Purity Culture

I grew up in a church, almost quite literally. But I won’t get into that too much in this post. What I will get into is purity culture which has been in churches as well as many other religious affiliations for quite a while now. So, what is purity culture?

Purity culture is something that has been popular in many Evangelical churches. And this cultures tries to promote a biblical view of purity. Even going as far as not kissing or even holding hands until marriage. Growing up the message was confusing. As we’d spend weeks on this topic and I ended up going to two different purity retreats and even got a purity ring the first time I went. The boys, however, never had to go on these retreats, I think while we on these retreats the guys went on an integrity retreat. Which to me, when it comes to religion, integrity is complete bullshit. Teaching women its their fault what men think about them is wrong and if anything it probably lowers a man’s moral principles and self discipline. Their is no moral uprightness in making girls dress a certain way or focusing being pure solely on women while men aren’t taught the same thing. Now, we had a youth pastor that wasn’t too extreme about that when it came to his life. I think he and his wife, didn’t kiss until they had dated for a few months. However, the message still remained the same, the longer a couple waited, they better they were morally.

We need to stop teaching the next generation to feel shameful and guilty about their natural desires. We can express ourselves in a sexual way without hurting anyone—as we have been doing for years, otherwise our species would’ve died off by now. I also think its crazy that there have been nudist groups and tribes that don’t wear anything. Those women aren’t told by their tribes or group to feel shame for their own bodies. Those women don’t have people yelling, “cunt,” out the window when all they’re trying to do is run and mind their own damn business(true story by the way). We need a society that doesn’t shame people for their bodies and we also need one that respects women’s rights. I’m not saying people need to start running around naked through the streets, I’m just saying that the idea of dressing a certain way is more cultural then anything else.

In purity cultures, there are also people who don’t see women as whole if they’ve had sex before marriage. Some even going as far as blaming rape victims for their experiences. Which honestly makes me livid. How many more mistakes do men have to make before they finally realize that that was their own damn fault? I’ll take responsibility for my thoughts and actions, but I will never do that for someone else.

I’ve had my own pretty traumatic experiences that I don’t wish to share in detail right now. For a while, purity culture had left me on the verge of suicide and I didn’t want to talk to anyone because I felt guilty for what had happened. I talk about this because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

If anyone is wondering why I didn’t just revise my beliefs and remain a Christian I’ll tell everyone why right now. We can revise our stories and or interpretations of religious books, but that will never change the shaky foundation that is full of contradictions. The biggest problem is a group of Christians can be part of purity culture while others are not. The issue isn’t whether or not the ideas of Christianity should become revised, but that religion itself is the issue. Escaping purity culture didn’t come from religion it came from people who were done with it and are now pushing the rest of the world forward. This verse will still remain in the bible as well as countless others that harm women no matter what interpretation is made:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”  1 Timothy 2:12

I will not remain quiet. I’m done seeing all the bullshit that has happened to women —all the bullshit that still continues to happen. Many people will continue to take the bible literally no matter what our own interpretation is. Changing our interpretation doesn’t prevent other people from promoting their own. But a world that shifts more towards facts could. Women spent thousands of years being harmed by these toxic beliefs. They weren’t even allowed to be educated and escape their families. In many places throughout history, we were even shamed just for being born. Here’s another verse:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour.” Ephesians 5:22-23

This is yet another verse glorifying inequality. And in many churches today, even though now there are women allowed to lead small groups, many still won’t be accepted as priests or even pastors. I know plenty of male leaders in religious affiliations, but hardly any women. This doesn’t give us a chance to express our perspective enough. And therefore, the community will lean toward what men want rather than what women want and in some cases need. 

I am my own person. I am lucky to have received an education and get a job instead of being forced to marry someone I don’t even know. Purity culture ties into the subjection of women without a doubt. For centuries we had to wear long clothing that probably would’ve made it impossible for us to do anything in the summer heat. I have worth no matter what I have or haven’t done sexually. I’ve already done and will continue to do things that will help to make the world a better place. For women, as well as everyone else.

I will not allow religion to suppress me anymore.


Published by Athena Bocock

I am vegan and I like books and writing stories. Recently I've been enjoying romance and animal stories the most.

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