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...]

Ticking Time Bombs of Atomic Hormones


I've written a lot about my experiences being raised in what I call "the purity culture"---evangelicalism's obsession with the virginity and sexual ignorance of its young, an obsession that manifests itself in purity rings, purity balls, modesty teachings, and the rejection of dating. Some readers have asked what it's like for males growing up in the purity culture, and I've had to say that while I could guess, I honestly didn't know. Most of those speaking out against the purity culture have … [Read more...]

The Three Weavers, Part III: The Fathers’ Advice


So with her father's blessing light upon her, she rode away beside the prince; and ever after, all her life was crowned with happiness as it had been written for her in the stars. In part I of this series I gave some background to Annie Fellows Johnston's 1904 short story The Three Weavers. In part II, I posted the first part of the story, in which three weavers---Herthold, Hubert, and Hildgardmar---who live side-by-side and have similar fortunes, had three infant daughters---Hertha, Huberta, a … [Read more...]

The Three Weavers, part II: How the Story Begins


So with her father's blessing light upon her, she rode away beside the prince; and ever after, all her life was crowned with happiness as it had been written for her in the stars. In the introduction to this short series, I offered some background on Annie Fellows Johnston's purity morality tale, The Three Weavers. This short story had a big impact on me as a teen, and it has only been gaining in popularity in patriarchal circles in the years since then. In this post I will provide the first … [Read more...]

Why Non-Virgins Can’t Have Good Marriages

sex virgins

I recently came upon a blog post by an evangelical in Belgium reacting to the recent outpouring in the Christian blogosphere on the problems with evangelical purity culture. This blogger reacted with confusion, calling what he was reading about "a purity culture I don't know." I think he correctly credits his confusion to the cultural differences between the two nations, even within evangelicalism. Anyway, this one statement of his stuck out at me: What I’ve never heard  in all of this was st … [Read more...]

More Real World Damage of the Purity Culture


The purity culture urges young people to marry not based on lust or romantic feelings, but rather based on a checklist of characteristics needed in a godly spouse. Christian? Check. Correct doctrine? Check. Believes in biblical gender roles? Check. And so on. These ideas are not just abstract. They impact the decision-making of young people raised in the conservative evangelical subculture and create real world pain and damage.Back in December I gave you some examples of this. I posted an … [Read more...]

Smile! Your Mom … Had Sex?


"Smile! Your Mom Chose Life!" I found this slogan very compelling when I opposed abortion. I mean, think about it! If your mom had had an abortion, you would not exist! Would you like to not exist? I didn't think so! So how can you be in favor of keeping abortion legal without being hypocritical? And then one day I realized something. I wouldn't exist if my parents hadn't had sex either. Or if they hadn't met. Or if they hadn't been born. There are lots of things that might have kept me from … [Read more...]