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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I just wanted someone to care that I was pure

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Being "pure" is hard.

I remember praying and praying about a guy I liked, and deciding the healthy thing to do would be not stick around to chat after the bible study meeting, because though it would be fun to talk to him, it could make me too emotionally attached.

I remember in college, seeing a couple give each other a quick kiss in the hallway before they went to their separate classes. And I wished so much that I would have someone to kiss, but comforted myself with the idea that the next time I kissed a guy, it would be in a relationship approved by God, and therefore amazing and perfect.

I remember one Friday night, I passed by a group of college students on the street, and I heard one of them blurt out, "We're going to a sex party!" And later I went back to my room feeling so lonely, feeling like I was missing out on so much. (Not that I wanted to go to "a sex party" whatever that is, but at least I wanted something romantic of some kind.) And I prayed for God to go speak to my future husband, wherever he is, and tell him I love him. And that I hope some day he can understand how I felt and appreciate how I abstained from everything, for him.

I remember the teachings about modesty, how as a woman, my body is so amazing and sexual and powerful that it can control boys, but that power must be totally hidden, totally shut down, until the right time.

I remember the times I hung out with my friends in the fraternity (not a stereotypical wild-party type of fraternity, a bunch-of-nerdy-guys-playing-video-games type of fraternity) and sometimes late at night while we played board games, I would get these random thoughts in my head "oh he's hot" or "I want to kiss him" and I made the hard decision to not dwell on those thoughts, to resist temptation. I would find an excuse to remove myself from the situation, from the temptation. And no one but God knew what I was feeling and the battle I was fighting inside.

The loneliness, the longing, the hard choices I made because I wanted to be "pure." I just wanted someone to see how hard it was for me. But the more pure you are, the less anyone is aware that you could even be sexual. Only God knew all the things I said no to, all the things I never even pursued, all the thoughts I didn't allow myself to think.

I'm thinking about all this because of a blog post I saw recently, I Didn’t Wait for My Future Spouse, and You Shouldn’t Either, by Daniel Wilde. Spoiler: he's not waiting for his future spouse, he's waiting for God. As in, his main reason for not having sex is not because his hypothetical future wife wouldn't want him to, or so he'll have a better sex life in the future, but because of love/obedience for God. The writer talked about wishing for reassurance from his girlfriend that it MATTERED that he had kept himself pure (but eventually concludes it's God's opinion we should be most concerned about), and man, I know that feeling.

It's so hard to be pure. Does anyone see? Does anyone care that I'm doing this?

I just had to keep telling myself it was so important to God, and that God cared SO MUCH about whether or not I spent time happily imagining the possibility of kissing the hot guy in my physics class (whom I had never actually talked to, so it wasn't going to happen in real life anyway). And that God cared SO MUCH about how I chose to wear something less cute and feminine in order to be "modest" but it didn't seem to matter to anyone else either way.

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Anyway, if you've read my blog before, you know I don't believe in "being pure" anymore, and I have a lot of criticism for the teachings and implications that come from purity culture. I'm not going to get into that in this post; I just want to say, man I know how that feels.

(Though I will say this: Perhaps my biggest disagreement with Wilde's argument is about how loving God relates to loving people. I don't see them as separate things. I don't think we love God first and people second, as if sometimes we may need to refuse to love people because we must love God instead. [Jesus had some things to say about that.] Similarly, I don't see "obeying God" as something separate from the real-world consequences of one's actions. The reason should never be "do this because God said to" because the things that God wants us to do will by definition be compatible with bringing God's kingdom to this earth. The things God wants us to do will benefit ourselves or others or the world in general, or else why would God want us to do them? So anyway, Wilde and I have different views about purity because of the ways we view God and believe God interacts with the world.)

It's so hard being pure. It's lonely. God sees and God cares about us, but to be honest, I wonder what God thought, all those times that I made the hard decisions in order to be "pure" for God. I wonder how God felt about that. Maybe a little sad.

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