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Racism Distracted Me From Purity Culture

Racism Distracted Me From Purity Culture October 2, 2014

31 DAYS of brevity

Yesterday a friend posted on Facebook from April Fiet about not praying for her children’s future spouses.  After some comments back & forth on the Facebook post we realized we had some similar thinking about this which is not to give our children the idea that they aren’t whole people if they never marry.  Yet, I vehemently disagree that we shouldn’t pray for our children’s future spouses if they are to marry.

Here’s how I responded on FB:

I like the idea behind this but I also want the same things as her while also praying that if my boys wind up married that it’s good and healthy to invest some prayers for such a life altering decision! Especially now that my boys will see that it doesn’t always work out & because they likely won’t be raised in “purity culture.” We also pray for Haiti & persecuted Christians & healing & their neighbor down the street and the scab on Rhysie’s leg. I think ignoring the possibility of marriage feels like a wide swing in the opposite direction that’s not necessarily admirable. I feel badly for all the kids who grew up in purity culture who feel so wounded by it but the question needs to be asked: how do we come back to the middle without responding so far in a different but equally unhelpful direction? Maybe I find this to be a schooch judgemental for those of us Mama’s who do want to pray for our kids future spouses if they have them. Marriage is a BIG deal. Why deny that? Or the fact they could end up married and now she can’t even look honestly at those future spouses and say “I prayed for you.” That’s a goal of mine IF they get married. But I’m also teaching them to be whole & content in their faith alone. Life is too complex for limited thinking like this especially when there’s an admission that this type of stance is being taken as a reaction. That doesn’t sit well with me. But I hear her points.

I don’t feel I need to make all that clarification in front of my kids. (they are 4 & 8). I don’t need to give them my baggage. I want to pray for these unknown people who they may end up marrying. I also pray they will have great best friends! That’s equally important to me. We also pray that they will find friendship in one another & become best friends themselves! There’s lots of praying around relationships being healthy in general.

This whole interaction got me thinking about all this talk about purity culture.  I hadn’t even heard the phrase “purity culture” until I started interacting with a bunch of white, Christian blogging friends.  At first I was like, “wait, what are ya’ll talmbout now?”  After reading a gajillion posts about it, I’ve realized I too was raised in purity culture.

As I understood it growing up: my body was dangerous, it was a tool of the Devil so cover it up.  I was primarily responsible if a boy” fell into sin” from seeing a portion of my skin.  At my Christian school, I had to wear knee length skirts or be sent home.  (Yet, we could wear very short cheerleading skirts & flip around with our red spankies hanging out –BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE).  Having sex before marriage was THEE WORST sin ever.  If you weren’t a virgin when you got married you were marred & used goods.  Donzo.

There was a WHOLE LOTTA tomfoolery in the Christian community regarding sexuality.  Before I ever knew this was a thing, I thought it was a rule-bound-Baptist denominational issue.  Whatever you call it, I’ve never given much thought to how it affected me: then or now.

When I started having sex-that-I-chose at the tender, obnoxiously-too-young-soul-crushing age of 14 I felt like God hated me with an intensity that burned hotter than the sun He created. Friends in my neighborhood who didn’t attend Christian schools & Churches but were sexually active -in some ways- fared better than me because they didn’t also carry the baggage of an oppressive religious system communicating they’d given up their ENTIRE WORTH AS A HUMAN BEING.

The purity culture affected me deeply deeply deeply.  But back then? I always had bigger fish to fry.  I was always far more concerned with the racism of the white Christian environments I was a part of then their wackadoo beliefs about sexuality. The racism was more salient, more practical and a bigger threat to my survival then the protection of my beloved virginity.  And let’s face it, once that virginity was gone, I didn’t have much left to fight for. If no godly Christian man was ever going to marry me, I may as well focus more on how these racist @$$ white folks hated my people & Detroit itself.  That’s the reasoning of a 14 yr. old right there.  I chose my battle.  I chose it at 7 yrs. old but that’s a different story.

I haven’t done much soul work regarding this since then.  I wonder if the purity culture mindset seeps its way back into my brain cells still.  I need to think about it.  For 16 yrs. I’d been a part of a Christian community with healthy mindsets towards sex, sexuality & gender roles (during my InterVarsity tenure) that I feel mostly normalized in appropriate responses to my own sexual brokeness.

Well, mostly, y’all.  Soul work never really ends.

Any of you raised in “purity culture?” Have you processed how that affects you now? 


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