My Brothers Too: Purity Culture and Double Standards

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Every time purity culture issues come up---purity rings, purity balls, saving your first kiss for the wedding---someone inevitably makes an argument about double standards. Sometimes these commenters are absolutely right---modesty discussions almost without fail involve a double standard---but other times, well, it's not so simple.In the conservative evangelical homeschool circles I ran in as a teen and young adult, boys didn't get a pass on not having sex before marriage. Guys were expected … [Read more...]

Rachel Held Evans: Missing the Mark on Sexual Ethics

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Rachel Held Evans has been a big critic of what I call the "purity culture"---and I think that's great!---but today she's written a post on why people should still wait for marriage to have sex. The problem with the evangelical purity culture, as I see it, isn’t that it teaches saving sex for marriage, but that it equates virginity with sexual wholeness and therefore as something that can be lost or given or taken away in a single moment. Perhaps instead of virginity…or even purity (which ca … [Read more...]

Dear Little Girl: Jesus Doesn’t Want Your Sex Life

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This little girl is pledging her sex life to Jesus:The O2 Experience is an organization that goes around the country giving talks on "Life, Death, Sex, and Romance"---which of course is code for "how to avoid both hell and sex before marriage." On their webpage they describe their conferences as "an opportunity for young people to hear the life-changing message of the gospel and understand God's plan for their sex lives." From a reading of the group's webpage, it looks like you take sex and … [Read more...]

In Which Sally Grasps Contraception

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"Mommy, what's this?"In her hand Sally held a condom, still in its wrapper. Sean had cleaned out his desk earlier in the day, and it had somehow ended up on the floor, a leftover from last summer between when Bobby was born and when I had my IUD put in. I could have just brushed the question off with a non-answer---Sally's only in preschool, by the way---but I decided against that. Instead, I pulled out my copy of Our Bodies Ourselves and showed Sally diagrams of the female reproductive … [Read more...]

Question: What Do Presents, Chocolate Bars, Roses, Chewing Gum, and Packing Tape Have in Common?

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Answer: Nobody wants them when they're used.Presents, chocolate bars, roses, chewing gum, and packing tape have all been used by abstinence educators and various Christian leaders and teachers to illustrate to young people how having sex before marriage will ruin them and leave them disgusting and unwanted. Those who grew up in the purity culture probably knew the answer to the question asked in the title before even opening this post.I was reminded of this when reader Laura left this … [Read more...]

Whence Opposition to Birth Control? An Illustration.

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I've written before suggesting that if pro-lifers are consistent, they should be in favor of birth control. And indeed, there are some who are. But there seem to be more who aren't, and that is only more true when it comes to Catholics. I recently came upon an illustration that explains how Catholic pro-lifers can be anti-birth control, and anti-abortion at the same time.Click the illustration to view it larger. For those who can't view the image, let me offer a brief description.On the … [Read more...]

Sex and Chewing Gum: The Danger of Purity Culture

Elizabeth Smart

Remember how I wrote recently about how the belief that one's virginity is of utmost importance can make women stay in abusive relationships they might otherwise leave? Well, it's worse than that. Elizabeth Smart, a girl who was kidnapped at age 14 in 2002 and held captive for almost a year before she was rescued, recently explained that these exact ideas about sexual purity can aid and abet human trafficking. Rescued kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart said Wednesday she understands why some … [Read more...]


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