by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
All quotes from ‘Before You Meet Prince Charming’ by Sarah Mally are in blue text.
This section of Chapter Ten is where Sarah Mally tries her hand at explaining why Emotional Purity (called Emo-Pure by me) is a concept that all people should follow. I will allow you to draw your own judgements on how well she sells the concepts.
She starts off this section with an anecdote from her childhood:
‘”Sarah,” my mom said to me one afternoon when I was little, ” you know Mr. and Mrs. Alden at our church? Well, did you know that their very first kiss was at their wedding? Just think how special it would be if you saved your first kiss for your wedding! I wish Daddy and I had done that.”
I wasn’t very old at the time, but I still remember the impact of her words. Right then, even though I was very young, I made a decision: I was going to save my very first kiss for my wedding!’ (pg. 184)
- Decisions made in early childhood are not legally binding for good reason. Kids lack the life experience and cognitive development to make long-term decisions on their own behalf.
- This anecdote explains an issue that recurs throughout the book: The Princess is completely unable to articulate WHY anyone should adhere to Emo-Pure besides “My Dad said I should!”. Now we know why – Sarah Mally is still functioning at a early childhood level of thought on this issue.
- Thought experiment: does Emo-Pure work if no one knows that a couple observed Emo-Pure rules? Sarah Mally’s mother knows that the Aldens had their first kiss at their wedding – but why does she know? Is Emo-Pure about protecting a future marriage or gaining social status in the local congregation? At this point, Emo-Pure feels more like a decoration at a wedding than an action to strengthen a marriage.
“Suppose you made a beautiful birthday cake. It was a rich chocolate cake with homemade vanilla frosting. You spent all afternoon taking the time to make sure it was flawless. You decorated it carefully with frosting, flowers, leaves, and lettering, and added a few fresh cherries for the final touch. Then, enjoying the aroma of a freshly baked chocolate cake, you left it on the counter so that it would be ready for the birthday party.” (pg. 184)
- I hate when people put vanilla frosting on chocolate cake. Always have hated it; always will. Because of that personal quirk, I’m turned off by this theoretical cake.
- The third sentence combines two major pet peeves of mine from CP/QF home schools gone wrong.
- Lists need to be made with care. Since Mally led off with “frosting” and didn’t use any adjectives, I am now imagining a cake that has botanical flowers and leaves along with peel-and-stick poster letters. At this point, the imaginary cake is a gross mess in my mind.
- Adults should be cognizant of sexual metaphors in their language. Don’t add cherries to a cake that represents emotional purity; that’s a sexual purity thing. (I’m having flashbacks of Debi Pearl’s repeated use of “Tie a ribbon around it and put it in your Treasure Chest” in Preparing to Be a Help Meet.)
- This might just be me but I can’t smell cakes after they are frosted. On the other hand, I’m glad she pulled out some adjectives to describe the cake.
“Then suppose I came along, saw the cake, and feeling a little hungry, decided to cut a piece for myself. Just as I was eating my last bite, you return to the counter and found your beautiful cake –with a piece missing. So much for all your work making sure each detail of every flower looked perfect. As far as you are concerned, the cake is ruined. There’s not time to make a new one. How will it look when you serve it at the party? After all your meticulous work to make it just perfect, how would you feel about my careless attitude?
What if I suggested that you bake another piece of cake to fill in the empty space? Obviously, my advice would irritate you even more. ” Of course not,” you’d say. ” The cake is ruined. It will never look the same again.” (pgs. 184-185)
- I’m curious who the hell looks at an uncut cake that says “Happy Birthday, Buddy O’Mine!” and decides to cut a piece for themselves. We’ve had birthday cakes be dropped, eaten by a dog and stepped on by a cat but we’ve never had a person help themselves to a cake prematurely.
- Sarah and I see this situation very differently. For her metaphor to work, the cake must be ruined. In my life, I see this as a time to get creative. I don’t need to make an entire new one; I need to disguise the missing piece. My first attempt would be to make a posterboard cube slightly wider than the missing piece to fill up the hole and then frost over the posterboard.
- If a person asked me to bake a single piece of cake, I’d be more irritated about their shoddy command of the English language. You bake a cake that is cut into pieces. You could bake a small cake or even a cupcake. You cannot bake a single piece of cake.
- Mostly unrelated: My husband’s grandfather used to send local teenagers out to dig half a hole in the yard on their first day of working on the farm. Apparently, it was a good lesson in asking questions when the directions don’t make sense…..and far cheaper than dealing with mistakes involving cows or equipment later on.
- What is the most important attribute of a birthday cake? Honestly, the external look is nice, but I appreciate the effort that goes into making or obtaining the cake much more. My second most important attribute after loving effort is taste. (Of course, the cake I made for my husband’s birthday devolved into a cake-slide because the moist red velvet cake + cherry filling destabilized the bottom layer so the weight of the frosting on the sides started ripping sections of the cake apart. Looked horrible; tasted great; decent story, too.)
“A Proverbs 31 Woman will do her husband good, not evil, all the days of her life (Prov. 31:12). One of the best ways you can do good to your future husband today, even if you don’t know him yet, is by protecting your heart so that it will be completely his. Your heart is a priceless treasure that you are saving for one. How will your future husband feel if you have already given pieces of your heart to others and can offer him only a partially eaten cake? He wants a cake baked just for him, not ones with pieces missing that other so tasted first. He wants the whole thing –not just part. One day you will long to give him your whole heart –but in order to give it later, you must protect it now.” (pg. 185)
- This paragraph took me three separate tries to read into my transcription software because I would start laughing so hard at the mixed – or should I say mixed-up – metaphors!
- The whole “giving pieces of hearts away” tripe is a metaphor to start with; people don’t carve out chunks of heart tissue to exchange with each other. Ms. Mally clearly lost track of that tidbit of information. That’s funny enough – but doubling-down with the “partially eaten cake” analogy in the same sentence makes the whole paragraph sound like a SNL skit.
- I’ve taken to asking random men I know from college to post-retirement age if they prefer a cake baked just for him OR a cake that someone has eaten pieces of first. The general consensus is that cake is cake.
- The Emo-Pure interpretation of Proverbs 31:12 is beyond strange. The sane interpretation of that verse is that a wife should do good things from the time she becomes a wife until her death. The Emo-Pure interpretation forces women to behave as a wife prior to marriage – even prior to looking for a spouse!
- The Biblical basis for Emo-Pure is extremely scant. At best, Emo-Pure will hook together Proverbs 31:12 with a few snippets from the Pauline Epistles before declaring that God really wants us to be emotionally pure. The problem comes with the fact that nowhere does the Bible explicitly address emotional purity.
- The Bible does have sections that address prohibited sexual relationships – but even that is pretty slim compared to sections entitled “Being nice to others in our group”, “Being nice to others outside our group”, or even “Worshiping other gods leads to punishments meted out by God”.
- There are plenty of counter-examples to Emo-Pure as well. Abigail essentially betrayed her husband by CP/QF standards and married David after Nabal died. Abigail must have had some emotional connection to her first husband – but she married David. Boaz didn’t tell Ruth that they couldn’t be married since she’d been emotionally entwined with her first husband.
- Don’t marry someone who expects to have the entirety of your heart – that’s the first warning sign of an abuser who will isolate you from friends and family. Chunks of your heart will have already been given away to your immediate family and close friends.
“Emotional Purity is hardly even considered possible in our present society. But think of it this way: how would your future husband feel if he knew that some other guy had known your deepest thoughts, dreams, fears, and emotions? What would he think if some other man had known you even better than he himself knows you? Or how would you like it if some other girl had dozens of long, deep, intimate conversations with your husband and knew practically everything there was to know about him?” (pg. 186)
- I’ve been thinking about this a lot: has there been any society in which Emo-Pure has been a real, widespread concern? I can think of plenty of societies where sexual purity for women has been obsessed over – and nearly as many where romantic love is viewed as only possible outside of marriage. The idea of emotional purity saved for a life-long monogamous marriage is a new invention. This is one of those areas where a strong liberal arts background gives a stronger understanding of how human cultures have work throughout time.
- The rest of the paragraph is from a different universe.
- Lives are built forward in time, not backwards. Thoughts, dreams, fears and emotions change over time. Even if a guy adheres to Emo-Pure, the fact that a woman has had an emotional relationship with a different man means very little about their emotional relationships going forward.
- Presuming to read a future husband’s mind is a bad idea. I find it much easier to ask my real husband his opinion when needed. My husband’s reply when I asked him if he cared that when we met other men had known me better than he knew me at that point was a blank stare followed by “That book is on crack, you know.”
“You see, there is more than just your first kiss and your physical purity that you can save. There are many other “firsts” that will be very special if you make them special by saving them for the right time rather than trying to generate romance with every young man you know. Sure, most girls your age treat all these things casually. Sure, they might be having fun now, but how is it going to affect their marriages later? Think how meaningful each of these first can be, when shared with that special someone:
- First expression of interest
- First words of affection or love
- First gift given or received
- First romantic look into his eyes
- First trip together
- First special song, place, event, or memory
- First ring
- First dinner date
- First personal letter expressing emotions
- First I love you
- First piece of your heart given
- First serious or ongoing correspondence with a young man
- First special affectionate nickname or actions
- First kiss
I know this section was supposed to be deep, but I kept laughing while trying to read it out loud. People aren’t supposed to express interest, affection, or love to their kids apparently. No gifts or trips. No songs or nicknames. That sounds painfully sterile. Although – not as painful as cutting a chunk of heart muscle out for someone else does.
I’m trying to imagine reading work emails from a young man who is trying to avoid emotion, seriousness or on-going correspondence with me. That’s not going to end well.
Equally weird are the categories that are so broad as to be useless: place, event, memory or actions.
The chapter goes on for several more pages and gets less and less coherent. At one point, Ms. Mally compares choosing to drink a cafe mocha in the afternoon and staying up all night from the caffeine even though she knows that will happen to making bad choices in dating. This is followed immediately by comparing the benefits of Emo-Pure to the time her sister wanted a cool place to eat some early strawberries so her sister carried them up to the top of a tree one by one and ate them there.
I’ve got nothing left; once an author has compared choosing a drink and eating strawberries in a tree to dating, they are clearly out of touch with reality.
The entire next chapter is about getting to know Jesus. I’m skipping it entirely. The allegory is unintentionally hilarious – the Princess talks to the Alligator about her new “boyfriend” – who obviously is Jesus – without explaining that explicitly. The Alligator thinks she’s losing her mind – and I agree.
Chapter Twelve explains how God arranges marriages.
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