Memoirist: Evangelical Purity Movement Sees Women’s Bodies As A ‘Threat’

When Linda Kay Klein was 13, she joined an evangelical church that prized sexual “purity” and taught that men and boys were sexually weak.

According to Klein’s faith, girls and women were responsible for keeping male sexual desire in check by wearing modest clothing, maintaining a sexless mind and body and taking a “purity pledge,” in which they promised to remain virgins until marriage.

Looking back now, Klein says, “It was all about how [a woman] needed to be a good Christian by protecting them from the threat that is you — the threat that is your body. The threat that is your sexuality.”

How I broke free of the Evangelical ‘purity’ movement

…The excruciating worry was driven by her years growing up as an Evangelical in the Midwest in the late 1980s and early 1990s — and by the purity movement that continues to this day. The first virginity-pledge program, True Love Waits, was started in 1993 by the Southern Baptist Convention and now claims more than 2.5 million pledgers worldwide. Hundreds of thousand of American teens have formally pledged to save themselves for marriage: attending purity balls where they often wear white dresses and are symbolically given to Jesus by their fathers, even accepting rings as vows of their sworn chastity. Although the culture largely consists of girls, boys do take part, including pop-star siblings Nick and Joe Jonas when they were younger…

…Growing up, she’d been told by pastors and church teachers that she was a “stumbling block” of temptation for boys and men. This was largely presented as her problem, not theirs: It was made clear that she would be cast as a Jezebel — with her character corrupted — if she had sex before marriage. The message traumatized Klein and many of her peers, sparking fear, anxiety and, in the extreme case of one woman interviewed for the book, the symptoms of anaphylactic shock when she first had sex. (The woman started wheezing and breaking out in welts and wound up in the ER.)…

Single, Saved and Having Sex

…Most people agree that the Bible is pretty clear that sex outside of marriage is a spiritual no-no, but according to some reports, as many as 80 percent of young unmarried Christians are doing it anyway. A piece that originally appeared in the May issue of Ebony magazine takes a look at how people who are unmarried but not so young anymore are balancing their faith with real-world temptations….

I Still Want It: Holy and Horny

…Because the Christian church has largely been silent on this topic, providing no practical guidance or solutions whatsoever, Christian singles have largely taken things into their own hands (literally — no pun intended, lol.  I’ve heard some people call it “hand ministry,” “personal ministry” or “personal devotion.”)…  We do what we can. Christian singles find solutions that work for them, that don’t violate their conscience, and are in keeping with Biblical principles (i.e. staying away from fornication and adultery and “sexual immorality”)…

…Many people, myself included, would argue that the church needs talk about these things. However, the church has often grievously mishandled these conversations and I no longer trust it to be able to host the much-needed conversation on sexuality.   I remember a few AYs (Adventist Youth — aka youth group meetings) where we had an “Ask the Pastor” session, and those sessions were disastrous.  Old people dominated the discussion, shaming young people.  Bible texts were taken out of context.  I left feeling worse than when I came…

A letter to youth workers about sex and consent

I was challenged to ask myself what I can do to lessen the chances of any other young person suffering as this young woman has. It became clear that I have had many opportunities to educate young people on the meaning of consent through 12 years of church-based youth work and have missed those opportunities by sticking to the one track record of abstinence.

I’m more or less a typical, mainstream Christian. I believe that sex should be practiced at its most sacred; within marriages. I think encouraging young people to consider that choice is a good thing. However, I think it’s time we in the Church pull our collective heads out of the sand and begin to teach our young people how to behave if they choose not to abstain from sex.

“Our sexuality is rooted in the nature of God himself”

Glynn Harrison speaks on the beauty of God’s plan for sex and analyses the impacts of the Sexual Revolution.
Q. In what ways have Christians failed to present a biblical view of sex?
A. I think our main failing is that we perpetuate a shame culture around sex, linked with ignorance, fear and avoidance.
…In Christianity, for centuries, our beliefs, our convictions, our ways of life about this, have been pretty much mainstream. We have not had to sustain them, to make the case over and over again for them, we have not had to fire our imagination about why do we believe this, we just did, and they just rolled on. The sexual revolution overturned all that, and suddenly we were left with the shame, the fear, and the ignorance, but we need to put in something better in is place.

Focus Adjustment

I’ve decided to refocus things a little, mainly because I want to be able to facilitate discussion on these issues. Even with my conservative evangelical and egalitarian background, I accept the Church has a long way to go in addressing damaging sexual culture that diminish and deny womens’ sexuality in particular. Discussion is good and it won’t be conformed to my viewpoint as long as it is respectful and doesn’t harm other readers or this blog. The blog also has a Facebook page but I have decided to open the WordPress comments system on the blog because it lets people be more open and honest if they can be more anonymous as WordPress (unlike Facebook) allows them to be.

I feel like this is a part of my ministry because if there is a difference in understanding, we can at least discuss it openly and honestly (I hope) and we can pray about our differences. And when you see the title of this blog, I put healing into that title because I believe I have gifts of healing, and I can pray for healing to occur in response to expressed views. So I don’t have to preach what I think should be happening. But naturally I will welcome discussion that shares my own understanding.

The blog is going to keep including new posts about this subject, and more of it, as I am going to spend more time blogging in future, since I have spent a bit of time lately searching to see what other similar content can be found, as well as honest, open discussion about these issues, some of it from a more secular perspective.

“Can you masturbate without lusting?”

In his book Sex, Men, and God, Doug Weiss says there are three types of men in the world (and, I assume, this goes for women, too):

1. Men who have never masturbated (Type A) – Weiss believes this group of men is the smallest camp of men in the Western world. After years of speaking at men’s conferences, he’s only met 14 men who claim to have never masturbated. In other cultures, Weiss adds, masturbation simply isn’t a cultural norm and is relatively uncommon.

2. Men who do not fantasize or lust during masturbation (Type B) – This type of person stays “connected” to himself during masturbation—they don’t escape into fantasy. For this person, the act is merely performing a bodily function. As such, there is little emotion attached to the experience, and typically no sense of guilt or shame.

3. Men who lust during masturbation (Type C) – These men are “disconnected” during the act of masturbation: their focus is on a mental image, an actual image, or an object.

As the article points out, these differences between Type B and Type C beliefs are essentially what creates most of the controversy around masturbation. A lot of the beliefs out there are that all masturbation is Type C, and therefore masturbation is bad.  But for those who adhere to Type B beliefs, as we do in this blog, masturbation is actually quite OK. We also believe it is possible for someone to go from Type C to Type B, and therefore eliminate sexual sin from their practice of masturbation, but as Weiss points out, this is quite rare.

Whichever school of thought one chooses to believe, masturbation is principally a practice for single people. Married people can and do use it, but their primary focus should be driven towards shared sexual intimacy.

“I was raised to think sex was shameful, then I opened a brothel”

This is a viewpoint. No one is compelled to agree with it, but one of the key issues for this blog is that we have to be prepared to address widespread objectification of women in our western societies. Moreover, most of the messages about sex being shameful come from the Church.