I Was So Wrong About Purity Culture

I Was So Wrong About Purity Culture September 20, 2021

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I remember this season well.

True Love Waits.

Lots of high school girls coming to hear Kevin and I tell our story and explain why it is best to wait until you’re married to have sex.

Videos were shown about STDs and the importance of waiting.

I understand our intentions were good.

I’m very sorry for the message that these young ladies received.

I’m realizing now just how damaging the purity culture was, bringing more guilt, shame, and fear than any of these young ladies should have had to carry.

One of the videos still stands out in my memory.

Pam Stenzel talked about how she had told her daughter that if she ever got pregnant before she was married, Pam would not help with it. She would have to give the baby up or move out.

It was something like that.

I was trying to adopt that mindset for my kids as well.

Tough love.

Maybe if we could scare them enough they wouldn’t do what I had done.

They would do it all the “right” way.

Saving themselves from the pain and the shame I had experienced by getting pregnant before I was married.

Stricter rules.

Don’t even kiss.

“Kiss dating goodbye”.

There has to be a way to help these kids stay out of trouble.

As I have grown older I’m realizing more and more all the damage this message has brought to so many.

If you google “purity culture” you will find story after story of young people who were traumatized by this way of thinking.

And here’s the deal.

I did do it the “wrong way”.

And there was pain and hurt that went along with it.

BUT… my parents did NOT put me out on the street.

Yes, tears were shed in the beginning.

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And then they wrapped their arms around me and we went through the whole thing together.

I know I felt judged by so many others, but NEVER by my parents.

Dad didn’t say much.

He just loved me well.

Mom helped pick out a crib and dresser from Sears.

Dad assembled it.

My family had a baby shower for me.

And our little Alyssa entered the world.

Loved beyond what I could have ever dreamed of.

And yes, in the end, Kevin and I have a story that blows people away.

And I get it, not everyone is so fortunate in those circumstances.

But can I say something?

God was so near in those pregnancy days.

 I actually have some pretty precious memories from it all.

Was it a sin to have sex outside of marriage?

Let me ask an even better, more important question…

Was the baby I was carrying a “sin”?

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That was what I had to get my head around back then.

A Christian girl, unmarried, walking around with stomach shaped like a basketball.

A miracle growing inside of me.

And yet? 


A symbol of shame.

Most of my pain came from what I thought others thought of me.


I think I post about those kinds of thoughts still today.

My identity is easily wrapped up in my reputation.

And I was unknowingly teaching others the same thing.

I was teaching these young ladies to guard their hearts from boys…

Hoping their sweet little hearts would not be broken.


Funny thing is?

My heart has been far more broken as an adult, by people in the church even… pastors, for crying out loud.

And I know I have done my fair share of heart breaking.

Here’s the deal.

Maybe it is more beneficial to teach the ever reaching love of Jesus that will sustain you and hold you up when your heart does get broken.

The beautiful forgiveness that is an everyday reality for each of us as we walk through this life.

The eternal hope and grace that is already ours.

I know this is heavy.

I understand that people may misunderstand what I am saying.

But… can we just be real with one another?

Can we just listen to each other’s stories and be a people who stand firm in the love of Jesus and then extend that same love and grace to every single person we come in contact with? 

The World doesn’t need a bunch of judging, condemning adults breathing fear into the hearts of our young people.

I have played my part in this.

I want to be better at seeing others like Jesus did.

At looking the other person in the eye and seeing that person’s need, and then blessing the need.

Oh Lord, will you help me love like you have loved?

Give me eyes to see what you see?

Open my heart to love how you love?

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Go ahead, God… break my heart for what breaks yours.

Help me to be humble enough to know when I have been wrong and brave enough to be able to admit it out loud.

Oh God, be near.


Karen R Shock resides in Fort Wayne, IN with her husband and their youngest son. She had three more children who are married and four beautiful grandchildren. Oh, and a dog name JT Barrett (Go Bucks). She is a retired homeschool mom and is now a high school teacher and cheer coach. Life is hard, but fun.

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