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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How I Got Into Purity

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Back in high school, when I first started liking boys, I wasn't really part of purity culture. Sure, at church I heard the youth leaders occasionally warn us about "giving away part of your heart" and how sex will make you dirty, and I read Focus on the Family magazines with articles about saving your first kiss and how "friends with benefits" is ALWAYS DEFINITELY BAD.

But on the other hand, I saw people kissing or holding hands in movies, and that seemed normal. My parents weren't massively into purity culture either- I mean, sure they said people shouldn't have sex before marriage, OBVIOUSLY, but things like dating and kissing are totally normal and fun.

I was very confused about what "the rules" were, but it didn't really matter then. I didn't have a boyfriend. I just liked boys, which is fine. No need to worry about the other stuff yet.

But then, I got hurt. Just some stuff about being in love and breaking up- and God saved me when I felt so hopeless. That's when I decided to really fully dedicate my life to God.

And I remembered those warnings I had heard years before, the voices from purity culture I hadn't paid attention to. This heartbreak had happened to me because I hadn't guarded my heart. It happened because every little crush was actively giving away pieces of me. It happened because I was more interested in boys than following God. (And maybe some of that is partly true, maybe not. I'm not sure anymore- what exactly is the normal-person view on dating and heartbreak?)

Anyway, I decided from then on, I would do things God's way. And, conveniently, there were lots of books to tell me what dating and marriage "God's way" was. Back then I thought if something was written by a Christian and advertising itself as "God's way" then it MUST be right. Ai ya.

So that's how I got into purity. I read and read, and put the pieces together to create a new outlook on dating.  

I learned that dating was bad and dangerous- unless God brings you together, in which case it's the most wonderful and miraculous thing ever.

I learned that we can't trust our emotions, we can't trust ourselves to make good decisions, and we can't trust our bodies not to spontaneously have sex with someone if we put ourselves in a situation with a lot of temptation.

I learned that God had a plan, a wonderful wonderful plan- and that if I pursued a guy without explicit permission from God, then I was wrecking the plan. Maybe in God's plan, I meet my husband when I'm 45- so, until then, God's plan is for me to NEVER DATE ANYONE OR LIKE ANY GUYS. Who knows?

I learned that I shouldn't love my boyfriend. Love is bad.

I learned to fear. Fear that noticing a cute guy would cause me to be impure and not good enough for "my future husband." Fear that if I started dating someone, we would later break up and I'd realize oh man, I knew all along God was saying no, but I selfishly didn't want to listen.

I learned that if I did start dating someone, I'd have to be jumpy and nervous all the time because we'd have to break up the instant we discovered an incompatibility- bail out as fast as possible so I wouldn't become even more impure, since the relationship is doomed anyway. How could we be honest with each other, then? How could we really get to know each other, if telling him my secrets might cause us to suddenly, without warning, break up?

I had many questions, but I trusted that God was there, and he would make it all work out. If it was God's plan, then I would have a perfect marriage. (God's plan was either a perfect marriage OR being single and devoted to God forever.)

Image source.

I got into purity culture because I really wanted to live "God's way."

I wanted God to protect me from the incredible danger that is romance.

And I was willing to do anything to follow God.

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Tomorrow, read part 2: How I Got Out of Purity.

3 comments:

  1. "(And maybe some of that is partly true, maybe not. I'm not sure anymore-
    what exactly is the normal-person view on dating and heartbreak?)"


    This totally struck a chord with me. I grew up in the sort of evangelical Christianity that goes for this purity culture stuff, and "what exactly is the normal-person view on ...?" is a question I wonder about a lot

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  2. Heh, yeah. I wish I had a good way of answering those questions - I feel like someone would need to really understand evangelical culture, yet somehow still be a normal person to be able to really get to an answer that helps...

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