When Church Goes Backwards: Why We Should Apologize to Millennials

by | Jan 20, 2021 | Uncategorized | 66 comments

How Youth Group Changed for Millennials
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Yesterday was my daughter Rebecca’s 26th birthday, and it occurred to me how much her life and my life have differed when it comes to church. 

Here’s my favourite picture of her, taken this fall with her son:

I was supposed to write something else today; I had the pre-order bonuses all ready to go for The Great Sex Rescue, but they’re quite explosive, and we need a few more days to edit. So they’re coming out on Friday instead!

I didn’t have time to write another post yesterday because it was Rebecca’s birthday, and I spent some time with her and made a big family dinner.

But as I was lying in bed last night, I figured out what I wanted to say.

I wanted to say I’m sorry to millennials.

And to explain why, I’d like to tell you about my teenage years and university years with the church.

I started attending a Presbyterian church in downtown Toronto in my teens. It was evangelical; they taught Jesus; they loved the Bible.

Our youth group was small; maybe 12 people came out every week. But we were great friends. At first one of the parents ran it; eventually they hired a youth pastor.

We had the usual dramas of who is dating whom (I caused many of those dramas); we had hurt feelings and heartaches. But most of all we were just very, very good friends.

Before COVID I contacted many of them again, seeing if we could do a thirtieth reunion, and I was amazed. Of the core group of people I remember, all but maybe 1 or 2 are still following God, even some who weren’t following God then. Most are in ministry of some sort. We all have great families. It was just lovely to see.

It wasn’t a large youth group, but we stayed focused on Jesus, and it made all the difference. I still want to do that reunion; hopefully COVID will end (we’re on major lockdown here in Ontario) and we’ll be able to.

In that youth group, I never heard of purity culture.

It honestly just wasn’t there. We studied books of the Bible (I remember going through Thessalonians once, I believe). I just don’t remember talking about sex in youth group. I remember praying, and talking about how to read your Bible, but nothing about boys lusting and girls being modest and your purity being your virginity. Certainly we talked about a biblical sexual ethic, but it wasn’t in your face, all the time.

The first time I heard that kind of talk was when I stepped outside my Canadian bubble and went on a Teen Missions International trip. I’ve written about those trips; I do believe that Teen Missions is an inherently spiritually abusive organization, and I was subject to that. I get emails from so many people telling about their own experiences, and I hope that one day somebody collects the stories that have been sent to me and does something with them.

Missions Trip with Teen Missions International

Doing construction work in the Philippines with Teen Missions International in 1986.

But it was on that trip that I first heard the modesty message, and it was pushed big time. I also read a book from Elisabeth Elliott that talked about how a girl could never be the first one to talk to a boy, and how you must always submit to the man. It said you couldn’t kiss until you were engaged. I thought it was crazy. It was like looking in on a different culture, it was so far from my own.

When I went to university, there was a deep sense that change was coming.

I met Keith at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Our InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Group was large, and filled with people truly loving Jesus. We studied parables together, and books of the Bible together. And pretty much everyone had this sense that the church was becoming more interested in justice and equality and doing what was right. There was a sense that all of this silliness over keeping women out and keeping women down would be done in a few years. We all felt the same way; there was no debate that I remember on campus. It was just accepted that women were gifted in the same way men were.

Interestingly, one of my roommates from university, Amanda Benckhuysen, has just written a book on women in the Bible too–The Gospel According to Eve. I lost touch with Amanda for several decades and found her again when her book came out. I was so excited to see how similar our paths have been!

Two of my housemates and me in university. Amanda’s the one on the right.

At university we all went to different denominations, but we pretty much all believed the same way. It was easy to fellowship. Our main focus in our discussions was how to change the world. How do we do missions in a fair way? How do we feed the poor? How can we make a difference with our lives? What does it look like to be sold out for Jesus?

That’s what I associate teenagehood and young adulthood with: the search for your identity that naturally happens at that age was more of a search for God’s calling on your life. In fact, likely half of the talks that I heard at conferences were just that: how to discover God’s will and how to hear God’s voice. That’s what we were focused on. That’s what mattered to us.

If you had told me back in 1991 that in thirty years we’d still be fighting about women’s roles, I honestly wouldn’t have believed you. To us at the time, the question was settled. Sure, a lot of the older people in church didn’t agree with us, but we had time and numbers on our side. Our generation was good. This would all be fine really soon.

My girls had a completely different experience of church than I did.

By the time Rebecca hit 13 and 14, youth group had changed. Instead of being focused on learning the Bible and changing the world, it was focused on numbers–making sure the youth group was fun enough that kids came out (we never cared about numbers in our youth group).

The Bible studies were more topical focused. Instead of studying a book of the Bible, which was the norm for me in high school and university, they would study snippets or look at different themes.

And chances are those themes had to do with dating rules or withstanding peer pressure.

Brio magazine from Focus on the Family was big when Rebecca was an early teen, and she devoured them. They were filled with rules for your clothing–how you had to be able to “pinch an inch” of fabric of your jeans would be too tight.

They were filled with articles about girls who had their purity ruined because they had kissed too much.

Instead of Rebecca’s teaching being focused on how to find your spiritual gifts and your unique calling for your life to change the world for Jesus, she was taught that life was a constant struggle not to fall into a deep sin that will ruin your life.

When Katie joined her in youth group, everything just accelerated. The youth rallies they went on were not about missions and making a difference; they were about not drinking and not having sex.

My girls as teens in the Grand Canyon

And a big part of their story is hearing time and again that they can’t do things in church because they’re women.

In fact, it’s worse now. Far worse. The churches that we have been to are far more against women teaching or having any roles that use gifts other than cooking or nursery than the ones I went to as a teen.

It’s like we went backwards.

Even something like Young Earth Creationism–I don’t ever remember hearing about this as a teenager. It just was a non-issue. Certainly I believed in dinosaurs; everyone did. But I never, ever thought about it.

Rebecca and Katie were taught young earth creationism as children in Sunday School; as teens in youth group; in their media. You had to believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed; that the earth is only 6000 years old; or you don’t really believe the Bible.

I have no problem with people believing anything they want about creation, as long as we realize God did it. I don’t think it matters HOW or WHEN it happened; as long as we get the WHO DID IT right. And belief in a young earth is very modern; C.S. Lewis believed in an old earth; so did Augustine and most Christians over the centuries. But my girls were fed this constantly, and told that if they didn’t believe it they weren’t Christians. Our Christian radio station carried Creation programs (Keith used to make the girls listen to them in our homeschooling to help identify logical fallacies).

And this belief was used as a litmus test of whether you were a real Christian or not.

I believe Generation X had a better upbringing in church than Millennials.

I could be wrong. Sarah Bessey was posting on Twitter this week wondering if a lot of the problems we’re having in the church in Canada today is that at some point in the 1990s American Evangelicalism crept in in a way that it hadn’t been before. Maybe she’s right; my own experience with purity culture was on an American missions organization.

But I think it goes farther than that. I think in the 1990s evangelical publishing doubled down on very conservative themes. That’s when purity culture came out (you can actually see the change in Brio magazine over the early 2000s; it’s really interesting). That’s when big denominations started fighting “the women’s issue”, and many settled it by keeping women out of leadership roles. That’s when we all took a collective step inward, trying to preserve what we have.

I remember my faith in the 1980s and 1990s being focused outward; Rebecca Pippert’s book Out of the SaltShaker and Into the World about how to evangelize in a normal, non-creepy way was something we were all talking about and discussing. Our faith was something worth sharing.

And yet somehow along the line faith became about preserving and about being different from the world rather than trying to change the world in the same way. The emphasis has definitely shifted, and I think not for the better.

Our prayer is that the conversation is shifting–and I do believe that it is.

I hope when my grandson grows up, he goes to a youth group that isn’t paranoid about whether or not he’s going too far with his girlfriend, but is instead teaching him to read Jesus’ parables with open eyes, and to see Jesus’ heart for the world. I hope and pray he grows up learning his prayers should be focused on how he can be the hands and feet of Jesus far more than they are on stopping him from being impure.

I think we’ll get there. I think millennials were given a rough ride, and it wasn’t fair. But because of that, so many millennials are energized to do it better. Seriously–if they know Jesus after all they went through, they are real changemakers!

And I think they will change things. I think if we step back, and listen to millennials, we’ll see a better church grow.

And maybe I’ll get to have that reunion one day with all my old friends, and we can talk about these trends together!

 

Here’s How You Can Help Me!

Can I ask a favour? If I can get to 10,000 Instagram followers, it will be so much easier to share blog posts and podcasts and talk about The Great Sex Rescue (our book that’s about to be released!). I’m at around 7,200 now. 

Help me get to 10,000, and follow me on Instagram!

Thank you!

What do you think? Has the church changed for your generation? Which direction is it heading? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of 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

Related Posts

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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66 Comments

  1. Active Mom

    I hope that you are right. What makes me doubtful is many churches are no longer holding and teaching biblical standards. When the younger generations started to leave rather than look inward at what they had done they watered down the faith and tried to make everything about excitement rather than relationships and the Bible in order to keep and attract members.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think the whole excitement thing has backfired majorly. It’s interesting to see how many millennials/Generation Z believers are turning back to liturgical churches without the big praise bands. People do want something authentic, and I think some church movements have lost that. I know we once went to a liturgical Anglican church where hardly anyone who attended had grown up Anglican! We were all former Baptists, etc.

      Reply
      • Laura

        I totally agree with you about the emphasis on the worship bands. I’ve attended some churches (especially the megachurches) where they are all about the music. While it is awesome to praise God with singing and dancing, I don’t think that should be the main emphasis of a church service. I would rather give my money to support missions and help the poor than use it to give the worship team better sound equipment.
        I find it awesome that the younger generation (though not in my area) wants to return to a more traditional church setting where the focus is not on the music.

        Reply
  2. Chris

    I think Brio magazine was canceled in 2008 or 09. Am I wrong? Also I think the experiences that American Gen Xers had was very similar to the one you described Sheila. The crazyness didnt start here till later either.

    Reply
    • Anon

      I noticed that too, it seemed to have disappeared but it is being published again. I haven’t read any since I was in my teens so I’m not sure which direction these take.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, it is back now I think (or at least it was a few years ago). But it did stop for a time. We have a whole stack of them that we want to analyze that someone graciously sent us, and they definitely get worse around the 2002/2003 mark. Much more of an emphasis on the modesty/don’t kiss message afterwards than before. It was a cultural shift.

        Reply
    • Katydid

      I grew up in the if you don’t believe in young earth creationism, you aren’t really saved church. We had to openly shun evolution, science, even history.
      I think the church started to feel the push of secularism, got scared, and wanted to reclaim a sense of rose colored past idealism. Look at Vision Forum and how they emphasized a highly christianized version of American history to “take back America.” Living a fake tea party powdered perfection of pastel historical fiction was Biblical. Manly men, uber-feminine women, perfectly robotic academic talented children, and immaculate homes would prove to the heathens that Christianity is true.
      Outbreed the heathens and take over America. You can’t outbreed the heathens if your wife is outside the home. You can’t keep your wife at home if she has education and knows she can be independent. You can’t preach this perfection if women are voicing their side of things.

      Reply
  3. Melissa W

    I grew up with the same experiences you had Sheila but actually so have my children and I am very happy about that. We have always been part of a denomination that licenses and ordains women as ministers so that has been a non-issue with us and the churches we have attended. Also, we have never jumped on the bandwagon of any “christian sub-cultures” like the purity movement, Focus on the Family or even Dave Ramsey for that matter. Our kids don’t know anything about any of it. My husband has been a youth pastor for about ten years now (worship leader for 17) and our adult son was in his youth group and our teen daughter is in his youth group now and his youth group is exactly how you described your own growing up. Small youth group, focused on the Bible, Jesus and finding your identity and calling in Christ and yes, topics of sex, dating and lust come up occasionally in the context of the other lessons but are never a focus in of themselves. I do believe it is a much healthier model and am just thankful that my kids have had that experience. However, there are kids that are adults now that went through my husbands youth group that have walked away from their faith but in every case it was something we knew ahead of time would happen and were not surprised by due to how they were parented at home. Home really is the most influential place like you saw with your own girls. I just feel bad for the kids where home and youth group are both teaching dangerous messages. That is when you just entrust the kids you care about into the hands of a God that loves them far more then you do!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I really did love my youth group! It was a very safe place and a very good thing. I’m glad you’re experiencing that! I hope that there are healthier churches like yours that will grow, too, so more people have the chance to go to a church like that.

      Reply
      • Ben Tebbens

        Maybe it was an American thing but thankfully I never heard those messages down here in the states, hmm. I’m in Dr Jessica McCleese fb group and there have been discussions regarding it and from what I remember, there apparently were some apparent sects that heard the Putiry message but it seemed to not be the rule,most never heard it thankfully. I’m so sorry that your girls had to.
        As for the women’s message, that’s another one we just never heard. I’m so sorry that you all were in churches that apparently said such things. Ours thankfully is and always has been the kind of church you speak of longing for,thank God. I’m so, so sorry you all went through this but thankfully it really doesn’t seem to have been the norm for us down here as it appears. Maybe we’ve just been blessed but I’d never even heard of most of this stuff and am now 59 years old.
        Praying if folks are experiencing such things that they move on, that’s certainly not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Been members of 2 churches over 40 years of salvation and only because of a house move. So, so sorry so many apparently have endured such things

        Reply
  4. Ylva

    I am not sure, but from what many say is that the pressure to look a certain way and to be sexually active also has increased in recent years. I feel as if purity culture might be both a pushback against 3rd wave feminism and perceived erosion of morals as well as trying to keep girls from getting sucked into that mindset. But they are placing the responsibility on girls alone.
    Many of the problematic ideas in Every Man’s Battle etc. are not exclusively Christian, they just got backed by Bible verses instead of supposedly “evolutionary” or “natural” characteristics of how men are hunters and women gatekeepers. Mishandling of sexual abuse doesn’t just happen in churches.
    It’s kinda funny that they want to be “countercultural”, but they just took a few cultural ideas that have been around and are still around and made them into “counterculture”.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, exactly. They’re not being countercultural at all when they see women through the same mindset as porn does–mostly for sex; dangerous to me; don’t respect them. What Jesus does is He sees women; that’s what made him countercultural. But Every Man’s Battle says guys have to bounce their eyes and avoid women.
      About promiscuity increasing, etc.: I’m not sure, but from what I’ve read, it was actually worse when I was a teen than now. I think ironically that some of that may have to do with internet porn–kids are watching porn rather than having sex. But I think the rates of sexual activity have gone down in the decades since I was a teen. Although I think rates for oral sex have increased, so who knows really?

      Reply
  5. Kristen

    Happy birthday, Becca! I turned 26 this week, too!
    Thank you for writing this article, Sheila. It’s no secret around here that I’m one of those millennials who struggles with my evangelical upbringing. I like your comparison of our church culture versus that of Gen X, though.
    I read a lot of Christian fiction growing up; other than the classics, it’s all I was allowed to read. And believe it or not, I still have some of those authors that I still read today, even though I haven’t set foot in a church in a really long time. But I remember the Karen Kingsbury novels and how there was always some message woven not so subtly in many of her books about purity. I can’t tell you how many of her books featured a young couple who had sex out of wedlock, got pregnant, and all but ruined their lives. I get it – the Bible says no sex before marriage. But is it necessary to keep repeating this same story of sexual mistakes and catastrophic consequences? The Bible says a lot of other things, too, and it reminds me of Katie’s video from a few years ago, when she said what about your thoughts, your language, your decisions? It’s not just sexual “purity” that matters.
    Sorry for the tangent, but that’s just one personal example of the trappings that I think you talk about in your article, Sheila. Thank you for having these conversations. I wish someone had had them with me ten or fifteen years ago.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’d love to analyze Christian fiction sometime. I think it would be fascinating.

      Reply
    • Dorthea

      I’m a millennial so thank you for addressing these discrepancies between the generations. It is interesting how you have noticed such a big change in The church from one generation to the next. I’m still young enough I haven’t yet noticed it. I have some questions though: who taught millenials these unhealthy teachings? Who wrote those terrible books you all suffered through reading and rating so many of us don’t need to? Where did all these unhealthy teachings come from?
      Thank you!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        A lot of the worst books were published from 1997-2004. There were other bad ones earlier, but a lot of the very worst were in that window. I think it was a combination of the backlash over feminism; the purity culture coming to its heyday; and a conservative resurgence in the church where many big denominations that had begun to allow women in leadership cracked down on that and kicked the women out. Most of the people writing the terrible books tended to be male boomers, but not all.

        Reply
  6. Peter G.

    Yeah, lots of these changes were definitely spurred by the turn to “culture war” politics among American evangelicals in the early ’80s. Actually, though, I’m just a bit older than your daughters, and I had experiences quite similar to what you’re describing of your own — both in the church I attended through much of my teens (which sounds very similar to yours — an evangelical church _within_ the mainline Presbyterian Church of Canada) and in my own IVCF group in university. I think IVCF in general (more than some other Christian campus associations) has remained quite good at keeping the holistic, missional character of the Gospel central, including integrating personal faith/intensive Bible study and our calling to social justice. I think that’s still true of the Urbana conferences as well, so not just in Canada. So I think a lot comes down to the particular churches and circles.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That may very well be true. I know my daughters attended the IVCF group at University of Ottawa and found it similarly welcoming and focused on the gospel. It could be that in our small town where we live now we just got sucked more into churches that closer resembled fundamentalist evangelicalism than I had growing up. Perhaps if we had stayed in Toronto the girls would have had a different experience. I’m not sure. But I do think that Christian media and books changed around that time, too.
      I’m glad you had a good experience as well! In some ways as a Canadian I’ve felt a little bit like an observer looking in as I’ve gotten deeper into evangelicalism and marriage. So many of the things people debate/believe just were never issues in my circles, and yet they’re the main things taught in many churches. So I certainly had a culture shock when I started blogging.

      Reply
    • Anna

      Thank you so much for writing this. It helps me realise there was something different back in your time. So so good. Helps me realise and question what I’ve read and been taught.
      Sheila, your writing is helping me get away from allowing abuse in my marriage.
      Thank you.
      Thank you also for the Love and Respect posts, and book recommendations instead of that one.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Hi Anna! I’m so glad that you’re standing up and drawing boundaries. Abuse is not okay. I hope you have a good counselor whose helping you through this time, because that’s so hard. Whenever we rock the boat, things often get harder. But know that you are doing the right thing! I’ve just said a prayer for you.

        Reply
  7. Elizabeth

    Hey Sheila, I am one of those millennials and I just want to say thank you! My sister shared this article with me out of the blue but as I was reading, it was as if all of the shame and muddy nonsense from high school evaporated. I was in one of those youth groups that focused on the numbers, having fun and following a strict policy on purity and no drinking or smoking. Discussions every week, purity books to read and so on. So when I went to college and wanted to share my faith, my love for Jesus and how awesome He is, I was completely unequipped to do so and ended up failing pretty miserably. Basically I ended up making friends and if they ‘found out’ I was a follower of Christ then that was that, we moved on to something else to talk about and almost ignored the fact that my beliefs were different from their own. How did it ever seem like a wise decision to ignore growth and education in Christ in favor of hammering the idea of sexual purity into our heads? What does sexual purity and not drinking alcohol have to do with spreading the word of God? Constantly worrying about slipping up and doing something I wasn’t supposed to do or thinking something I wasn’t supposed to took over my life because of this idiotic mindset. Of course it’s important to live your life daily according to His word but it’s even more important to live your life with all of His teachings—His true written word, by the way, not whatever someone tells you by taking snippets of the Bible out of context and shaping it into their own beliefs. Anyway, I’m sorry, some residual teenage angst might have popped up for a bit (hahaha)—the point is I am so thankful you exist and that you have a voice that is being heard! Because I needed to hear that.
    -Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad it could help you, Elizabeth! And you’re totally right. It had nothing to do with it.
      I think it goes even further, though. Why did I not do drugs in youth group? Not get drunk? Not have sex?
      It wasn’t because we were studying about how you weren’t supposed to do drugs or get drunk or have sex. It was because they were introducing me to Jesus.
      Seriously, if you want kids to make good choices, don’t hammer them about those choices. Equip them to make those choices by helping them grow closer to God so the Holy Spirit is more real in their lives. They really did do it backwards!
      I’m sorry you felt so ill-equipped. I hope things are better now!

      Reply
  8. Jane Eyre

    I don’t fault the people in the ’90s for responding gk how the world was changing and how fast it changed. (I fault them for not having figured it out in the subsequent decades.)
    Back in the ’80s and ’90s, people married their high school or college sweethearts. This had profound implications for sexuality: you can tell young adults go wait until they are 20. That is only a couple of years. If kids had sex before marriage, it was truly premarital sex: they had sex with their future spouse before the wedding night. Maybe a few people would have sex with a long term boyfriend or girlfriend, break up, and not do that again until they were married.
    Then the world changed. Once it was expected that you would marry at 25 or 30 or 35, asking people to wait became a much harder sell. (I watched Boomers openly mock the idea of not having sex until 30.) High school and college became a time to “experiment” with “dating,” leading to more hookups and the expectation of nonmarital sex. Finding a spouse became harder because potential spouses were no more looking for marriage in college than they were in grade school.
    So the churches desperately tried to fight against this. In comes “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” messages about purity, purity balls, anything to say that Christians don’t behave this way.
    Simultaneously, mainstream Protestants and Catholics lost huge numbers of congregants, leaving the people behind to be more unchecked in whatever it is they were saying. They could have been right about a lot of it, but it lost a lot of people within the church who would say, “You’re right about chastity, but can we call it chastity instead of purity or abstinence? Do we actually need to go full on complementarianism or is it enough to say that ‘having sex like a man’ is not an ideal for men or women?”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s interesting, Jane. You may be on to something. All of these cultural forces converged at the same time–needing more education and marrying later; reaction to feminism; etc. It did create the perfect storm, didn’t it?

      Reply
  9. Michelle

    I’m so, so glad I stopped in to read this today! And thank you for saying it!
    I am a Millennial and was raised in an odd, Christian-but-not-really household, and the church my parents let us attend when I was a teen was very focused on numbers and memberships, and taught the purity message as if it was a new gospel. But more than that, I think many of the issues you’ve touched on here ultimately alluded to why there are so few Millennials in most churches now. My husband and I have just started going back to church in the past year, and it’s difficult to make ourselves go, even now. Our church has wonderful people and a great pastoral team, but being in any church makes me on edge, worried that I’m going to offend someone, be asked to leave, or face these issues again.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I hear you, Michelle. I hope you guys find a place where you do feel comfortable, or where you can at least express some of these fears and people hear you. I’ve felt some of that as well. I get it.

      Reply
  10. Wild Honey

    I’m an older millennial who grew up in evangelical churches, going to public school, with more mainline Christian parents (who at least at home pointed out inconsistencies regarding women in leadership and similar “controversies”). Cognitive dissonance and I have become good friends.
    I have had to unlearn FAR more from church than I ever did from public school, including all of the toxic messages Sheila mentioned above. I know people I grew up with in believing families who’ve left the church in recent years because of these messages.
    Our family just left our third (in the space of four years) evangelical church because of authoritarian, ultimately abusive leadership. This is getting ridiculous. We may be joining the ranks of evangelicals turned mainline once covid slows down.
    Someone else commented, I think, that these toxic messages in youth groups became an overreaction to secular influences and/or people leaving the church. I think that tendency has carried over into “big” church, too.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! Absolutely. It has carried over. I’ve seen so many people leave the church, too, over these issues, and it makes me angry and sad at the same time. This isn’t of Jesus. But I do believe that things are changing!

      Reply
    • Katydid

      I think I might end up becoming an unchurched Christian. I did start attending a Catholic Church and I love it, and actually, after a lot of study, believe much of their theology is sound. It holds up to evidences of Scripture, history, science, and early church Fathers. However, I struggle with certain key dogmas, especially that voluntary sterilization is mortal sin, whereas I feel it is a tool of modern science to safely adjust to living in this modern world that is not conducive to very large families. Since it doesn’t kill humans in utero how is it wrong?
      Anyhow, where I live, churches are either baby boomer run liberal micro societies, unchecked personality-run non denominational, or culty or fundie evangelical subcultures.
      My local Catholic parish is the most balanced and healthy, but to join I have to accept all the dogmas and right now I don’t. Plus, my husband used to be Catholic and experienced abuse (thankfully not sexual) in the Church (it was really bad here in the 80s for Catholics. Thankfully, that era is over but the damage was done) so he has no interest in returning. I mean, I get it. I was spiritually abused in my former church and I have no desire to return even though people say it has changed (I actually think it got worse). So I get that my husband doesn’t want to go back to Catholicism.
      Throw in the political divide and it’s even worse.
      I considered a liturgical Dutch reformed, but I’m no Calvinist. Ugh, its so hard.
      But, before the establishment of practicing Judaism, what did God-fearing people do? They lived and moved and had their being in Him.

      Reply
  11. Melissa

    Reading this made me look back at my youth with some new perspective. I always had an inkling something was hinky with how the churches I went to, the youth groups I attended, the books I read, and the religious “internship” program I did handled the topics of sex, dating, modesty, etc. It always felt to me like us girls were expected to follow stricter rules, but received fewer benefits from following those rules, and we were punished more often for breaking or bending the rules. As a young woman I didn’t speak up because I felt like I wasn’t qualified to speak up, and if all these teachers and leaders were agreeing on this then it must be true, right? So maybe there’s something sinful in me that I need to deal with and I should just shut up and follow the status quo?
    Well, all that was wrong. It was wrong, it was un-Biblical, it does not follow the heart of God, and it created environments that were at the least stifling and at the worst abusive towards females. For example, the “internship” I did had very strict dress code rules ESPECIALLY for the girls. We basically had to be covered from neck to knees at all times (even our bathing suits were the high-necked athletic style). If a girl broke the “skin flick” rule (her midriff peeking out between her shirt and pants), her punishment was wearing long skirts for weeks. The boys, on the other hand, were actively encouraged to ditch their shirts during workouts or outdoor manual labor, and were given Speedos as their swimwear.
    Yes, it is as horrifying and unfair as it sounds. In addition to the imbalanced dress code rules there was a strict code of conduct in regards to how we related to the opposite sex. Again, the girls were punished more for perceived flirting by leadership than the boys were.
    Everything you explained above make it make more sense now, how these sort of beliefs happened in the church. How we got to a place where we prized a young person’s ability to follow the rules of “purity” and present the perfect picture of Christianity above all else. Wow. We can do better.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we can do better! And I believe we are. I really do.
      (That thing about Speedos, though? Like eewwwww. What were they thinking? The double standard is real.)

      Reply
      • Melissa

        I don’t know what they were thinking either but I wasn’t the only girl who had an issue with it. Some of the other girls talked to leadership about it, because men aren’t the only ones who deal with lust, and nothing changed.

        Reply
      • Emma

        Seriously. Oh, but wait, women don’t lust.
        Urgh, blasted double standards. And people don’t even see it!! (Well, thankfully now people are, but it’s still too few.)

        Reply
  12. J

    I reread AW Tozer’s knowledge of the holy this year and the introduction had one of he most haunting and astute observations I have read in a long time. Basically he said that the church at that time (1962) was at the height of it’s influence and stature in society but it got that way because she traded her high view of God for the inoffensive cultural christianity where potlucks and picnics reigned and the church became nothing more than a social club you joined and we’re expected to be a part of. Because the baby boomers said doctrine divides so who cares, and liberalized the gospel so no real heart change was needed (every single us president of the time except carter and kennedy was a part of a mainline denomination).
    Then tozer says the haunting comment, I fear that this trade will soon show its true cost.
    The decline did not just happen in the last 20 years, it has been happening for the last 80…
    Come Lord Jesus come!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think maybe that’s where the cultural difference comes that I experience. Canada has always been a less overtly “Christian” nation. So we just never had that in the same way.

      Reply
  13. Sarah

    Oh boy, I have so many thoughts about this. I am a former homeschooler, graduated high school in 2010, and grew up immersed in evangelical culture. I got my purity ring for my fifteenth birthday and stopped wearing it six years later because I decided it was just weird to be wearing a ring on my left ring finger when I was totally single.
    But the church I spent my first 15 years in was nondenominational and people hurt by other churches came there for healing and because it was a healthy, safe church. It was not Baptist with the labels scraped off, like so many nondenominationals are, including my current megachurch; they held liturgical services for Good Friday and Christmas Eve, old earth was a totally normal idea, they hired a woman as youth pastor (she was not a good one, but that had nothing to do with her gender!), etc. So if I picked up any of these really harmful messages at that church, I don’t remember it. I definitely got it from other Christian cultural influences – don’t even get me started on how terrible 99% of Christian fiction is.
    Then we started going to a campus of a megachurch in our area, and I spent my last 2 years of high school in that youth group. I love and adore the youth pastor and his wife to this day; they changed my life. But the modesty and women in leadership messages were definitely different there. Thankfully I never once got a purity/virginity/unsticky piece of tape lesson. I didn’t think too hard about any of it because I didn’t want to be a leader and I was very modest because that’s what my parents required. Really, the modesty messages came more from my mom than anyone else.

    Reply
    • Sarah

      I’m still at that church and am on year 10 of leading a small group of middle/high school girls (this is my 3rd group and I’m going from 6th-12th grade with them). My first church emphasized knowledge: I learned about Biblical geography and history well before youth group. My parents also prioritized knowledge about the Bible. At my current church we studied Philippians, Ruth, and Esther in youth group. But the years I’ve worked with students, we only do topical studies. Period. And they’re never longer than six weeks. Last year we did a three week series on Jesus, Paul, and Billy Graham. While there is good content in these studies, they are so focused on the way we ought to live that Jesus is left out of them. The relationship is not important, not in the way they’re presented.
      Plus, my girls, who have all grown up in church, do not know the Bible. They do not know the story of Israel, they kinda know some of the major stories, and they have to really think about it when they look up verses, because they don’t know the books of the Bible. They grew up in church! This problem started with kids ministry, and youth group just makes it worse, because everything has to be topical and we have to move on to the next topic quickly – can’t possibly stick on the same concept for two weeks in a row. Leadership finally shifted that and starting this year we are doing book-based studies that are a blend of topical and book-based – still too much theme selecting and pushing on Scripture to fit the ideas they’ve chosen for the messages.
      I struggle to counteract what I can (including when they got the purity/virginity/rose losing its petals message from the youth pastor and when they split boys and girls up for the Biblical manhood/womanhood talks) but have no idea how to deal with the bigger issue of nearly total lack of knowledge about their own faith. I spent most of my Christian walk without a true relationship with Jesus, because it really felt like no one ever introduced me to him – one church focused on knowledge, one focused on living the way he wanted us to without talking much about him at all. (Your blog actually played an enormous role in introducing me to Jesus – thank you!)

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I totally hear you! This was a big pet peeve of mine when my kids were young. My kids knew the bible (they knew the books of the Bible; we memorized them young); they knew the important verses. I tried to get our children’s ministry to stop sending home memory verses that had to do with the story of the day but weren’t the “important” verses. And you never revisited those memory verses, so they didn’t mean anything. I said, as a church, let’s choose 50 verses, memorize them over a year, and then the next year review them. That way everyone at least knows 50 verses! And we could have competitions; kids vs. teens; parents vs. kids; seniors vs. college and careers. But it never took off.
        I even made a list of the 50 best Bible verses in the middle of all this, but just couldn’t get anyone on board…
        My girls always complained about Sunday School/camps/retreats that it was always the same stories: Jonah, David and Goliath, Ruth, etc. They were tired of it and wanted more Bible. I think kids are far smarter than we give them credit for. They don’t just need to be entertained at Sunday School.

        Reply
    • Sarah

      I try to point my girls to Jesus, regardless of the topic. I try to teach boundaries, discernment, and love, and emphasize what matters, like prayer. I’ve gotten to write bits of this year’s curriculum; I’ve pointed out theological missteps, worked in more nuance and Jesus, and tried to promote emotional health. I’m teaching the message to the youth group a few times this year (it’s totally preaching but I can’t call it that!), which I’m so excited to do – showing the girls that yes, a woman can preach Scripture in front of everyone.
      In my experience growing up as an evangelical, now a student leader, the church is so obsessed with being countercultural and different from the world that they’ve decided if something is A) labeled Christian or B) appears to be the opposite of what the world promotes, it therefore must be Biblical and godly. They’ve forgotten the standard is Jesus. We never look to the world to determine what we should or should not believe; we always look first to Jesus. They leave Jesus out of the equation constantly. If Jesus is not the center of our faith, then we are nothing more than some weird crossbred Judaism cult obsessing over power, authority, gender, sex, and Paul.
      I think a lot of Christians have little knowledge of the Bible, and fewer know anything about its context and many interpretations, ie original languages and cultures, translation complexities, history. So when a pastor or celebrity Christian explains the Bible they don’t know enough to evaluate what they’re told, since they sincerely want to please God. My mind has been blown in the past few years learning about how complex and difficult translation actually is and how Scripture has been distorted.
      My girls graduate in 2.5 years, and I doubt I’ll stay at my church after that. It’s right for many people, and the pastors and leaders have good intentions and are generally good leaders. But it feels soulless to me. It’s unconnected to the historic church which means everything is rooted in the evangelical world of the past four decades. I’m longing for more depth and challenge in the teaching and worship, and I want a pastor to know and care who I am again outside of being a volunteer. I might even visit some mainline churches, because yes, liturgy feeds my soul.
      I’ve written you an entire essay, sorry! I’ve been thinking about all this for a while.

      Reply
      • Katydid

        This is partly why I am no longer sola scriptura and believe interpretation needs careful authority.
        Look in the Bible for that example. The apostles had to go to groups/churches and tell them, “hey, you guys are doing great in his area. Got the Gospel down pat here, but, ummm, you misinterpreted it over here. This a what Christ really meant.”
        And this was before a Bible was even put together (by the Catholic Church).
        I have a Catholic catechism. It’s thicker than my Bible. Compare that to the page-long bullet points on some evangelical statement of faith. Why? Because the Catholic Church studies their faith and how to interpret scripture using history, early church fathers, science, philosophy and psychology, law, logic, reason, archaeology, language history and etymology. It has been discussed and unified through councils and magesteriums and set in order through checks and balances, then clearly laid out in depth in a catechism so you know exactly what you are getting into.
        Go to an evangelical church and it is so open to personal interpretation it leaves the door wide open for so any opinions turned Gospel. Go to a charismatic church like I did and,boy, it turns into a control show of “prophecies” emotions and “the Holy Spirit told me” guilt trips and mind games. And if you have a problem, there’s no one to turn to. The Catholic Church has doctors, lawyers, trained psychologists, professional certified people in both the secular and Catholic world addressing issues. Yeah, I know the sexual abuse scandal was messy, but it is being addressed aggressively (the media just won’t cover it and makes it look like the Church swept everything under the rug). They are doing a lot better than evangelical churches where sex abuse continues unchecked and hush hushed.
        Is the Catholic Church the answer? I don’t know. My point is that the more mainstream established and liturgical the churches are, the less likely they are to be left unchecked and open to opinions preached as Gospel.

        Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Your second paragraph is so insightful! (I mean, the whole thing is, but that’s very insightful). I think that’s the heart of everything.
        I hope you find a good church home eventually, but I love your heart for the girls that have been entrusted to you. Believe you’re making a difference!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It sounds like your first church was great! That’s awesome.
      Megachurches are such a mixed bag. On the one hand, with so many people, you have the ability to offer so many programs. On the other hand, you often get weird cult-like things where the head pastor has far too much authority and power if it’s left unchecked.
      And, yes, often megachurches were the ones spreading these kinds of messages.

      Reply
    • Laura

      Sarah, I agree that a lot of Christian fiction isn’t that great. In some ways it reminds me of Hallmark movies. Same plot (example: Amish romances), but different names and places. The Christian romances are so cliche and all have the exact same ending and message (the happily ever after). The thing that is so unrealistic in these romances is that hardly anyone is divorced. Both the man and woman (usually if they’re single parents) are either widowed or never been married. That’s just not realistic because in America, the divorce rate is at least 50% (including Christians). The couple often gets married within six months of meeting. Not realistic.

      Reply
  14. Lizzie Carter

    This was a very interesting post! Thank you for sharing.
    I only attended youth group for a few months (another church’s, as ours didn’t have enough kids), so my exposure to the purity culture actually came from my own family. (Sometimes I feel like it was my fault that it even got started with us, because I was 15 or so and read some books and thought it sounded worthwhile, and passed it on to my family. But I know that as I got older, it was my parents that really ran with it.)
    I’m glad that I have information and resources like your blog, because it will definitely help me as I raise my daughter in a hopefully better environment! (And maybe she’ll want to go to youth group, which I never liked, because I was a shy, awkward teen, lol!)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      If it’s any consolation, when I first read I Kissed Dating Good-bye, I loved it! Even recommended on this blog back in 2008 or something. I’ve apologized many times. We can all make mistakes. The important thing is growth, and that’s what we’re all doing!

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Someday maybe we’ll do a podcast where we read my blog posts from when I was 13-15 and heavily in the I Kissed Dating Goodbye mentality. It may be a good way to show our growth while having a laugh at melodramatic high school me! 🙂

        Reply
      • Laura

        Sheila and Rebecca:
        I didn’t read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” until I was recently divorced at the age of 26 in 2002. I had rededicated my life to Christ and was determined to do things His way. I looked for Christian books about dating and marriage and came upon Josh Harris’ book on my teenage cousin’s bookshelf. I also read his follow up book “When Boy Meets Girl” in which he talked about not kissing his wife until their wedding day. The way he talked about “courting” just seemed weird to me and being that I was divorced and lived on my own, how could this apply to me? But, I was determined to save sex for remarriage and stay out of sexual sin before marriage. I didn’t do things right the first time and was determined not to make the same mistakes.
        I admit that some of these teachings in those books were damaging to me. I was afraid to be friends with the opposite sex because these books taught that men and women should not be friends nor should they go on dates unless they believe it will lead to marriage. I didn’t date for 15 years, but I kissed a few guys during that time. I also thought it was overly romanticized to say that “the next (or last) person I kiss, I will be kissing for the rest of my life.” That sounded good in theory, but not realistic.
        I decided for myself not to give away kisses to just anyone because I believed that was liking giving away a piece of myself that I couldn’t get back. Now that I look back on this, it does not make any sense.
        I understand that people (especially those in the church) want to have guidelines (rules) for protection and while those are okay, we’ve got to be flexible. Jesus did not follow all those man made rules to a T. He healed on the Sabbath and refused to stone a woman caught in adultery (where was the other party involved?) like the law said. What matters is that we follow Jesus first and consider the needs of others before our own.

        Reply
  15. Heidi

    I really appreciate this multigenerational perspective, thank you! My parents became first generation Christians in the mid 80’s so they came into a lot of new cultural teachings that they thought were normal for Christianity. It’s so interesting how these fringe ideas became mainstream in such a short amount of time.
    These stories remind me of a recent Phil Vischer – Holy Post podcast epidsode on the very new normalization of Young Earth Creationism dogma. You only vaguely referenced that ideology in your post, but I think there’s a lot of correlation in what you’re observing and in their analysis of increasing levels of fundamentalism in the latter half of the 20th century.
    This made me wonder – have you reached out to his podcast team about doing an interview when it comes time for The Great Sex Rescue book release? Phil Vischer maintains a lot of respect in my circles as a wholesome teacher for kids with What’s in the Bible and Veggie Tales. He also regularly critiques important problems in evangelicalism – mostly political and racial of late, but he’s tackled so much over the years. He and Skye Jethani and Christian Taylor seem like just the sort of people that would engage in a really healthy discussion on The Great Sex Rescue with you!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Joanna (my co-author) wants to be on The Holy Post so badly! Our publicist I think is reaching out, but IF ANYONE HAS AN IN WITH PHIL VISCHER, tell us! We really enjoy him, think he does such a great job, and would absolutely love to be invited on!

      Reply
      • Carrie

        I would love to hear you on the Holy Post!!

        Reply
  16. Emma

    It’s been interesting talking with my in-laws about their experiences, having been in ministry in the 70s.
    Their experience with their ministry (Daystar, pretty much out of business now) indicated that a lot of the controlling, don’t do drugs, don’t have sex, ect. may have come into Christianity just post the Jesus Movement. They believe that after the rebellion of the 60s, things then swing in the opposite direction into super controlling, “we’re not going to let you make your own decisions” (the Shepherding Movement). The stories they have told about the bad aspects (since there were good and bad, like any ministry) have literally made my jaw drop in horror. Thank God they got out.
    On a different note, you mentioned that New Earth Creationism is a new thing. I didn’t realize that. As a late-90s kid, that seemed like the only option (we literally had a copy of Ussher’s The Annals of the World because my family is a bunch of giant nerds), but I’ve been leaning more and more towards older earth creationism simply doesn’t make sense. The pyramids were built between 2700-2500 BC, hundreds of years before the flood supposedly happened. And you really mean to tell me that humanity went from 8 people to multiple good-sized nations in 400 years (Noah to Abraham)? So it’s good to have some reassurance that I’m not a total heathen. 🤣

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The traditional, classic view, as seen in Augustine, was that Genesis was poetic, and each day was like an age. That’s what C.S. Lewis believed, too! It is a fairly recent thing where young earth creationism has become a litmus test. I actually get quite angry about this one, because I know so many people who were taught as kids/teens that if you didn’t believe in young earth creationism, you therefore didn’t believe the Bible. Then they grew and started looking into it, and decided that young earth creationism made no sense. And so they felt like they had to turn their back on the faith.
      I know Answers in Genesis is trying to create converts by teaching creationism, but I honestly believe they are pushing more out of the faith. It really needs to stop. To me, it doesn’t matter how or when God did it, only that He is the source of everything and He is our Creator. Beyond that, why are we arguing? What’s the point?

      Reply
  17. Alexis

    So, wait. We should *not* be teaching kids about purity, modesty, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, etc. in youth groups? I suppose I’m a little confused. And teaching them about creationism and a young earth is…wrong?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      When youth groups focus primarily on teaching about abstaining from sex, drugs, drinking, etc, you raise kids who don’t really know Jesus or Scripture. Young people are smart! They want an authentic relationship with Christ just like adults do. How would you like to go to church and only ever hear what God doesn’t want you to do, rather than hearing things like how to pray; how to read the Bible; how to make a difference in the world; how to discern God’s will?
      To put it another way, why do you do the right thing? Is it because you’ve been lectured incessantly about doing the right thing, or is it because you have the Holy Spirit in you and are able to hear His voice, and He makes you want to do the right thing?
      Of course we can teach a biblical sexual ethic. Of course. But that should never be the focus. The focus is Jesus. When kids know Jesus, they’ll do the right thing anyway because acting right flows from relationship, not just rules. Teach primarily rules and you miss the whole point!
      As for young earth creationism, it turns so many young people off of the gospel once they’re adults or start questioning things that, yes, it’s better not to teach it. God created the world. It does not matter how or when. Throughout most of Christian history people believed Genesis was more poetic than literal. It is only in the last 100 years, and specifically the last 50, when young earth creationism became a huge thing. C.S. Lewis believed in an old earth; so did Augustine and so many more throughout history. It is not a tenet of the faith, and teaching it turns people away from God. Better to stick to just introducing kids to Jesus. That’s really the point. “For I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

      Reply
      • Alexis

        Ah. I understand a little better now. Thank you for taking the time to clarify that for me!
        The youth group I was a part of growing up used a curriculum designed around giving young people the tools to find God’s will for their lives and make wise decisions about upcoming important decisions (college, dating, job, marriage, etc.). I found it helpful. Not at all preachy or “purity-culture drive”.
        Also, have you heard of the book “Stay in the Castle”? You have mentioned it before, I’m not sure. That’s another book I took as gospel growing up. Now I can’t believe how messed up it is.

        Reply
  18. a Grandad

    “legalistic churches.” quote. That jumped out at me.
    Anyone who has been in the Watchtower/Jehovahs Witnesses will know what a legalistic church” that is.
    Endless quotes and rules from the old testament and rarely any coverage of the life of Jesus. and rules the (b)org makes up as it goes along.

    Reply
  19. Lyndall

    Huh. I definitely noticed a difference between the faith of my childhood being more missions focused, and the faith of my teen years being wrapped up in purity culture, but I put that down to moving from Australia to Canada in 2006 and then reading more American books. (The publishing market is different from Australia to North America.) I thought it was a difference in regions that caused that shift. But now it looks like it may have been a more global trend.

    Reply
  20. Dani

    I wonder if things have really gone backwards so much or if it’s more than now they have become more apparent/pushed as well as you being young and maybe just not fully seeing the inner workings of the church and it’s structures? I know many, many people your age who are very much anti women in leadership and always have been… Whilst purity culture certainly boomed for millennials, I think suppressing women has been a constant in mainstream Christian culture since forever…

    Reply
  21. Sandy

    Thank you so much for once again shedding light on difficult topics, and for your authenticity in owning where we have gone wrong as individuals and as a church. I have three adult daughters born in the 90’s, who were subjected to these teachings at times both at home and in church. I have sent them this article to read, along with an apology for my part in reinforcing such ideologies to their detriment. I truly tried to do my best as a parent, and thought I was doing the right thing. Of course looking back now I see so many ways I made mistakes as a parent. It pains me to acknowledge that now, and to witness the fallout because of that too. My only hope and prayer of course is that Jesus was and will be real to them above all the other noise. Thank you for so sensitively articulating what I often felt was faulty thinking but couldn’t really clearly define when I was in it. Cheers to you and your team!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Sandy! And just know that Rebecca and JOanna and Katie and all the other young women who work on this blog grew up with this, and they all still love Jesus! I’ve just prayed that your girls will always see Him front and centre! I’m glad this could help.

      Reply
  22. Robyn Scott

    I appreciate this so much. I’m at the upper end of the millennial age, but I feel that I identify with millennials sooo much. You hit the nail on the head with “so many millennials are energized to do it better”. A big thing I see with us is seeking truth – the raw truth, under tradition and church rules and the “stuff”. I myself have always struggled with what I call “youth shaming”… time again I would hear “the YOUNG people today are the reason church numbers are low” and “Young people just want to sit in the pew and pay tithe and look pretty” (real comment). I’m getting a bit off track of purity culture but I totally agree with your statements on that as well. We kind of get bashed into feeling like we don’t care about church and have nothing to offer (in my experience at least), but just like you said, “so many millennials are energized to do it better. Seriously–if they know Jesus after all they went through, they are real changemakers!
    And I think they will change things. I think if we step back, and listen to millennials, we’ll see a better church grow.”.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Robyn! And I do believe that your generation will be the changemakers the church needs!

      Reply
  23. Erica

    I’ve talked to my mom about this very same thing. She doesn’t remember lessons about modesty or purity, just about scripture and service. She says it all changed after the women’s movement in the 60’s and 70’s. So she thinks its a backlash to the free love type stuff coming from that movement. Before that, everyone had more or les the same values. After that, the church had to really double down on traditional values. But its sad that that was the reactionel robbed as an adult that my youth was spent talking about sex and modesty. I didn’t truly study the Bible until I was 30 with 4 kids and felt like I needed more christ in my life. If I had had more christ in my life as a teenager, instead of rules, I think the rules would have taken care of themselves.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! So good. I really did do Bible study as a teen, but that has all changed now.

      Reply

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