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Stop Giving Purity (Culture) So Much Value

Hello fellow readers!
The views on my last post got quite a bit more views than my posts normally receives.
I always thought of myself as a sexual being. From a young age, sexuality has fascinated me. However, I grew up in a sex-negative environment. I had no direction about this vastly wide topic from my parents and very little from my school. The sum of the formal sex education that I received was, “Save it for marriage.” I was raised to oppress any kind of sexual feelings.
When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend. Not a boyfriend. A friend who was a boy, who I also had a massive crush on. Well as our friendship progressed, so did our teenage hormones. To make a long story short, we briefly explored our own sexuality with each other. After a few months, my parents ended up going through my phone and found some PG-13 rated content. I wouldn’t call it sexting per se, but I wouldn’t exactly call it flirting either. After I was, “Caught” exploring my sexuality, my self-image completely changed.
For a while, I was deemed as a “Bad Teenager.” I was sent to Christian conferences for, “Troubled teens.” I was sent to talk to other mother figures who lectured me about purity, While this was going on, my parents wanted to keep how “Troubled” I was a secret because of two things. The first one was I risked being kicked out of my school. I signed a contract saying that I would live for the Kingdom and not the world so I would refrain from activities that most teenagers do at one point or another (no drinking, drugs, viewing porn, etc.) The second reason was because of shame. They were ashamed that I explored my sexuality outside of marriage. We were a religious family, and this wasn’t something that was acceptable. At the time, it felt as if my parents were ashamed of my actions. In a way, I was taught to be ashamed of myself.
Purity talks were thrown at me, but nobody checked in on how I was doing emotionally. I could no longer have any communication with the first boy that I loved and touched me in a sexual manner. With purity culture, I was taught many metaphors such as the following:
*Just a little disclaimer, anyone who is not familiar with purity culture may be a little confused by this next statement. I will try my best to clearly communicate how purity culture tends to work.*
“Think of yourself as a piece of gum. You start out with that gum still in the wrapper and is perfect. Now, every time that you have a lustful thought, a part of that gum is being chewed. When you have sex with someone, they are chewing that same piece of gum. Think about how gross and disgusting the gum is getting as it has been everywhere. Now imagine your honeymoon. If that gum has been chewed on by other people, your future husband will heartbroken. You won’t have anything special to offer him. Now, imagine if you could offer your husband a perfect piece of gum. Think about all of the heartaches that you will save yourself by pledging to stay pure until you are married. God wants you to have a perfect piece of gum. He will bless your sex life if you stay pure.”
Honestly, you know what having a “Perfect piece of gum” on your honeymoon sounds like? Awkward sex. #Justsaying
The thing about purity culture is that it focuses on putting value on your body but does not address your soul and inmost being. It stresses that every sexual interaction prior to marriage is BAD, but doesn’t acknowledge sex in itself is a good thing. Within this culture, being touched makes you tainted and being ‘sexually pure’ makes you superior. It gives no practical sexual education and little to no conversation about consent. It teaches that your value is based off of your experiences not because you are a human being, a child of God for that matter!
I will probably receive backlash for this, but I do not believe that what purity culture has become, is probably not what God intended for us. If the God that I follow, is one of love then I don’t think that he wants us to be an outcast for doing one simple act.
In the midst of writing this blog, I shared the gum metaphor with my boyfriend. I didn’t tell it the way that it has always been presented to me. I did not speak slow, have a caring tone, or even tried to convince him that this is how I believe everyone will or should live their life.
I started the conversation with the simple following question.
“Hey Babe, are you heartbroken that other guys have touched me?”
*He gets a confused look on his face*
“No, not at all. Why would I be?”
“Oh just wondering, so it was a lie that my possible future husband is going to be hurt if I had sexual relations with anyone other than him? *Explains the gum metaphor*”
“Yes, that was a lie. Do you notice that I don’t care about your past?. If someone only marries you for your vagina, piece of gum, purity, or however you want to see it then you will enter into a controlling marriage. It gives the other person the message that you have done everything in your life to make your spouse happy, and you will continue to do so.”
I had never thought about it that way before. I mean in a way, purity culture taught me to seek after men who care so much about how I have lived my life, that if my choice doesn’t line up to their standards, then I am not worthy of life long commitment. It did not teach me that the right person won’t have any thoughts impacting thoughts about my past. It did not teach me that to the majority of society, it’s not the end of the world if I have sex outside of marriage. And most importantly it didn’t teach me to have ownership over my body.
I understand that the purity movement comes out of a place of love. Staying absent 100% saves yourself from, hooking up with the wrong person, STI’s, regret, and pregnancy. However, with proper sex ed, the likely hood of this heartache is significantly smaller.
Growing up in the purity movement gave me a very negative outlook on sexual relations and intimacy. It taught me that it is okay and acceptable to judge others for their choices. And lastly, it taught me to be afraid and have shame for my body. As a young adult, I am trying to get my head outside of this mindset. At 21 years old, I still think about being a chewed up piece of gum when I am doing something as innocent as cuddling with someone. I desire to live without placing shame and guilt on myself for my choices.
By writing this post, I hope to enlighten some. I am by no means telling my readers to go be a floozy. I want to challenge you to make choices for yourself, and out of fear.
With love,
Lama-Leah

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