10 Trends in the Purity Culture that I’m Watching

by | Nov 20, 2018 | Sex | 36 comments

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The purity culture has been with us for a while–but some super interesting things are happening.

And I want to share with you 10 trends that I’m keeping a watch on.

But first–what is the purity culture?

It’s hard to define exactly, but it’s a trend that, while it didn’t start in the 1990s, it exploded in the 1990s with the True Love Waits movement, I Kissed Dating Good-bye, etc. I was very involved in Christian youth groups in the 1980s, for instance, and we NEVER talked about modesty. No one ever thought about waiting until the wedding to kiss. Dating was normal in our youth group. But fast forward to the late 1990s, and legalism had crept in. Modesty was all the rage. Girls were told they were stumbling blocks for boys, so they had to watch it. Dating was frowned upon. And things snowballed.
I wrote an important post a while ago on 10 things that scare me about the purity culture, and it can explain everything for you!

As I’ve shared before, I’ve gone from being a big advocate of the purity culture to firmly believing that it’s one of the biggest culprits in robbing marriages of great sex. And so I’m quite passionate about bringing a more balanced view (and hopefully a more Christ-centric view) on the whole thing.
Here are 10 things I’m watching:

Trends in the Purity Culture I’m Celebrating

Purity Culture Trends: How Christians are changing their views of purity and dating.

1. Key figures in the purity culture are changing their minds

Do you know what really, really impresses me? What makes me leap for joy because it’s so evident that God is doing a mighty work?
When someone admits they’re wrong, especially about something they’re famous for.
This year I’ve been talking a lot about Josh Harris’ journey disavowing his book I Kissed Dating Good-bye. I actually participated in the crowdfunding for the documentary that they’ve produced. And that documentary is now LIVE, and it’s totally free to watch. I watched it over the weekend, and I’d encourage you to watch it, too!
You can find it here. (Once you sign up, it may take a few minutes to get emailed the link for the film. But it’s coming! And it’s worth it).
Imagine the courage it takes to say, “the biggest thing I’ve ever done with my life was a mistake.” That’s a man who is putting Jesus first. I know some wish that he had gone further, and had addressed the Sovereign Grace sexual abuse scandal that he was in the middle of. I wish he had, too. But that does not stop me from saying that I really respect Josh Harris, and I thank him for being honest. And I’m excited to see what God is going to do with him next!

2. New books are being written PRAISING dating

I love Deb Fileta’s book True Love Dates. It’s all about how healthy dating can prepare you for a healthy marriage–and how to go about dating in a healthy way. Increasingly there’s recognition that you need a way to get to know someone before you pursue marriage. And, especially when you’re an adult and away from the youth group crowd, the only real way to do that is to date!
She was featured in Josh Harris’ documentary, and you can watch the extended interview with her here.

3. Courtship is being reconsidered

Thomas Umstaddt was the one who blew the internet up with his post on why courtship wasn’t working. After being an advocate of courtship, and writing a blog on courtship, he started to realize two things: many of the girls especially who grew up with the courtship model were not getting married. And many who did get married young were divorcing at really high numbers.
Something was wrong in courtship land. In Josh Harris’ documentary Thomas is talking about this, and it’s fascinating. You can watch his extended interview, too!

4. Christian online dating is really a thing

I know so many people who are taking the initiative to find someone that they want to marry. Sometimes you just can’t find anyone in your church or your social circle, and you need to branch out. I think that the trend towards online dating is a positive sign. I know we believe that we should wait on God’s timing, but I also believe that online dating may be the tool that God wants to use to help people find a mate!

Are you considering Online Dating? Christian Mingle has made hundreds of thousands of relationships possible, so check it out here to start looking for your match!

5. Sexual abuse in churches is starting to be taken seriously

I’m not sure if this one should really go under “things I’m celebrating”, because the church is not doing nearly enough in this realm. Scandals keep coming out, week after week, and most churches are trying to cover their reputations rather than help victims appropriately. That makes me sad. Nevertheless, the fact that these scandals are hitting the news at all is a positive step. It means that it can’t be ignored forever. And I hope and pray that over the next few years we’ll see churches getting better at recognizing the wrong they have done.
(Sovereign Grace Churches and Southern Baptist Mission Organization–I’m looking at you specifically–though you’re hardly alone).

6. Churches are embracing talking about sex in a healthy way

One thing that totally delights me is how open churches seem to be to my Girl Talk! It’s an event that I’ve been traveling around North America (and Australia now too!) where I talk about sex, rather graphically, answer a Q&A, and point women to what a healthy, passionate marriage looks like. And on the whole, pastors are so happy to have that resource for something that, for obvious reasons, can’t be addressed thoroughly from the pulpit. (Interestingly, it’s only in Tennessee that it’s been virtually impossible to book anything. Churches in Tennessee seem to have more problems with this! Anyone want to explain why?).

Girl Talk Event where we talk sex and marriage

One of my comedy moments at Girl Talk!

I’m often asked if Christians are afraid to talk about sex, but I’ve never found that to be the case. There’s a deep hunger for open conversation and teaching about this, and so I try to dispel the notion that Christians are “hung up” about sex as often as I can.

By the way–I’m booking now for Girl Talks in:

  • Alberta in May;
  • British Columbia, Washington state, and Oregon in March;
  • Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana in February;
  • and along the eastern seaboard in April.

If you have a church that may be interested, just email me! I’d love to include you.
(And if you want to make sure you’re notified if I’m ever speaking near you, just sign up for my emails!)

Trends in the Purity Culture that Worry Me

At the same time, not all news is positive. Here are some things I’m still worried about:

7. Young Christians on social media are still pushing a very legalistic view of relationships

I’ve noticed that some of the younger Christians who are very influential on social media are still pushing a very legalistic view of dating. Even though the “fathers” and “mothers” of the movement have either fallen in scandal (like Bill Gothard and the Duggars) or have disavowed it (like Josh Harris), many who grew up in it are keeping it alive, and they’re influencing another generation to see dating in a legalistic way.
It seems to me that what many of these rules-centered approaches to relationships do is say “follow what we do for relationships” rather than “seek out The Spirit and ask Him”. Instead of following Jesus, we follow people. And that’s not healthy.

8. We’re STILL not talking about the “adult” expressions of the purity culture–and how that damages sex for women

The purity culture tends to be aimed at teens and young adults, saying that sex is so much of a temptation that you must limit all contact; that all boys will struggle with lust, and so girls must change their behaviour so boys don’t lust; and that you lose your purity once you have sex.
What we don’t talk about so much is that these same attitudes are still present in how we talk about sex in marriage. Men are considered to be so enslaved to lust that the only way to stop them from being tempted to lust after co-workers or look at pornography is for wives to have sex on a very frequent basis.
Please note: I’m all for frequent sex! I’ve written a book called 31 Days to Great Sex.
But the WHY matters. When we talk about sex as something that the man needs, or else he’ll be tempted, we make wives feel like objects. We make it sound like only men have sex drives, which makes women think that they don’t. We make it sound like what men really need is physical release, when both men and women were designed to need real, intimate connection through sex.
The purity culture and the “every man’s battle” culture are just two different sides of the same coin. We can’t really have healthy sexuality until we properly address the shortcomings and distorted teachings of the “every man’s battle” crowd, too.

You may also enjoy these posts:
My Series on Why We Shouldn’t Assume that All Men Lust
Why Women’s Sexual Pleasure Matters, too

9. Some are throwing the baby out with the bathwater–thinking that because the purity culture is wrong, then purity isn’t a legitimate aim

I believe the purity culture is off-base.
Unfortunately, because so many were seriously harmed by the purity culture, many are calling the teaching that sex is designed for marriage to be at the root of the problem.
I think over the next few years we’re going to see a new battle develop where many in the church will try to redefine sexual ethics so that sex outside of marriage is no longer frowned upon. I hope that I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. I do believe we should have great sex in marriage. I don’t believe that sex before marriage steals something from you permanently that is irrevocable, and I do believe that we should stop shaming people. But I still think that sex is too important to treat casually, and that God had very good reasons for asking us to wait. I hope that people can get the balance right before the pendulum swings too hard the other way.

10. Christians as a whole are not disavowing those who have done evil

As people are leaving the purity culture for a more grace-filled perspective on chastity, many who have believed the purity culture are panicking. And in their panic they have been defending the very people who make their cause look bad. When the Duggar abuse scandal broke, for instance, people were defending the Duggars, even though they didn’t deal with their daughters’ abuse properly. It was largely non-Christians who were jumping to the aid of the victims, and Christians who were petitioning to keep the Duggars on the air.
When your cause starts to crumble, we tend to circle the wagons, instead of recognizing that maybe we need to ditch the wagon. Our response should not be, “how will this hurt the church?” but rather, “how can we purge the church from this evil?” I hope we start getting this right.

What You Can Do to Change the Culture’s View on Sexuality

Culture is never permanent. We’re always changing, and we’re in a state of flux right now. And all of us, together, create Christian culture. So what are we going to do to influence it in a positive direction?
I hope we can talk about that in the comments, but here are a few thoughts I have:

  • Watch the Josh Harris documentary, even with some friends, and start a conversation
  • When you hear someone espousing the purity culture, push back. Often we’re silent because the more conservative one appears more spiritual. Not true.
  • When you hear someone laying the blame for men’s lust at women’s feet, push back.
  • When sexual abuse is exposed in the Christian church, stand with the victim.
  • Include single people in your social gatherings. Let’s not make marriage an idol in the church.

What other ideas do you have? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Kate

    I agree with everything you said, Sheila, except for this part, regarding the Duggars, “It was largely non-Christians who were jumping to the aid of the victims,” The secular world were not aiding the Duggars AT ALL! They were just having a hate-fest towards Christians. If they cared about sexual abusive victims, then they would shut down Hollywood in a heart beat. An industry where casting couch is rampant, rape and child abusive is shown on large screens to millions of audiences in America and around the world, etc.
    They don’t care about victims. They just hate Christ and anyone that follows Him and will use any opportunity to play Holier-than-thou. They wouldn’t sentence, rapist and child molesters to lesser time than drug users, if they genuinely cared. With that being said, i never liked the Duggars, and the show should have been shut down immediately!
    Love your blog.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kate, I do hear what you’re saying, and I understand that Hollywood is an evil place. I also totally agree with you about sentencing. Sheesh! It is despicable (and don’t even get me started on the leniency of sentences of parents who kill their own kids).
      But at the same time, it was in secular papers and editorials and news shows where people were asking, “what about the daughters?” Whatever motives were or were not present, they at least were asking the right questions.
      On the other hand, what I saw over and over again in my Facebook feed was Christians saying, “we need to forgive”, or else, “they were healed! Who are you to say that God doesn’t heal?”
      Look at those two things, and it seemed as if the secular world was doing more to show concern for the daughters than the Christian world was. Now, there were voices in the church that spoke up, but it was our atrocious Facebook feed that prompted Rebecca to write her post that went viral (and that got her a lot of hate) and then me to write mine. On our own Facebook feeds, it was Christians who were defending them, and it was our non-Christian friends who were in utter disbelief.
      That said something to me, and it really did make me sad. I also wouldn’t say that all non-Christians hate Christ. I think many just don’t think about Him, truly. Again, on my own Facebook feed, with real people, it tended to be my non-Christian family members and friends who were the most insightful about the situation, and I wrote my post basically to beg Christians to stop speaking up on social media, because the whole thing was making us look ridiculous and rather evil, actually.
      Sometimes the world gets things right, especially in the areas of abuse. And I think that’s something that the church really needs to look deeply into. Why is it that we don’t stand up for abuse victims, but the world often does? I’m pretty sure that makes Jesus weep.

      • Kate

        When you break it down like that, i agree with you. I thought you had meant somehow the world was a safer place to be if you’re a victim of abuse. Because in the end if the world truly cared about them they would have canceled the show. After all the secular world controls the medium by which we watch these shows. Talk is cheap. They can write articles all they want, but i wanted to see action. They could have back up their concerns by canceling them. But the Duggars make them good money. And the love of money………So, in the end very few people actually care about victims.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Very true. And so, so sad.

      • Lyndall Cave

        “. . . Hollywood is an evil place.” Can we please stop painting Hollywood and the entertainment industry with such a broad negative brush? Hollywood, like the rest of the world, is full of both good and evil. There are many courageous women and men who have spoken up about abuse in the industry and are working to change that. One awesome development I’ve seen is the introduction of Intimacy Directors, who are responsible for making sure any sort of intimacy onscreen is filmed in a way that is safe and respectful of all parties involved. As a church, let’s support and encourage the good things happening in Hollywood instead of just pointing out the harmful aspects of the industry.

        • Samantha

          “One awesome development I’ve seen is the introduction of Intimacy Directors, who are responsible for making sure any sort of intimacy onscreen is filmed in a way that is safe and respectful of all parties involved.”
          Why do intimate moments need to be filmed at all? Wouldn’t it be much better if it were just implied? Frankly I’m not impressed by the movie industry introducing a special director to make sure sex scenes are filmed “safely and respectfully”. Scenes depicting sex and sexual acts are always unnecessary to a movies plot. Period. People (some married) getting naked or half naked with other people (some married) and pretending to have sex is not a safe or respectful way to behave regardless of whether they have a special director there to make that behavior appear to be safer and more respectful. Now I know that not all onscreen intimacy involves sexual scenes, but let’s be real here. There are an awful lot of movies that contain that content and there will continue to be because of the serious lack of respect for the true intimacy of sex. No special on-set director is going to change that lack of respect for the true value of sex.

          • Sam Dean

            Well said Samantha. The earliest church document, The Apostolic Tradition, from the third century listed certain professions that a Christian could not hold. Actor along with pimp were professions listed. They knew then that some professions would demand that you compromise your following His gospel.

          • Brievel

            Can’t fully agree with you, Sam Dean. Courageous remains my favorite movie of all time. God’s Not Dead was also awesome. No Christian actors – no Courageous.

  2. Chris

    “Invite single people to gatherings” YES!!!! A thousand times this!! I try to invite single people to things because (not knocking online dating) but when you have singles at functions where they don’t know eachother there is less pressure on them to mingle and some might be lonely. Especially with the holidays coming up.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly. I think we portray marriage so much as the idol in the Christian world that singles really have no place to fit in. I know I’m guilty of that for sure.

  3. Dean

    As a European, I don’t understand “purity culture” very well. I use the word “purity” for my journey of quitting porn and masturbation, not having sexual stimuli other than my wife, not objectifying women, learning to see intimacy as something that is not just about sexual relief. I think if there is a purity culture, it should focus on porn and the damage it does to consumers, spouses of consumers, and those who make it.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I think it is a very American (with some Canadian) thing thrown in, although other cultures have it in other ways (I’ve had some Nigerian commenters talk about the similarities with what they deal with, for instance).
      Purity is a good thing. Jesus calls us to purity, and what you are saying about purity makes perfect sense and is the perfect use of the word.
      Where it’s been distorted is that purity has come to mean virginity, and an emphasis on not having sex before marriage. That’s not how Jesus talked about it. To Jesus, purity meant being without sin–any sin. And purity meant living under the atoning blood of our Saviour. The word for sexual obedience was never purity, but chastity, and chastity did not mean not having sex; it meant keeping sex in its proper context. One could be married and enjoying sex with a spouse and still be “chaste”. Perhaps if we could get back to the biblical way of using the word purity, and to the biblical idea of chastity, rather than simple virginity, we’d be better off!
      (As I’ve argued many times before, many who are virgins are not pure; and many who are not virgins are pure. Virginity says nothing about our position in Christ!)

      • Dean

        Oh OK, so I guess what I was thinking of was rather chastity.

  4. Natalie

    Wow! That documentary by Josh is great! Really gets to the heart of the issues we’re having right now with the whole purity culture / singleness culture in the church and secular world right now. You’re right: all your readers should watch it!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for saying that! I’m glad you watched it. The interviews (even the free ones on the backstage pass) are worth watching, too. Follow the link to the Thomas Umstaddt one. It’s fascinating!

  5. Ashley

    I think most people have the mentality of needing to stand with their team. We see it all the time with politics. Someone on my side does something bad, but I minimize it because they are in the party I vote for. (I try not to be like that, but making a point.) Or this guy is a Christian, and I’m a Christian, so I have to take his side. Ugh! How about God’s side?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely! And I am so disheartened by politics today. In Canada we don’t have the same religious overtones that you do, but it is so discouraging. I do believe that there’s a certain way of looking at the world that just simply makes common sense when it comes to politics, but there’s so much wrapped up in it today that it just makes you so sad.

  6. Bryan Jones

    For those who haven’t seen them, watch the two Christian Tingle videos on YouTube. So hilarious! (if your sense of humor hasn’t been churched out of you)

  7. Jill

    Cant see where to see the doc for free. it says $17.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Just checking on this for you! It was front and centre yesterday, but the home page seems to have changed. I’ve sent an email to ask.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Okay, I’ve got it! Go here, and then you’ll have to just enter your email. It may take them a bit to get an email to you with the link, but it is coming!

      • William R wildman

        Clicked on your link, but the watch free link does not work.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          When you click on Free, you have to enter your email address, and then they’ll send you the link to watch the movie. I hope that helps!

          • William R wildman

            I tried it again, but the little hand that lets you click, does not work on the word FREE, so I can’t get where is supposed to send me an email.

          • William R wildman

            Technology drives me nuts some days. So I switched from using Chrome to click on your links and links in the e mail I got and used Microsoft- whatever they call it now- used to be Explorer- and I now have the movie playing. Thanks for your help and maybe if someone else has problems, they will see this note and it will help them.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thanks for letting me know! I’ll send your comment to the people making the film, too, in case they have others asking. It’s hard because they’re trying to put the movie out for free, so that it’s clear Josh isn’t making any money from it, but then you end up with glitches like this!

  8. SB

    Ok, so I was one of those 90’s teens growing up in the “purity culture”. My parents gave me a purity ring to wear until I married. I’m thankful for it, but also see how it became a legalistic ritual almost, and quite frankly a source of pride. (Not good!) So, I’m so glad you mention the fact that remaining a virgin isn’t the only way to stay pure. And though I want to stay away from the legalistic part as I’m raising 2 teens in this hyper-sexualized culture now, I still want to encourage purity in every form…do you have any suggestions on how to do this? Where is middle ground when teaching teens to stay pure mentally, spiritually, and physically versus crossing the line I to the legalistic mindset? I had initially thought about passing down my purity ring to my daughter, but now I’m not so sure. Would that be encouraging legalism? I welcome honest feedback.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Honestly, I think the key is to take the aim off of what we’re asking kids not to do, and put the aim back on Jesus. You don’t need to bother with purity rings if what we’re teaching kids is to love Jesus and follow Him. Then the rest takes care of itself. Of course explain why God wants us to wait to have sex, but I don’t think we should be asking kids to pledge to not have sex. I think we should be asking kids to follow Jesus. Anytime we get our eyes onto rules instead of relationship, we run the risk of major problems.
      And honestly–what’s going to keep our kids from going off the rails is not going to be rules. It’s going to be the Holy Spirit. At some point, we have to trust that God will convict them to do what’s right. So, I’d say, yes, explain WHY God wants us to do certain things. But always keep Jesus as the focus. Always. The key is the cross and a relationship with a risen Lord, not a pledge to act a certain way. And I know with my girls, we never even talked about rules. We only ever talked about Jesus. And it all worked out just fine!

  9. Andrea

    Love this article! I just finished watching Josh’s documentary and hope that is has a huge impact on encouraging more discussions on where we’re at as a culture and how we got here. I’m actually in the film! I’m Andrea in one of the Skype interview clips near the end. 🙂
    Personally, I’ve seen such a hyper focus on singleness or marriage in the church that we seem to have pushed aside topics like dating and engagement. We still seem to have such a hard time having open, frank conversations about the struggles that both married folks and singles have.
    Sometimes when I try to joke about life as single and now experiencing “extended singleness” after age 30, people get really awkward and don’t know what to say or how to respond. Oh my goodness, if we can’t even joke and laugh together about whatever season or stage of life we’re in then how are we going to help each other when we want to cry or work through the struggles we’re having in a season or stage of life. Anyway, thanks for writing this! Can’t wait to share it!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, so great, Andrea! I’ve been trying to write a post on how single people have sexuality, too, but I keep going around and around with what I’m trying to say. But you’re right–we tend to lump singles into this “other” category that is fixed, and we don’t really see that all these categories are really quite fluid (many who are married will not be married soon for whatever reason, and many who are single will be married, and we need to think of community on a broader basis, not just by category).

      • Alexandra

        Singleness and sexuality discussions are SO needed! One of my favorite books on singleness is Joy Beth Smith’s Party of One, and one of the points she makes that really resonated with me is how so many pastors who married really young preach “purity” rules that apply to teens and have no clue what it’s like to have not had sex for 30+ years and no concept that maybe rules that work for teenagers don’t apply the same way to 30+ adults. I don’t think that people who marry young can’t teach about sexuality of course! But the struggle is an entirely different boat when you’re in an extended singleness period.
        Anyway, it’s really needed more. I don’t believe we singles are necessarily guaranteed a spouse at any point, and some things just need to be addressed – the lack of natural biological release, what sexuality looks like, how to live fully human as God crested you to be (including the fact that we’re sexual beings) and whether or not the term refers to more than just the act of sex.
        Thanks so much for everything you do! The documentary was so healing for myself as a victim of the purity culture. Thank God for people brave enough to admit they were wrong!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          This is very true.
          I think the other element is that the “no dating at all” works well for people in high school or university, because you have a natural place to get to know people well before you decide to “court”. But once you’re out of the campus atmosphere, and you’re most in work situations or brief social situations, you have no alternative but to say, “let’s get together for coffee to get to know each other better.” When you marry out of university, chances are you had lots of chances to get to that person first. That just isn’t true later on in life. And we have to talk differently about it!

  10. Anon

    I just watched Joshua Harris’ documentary that you recommended. It was a very interesting watch! I don’t remember seeing his book as legalistic at the time. I wish I had the time to go back and re-read it now. I read his book and a few others (including every young man’s/young woman’s battle, and one by Dana Gresh- she’s featured in the doc- can’t remember the title) about ten years ago when I was a teenager. While I don’t remember exactly which ideas came from which book, I must say that at the time I embraced and agreed with the majority of what I read in those books.
    As a teenager I actually had no interest in dating, marriage or children. I did however form a lot of opinions about dating and marriage through these books. I felt like dating before graduating high school was silly, and that it only made sense to start a relationship if you thought that you would be ready to be married in 18 months or less. Definitely no kissing before marriage, or being alone in private spaces (public dates – ok.) Accepting a date with someone was a very serious thing to me as it meant that you were intentionally continuing the relationship with the goal of exploring marriage. If you could see that you weren’t a good fit, time to move on. Not that breaking up would be a failure! Hanging out in public alone with a guy didn’t make it a date to me- it was just two friends hanging out and nothing more. Because of my family situation, the idea of asking a father for permission wasn’t really relevant. But I did strongly value the opinion of a few other male figures in my life.
    In university, I was asked out by several guy friends, much to my dismay. Saying no broke most of those good friendships instantly and left me with a dwindling social group. Eventually I could see it coming that another one of my guy friends from my Christian dorm would be asking me out soon. I hadn’t known him very long, and he was very shy, but from what I knew and saw of him I knew that if I were ever to marry someone, he would be a near perfect match for me. I couldn’t stand the thought of breaking off this friendship – I needed to know him more! Yet, I had rejected someone else only a couple of weeks prior on the grounds of not being interested in a relationship. Through a lot of prayer in a short time, I felt God leading me to say yes to him and give dating a shot. If it didn’t work out then I could go back to being happily single and move on with life! A couple of days later he asked me out. On our first date, within five minutes of arriving, he let me know that if I wasn’t serious about pursuing marriage, we should both go home. Perfect! Just the kind of serious guy I could respect. Long story short(ish), 4 and a half years ago we had our first kiss on our wedding day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re happily married and have started a family, and we’re glad we did things the way we did. I can see why others choose to do things differently but I can’t see it being better or more helpful in the long run to kiss(etc) before marriage or to date casually. There doesn’t seem to be a Biblical mandate on these things but it seems wise to me. Dating isn’t in the Bible so we can only go on principles. Were all of my teenaged opinions legalism? Maybe. To me these principles are guided by wisdom and helpful in protecting future marriages.
    I have so many more thoughts on this but I think I’d have to start a blog or write a book of my own, so I’ll stop for now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  11. Brievel

    “(Interestingly, it’s only in Tennessee that it’s been virtually impossible to book anything. Churches in Tennessee seem to have more problems with this! Anyone want to explain why?)”
    To the best of my experience, Tennesseans only like Tennesseans. 😛 Plus that’s Appalachia country and they don’t like being told what to do at the best of times, much less by outsiders. (That I come from that stock shows at times…)

  12. OKRickety

    For those who want to strongly protest the Christian purity culture, see Liberal Luther pastor ….

    ‘Liberal Lutheran pastor and author Nadia Bolz-Weber has encouraged women to send her their purity rings to be melted down and recast into a golden vagina in protest of evangelical purity culture.
    ‘The website states that those who send in their rings will then receive a “certificate of Impurity as well as a SHAMELESS, impurity ring.”’

    For anyone appalled, there’s no need to worry. It’s an “art project”.

  13. Emmy

    I’m from Europe so I have never seen the “hard core” purity movement closely. I never heard about purity rings or purity balls untill a few years back when I learned about them on social media. First I did not understand what a purity ball meant. I thought it was an object, like a foot ball or a tennis ball, and I thought: How weird! What has a ball to do with purity? How do they apply it? Do they play games with it or what? And is the purity ring for the girls and the purity ball for the boys? How weird!
    Then I understood it was a dancin ball for daughters and dads. I thought: Why is it only for them? Do the guys not need to be pure also? (Why the idea of a purity ball for Mothers and sons strikes me immediately as very, very odd? I wonder if someone has ever tried such a thing)
    Me and hubby were dating in the early 1980’s. Joshua Harris had not yet written his books and True Love Waits -meetings were not there yet. Very soon after our wedding we got however involed with a church with American background and with a lot of teaching about purity (they called it preaching agains fornication) and very strict rules about what was allowed during dating. Well… holding hands was OK. And if the guy put his arm over the girl’s shoulder, that was OK too. But nothing else. And you were not supposed to be “alone” but always with the group. Needless to say, people married soon and young. Getting married was about the only way to get some privacy and to get to know your significant one better.
    And if someone broke the rules or deviated from them, the attitude of the church leadership could not exactly be called redemptive. Couples that had gone too far were forced to separate, or you were not allowed to marry in “the curch”. Because we already were married when we joined this church we did not get the worst of it personally. It was still hard to see how others were treated, although we did believe and still do believe in waiting with sex untill you are married.
    Some of the most embarrasing and awkward memories I still have are the sermons “against masrurbation” and even more about “the virtue of the woman” which was her virginity. Especially the “altar calls” after the sermon were embarrassing. I refused to answer such altar calls. Something in me said: “This is weird, Emmy. Listen to the teaching and obey God, but stay on your seat.” And the “virginity sermons” really were awkward and embarrasing.
    I don’t remember the guys name, Ed Somebody, from America, was very famous in those days (1990’s). He preaced much on true manhood, which was not bad at all, but one of his famous sermons was about “the glory and the virtue of virginity”. The pastors from our churces read Ed Somebody’s books and listened to his sermons and soon started to preach about “the virtue of a woman is her virginity” and to make altar calls for those that had “lost it” in order to “get it back”.
    I’m not sure what exactly I found so embarrassing about these sermons, I do believe that it is good to stay virgin untill marriage and I believe God wants to forgive you and restore you if you have stumbled. But telling young women that their greatest treasure is their hymen and asking them to come forwards if they had “lost” it…that was really youck in my opinion.
    So even in Europe we have had our share of the purity movement. It is something I have very mixed feelings about.
    This is a very interesting thread, just like everything here.


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