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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We didn't know what sex was, just that it was bad

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This post, Purity Culture Doesn’t Prepare Teens for Healthy Sexual Exploration, by Dianna Anderson, points out the young age at which people often make purity pledges. Many of those quoted in the article were in middle school or high school when they promised to "save" sex until marriage, and in many cases this is "the only education about sexuality and sexual activity that young evangelicals receive."

This is so true, and I'd like to add to it. First of all, when I saw the title of the article, "Purity Culture Doesn't Prepare Teens for Healthy Sexual Exploration," I laughed a little bit. Of course it doesn't. Purity culture teaches that there is no such thing as "healthy sexual exploration." Apparently, God wants us all to have absolutely no experience with anything sexual until our wedding night. (As I've mentioned before, in purity land everyone is straight and gets married exactly 1 time.)

When children are too young to even know what sex is or why anyone would want to do it, purity culture is emphasizing over and over that IT'S BAD and will ruin your life if you do it. Critics of purity culture would say that at this age, children and teenagers are too young and inexperienced to make their own decisions. They make purity pledges just because their parents/church tell them that's what they should do. They promise not to have sex without even knowing why people have sex in the first place.

However, from the perspective of purity culture, this "too young to be making their own decisions about sex" problem is not a problem at all. Nobody should be making "their own" decisions about sex anyway. We already know that the right answer for everyone is to not do anything sexual until they are married.

Experience doesn't matter. What you want doesn't matter. All that matters is God said you shouldn't have sex, and that's that. (And by "God" I mean "this one particular interpretation of God.")

Furthermore, in purity land, experience and deciding what you personally want is a bad thing and is called "temptation." You have to be really strong in your convictions while you're still inexperienced and generally clueless, so that you won't be swayed by temptation when you're actually attracted to/dating someone. (And by "temptation" I mean "reality.")

Here's how the story- the cautionary tale told by purity culture- goes: We know with 100% certainty that God wants you to not have sex. Because that would be dirty and bad and it would hurt your future husband/wife. But then, maybe you start dating someone, and you experience temptation and end up having sex. The solution to this is clearly to hold even MORE strongly to the belief that UNMARRIED SEX IS ALWAYS DIRTY AND WRONG, so that even the emotions you feel when under the influence of "temptation" won't be able to overpower it. And also don't put yourself in situations with temptation. (Because if you put yourself in that situation and then end up having sex, it's your fault. Rape culture anyone?)

You can't trust yourself. That's one of the foundational beliefs of purity culture. You have to decide very firmly what you believe before you even have a chance to know what sex is, before "temptation" leads you to make decisions that are CLEARLY THE WRONG DECISION.

(I'm more inclined to believe that people break their virginity pledges because once they start actually dating someone, they realize purity culture is bullshit. Not because "temptation" renders them incapable of making good decisions.)

Image source.

Gee, Perfect Number, the way you write, it sounds like you actually believe that premarital sex is not necessarily a sin. Yes, that's right. Go ahead and gasp and tell all your friends to pray for me. Clearly I'm only saying this because I'm experiencing "temptation." Whatever.

I don't think it's a sin anymore. (By their fruit you will know them.) And I'm angry.

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