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.
[Crossposted to Pillowfort.]
[cw: sex-normativity, misogyny, rape culture]
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”
Nothing to say here that I haven’t said already.
Thanks again to Kristiny for the link.
I want to be brief, which means leaving out a lot of important factors in this case, but nonetheless — I want take a moment to talk about how Christians talk about sex, and how other people talk about how Christians talk about sex.
There seems to be this idea that there’s some version of Christianity out there that categorically hates sex (and I get where that’s coming from and all, given that most Christianities are very particular about what kind of sex is acceptable, but last I checked, the Shakers were dying out). The thing is — I see people responding to this presupposition more often than I see the thing itself. Continue reading