history including family members with mental illness. American parents hope their child is happy, but also hope their child marries up rather than down. The Indian way is the way the families try to make sure their member doesn’t marry down. It is also the norm and to not participate would put the parties at a disadvantage.

        The fundamentalist Christian arranged marriage push seems like a recipe for disaster because their motivation is religion. My ex-mother in law married a guy because of his religious devotion. That set her up for a life of misery because he was otherwise a dud.

      • KyukiYoshida

        Arranged marriage created lasting relationships because the woman in question was often forbidden or had no way to leave the relationship if it turned out to be abusive, or out of fear of her being viewed as selfish, ungrateful and shaming her family, as well as losing the money and support of being married and venturing out on her own, which women were pretty much unequipped and incapable of doing back then. And the chances of them ever remarrying were slim to none. Sure arranged marriage created lasting relationships, but what’s the point if it’s at the expense of the happiness and well being of another?

  • Space Blizzard

    “Giving your Heart to Your Father”


    • persephone

      That induced nausea.

      • Sophie

        It made me want to remove my own eyes except even then I couldn’t unsee it…

      • persephone

        What has been seen cannot be unseen. Which internet rule is that?

    • Joykins

      I thought they meant God the Father by that. No?

      • Whirlwitch

        No. They mean the girls’ actual father. They’re supposed to give their love and obedience to their daddy until he gives them to a man, then transfer all that love and obedience over to their new husband. Yes, it’s incredibly disturbing.

      • NeaDods

        Disturbing, incestuous, and idolatrous. Hat trick!

  • Mel

    So here’s the bit about emotional purity that annoying me today: By what mechanism does this work? You tell young girls to guard their hearts by transferring their crushes on to their father until they get married. At the time of the wedding, the girl’s heart moves in its entirety to her husband. No pieces are left anywhere… not with her parents, siblings or friends. Is it ok to love your siblings and parents after you marry? Is it ok to love them before you get married? How do you love anyone ever if you are terrified of giving pieces of your heart away? How is transferring a crush onto your dad better than having a teenage crush? What about when you have children? Do they get pieces of your heart?

    • ako

      I can’t imagine telling a teenage girl who’s experiencing puberty and romantic interest and sexual desire to take the mental energy that would normally go into crushes and developing attraction, and refocus all of that on her father without causing major issues. (I can kind of imagine someone who thinks that only men ever actually have sexualities believing it’s a good idea, but speaking as someone who’s had the experience of being a non-asexual adolescent girl, ew!)

    • Alice

      I think the “Your Father” in the title meant God, but I could be wrong since there is the creepy incestuous vibe in the purity movement. But either way, I agree teaching young adults that sexual desire, crushes, and love are evil can really warp them.

      • Libby Anne

        No, it really does mean your BIOLOGICAL father. :/

      • Hilary

        That’s horrible – is this set up for incest a feature or a bug? I mean, I can’t imagine this being a deliberate set up for incest, but I also wouldn’t put it past them. Not only is it horrible, it’s just so weird.

      • smrnda

        It seems like this whole subculture exists to give the male patriarchs an ego boost.

      • sylvia_rachel

        So. Much. Ick.

      • Mogg

        I had wondered the same thing, but… urgh! *shudders*

    • Helix Luco

      as far as i can tell, “heart” is being used as a euphemism for a woman’s combined sex drive, complete obedience, and capacity to form romantic attachments, which they seem to regard as the rightful property of her father up until the point that he gives up ownership of it to another man. So, to feel romantic or sexual attraction to another person at any point without a formal transfer of ownership to that person would be ‘stealing’, likewise, failing to have complete romantic and sexual attraction to the person to whom this property belongs is also ‘stealing’.

      • Kagi Soracia

        Someone above mentioned that they don’t really believe female same sex attractions exist; when they are forced to concede otherwise, such as by finding out they have a lesbian daughter, they get very, very angry, and this is why. You betrayed them, you injured them personally because as the father they were supposed to own your attractions and affections and be able to transfer it to another man. If you develop attractions outside of that framework, you’ve stolen something from them. The rage is personal and can be pretty vicious; also, I was accused of doing it on purpose to hurt him, as if he didn’t believe my feelings were real, I was just acting out or something.

      • Helix Luco

        i’d like to try and build on this idea a little more.

        when a father has his daughter’s ‘heart’ stolen from him, responsibility for the theft can be assigned to either the daughter or the person to whom she has become involved (sexual involvement, emotional involvement, and rape are considered to be one in the same).

        assuming that women are regarded as being fundamentally passive and subservient in nature, if this person is a man, responsibility for the theft will naturally fall to him, and he can reasonably be expected to furnish the father with ‘reimbursement’ by marrying the daughter.
        if this person is not a man, however, there is no possibility of reimbursement of any kind, as another woman is not permitted the necessary means to provide such.
        As a woman’s ‘heart’ is considered to be one-use-only, if a same-sex involvement constitutes that ‘one use’, the value of the property has been utterly lost.

        not complete by any means, obviously as in your own case modern purity culture puts plenty of responsibility for stolen hearts onto women, i’ll be stuck trying to work the rest of this out all tomorrow too. i’m not entirely sure whether or not they think that women are capable of forming real romantic attachments to someone who hasn’t been given a formal transfer of ownership.

  • MargueriteF

    This stuff never fails to surprise me as well as disturb me (I’m from a more liberal Christian background). It’s not just girls, though; the flip side of “emotional purity” would seem to be the way boys in purity culture are constantly harangued about the evils of masturbation. There seem to be an awful lot of thought crimes in purity culture, which I suppose is inevitable when you believe God can hear your every thought. Still, I am distressed for these kids– it seems like they’re being given guidelines that are impossible to live up to. They must all be carrying around a massive load of guilt and shame, and that can’t be good for their emotional development.

    • Mel

      My take-away on these reading is that girls have emotional weakness (but not sexual – so masturbation isn’t a problem for them) and boys have sexual weakness (but not emotional – they don’t ever form emotional connections.) Rather than seeing their children/young adults as people, they are reduced to watered-down stereotypes.

      • MargueriteF

        I agree. They seem to see young women as more or less sexless– girls have crushes (which I think purity culture people envision as little pretend loves, rather than lust), and may lead men into lust by displaying an unseemly amount of skin. But they don’t seem to worry about girls masturbating (which girls in fact do plenty of!) or experiencing true lust. Boys, on the other hand, are presumed to be giant balls of hormones who think about sex all the time, but are not imagined to be in any danger of becoming “emotionally compromised,” as Star Trek put it. There seems to be a whole lot of stereotyping going on here.

      • Alice

        Yeah, I often heard subtle variations of “Girls use sex to get love, and guys use love to get sex.” One time in high school, I actually repeated that in a mixed-gender Christian group when the topic of sex came up, and I was surprised the guys were so horrified.

      • Leigha7

        Even non-Christians seem to hold that idea. I remember seeing some minor shock after a study came out that suggested men take breakups much harder than women do (in part because they don’t get to just eat a pint of ice cream, watch some sappy movies, and get over it in a few days).

        (Yes, that’s a stereotype, but that was actually part of it–women tend to be super upset for a short amount of time and then get over it, men brood with no outlet for a longer time.)

    • grindstone

      Still, I am distressed for these kids– it seems like they’re being given guidelines that are impossible to live up to. They must all be carrying around a massive load of guilt and shame, and that can’t be good for their emotional development.

      And scarily, it’s also the point. Checkout Stephanie’s recent posting on stuffchristianculturelikes about reminding your children that they are broken. This is textbook emotional abuse: your best is never good enough. And when your teachings counter basic biology, success is an iron-clad cinch.

      I can’t imagine telling my son that crushes are wrong, or that masturbation is wrong, or even pre-marital sex. Unsafe, unprotected sex, yes. Unconsenting sex, yes. Getting married at 19 because you can’t stand the sin of lusting in your heart? Ridiculous.

      • Whirlwitch

        I went to and the only posting in 2013 is about giving kiosks. I couldn’t find the post you’re talking about – could you provide a link?

      • grindstone

        I’m lousy at links, and this is on her Facebook page, so try here on patheos. They discuss it as well.

      • Whirlwitch

        Thank you!

    • aim2misbehave

      IMO, those arguments are made to prop up their worldview of “boys only want to have sex, but girls don’t want to have sex” and then they have to come up with a reason why girls would voluntarily have sex, and that reason ended up being “boys give girls emotional support and material gifts in return for sex” (some of the more fundie denominations won’t mention material gifts, although that’s common in some of the sexist evo-psych stuff I’ve seen).

      So then somehow that became that emotions were the same to girls as sex was to boys, and therefore feeling affection was morally the same as having sex…

      • KyukiYoshida

        Usually their reason for why girls should have voluntary sex, is because their husband “owns” their bodies, therefore they have to have sex with him. But make sure you don’t orgasm, because that’s filthy and evil.

    • Kagi Soracia

      “They must all be carrying around a massive load of guilt and shame, and that can’t be good for their emotional development.”

      Yes, we are; no, it isn’t.

  • Mel

    Bit 2: What’s the Bible reference on this one? Fundamental Christians spend lots of time correlating everything to the Bible so where’s the chapter and verse on this one? (Hint: I’m drawing a total blank on any Biblical heroines who were lauded for “guarding their heart”. Killing enemies with a tent pole, yes, but not guarding their hearts.)

    • persephone

      You know, give them an inch (hangups about virginity in Levitical law) and they’ll do an ultra marathon.

    • Alexarri

      I’ve seen them refer to Song 8:4, Prov. 31, and Jer. 17:9 to justify their beliefs. They think it’s unwise — and even sinful — to follow your heart (which is wicked and deceiving) and to fall in love before it is appropriate (which is when you’re engaged). Because the woman in Proverbs 31 did her husband good “all the days of her life,” they believe that having emotional feelings for anyone but your husband is like cheating on him before you’re with him, especially since many of them believe that God chose a spouse for them before they were born.

      I’ve often seen them equate emotional purity with sexual purity, which is kind of funny because they are against ALL sexual expression outside of marriage, but even they (well, most of them) concede that banning emotional feelings during the engagement period of a relationship is WAY too much to ask and is pretty damn unreasonable.

      • Mel

        That seems pretty shaky based on those three verses. But I’m allowing my wild liberal Catholic ideas about understanding the culture and style of the writings dictate my understanding as well.

      • Christine

        It’s also a fair bit of creep. “We shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage. Well, let’s make a bunch of rules to prevent that. Now we need to make other rules, to prevent the rules we made from getting broken” and so on. So any verse which forbids sex outside of marriage will be used to support this sort of nonsense.

  • ako

    Ah, the classic “Do this, don’t do that, and never ever do this, but I’m not giving you rules!” approach. Beloved of people playing mind games everywhere. (It’s often harsher than “Yes I am giving you rules!” because with rules you have a clear guideline for what is the smallest amount of effort they’re asking of you, and with “I’m not giving you rules”, it’s much easier to keep people in a perpetual state of worry over possible failure.)

    I agree with you on the same-sex purity panic. Many of the most homophobic people make precisely that “They’re attracted to people of my gender=they’re attracted to me=they’re lusting after me to a dangerous and frightening extent” mental leap. While gender segregation isn’t the only barrier they use in fending off scary lusts, it’s the one they seem to have the most faith in, and anything that breaks down the strict binary of gender and sexuality breaks their system.

    • Mel

      I found myself wondering how many sappy books have been created by this movement as a way to bring in cash. Writing overwrought self-help books seems to be the only legitimate career path for SAHD in this culture.

      • ako

        If I were in that position, I’d write a sappy self-help book purely for the chance to do something that’s not a household chore.

      • NeaDods

        And it proves how well you’re learned to parrot the teachings, providing reinforcement (and $$) to the parents.

      • Monika Tillsley

        I was confused because I am used to SAHD = Stay At Home Dad then realised the D was for Daughter! Sorry, I’m a bit slow, it is Friday afternoon.

  • Ahab

    Ugh. “How to Guard Your Heart When You Have a Crush”!? Crushes are perfectly normal, and I see a lot of problems arising from suppressing normal romantic feelings. Oh, and “Giving your Heart to Your Father”, aside from being creepy, has patriarchy written all over it.

    • AnotherOne

      Exactly. Also, adolescents are already prone to blowing crushes way out of proportion. What adults should be doing is adding a little levity and perspective, gently assuring pre-teens and teens that crushes are a normal part of life, and that they usually come and go. Instead, purity culture just ups the stakes even further, reinforcing the idea that crushes are dead serious and that having one is pre-cheating on your future spouse and will ruin you forever.

      • persephone

        But you can’t let facts about scientific things, like biology and hormones, interfere with the message that God has someone for you and you just need to keep quiet, keep your legs together, don’t use tampons, keep busy praying, keep busy cleaning, and your future husband will appear miraculously, as a gift from God. And even if he beats you, abuses you, rapes you, and doesn’t provide for you, he’s God’s choice, and this is your burden to bear.

      • AnotherOne

        “don’t use tampons”

        Lol. One reason I love reading the ex-homeschooling blogs and the comments is how it makes me feel so much less alone. I was homeschooled before the internet existed and had very limited social outlets (even by comparison to other fundamentalist homeschoolers), so to this day I still don’t know whether some of the weirdnesses of my childhood were the warped idiosyncracies of my own family, or common in broader conservative homeschooling circles. I had always thought not using tampons was the former, but I guess it’s the latter. I should keep an ongoing “you might be a homeschooler if . . . ” list.
        The latest entry would be:
        You might be a homeschooler if you were so sheltered you had to ask your mom what a tampon was when you were 16 years old, and her reply was so insanely euphemistic that you came away with no more information than you started with, but got the general sense that using a tampon meant 1) you’re a prostitute, 2) you’re going to die, or 3) both of the above.

      • Alice

        Haha, have you seen blimeycow’s three videos entitled “You might be a homeschooler if…”? I laugh every time because almost all of those things fit me. People who grew up in fundie homes or who enjoy nerd culture can also relate a lot even if they weren’t homeschooled.

      • AnotherOne

        My reaction to those videos is mixed. First, I’m old :). Not really, but being in my late thirties means that a lot of the references (Wish Bone, Passion of the Christ, Harry Potter, Left Behind, etc) post-date my homeschooling experience. And the videos also make me realize how much my parents’s disfunction and poverty put us on the fringe of even the conservative Christian homeschooling community. So many of the things in the video (being able to go to the library consistently, having your parents help you with school, going on vacation, having access to media) assume a socioeconomic level and a degree of family health that were outside my experiences as a child.

        This is probably coming off more melodramatic and self-pitying than I mean it to be–I know that my family was poor on an American scale, not a global scale, and that in terms of the trauma and disfunction, many had it worse. And even though a lot that’s in those videos doesn’t resonate with my experience, there are still some things that make me laugh. Jean jumpers, oh yes. And Saxon math :).

      • persephone

        Just because you did not have it is bad as others does not negate the fact that your upbringing was bad. Don’t discount what you want through, or you will never heal.

      • AnotherOne

        Thank you, that’s very kind. I think I was more worried about being such a spoilsport about the videos Alice posted in good fun (which are funny, just not so applicable to my life). I don’t discount what I went through (I don’t think), but for me, the perspective of looking at things on a broader scale is a way of healing. I do allow myself to feel pain and anger and sadness, but the global perspective that comes from having spent a good chunk of my life in some of the world’s poorer countries is somehow a refuge from pain for me–something that allows me to feel love and gratitude and empathy. I don’t know how healthy or unhealthy that is, and I definitely don’t think “other people have it worse” should be used to bludgeon people who are dealing with pain and trauma in their lives. But it’s comforting for me to see myself as part of a global fellowship of humanity that is both beautiful and ugly, that suffers great pain but also loves so deeply. And to feel grateful that I have the opportunity to love and help people who have suffered more than me (and those who have suffered less).

      • Alice

        Great comments! And don’t worry about being a spoilsport; it is an important reminder that the generation and economic class we grow up in have a big impact on our home-schooling experience. My parents were lower middle class so we were comfortable, but they both had to work all the time despite being frugal. They didn’t have money or time to take me to social events, so I was by myself all the time growing up.

        The social isolation definitely took the biggest toll, but my schoolwork also suffered since I did it all on my own with no supervision or check-ups. I didn’t have anything in common with the kids at church because there was no TV or music allowed in the house, and my dad scared off all the neighborhood kids for whatever reason. My parents weren’t abusive, but they were very strict.

        More than anything, I am grateful I had the library and the internet (once I was in high school) because they helped me survive the isolation and control, especially at the times when my depression was the severest. They also helped me catch up on pop culture so I didn’t feel as much like a foreigner when I left home.

        My experience was much better than many people’s, but I think that it would be very challenging for a great number of families to do home-schooling well because of limited time, finances, education, and/or parental involvement. Home-school advocates tend to forget it’s not a good solution for everyone.

        Also, I hope some percentage of the present and future generations of children will have better experiences since many of the home-school alumni are gradually raising awareness of the risks and raising their own children differently.

      • AnotherOne

        You know, this has come up in comment threads before, but I really think there needs to be some sort of study of homeschooling experiences that takes into account socioeconomics. And I would love to see the homeschooling community acknowlege economic realities and the impact on children of trying to homeschool in poverty or as working/lower middle class people. I know at least a couple of other commenters have mentioned being homeschooled and having two working parents, which is something I had never heard of before I found these blogs (all the homeschoolers I knew/know had stay at home moms). There has to be a particularly acute and painful isolation to being alone so much, with so little interaction. Did you have siblings, and if so, did that offset the isolation at all?
        And yes, generation is a big thing too. I’ve realized through reading this blog and Homeschoolers Anonymous how much the internet changed not only the homeschooling movement, but also the experiences of (most) homeschooling teens themselves. The first time I ever touched a computer I was in college. (Yes, that makes me feel like a dinosaur!).

      • Alice

        Nope, no siblings. My mother had a rough pregnancy and several false alarms, so they decided not to push their luck a second time (I think that is one of the main reasons they were very overprotective). I think having a sibling would have helped, but then again we probably wouldn’t have gotten along well. :)

      • Rosa

        I’m impressed by every one who posts here who had that “here do these books” education and learned anyway. I spent an hour yesterday keeping my kid on track for math problems he totally knew how to do but had too many steps for him to keep track of without help. I don’t know how any of you who got the stack of books and had to do it all yourself made it through. Especially if you were depressed.

      • Alice

        Thanks! I think I made it through because I was always worried about falling behind and never being able to catch up, plus I felt really guilty if I didn’t work on school. But I think worrying about the standardized tests every year was the biggest motivator. I cringe when I hear about states that don’t require them. Also, my mom told me that the state might make me go to public school if I failed, and of course public school = hell :) And I generally enjoyed school. There were times that I skipped assignments, slacked off, or cheated but overall I had a decent education.

        What helped my education the most was that high school was mostly ACE correspondence school and then a year of online college courses. ACE required my mom to sign off on all my work and supervise my tests. They also assigned me a lot of make-up work in math. The college courses were the first time I had weekly deadlines, and the only time I wrote a paper in high school. Not only did those things make me more prepared for college, but I also needed the accountability since that is when my depression was the worst.

      • Rosa

        Psalty the Singing Psalmbook? I have a friend who’s retroactively obsessed with that one, she’s about your age.

      • AnotherOne

        oh my god. Yes. I hadn’t thought about Psalty in years.

      • persephone

        I wasn’t even homeschooled. My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, with a good chunk of their Southern Baptist upbringing coloring everything. And the SBs in the 70s and 80s were nowhere near as crazy as they are now.

        My mom used tampons and I hated using pads. I started sneaking some out of her supply–it took a few tries to get it right–but I made a stand that I was not going to go to school, especially with PE classes, and wear pads.

      • onamission5

        I wasn’t homeschooled either, and I still had no idea that the cardboard applicator was an applicator and not part of the tampon because nobody had told me how to use them. Tampon use was forbidden, supposedly because tampons were “dirty.” Like the string would wick up dirt inside you, is how my mom made it sound. I tried to use one out of the dispenser at my high school when I was a sophomore and forgot to bring a pad with me and I kept thinking OMG tampons are SO uncomfortable. Yes they are, when you don’t take the cardboard applicator off first. I went through the whole day thinking that all these other girls must have Teflon vaginas or something.

        Thank goodness for older sisters who can, through peals of laughter and tears, set a girl straight.

      • Hilary

        Ouch. Teflon vaginas – that’s a good one!

      • Christine

        Hey, I could have used tampons if I wanted to and I probably would have done that. The ones my mom got at home weren’t the ones with the applicators. Even despite that I never liked them.

      • ArachneS

        Omg, the first time I tried to use a tampon I thought the same thing! I didn’t try one again for 4 or 5 years cause I thought that was just how they were supposed to be. What actually made me realize that wasn’t right was those O.B. Tampons that dont have any cardboard applicator.

      • Feminerd

        That happened to me too, except it was my mom who set me straight through her laughter. She asked if they were working OK for me and I told her they were really uncomfortable and I didn’t like them … yeah, the cardboard part isn’t comfortable at all! I thought I was the only one who had ever messed that up.

      • onamission5

        I am so glad to not be alone in this, embarrassing as it is, even decades removed.

      • Mary

        Dude. I was never allowed to use tampons, and hearing my mother try to explain her fears of “inappropriate sensations” was freaking hilarious. Only the “impure girls” use tampons, apparently….. and can I just say, if you’re worried about the sensation of a tampon and actual sex getting mixed up in your head….. well, you might be doing sex wrong. Anyway, thanks for the tampon reference- I hadn’t thought of that in forever. Made me LOL.

      • Kate Monster

        See, that makes me think that tampon companies should look into making tampons that DO rock your world, rather than ones that feel like really dedicated wedgies.

      • AnotherOne

        You guys have no idea how much joy this comment thread is giving me. I’m laughing hysterically. My husband just came in and asked what was so funny, and I informed him that we were laughing over homeschoolers’ holy horror of hymen-breaking, orgasmic tampons. To which he replied, “Wtf? You weren’t allowed to use tampons?” I guess even after 15 years together he’s capable of wtf moments about my childhood. :)

      • Little Magpie

        Given my long single-dom, and my wonky menstruation… I would totally buy those. :)

      • realinterrobang

        I *definitely* wasn’t homeschooled, but I do actually remember girls in late elementary school/early high school (the grades Americans would call “junior high,” but we didn’t have that) saying that you shouldn’t use tampons because then you wouldn’t be a virgin anymore, or that tampons were for sluts, and all kinds of things like that.

        I still don’t use ‘em, but that’s because I have a retrograde cervix with a lot of nerves in it, and tampons are just really uncomfortable…

      • Sophie

        I’m just trying to work out how a tampon could cause ‘inappropriate sensations’. Is it possibly a case of misinformation about the location the clitoris? Or was I using tampons incorrectly?

      • Gillianren

        The clitoris? Good Christian women don’t need clitoral stimulation to have orgasms! That’s for whores!

      • Rosa

        I grew up mainline Protestant, but went to high school with a bunch of regular-to-conservative Evangelicals (Southern Baptist, IFB, Missouri Synod Lutheran). An awful lot of them asked us “worldly” girls if they could use tampons even though they were virgins.

        This is just before the internet, late 80s early 90s.

      • ArachneS

        Oh I also thought that you couldn’t use a tampon if you hadn’t had sex yet for a large part of my teens. Something about sex making it so that you can put it in there cause otherwise it wouldn’t go.

      • Jayn

        It also seems to me like they’re conflating a crush with the types of romantic feelings that might develop from getting to know a guy. I’ve had male friends and I’ve had crushes–there is no overlap between the two groups of guys. And while I’ve developed some romantic interest with a handful of the guys I’ve been friends with, that was far easier to set aside and ignore than the crushes were, because I had the friendship to focus on. Most of the romantic interests faded over time because they never got acted on.

        And even though in several of my friendships romantic interest developed, almost all of them stayed at the platonic stage. They seem to have this idea that if you DARE to get to know someone of the opposite sex, you WILL develop a more than platonic relationship and will NOT be able to stop yourself from getting too involved. And that totally doesn’t match my experience.

  • Ann

    I didn’t realize Bright Lights was still around. It’s Bill Gothard teaching. I was in ATI (Gothard’s program) as a teenager in the ’90s when Sarah Malley (an ATI student) founded this.

  • Baby_Raptor

    She got out of town…On a railway, New York bound…

    • Jolie

      My church’s program for children is called “Bright Lights”. Absolutely nohing to do with this stuff, we’re a bunch of happy hippie unitarian universalists.

  • Miss_Beara

    If you are “waiting for God’s best” but you are not allowed to have crushes, let alone be alone with a guy, how are you suppose to find “God’s best” for you? This has marriage doomed from the get go written all over it.

    “Giving you heart to you father”?! Ewww. Between that and pledging your virginity to you father in purity balls. How disgustingly incestuous.

    • persephone

      That’s what Christianmingle is for. Their commercials are also major nausea inducers. I always picture the Newlins from True Blood during those commercials.

      • Miss_Beara

        Ahhhhh! The Christian Mingle commercials! Find God’s match for you, after you pay us money of course.

      • Kate Monster

        I always wonder why God is outsourcing his relationship matching to a company with such terrible marketing.

      • TLC

        OMG, Kate Monster, screaming with laughter! So true! I hate the song that Christian Mingle uses — when were we commanded to “fall in love” with Jesus? That’s twisted enough. And then to try to twist it back into a song about human romantic relationships? Eeeewwwwwww!

      • oywiththepoodles

        Aaah TLC thank you! I say this EVERY time I see the commercial! It drives me so crazy. Yuck.

      • Noelle

        Awwww, I love Jars of Clay. And that song was never meant to be a human love song. (It’s about the complexities of faith and growing older, written and sung by young men, sold off by middle-aged ones) But hey, it pays the bills I guess. Lots of aging musicians find their songs attached to products that have nothing to do with the original intent of the lyrics. Perhaps one could appreciate the irony that by selling out an old Jesus song to a cheesy Christian product, they are funding their current more-secular independent project.

      • Jayn

        I’m still amused that the first time I saw a Christian Mingle commercial, it was immediately following an ad for a vibrator. Somehow I don’t think that’s the kind of ad placement they’d care for.

      • Miss_Beara

        The first time I saw the commercial, I thought it was an SNL commercial parody. Then I realized it was real. Shock and laughter ensued.

      • MyOwnPerson


      • Lucreza Borgia

        One of the women they feature on their web ad’s looks like she’s been bizarrely Photoshopped with a huge forehead.

    • Kate Monster

      No, no, no–you’ve got it all wrong. YOU don’t find God’s Best, your father finds him. And since all fathers have a direct brain-to-Jesus connection, whomever your father chooses will be The One!

  • persephone

    The JWs are quite as extreme, but even back in the 70s and 80s they pushed the no masturbation guideline (they called them guidelines because we were supposed to use our consciences to guide us, but woe befall a member who followed their conscience in a matter that didn’t follow the party line), the claim being that having sexual satisfaction without a spouse would not allow you to have a proper sexual relationship with your now or.future spouse. (The emphasis tended to be towards boys, but they didn’t leave the girls out.)

    Having a big party, even a properly chaperoned party, of sexually repressed teenagers who weren’t allowed to ease their.tension privately, led to some quick marriages, private reproof, public reproof, and even disfellowshipping.

  • LadyCricket

    Age 14: Betty, it’s time we taught you how to save your heart for Jesus. Now, the first thing you should know is that whenever you have a crush, you need to kill it with fire IMMEDIATELY because the boys at your school are all sex fiends who just want to score. Also, you are now banned from dating and from talking on the phone with boys.

    “Okay Daddy!”

    Age 28: Dammit, Betty, why aren’t you married?!?

    “I…I don’t know, Daddy.”

    • LadyCricket

      Alternate ending!

      Age 20: Betty’s such a good girl, spending all her time on sleepovers with Allie instead of dating boys. What a pure, pure girl. Why, I just heard yesterday that she’s considering buying an apartment with her! They’ll keep each other SO pure.

      • Sophie

        All the up votes for this!

      • LadyCricket

        *blink* *blink*

        So… many… upvotes. I am in awe.

      • The_L1985

        I’ve found that it’s insanely hard for fundie-types to understand that lesbians exist, because of this bizarre idea that women are incapable of lust.

      • Lorelei


        I seriously thought I was the only one. Because we were taught that there were none! >.>

      • The_L1985

        It took me YEARS to realize I was bisexual, for the same reason. Or that my naughty thoughts about men weren’t somehow abnormal.

    • Nichole

      I was going to ask: where is the seminar on how to choose who “the right man for you”? If you are not allowed to do so much as go one a walk with somebody to get to know them, how would you ever be able to choose?

      Oh, I guess your dad, aka your vagina guardian, is supposed to choose for you?

  • Hilary

    I don’t get it. I mean, I get it that this is horrible, emotionally abusive and a perfect set up for worse abuse, but still, why? What are they all so afraid of? Are the men creating this culture all really that sick, sadistic manipulative assholes? Or is there something else driving them, some terrible fear of real life? What are they so scared of, under all the purity and control?

    • Kit


    • NeaDods

      I think the people running it really are that sick and manipulative – look at what Pearl and Botkin have done to their own children! I also think that the people running it have found the PERFECT cash cow. Fame and money rolling in, and able to abuse at will and not just get away with it, but to get everyone to,blame and shun the abuse victims. It’s the perfect scam.

      • Stev84

        A lot of these megachurch pastors and evangelical personalities seem like textbook sociopaths.

    • smrnda

      In order to gain control over people, they have to take normal human emotions and tell people they’re bad. Then people feel immense guilt and shame and keep coming to the church leaders so they can feel forgiven, and then they give them more guilt and shame. They invent a problem to keep themselves in business.

  • Gillianren

    Okay, I’m going to try to leave aside the creepy factor of “Giving Your Heart to Your Father.” (And how much would they all think we’re the pervs for seeing it?) I’m not even going to insert my standard rant about how isolating these are to a girl whose father died, because obviously, my grandfather or uncle would have done just as well, right?

    To this day, some of my closest friends are male. Not all of them, and the two people I think of as my “best” friends are female, but when I was the age they were aiming at, I spent a lot of time as The Only Girl. And I dated less than a lot of my other friends and believe I ended up better prepared for a relationship with an actual male. I certainly understood more about how guys are raised to think than my friends who thought having male friends was weird. I think it, as well as my previous dating experiences, is why my current relationship works as well as it does.

    But then, what do I know? I’m a Pagan in a relationship with an agnostic.

    • Kate Monster

      Question: Do you live in a duplex?

      • Mogg

        Nah, that’s only for single women whose husbands have left them.

      • Gillianren

        Worse–an apartment.

      • Monika Tillsley

        Something funny about this – a duplex is considered a perfectly nice place to live in Australian cities. I was so confused about what Debi was trying to say there.

      • Feminerd

        Really, we all are very confused where Debi is going with the duplex thing. Duplexes can be, and often are, very nice places to live. They ran the gamut from crappy to luxury, just like all residence options- single family homes, condos, apartments, townhomes, whatever. You can get as nice of one as you have the money for.

      • KyukiYoshida

        I agree with duplexes being nice places to live in. i’ve lived in a few during my short, almost 21 years. And they were always very comfortable, and often large, and they usually had large yards, they were usually shared yards, but we always had amazing neighbors. It’s way better then all the people you have to deal with in a tiny apartment.

    • The_L1985

      Pagan dating a Jew, here. No close female friends that were non-relatives from age 6 to about age 21.

    • KyukiYoshida

      Thumbs up for you. I too am a pagan in a relationship with an agnostic.

  • NeaDods

    How do the people in this lifestyle reconcile Titus with *teenagers* presuming to teach and unmarried “girls” talking about how to get married? The whole thing is a hymn to cognitive dissonance, literal inhumanity (because humans cannot be whipped or twisted into not having human emotions, only abused into hiding them and being confused by them), and plain money-grubbing hypocrisy

    And then these people wonder why the church is hemmoraging, children are “rebelling,” and why the outside world “hates” (more accurately, “disdains”) them.

  • onamission5

    Well if you don’t form any friendships with boys before marriage, ever, you won’t have any base for being able to judge whether they way you’re being treated inside of your inevitable marriage is healthy or not. <—- Probably the whole point.

    • KyukiYoshida

      Exactly, and let’s not forget that in most religious “purity” groups such as this, women are also taught that if they are beaten or abused within their marriage, that it’s their fault and they need to make it up to the lord and their husband.

  • Gail

    If having any kind of relationship at all, including a crush, will ruin you for future relationships, what does that say for widows and widowers remarrying? Do the same people who support the purity ideology also suggest that widows can never have a successful second marriage because of all the emotional connection they had in their first marriages? Somehow I doubt that they are this consistent.

    Also, the comment about more-than-casual friendship suggests that they buy into the When Harry Met Sally philosophy of male/female friendship. Personally, I have several male friends, none of whom I sleep with or think about sleeping with, because they’re just platonic friends to me, just like my female friends. Do these people think that it’s impossible to be around someone of whatever sex you’re attracted to without molesting them?

    • Miss_Beara

      I had platonic male friends. On more than one occasion friends thought that me and a male friend (a guy friend in high school and another when i was working) were dating because we would talk to each other and tease each other and stuff. A lot of people don’t understand that men and women can be friends. They were more like brothers than romantic interests.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    “God used you and your team leaders to reveal truths to my daughter
    and I that weekend. She said that she was truly transformed by some of
    the sessions and made a commitment to wait for the Lord’s best for her
    life not only in terms of marriage but other areas as well.”

    You went to a conference where dozens of people were telling you that this is what god wanted and you are surprised that your impressionable teen daughter thought it was amazing? Would you like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

  • Monica Swanson

    “If you get into a long one-on-one talk with a boy, you are putting yourself in a situation that can easily cause you to open up, connect with him, and find yourself in a more-than-casual friendship.”
    Because connecting with people is a bad thing?? So how are you supposed to learn to connect with your future spouse if/when you DO meet him?

    Oh, that’s right. You aren’t supposed to “connect” with him either. You’re supposed to “submit.”


  • Mary

    I looked up Bright Lights and Sarah Malley. As far as I can tell, her parents have three kids who range in age from 22 to 32. (Sarah is the oldest) All are single, and still at home. They pretty much travel the country with their parents promoting their weird, icky teachings. We should take their life coaching seriously…..why, again? Oh, right- because we usually look at someone whose life we do not ever, ever want and then we try our darndest to follow their formula. Oooh, um, wait…..

    • Mary

      I Cannot. Imagine. being 32 and still living with my parents, unless I were 1. Taking care of them assuming their health required it, or 2. Renting from them while in a house or job transition, either of which scenario would place me as an adult in the situation, not a child. The whole mindset of the purity culture, sahds, etc is so, so messed-the-heck-up.

      • Gillianren

        I have a friend who still lives at home, because she’s building her law practice and doesn’t have a lot of spare cash. She hates it, but it’s the best thing for her right now. On the other hand, my younger sister is 32 and lives at home–because she’s emotionally stunted.

      • Christine

        My husband lived at home until we got married (he was only 26, but it was starting to chafe). Despite that, he’s well aware that living at home is a bad sign with some of his cousins. It’s all in how you do it. Are you a child or an adult when you do so?

    • gimpi1

      I had my dad live with me when I was in my 20′s and 30′s, so perhaps that counts as “living at home?” He suffered from a traumatic brain injury and needed some supervision. After my mom passed away, I bought a beat-up house from a family-member and remodeled it into a duplex, so we could each have our own space. He lived with me, or I with him, depending on how you phrase it, until he passed away.

      I was pretty-much in charge, however. I handled all money, was his representative for SS and medical care, had power of attorney and such.I don’t think that’s what these people have in mind. Really, how is a “subordinate” person, like a wife or daughter supposed to take care of a aging parent or spouse with dementia if they can’t do anything but submit?

      As an aside, I when my dad passed away, I rented the other part of the duplex out to my best friend, a man. I wound up marrying him! How neat it that? At least, when we “moved in together” he didn’t have far to go!

  • Sue Blue

    So…what’s the difference between Christians physically and emotionally sequestering girls and Muslims refusing to let girls and women out of the house alone or covering them up head-to-foot? These “purity” people might as well force these girls to wear burqas and lock them in the house all day and stone them for showing an ankle or looking in the direction of an unrelated male. Really, they are nothing but the Bible-bangin American Taliban.

    I really hate these people. I really, really hate them.

    • Mary

      It’s a difference of degrees, plain and simple. Just as there are degrees of muslim oppression of women, there are degrees of “christian” oppression of women, and there are lots of overlapping areas between the two- both use many of the same logic points to justify it.

  • Saraquill

    Instead of all this tiptoeing, why won’t these people just cut to the chase and campaign for these girls to enter a convent, or marry their dads?

    • Anima

      If they all enter convents they can’t outbreed the godless liberal conspiracy. Marrying their dads would imply polygamy, so that’s also a no go.
      So as you see they can’t openly live out their wishes due to a conflicting belief system.

  • Joykins

    ” It may mean nothing to him as a young man, but to you as a young lady, it will be a distraction and an emotional tie. ”

    Way to write off the emotions of young men. They also form crushes, and in my experience, they did so more frequently and fully than I, a girl, did.

    • Kagi Soracia

      I was kind of surprised by that, honestly. I was expecting more of the ‘leading him on’ rhetoric that they use to enforce clothing modesty standards. I was raised to believe that giving any boys any attention or giving them any reason to give you any attention was immodest and also causing them to sin by noticing you and possibly getting attached to you. (Wanting them to notice you or spend time with you because you had a crush was sinful, too.) Basically, if they get a crush on you, it’s your fault. If they’re attracted to you, it’s your fault. If they try to kiss you or otherwise get aggressive with you, it’s your fault. You get the idea. It’s always your fault. You have to become a non-person even before you are married, submitting to your father or other ‘male authority’ in order to prepare for being completely subjugated to your husband.

  • aim2misbehave

    “… chalk drawings, and harp music.”

    I snorted my drink everywhere when I read that… that sounds so painful, but it brings up so many memories of 1990′s church camp! (But we didn’t have Bright Lights, we just alternated between a series of ‘Children’s Evangelists’ who dressed up as clowns or pirates or something and did ventriloquism routines and chalk drawings)

  • marisol

    what’s been annoying me recently as a “recovering” 25-year-old who bought into purity culture for years are the following two realizations:

    1. In the above example of the deep talk between a guy and girl, that conversation could mean JUST AS MUCH OR EVEN MORE to the guy than the girl. It’s not just women who desire emotional connections, gosh darn it!

    2. Engaging in physical contact/sexual activity can be just as enjoyable for the WOMAN as it is for the MAN. and yet at these conferences/in purity culture, it is often assumed that a physical relationships is more about the man’s desires than the woman’s— she ‘loses’ her virginity or feels ‘used’. Yes, she might feel this way (or not)— but the guy could feel that way, too.

    it’s taken me years to purge these assumptions about the dichotomy between male and female desires. So harmful and stifling

  • Noelle

    Oh for crying out loud. Crushes are called crushes because they’re painful. But that doesn’t make them bad. I had a number of heart-breaking crushes in my younger days, and I survived each and every one of them. Old woman of almost 38 that I am, I even look back on those days with a sort of flannel-glazed nostalgia. Avoid crushes, my god no! They are wonderful things. The pain is fleeting when it doesn’t work out like you planned, but the falling in love over and over? There’s a rush for you.

    And to act like boys and men are immune to this crushing phenomenon? Well that is just absurd. The male half of the species is no stranger to hopeless love and heartbreak. Look at all the poetry and music and art inspired by unrequited love, love gone wrong, the love that used to be, and the love that still is. Ask any grown man if he had crushes when he was younger, and he may smile wistfully and give you some nostalgia of his own.

    • smrnda

      Yeah, if guy’s didn’t have crushes, why do we have all those mopey singer/songwriter types?

    • Japooh

      Crushes are how we learn about romantic relationships. To demonize them in such a way is just sad.

      You’re observation about music is a good one. More love songs have been written and performed by men than by women. Granted, that’s partially attributable to our male dominated culture, but if Debi and Company were right, why so many sad love songs by males?

      Finally, how would a girl know that a guy is the “right” one, if she’s been forced to spend her life avoiding spending any time with individual guys? What yardstick would she use to measure “right” with no basis of comparison? I don’t see anything wrong with teenagers not devoting all their time to romantic entanglements, but it’s silly to try to stifle them completely. The outcomes seem to either be real issues with intimacy that need to be worked out (so hopefully your partner really IS the “right” one) or a complete lack of trust in one’s ability to be a sexual being without becoming immoral or destructive. Hardly the outcomes I would want for my children.

  • LizBert

    I know this has been mentioned before, but why is it assumed that boys are all beasts? I know plenty of teenage boys who don’t want to treat girls like disposable toys. When I was a teen the boys I dated were kind, enjoyed doing things together other than messing around and were for all intents and purposes not all that different than girls. Yes they wanted to have sex, but honestly so did most of the girls. It’s what happens when your hormones are going crazy. I knew plenty of guys who got really hurt when they got dumped or a girl they liked didn’t feel the same way. At our cores, I think men and women are similar, we all just want to love and be loved.

    • Rosa

      it’s pure sexism.

  • Captain Cassidy

    It’s painful to consider the divide such thinking sets up between the genders. When one person’s on a pedestal and the other’s the handsome prince riding up to rescue her from spinsterhood, there can’t be equality between them. And they idolize that inequality and make it into a good thing. My heart breaks for the life of combat and trials these women are sailing into with such blithe insouciance. When someone is idolized, she is separated from the other. She is not known as a real human but as something Else, something unknowable and unguessable. She isn’t quite human and therefore does not deserve human rights or privileges. And indeed she won’t get either one from most fundagelical husbands.

    I really wish I could bottle my marriage and pour it out over these poor young women before they get indoctrinated into that nonsense. I wish I could show them what it’s like to be truly respected, not idolized but respected, by their partners. I wish I could tell them what it’s like to be an equal and not a slave. I wish I could make them understand. It took way too long to crawl out of that pit for me, and I left Christianity *before* “emotional purity” got popular. It’s shocking how much more misogynistic fundagelicals have gotten since I left. I had no idea it’d gotten so bad till I saw your blog and some of the other ex-Quiverfull women’s blogs. It’s shocking, confusing, scary, and of deep concern. THANK YOU for keeping this blog, Libby Anne. People need to see this stuff.

  • Christine Vezina

    I always wonder what young widows are supposed to do. They’re “used” now, and have loved as deeply as they ever will, according to purity culture. If they remarry, does their second husband see the first holding her hand at the alter like in the creepy poem about dating too much?

    Same question to Debi and the “helpmeet” crowd, which are generally one in the same. Is that it? Their life’s purpose is over? Do they end up in dumpy duplexes too, or are only slutty, disruptive women doomed to these fates?

    • Stev84

      According to the Bible, marry their dead husband’s brother.

  • Rubyfruit

    Is it all right if I’m deeply confused by the concept of “Emotional Purity”, even if I was raised in a tamer version of it? Opposite-sex friendships weren’t so much banned in my old church as much as frowned upon, but then I was in youth group when I Kissed Dating Goodbye was still a big-ish deal, and these friendships usually had the end goal of marriage, after which any other opposite-sex friendships were immediately dissolved, since after marriage, any person of the opposite sex became competition.

    You make a great point about Purity Culture’s fear of any orientation other than totally straight. If opposite-sex friendships are bad, and you’re attracted to the same sex, are you meant to just be friends with nobody? What a lonely existence if that’s the case.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    “If you get into a long one-on-one talk with a boy, you are putting yourself in a situation that can easily cause you to open up, connect with him…” OH GOD NO! OPENNESS? CONNECTION? SAY IT ISN’T SO!

    “It may mean nothing to him as a young man,” since men don’t feel love or affection, “but to you as a young lady, it will be a distraction and an emotional tie” and we all know that emotions are dangerous for young women to feel.

    “I want to avoid deep friendships with guys until the right one comes along” and hope that I magically know he’s the right one even though I don’t allow myself to get to know anyone. “It’s our desire to be close eventually with one, but not with many in the meantime” because that breeds freedom and independent thinking.

    “Once premature, close friendships are formed, it’s much harder to stay emotionally pure and focused on The Lord” because you’ve noticed that you actually have a God-given brain, heart, and life. “I’m not trying to give you a list of rules,” but here are some rules. “Our natural tendency is to want to give our hearts away” because we’re stupid.

    So remember girls; anything you feel is wrong, and all your instincts are evil. So listen to the men instead (well, and me, the conference leader…I’m the one female exception).