A brief note about the title: the “you” here may not be you personally, and it’s not that the term “purity culture” doesn’t have its place. Rather, there are specific uses of this term that have put a dent in a speaker’s credibility for me and impeded their argument. In those moments, I’ve wished for the words to explain to them what I thought they were doing wrong. This post is my attempt to put together those words: first by explaining the origins of “purity culture,” leading into my understanding of its key traits, and then contrasting that against the kind of usage I see a problem with.
Hm, okay. Here’s a thought I’ve been having. Even though it’s January now, a lot of people still have Christmas decorations up, right, and the other day while driving through an unfamiliar part of town I passed a church(?) with a big ol’ “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner, and that reminded me of my whole… perspective, on… that.
It is through sexual union that people feel closest to Christ. Not only does God reveal himself in sexual love, but, as one book poetically argues, the only way mortals can find Christ is in the marital act, which is the holiest of acts. In this sense, the marital union is seen as a profound prayer, as “no human activity gives more glory to man’s creator than the act by which man is permitted to share in creation.” […]
Husbands and wives are obligated to honor each other’s sexual needs for “it is God’s will that married people enjoy sexual relations.” Abstinence from sex is allowed only under specific conditions, by mutual agreement, and temporarily. […]
The two principal types of sexual maladjustment cited in the manuals are frigidity on the part of the wife and premature ejaculation on the part of the husband. According to one book, “sexual frigidity is without doubt the greatest sexual problem threatening contemporary marriages. It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of modern wives are, in some degree, frigid!” These authors are pessimistic regarding the transformation of cold into passionate wives. “There are frigid women, many of them, and the most skilled lovers would be powerless to ‘cure’ them.”
Lionel S. Lewis and Dennis D. Brissett, “Sex as God’s Work”
Number 47 there is a footnote on the passage I quoted earlier from this book (Ann Burlein’s Lift High the Cross). Would any of y’all with access to academic libraries/databases be able to investigate “Sex as God’s Work” and “Re-making Love” and see if there’s anything of interest in there?
According to Leonardo Boff, what social analysis calls “structural poverty,” faith calls “structural sin,” and what social analysis calls “the private accumulation of wealth,” faith calls “the sin of selfishness.” Suffering exists because sin represents the root of all that is wrong with the world… For liberationists, sin is communal. All sins, even those committed by individuals, have communal ramifications. All too often, Eurocentric theology has made sin and its redemption personal. Sin becomes an act of commission or omission, while salvation from our sinfulness rests in a personal savior in the form of Jesus Christ. Conversion, however, is never personal but must extend to social transformation. What is missing for Eurocentric religious thought is the structural nature of sin. Oppression and poverty as expressions of sin are mostly caused by societal structures that are designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many.
–Miguel A. De La Torre, Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians, p.54-55
I don’t like the tone of most of this book, but at least there’s this.
I don’t know if I’ve said it here before but I’m saying it now: I don’t adhere to or support any guideline for How You Should Live Life that’s based on feeling the correct feelings, whether that means feeling others’ feelings (“empathy” as a prerequisite for correct morality); disallowing yourself unhappiness (“staying positive” as a virtue); or pushing discomfort, risk, and unease as self-justifying mandates (in praise for “vulnerability” and “getting out of your comfort zone”). Dogmas of feelings have always been useless at best for me, outright detrimental more often than not, and I don’t want any part in them.
Here’s the plan for next time: 1) Visit the church with no pews or pew back shelves for book storage. 2) Forget to pick up a hymnal on your way in. 3) Pick a seat next to where you know the cutie usually sits. 4) Ask if you can look over and share their hymnal book during the hymns, creating an excuse for the two of you to stand closer together.
Y’all, I was this close to successfully executing this plan after legitimately forgetting to pick up a hymnal, but then someone noticed I didn’t have one and gave me one before I could get to step four. Bummer.
Me and the cute kid did chat for a bit before the service though, and they even asked if they would see me next Sunday, so, seems promising?