Monday Dec 18, 2023

Breaking Down Purity Culture: Impact, Myths, and Empowered Living

Today's episode is a deep dive into the concept of purity culture. Many women have expressed feeling damaged by the pressure to remain pure or to marry someone with whom they had sex before marriage.

Leslie and Julie discuss what purity culture is and its impact on individuals.

Defining Purity Culture:

Purity culture is rooted in the belief that sex outside of marriage is wrong, based on biblical teachings. It emphasizes the importance of keeping oneself sexually pure until marriage and the sanctity of the marital relationship. God designed marriage to be a safe and trusting environment for raising healthy children and enjoying sexual pleasure within the bounds of commitment.

Purity Culture Practices:

Purity culture often includes practices like purity rings, purity proms, and events where fathers give their daughters purity rings. Young girls pledge to abstain from any form of physical intimacy until marriage.

The culture places the burden of maintaining sexual integrity mainly on women, with the notion that men struggle with self-control and must be protected from temptation through modest dress.

Impact on Women's Self-esteem:

Purity culture can lead to many negative consequences, such as deeply wounding women's self-esteem. Women who have had sexual experiences outside of marriage or have been victims of abuse may be made to feel like they are "damaged goods."

The culture can perpetuate the idea that a woman's worth is tied to her sexual purity, leading to emotional distress and low self-esteem for those who "don't keep the standard."

Marriage and "One Flesh" Teaching:

Some individuals were taught that, if they had sex before marriage, they were already married in God's eyes, which led to unhappy marriages. Leslie and Julie express their disapproval of this teaching, emphasizing that one mistake doesn't justify making another.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment, but marrying someone who is untrustworthy or unsafe is not the solution to past mistakes or abuses.

Consequences of Purity Culture:

  • Purity culture can create unrealistic expectations about sex within marriage.
  • Some women have faced blame for their husbands' infidelity or pornography use if they don't meet certain sexual expectations.
  • The culture can lead to a skewed sense of responsibility and guilt, especially in cases of sexual abuse or rape.

Dressing Modestly and Respect:

The conversation touches on the importance of dressing modestly and respecting oneself.

While dressing modestly can help prevent unwanted attention, a person's behavior and choices are their own responsibility. No one invites rape through their clothing choices, and the focus should be on respecting oneself rather than preventing others from thinking inappropriate thoughts.

Overcoming Guilt and Shame:

Women who feel burdened by guilt and shame due to past mistakes are encouraged to make empowered choices moving forward. Making a mistake doesn't define one's worth or future; it's an opportunity for growth and learning.

"Stupid tax" is the price we pay for our mistakes, and it's crucial to learn from those experiences.

Balancing Teaching in the Home:

Parents need to have open and honest discussions with their children about sex, relationships, boundaries, and self-respect. Teach children to value themselves and their bodies, emphasizing the importance of making conscious and respectful choices.

Parents should help their children understand that they have control over their bodies and should exercise self-control.

Church's Role in Teaching:

The discussion touches on the role of the church in teaching abstinence and purity. Churches should model healthy relationships and provide education on respect, boundaries, and conflict resolution. Youth pastors can play a crucial role in educating teens about healthy relationships and values.

Equality in Relationships:

It's crucial that both males and females are taught that they are made in God's image and deserve respect and dignity.

Toxic masculinity and toxic femininity within the church are issues that need to be addressed. The focus should be on fostering healthy relationships and values, not on controlling or objectifying individuals.

Sins and Cherry-picking:

The discussion explores the idea that some sins are prioritized over others within the church.

All sins should be addressed, not just those related to sexual purity. Gluttony and abuse of power are examples of sins that are sometimes overlooked.

It's important to remember that God's rules are for our well-being, not to restrict us.

Boundaries and Freedom:

God's rules are guidelines for our well-being, rather than limitations on our freedom. Understanding why these rules exist can help individuals embrace them with a positive perspective.

Resources:

Join Empowered to Change: www.leslievernick.com/change

 

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