I wrote this piece for Cindy Brandt. She is AMAZING y’all. She runs a really good Facebook group on unfundamentlist parenting, has her own blog, and writes for Patheos. I am thrilled to be contributing.
Here is the thing that I still believe from my purity culture days: The world has dangerous ideas about sex, and it is totally up to Christians to combat those ideas.
Here is the problem with purity culture: We fought bad ideas with equally terrible ideas, sometimes worse ideas.
I was raised in the height of the purity cultureholy grail of the Purity Movement, I Kissed Dating Goodbye came out my freshmen year of high school, right when I was ready to give dating at least a full frontal hug. I have heard the sermons about chewed up gum and plucked flowers. I have been a teen who drew lines, and confessed and recommitted and re-drew. Instead of the sexy and sacred married sex we were promised, many of us walked into marriages and discovered that the shame that was supposed to magically fall away with our wedding clothes, didn’t. We were left in a new and strange land with no road map to navigate and a lot of extra baggage.
Is it any surprise that parents my age are searching for new ways to talk to our kids about sex?
Again, we are left with a road map problem. We know what we don’t want. We don’t want to heap shame and guilt upon our kids for natural sexual desire. We don’t want them to think that their worth rests soley in the choices they make with their body. We don’t want our kids to experience the massive amounts of shame we did.
But we have to say something. Purity culture was absolutely correct in teaching us that the world has it wrong about sex. The world teaches boys to constantly push boundaries, while teaching girls to say yes but not too much, and no, but not too much, and to like sexual activity, but not too much. I am confused just writing it.