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Let’s Talk About Purity Culture

by | Feb 17, 2021 | Courtship, Cult, Fundamentalism, Patriarchalism, Purity Culture, Relationships, Sex

Can we talk about the negative effects of Purity Culture for a bit?

As a recently married woman who grew up in the height of the modern Purity Movement and choose to remain a virgin until marriage, I am beginning to see even more reasons why this culture and its teachings are SO SO dangerous.

Here are just two core (damaging) purity principles that I have had to work through recently:

1. The teaching that sex on your wedding night is a grand finale. It means you have finally arrived. You’ll wait and wait and wait and avoid temptation and try your hardest to remain a virgin and finally, on that blessed wedding night, you will finally have sex and it will be amazing and magical and you’ll feel so incredibly satisfied. Haha! Nope!

What my husband and I learned was that our consummation was lesson one out of 6,368 (give or take a few times ?). Yes, it was beautiful and special and fun, but there was no feeling of arrival or satisfaction that “We finally did it!” It was, “OK, that was wonderful, but we have a lot to learn and we really looking forward to next time when we can try to get even better.”

I expect we’ll always be feeling that for the rest of our marriage. Enjoying the process, yes. Having sexy times that seem positively magical, yes. But at the same time always acknowledging that there is room for improvement, much in the same way that an artist or musician is continually seeking to perfect their craft.

Personally, I believe that is where the beauty of engaging in sex only within the bounds of marriage really lies. It means sex is a lifelong journey of discovery with your one and only best friend (in a healthy relationship, that is). It means you get to develop a special bond with someone as you discover how their body works and how to pleasure them. I think THAT should be the focus on “why you should wait”, and NOT the promise that remaining a virgin will guarantee a perfect sex life, or that God will somehow bless you more for waiting.

2. The second damaging teaching I see is the hyper focus on gendered stereotypes. Particularly, the teaching that men always have the higher drive. The truth is, about 30% of women have the higher drive!!

Something that has definitely been surprising to me and my husband is that we seem to defy most of the stereotypes out there, and this is incredibly frustrating in that it seems as if every single book out there on the subject of sex is based on those stereotypes that don’t apply to us. Christian books rooted in Purity Culture are especially guilty of this.

Why not instead shift our focus to the mutuality of sex instead of continually stuffing people into boxes of conformity and telling husbands and wives exactly how they (based on their own specific gender) should feel about or respond to sex? And speaking of mutual…for heaven’s sake, we need to teach girls to expect to be pleasured! The husband and the wife have the same right to be pleasured and they should both make pleasuring their partner a priority.

What about you? Which core principles from Purity culture have you found damaging in your romantic relationships? What have you discovered to be true?



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About the Author

Emily Elizabeth Anderson is a Christian blogger and rising activist for people who have experienced abuse within a Christian environment.

After growing up in a fundamentalist cult for 23 years and experiencing childhood domestic violence, Emily began her journey to recovery in 2015 and eventually found Jesus to be her ultimate healer. She soon turned her passion for writing into a blog and her story has since been featured on several media outlets including NPR.

She married her best friend, Joshua, in 2020 and together they are passionate about educating on the realities of trauma survival and recovery, as well as supporting survivors they meet through their online community.

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