Tagged: Jesus

I Fit Because I Said So

I don’t blog anymore because I can’t react to things at the appropriate times.

I can’t be a journalist.

I can’t be clickbait.

See, these days, I live up in a little top story of a Nashville cottage-mansion with two little souls who haven’t quite learned how to respond when I say things just yet. I could talk at them all day about women’s rights & evangelicalism & purity culture & they’d just blink. Maybe scream. (Prolly scream.) I play mama now, & let me tell you WHAT, is it ever an exercise in rejoicing-with-those-who-rejoice & mourning-with-those-who-mourn. Our tear duct cycles are all in sync, the three of us, in our little Rapunzel tower on our quaint, fiery autumn Nashville street.

I’m not gonna blog about blogging, although I probably should. I should probably tell you why I’ve been absent. I should probably wax verbose on the subject of blog “vision”. Maybe I should care about branding or making this little corner of the internet look less like shit. Maybe I should tell you that this site is UNDER CONSTRUCTION & will shortly be streamlined & professional – all the punk-kid shined off & looking semi-respectable. Maybe someday all my blouses will get hung again after that one bedbug outbreak & maybe someday that little ring of grime around the faucet I can’t quite get to will miraculously disappear.

Maybe someday! *insert cheery shrug*


Today, I’m just going to write like we are the oldest & dearest of friends, because I have a little story to share. I made almond icing for these scones in the oven, and boy, I’ve never made anything this fancy so you’d better get it while you can. Pull up a mug of cream tea. I have an announcement.

Today, after 10 months of bathroom-floor tears & planted roots of bitterness & playing the outsider, today I told myself: I FIT.

I choose to fit. I choose a community that is broken & shabby & kind of looks like grandma’s quilt after 30 yrs & moths.

Truth is, by most accounts, I kinda don’t – or so I’ve always believed. “You’re a missionary kid,” the voice that sounded sorta like me would say disdainfully. “You’ll never meet anyone’s expectations. You’re just a punk kid with weird lipstick who loves foreign alphabets and calligraphy and solving Agatha Christie novels and you don’t even look like a good minister’s kid with those sunset-colored PICTURES on your arms! Who would want you?”

(Turns out that voice wasn’t me after all.)

I sat across from my pastor’s wife, a woman in whom I had seen a fierceness, a twinkle, strength & wisdom & humor gathering pooled behind her eyes. She was a deep well. I could tell. She’s a pastor and a therapist, a mama and a leader, and I asked her to meet me so she could tell me I was OKAY. That I fit. I wanted validation, see. I wanted recognition. I wanted her to pat me on the back & say, “Well done.” I wanted her to be the Spirit.

Then, the strangest thing happened.

Turns out – the SPIRIT was inside ME.

& I heard, in my heart’s ear, the whispered truth about my self & how I mattered & without knowing what she thought of me really, I told her I fit anyway. I spoke it into existence.



& then, just like that, we were in the thick of it, talking about our dreams for God’s strange, beautiful women in our little city. We are a ragamuffin lot, we are, failed artists & aspiring singers & single moms & boy, do a lot of us have purple hair. A lot of us left other places because we didn’t fit those places & we are all HERE, NOW, not-fitting together. Most of us have probably heard a voice that sounds much like ourselves tell us that we don’t belong where we came from & it had sent us like aimless, doubting Hagars to search for a hometown & answers from heaven.

She told me that the Spirit had given her a dream – a dream about women – and my breath caught. She’d had an inkling of equipping the women of our little body with PERSONHOOD – dismantling the power differentials that kept us from preaching & standing tall & forging ahead with our respective visions. In her dream, that strength & purpose had gone forth through the city, passed on from sister to sister until it spread far outside our four old brick walls & took root in the hearts of this city.

She said, “That’s kinda my thing.” & I said, “That’s MY thing!” & together we soaked in that joyful, pregnant silence just a minute.

The conversation turned to books, & she said, “Have you read N.T. Wright?!” & I said, “Have you read Jesus Feminist?!” & she took down a little note to herself that out there in the world was a lady named Sarah Bes – no, two S’s – ey who thought that being a Jesus feminist was a real thing.

She hadn’t had the words for it, you know?

She didn’t have the language.

But she had the Spirit, & the Spirit had spoken anyway.

It was then, I think, that my little abstract dreams of feminism in the way of Christ took flesh & blood.

They had a name.

They were April.

It’s taken a long time for my dreams & theories about feminism in the way of Christ to take any sort of tangible form. Praxis is not my strong suit. Tonight was a tiptoe in the right direction, though, and in the name of the Spirit who speaks to us even when we don’t know all the fancy words & in the name of Ruth, who declared Naomi her home & Boaz her kinsman-redeemer I say, with all the clarion tones my timid voice can muster,

I say to you

& you

& you & you & you –

I FIT, & so do you.



It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.


It was not a silence that was malleable. 

It sat, 

intimate and brittle, 

like a flute of champagne atop a banister, daring entropy. 

It echoed out into the recesses of the heavens like a question that admits no answer but must itself exist, ringing unanswered through the ages. 

The dome that held the stars had often soared higher as she watched, inviting her further up, 

further in. 

“Ask more. Believe more,” the stars used to cry, but tonight –

they were silent.

She crumpled in a heap on the wet grass, thankful to be away from the eyes of all who loved her and would hate to see her sink into the darkness that she could no longer hold quite at bay. 

The dark sank into her heart like the nighttime around her, enveloping and permeating and veiling until she could no longer imagine her own face but silently repeated, trembling, all of the things that she knew and could no longer feel. 


Depression is not a disease. 

Depression is not make-believe. 

Being depressed does not make me a child, a monster, or a joke. 

Not that I believe it can’t be feigned. 

But based on the thinly veiled fear I find in my friends’ eyes when they catch me at my darkest, 

people I know to be astute, experienced, emotionally nuanced sorts of people, 

all that calls itself depression might not be. 

And people tell me that I don’t pray enough. 

They tell me to stand up & rebuke the spirit of ingratitude or hopelessness or whatever the demon du jour. 

“Get a hold of yourself.”

“Get your shit together.”


Stop being so self-centered. 

(Self-centered really is the worst epithet these days, isn’t it? When a proper understanding of the search for self is not cultivated, then our continual denial of its existence can only lead to despair in those like me who are not content to view life at its surface level.)

I’ll give them one thing – depression is a breeding ground for extreme introversion & painfully sharp self-awareness. 

One minute you’re trying to not be seen because the social anxiety is so strong that you can almost believe that every passerby can see the tangible darkness that never does quite leave you. 

Some days you are launching yourself at the nearest breathing human body or, even better, group of bodies because the more people that surround you, the more chance there is of pawning off just a paperweight’s worth of the MILLSTONE around your neck on an unsuspecting acquaintance. 

You are welcome to try and tell me that my problems are not all that bad. I’ll sigh and I’ll agree. You’re right. It could be worse. 

And that is why depression is NOT sadness. 

I’m not sad. 

I’ve been sad. 

I’ve watched beloved family waste away & sink into death, I’ve been *sigh-yawn* heartbroken more than once and I’ve watched the dearest of my friends wander carelessly, aimlessly away from me. I’ve lost all of my worldly possessions a time or two and I’ve watched “home” disappear more times than I care to recall.

I’ve had some sad. 

Depression is [often] an actually physiological reaction to the actual horror of the world we live in. Nausea. Paralysis. Fever. 

“When the darkness hits me,” she said, “it’s often triggered by actual circumstances, but the heaviness stems from feeling, after my momentary sad has passed away, the enormity of the sorrow of the world we’re from. 

It’s like every tear that anyone has ever cried for anyone they’ve ever loved suddenly comes thronging in, in a merciless wave of raw empathy, and I suddenly cannot stand.”

And that’s why it hurts when well-meaning loved ones tell you to get over yourself. 

Get over myself, sure. I’d love to. But get over all the ancient sorrow of the sin and separation that our world has brought up on itself? Not likely. 

Look on the bright side, they say. Quote Philippians 4:8 at me a few more times. Go on. Make my day. You were going to anyway.

“Whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is lovely… think on those things.”

Christians can be the most heartless of people. 

And I know that sometimes the ones who yell loudest need the most convincing themselves. 

I make allowances for you dear,

you loud,

you proselytizing, you spiritualizing, 

you hungry, you bankrupt, 

you so-anxious-to-stave-off-the-darkness-that-you-must-silence-those-who-swim-in-it.

I love you. I do. 

Keep running your little philosophical, faux-theological hamster wheels until your empty hearts give out. 

I will be here to catch you when you run out of answers. 


We could argue out that he’s actually everywhere, and I would probably agree with you, 

but I will argue to my grave that you will NOT FIND HIS PRESENCE THERE. 

Because God is out here, 

in the darkness, 

in the pain, 

in the sorrow so strong that every nook, every cranny of our lives reeks with the stench of, 

where we all actually live & you pretend not to see. 

I can’t imagine what it must be like to walk around with those enormous horse-blinders on everyday and try to somehow function. I don’t envy you. 

I am out here bathing with King David in a few stray rays of sunlight outside the city gates, 

finding the heart of God when I am able to see him as refuge and not as perpetrator. 

I weep with Jesus, with Isaiah, 

with a thousand mourning prophets over lost generations, 

with Solomon, with Paul, with Rachel, 

refusing to be comforted until kingdom come. 

Because my depression, horrible as it sometimes is, is also my strength. 

I can actually weep with the weeping. I can rejoice with the rejoicing. 

My tears go deeper and so do my joys. I wrestle with life. I am always exhausted. Every single day of my life is a battle and when I tell you that dying would be a relief, I am in no way suicidal. 

I will go on fighting as long as my war lasts,

but I will also end happily – joyfully! – when my time is done.

And when the darkness seeps in and you cannot stand on your sandy foundation of cheerful platitudes anymore,

I will hold you, dear blind,

dear light, breezy, superficial one, 

dear starved, dear in denial, 

I will hold you. 


intimacy is not modest.

“The requirements for conforming to western female norms are ‘nice, thin, modest, uses all available resources for appearance.”

– Brene Brown


I’d never heard anyone explicitly state these standards before, but it occurred to me, as I glued my eyes to Brene’s kindly face projected larger-than-life on a living room wall, that I’d always felt uncomfortable, sort of socially naked, when I was not subconsciously complying with them.

// NICE. //

I have driven myself mad with NICE.

I have pretended to believe all manner of lazy theology because to disagree with someone I admired and honored would mean to offend them and to offend someone is not NICE.

I have shut my mouth and closed my eyes to disastrous choices that dear friends have made – journeys they’ve embarked on that I could have dissuaded them from – because to point out error is not NICE.

I have mopped the contents of my heart up off my bathroom floor, time and again, and offered my whole person to boy after boy who did not want it & did not care to care for it because refusing your trust to anyone is not NICE.

The very thought of NICE infuriates me and yet, when my supervisor tells me that an unruly child is spreading the word that I am a perpetrator of NOT-NICE, I melt into a puddle of angry self-doubt.

// THIN. //

I’m not quite sure any of us really know HOW to be thin.

I mean some of us are, and that’s fantastic, and a lot more of us aren’t. Nobody knows how to stay that way and nobody knows how to get that way.

If it happens for you, excellent.
Lemme buy you a [Slim-Fast] shake.

When I was sixteen years old I loved a boy whose constant bipolar crises I bravely strapped to my barely formed shoulders and the weight sent me into a tailspin of depression and sorrow. In the name of young, miserable, hearty and foolhardy love, his every thought became mine; his every misery my cross to bear.

A symptom of that mess was an actual physical loss of appetite.

I never meant to stop eating.
I never meant to starve.

But once you have begun slowly starving the soul, the body seems to quietly follow suit. All of a sudden you’re spending hours in between classes agonizing over trying to choke down a single cup of soup.

(While we’re on the subject, never do I ever want to hear any self-styled Christian counselor patronizingly inform me that depression is “all in your head, dear”. OKAY. You let me know when you’ve had every symptom of the stomach flu for months on end without any treatable virus. Then we can talk.)

And even as this distressed teenager, wasting away, I remember thinking – with a bit of morbid humor – that perhaps all the heartache was worth it if I could at least maintain this new-and-improved, bare-bones version of myself. Because if I could not comply with this boy’s exacting standards – if I could not somehow FEEL enough for him- then at least I could look the way I was supposed to.

Sometimes THIN is the only visible symptom of deep-rooted, black-veined heart rot.

And what a good deal of the rest of us dejectedly find is that the harder we work for THIN, we tend to just become healthier (or less healthy, as the case may be) versions of the bodies we already had. You can’t change your basic structure.

I mean, you can, but that’s another conversation.

// MODEST. //

Every time I ran across the courtyard and over the lawn and up 8 flights of stairs to my tiny two-room Chicago walk-up to throw off my clothes and swear never to put them on again because of the shaming glares of my sisters in Christ and dear God, maybe I wasn’t such a good believer after all.

Every time I would forego bright colors or red lipstick or that one shirt with the mildly suggestive cut-out in the back or any hint of dark self-expression because MODEST –

MODEST ultimately means UNREVEALING –

And there’s more to be revealed here than just skin.

And even though I wear the lipstick now on the days that call for it and I have – God forbid! two visible tattoos! – I still find my jaw clamped shut on long late-night drives with my best friends when we’re all supposed to be baring our souls and I decide to save my ugly, deformed little thought for later.

And this is what MODEST has become to me – a false storefront, a disguise, a comfortably barricaded bomb shelter of sorts to guard against the onslaught of honesty and vulnerability that have come knocking louder and longer lately.

It seems that every relationship, after it has first come to blows –

after the first breach of trust,

after the honeymoon perma-smiles have faded and you are made to look right into the eyes of someone who presumably has only, to this point, known only things they like about you and are about to enter a much, darker, overgrown, untraveled pathway of you –

– every relationship must choose whether being known – or feeling pleasant – is of more worth to them.

There is nothing MODEST about intimacy.


I don’t have anything even lightly poetic to interject here.

My beauty routine involves a curling iron, a grocery bag of collected make-up supplies, a large quantity of baby powder, Moroccan argan oil and a Christmas-gift bottle of Kat Von D’s Sinner.

I’m hardly employing all available resources here.

While that used to trouble me more, there are still mornings I’ll pull into my backlot parking space at the preschool I work (read: slave) at and I’ll suddenly panic at the sight of my naked face in the rear view.

And although most days I’ll tell you make-up is a pastime and not a crutch, there are mornings when I’ll admit to myself – before the honesty of sleep has worn off – that I like my mask more than the face beneath.

I’m not sure there is, in fact, a point here.
I cannot divorce my body from my soul.
I cannot pretend to throw off the confines of society and adopt a lifestyle of hearty asceticism.
I cannot feel more helpless than I do on this subversive shoreline of ruthless Western superficiality. I am out of the waters for a moment, but it is, after all, just a moment and I’ll be assailed by its calm, imperturbable waters as soon as the tide rises again.

And even still I have not begun to chisel away at Christian purity culture’s adoption and unabashed copying of Western norms of beauty and femininity.

What I can – what I do – demand is a new standard for womanhood: one that has far more to do with the content of our deeds and our souls than our bodies, weary from doing good and from simply bearing the weight of living here in this unrestored creation which daily, hourly cries out for its Creator and Savior to please make all things new. My body – with its already grey hairs and dandruff and stress-weight and stress marks – cries out too, with the rest of everything.

Women of valor, lets imagine something better and teach it to our children and our grandchildren and remake this tired culture into a celebration of the divine image-bearers we each one of us are.


Photo on 2013-03-23 at 00.11

In the interest of taking back the personhood that purity culture & various & sundry personages influenced BY purity culture have taken from us,

– and in the interest of lightening the mood –

we: Emily Allison and Hannah Paasch, roommates, best friends, sometime bloggers, all-the-time writers, co-adventurers and mischief-makers present to you the PURITY CULTURE REHAB PROJECT, our off-the-wall, oft-sarcastic, sometimes profound misadventures in the name of science and recovery. While we both are on individual journeys in the pursuit of both Jesus and holiness, we like to think that our silly 15-step (or so) road to recovery might help us mature into more peaceful, grounded, passionate women of valor

the way nature – and most importantly, Christ – intended.

But first! A clarification of terms! “Purity culture”… what is that? Is it a cult? Is it a detergent? And why would one need to recover from it? Both of us were raised in excellent Christian homes with parents who guarded and guided us with care and precision. What, then, could possibly have gone awry?

We believe that an errant translation of the word of God & a probably well-intentioned effort on the part of Christian culture has led to, in our generation, a negative, dysfunctional, almost inhuman understanding of love, romance, and sexuality. We are required not to think of sex until marriage. We are taught that “kiss-ginity” is a thing. That somehow our sexuality is synonymous with our salvation, and what we do with it almost determines our future standing with not only our earthly fathers but our Heavenly one as well–not to mention our future spouses which we all most certainly will have, since God promised us a hope and a future and a sexy virgin spouse, right? Right?!?! JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER GOOD RELIGION THAT PROMISES VIRGINS FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR, RIGHT?!

The point is, we’re both a little tired of the bullsh*t. And at the end of the day, that’s what it is, really. Well-intentioned, misleading, dangerous bullsh*t. And we’re not gonna take it anymore. [CUE ROCK ANTHEM]

So, embark on this journey with us, maybe? We know that a lot of you have been really hurt by the church in (possibly) deeper ways and we don’t pretend to compare battle scars. After all, one of us is a strong proponent of organized church, one of us isn’t so sure, and both of us firmly acknowledge that our qualms with the pseudo-Christian conservative culture we are a product of has very little to do with the Jesus it so brazenly claims. But, we’d like to stop licking our wounds and have a little fun.

SO! Rehab it is.

Check back at emilyjoyallison.com & ajesusgypsy.wordpress.com for our PRIMETIME UPDATES. Shocking posts about beauty, OMG KISSING, red lipstick, OMG CUSS WORDS, and plenty more to come.

We’d like to hear your stories too. Bring em on.

You can also find Emily tweeting her little heart out at @softlysoaring & a few musings from Hannah at @thesettingsun07. We’ll be hashtagging #puritycultureRP for the next month. GITTIN IT.


Emily & Hannah

EROS. // or, you could call me frigid but please don’t.

I read the Four Loves the spring that he left, and while the rest of life was bursting into bloom, I was growing older and colder.

I had nothing to regret –  and I almost regretted that.

I read about Affection and I thought about my mother, all of the cautious, overabundant motherly love that she had bestowed on me without my ever deserving or requesting it.

I read about Friendship, and I saw my favorite Maria friend – the one who put up with my platinum gold highlights in the seventh grade and my occasional emotional tornadoes and that one trashy trucker hat phase that she lovingly endured without a dissenting word.

I read about Charity, and I saw thirty faces on thirty street corners – my friends who lived in the empty lot behind my house in a North African ocean town and would come around on Saturday nights to eat bologna-and-cheese sandwiches with us and talk about the God we loved and their dreams that they had almost let die and were now thinking about watering again.

And then Eros. I almost skipped the chapter. I knew that the whole chapter, the whole concept,  was a topic that I was not allowed to broach, even subconsciously. Sexual attraction was the dirty secret in his and my relationship – the “urine in our glass of water”, if you will. (We’ve all heard that one, haven’t we? Holler at me fellow PKs!!!) As ludicrous as it sounds to me now, I thoroughly believed that C.S. Lewis was, in fact, misguided and that sexual love could not be any kind of real love at all.

Real love was sacrificial.

Real love was tragic.

Real love was anything but pleasure & enjoyment and the only genuine passion one person could have for another had to be “pure” and painful and chaste.

And so I had to learn how to love his mind – to dive deep into the depths of him and just soak in all of the charming, stormy, volatile mess that was his personhood and that I do not regret. I had to pursue and seek out those parts of his heart that stayed mysterious to me (I’ll be blogging soon about how women pursuing men is also something that is not a sin). I wrote poems about that man’s soul and I drove him to school everyday and together we read Macdonald’s fairytales and pretended that all we were was brains and hearts and the loftiest of aspirations.

But nobody can pretend to be just brains forever.

We started to deteriorate as soon as we realized that we could actually touch each other too. And I’m not saying that we made any decisions that purity culture at large could point any fingers at, either. All of the carefully delineated steps that our educators tell us lead to sex and babies and AIDS and death were carefully avoided and so, naturally, things got real weird real fast. We took our stolen moments in between classes and tried to feel close without breaking any rules. I remember slowly walking back to my car at twilight wondering what had just happened; confused how I could feel violated without ever getting so much as a real kiss.

The only boy who ever got up the gumption to kiss me in the years that followed ran down the stairs, made himself a pot of coffee, and patently ignored me until I finally left, dazed, when I dared to tell him that it was my first.

What kind of world have we created, Jesus-lovers, where the fear of sex is so engrained into our subconscious that we avoid all healthy expression of attraction and are then belittled later in life for admitting our lack of experience?

Somebody tell me I’m not the only one here.

Three years after I lost my first love, I sat around a Chicago dining room table with my roommates, trying to decide what exactly to do with my love life or lack thereof. I’d been seeing someone, and all I could come up with to say about him was his “wonderful heart for worship” and “great sense of humor”… which, as all of you know, sounds the certain death knell for any relationship. Our discussion was about how I ran away from him when he tried to touch me at dinner.

“You can’t cringe when he comes near you, Hannah,” one of them was saying, gesturing emphatically. “That’s sort of a given.”

“Is it, though?” I found myself saying. Was it really so bad that I only wanted to write songs with him and have lots of late-night parked-car conversations and check out some stars real fast then hug and go home at reasonable hours?

That was all that I’d ever wanted out of anybody else, after all!

I had run to the other side of the table when I realized he’d wanted to push our chairs together. I had hugged him quickly and fast-walked to my car door and turned up the radio immediately to overpower the sound of my own irregular heartbeat. If I was being honest, I wasn’t sure whether it was because I was so afraid of what would happen to my body if he ever did touch me or whether it was him specifically I did not want.

I had never learned to decipher between the two.

“Well, sooner or later, you’re gonna mess up. You know that right?” The penetrating voice of my best friend broke into my reverie like glass shattering. “You’re gonna go too far, and you’re gonna start over and work through that together. I know I have.”

Going too far?! Was that something that happened? I was actually surprised. I mean, I knew that lots of people slept together all the time – I do assume that’s something going on around me all the time – but it struck me like glass shards that someone who loved Jesus could be with somebody else who loved Jesus and somehow fail the Ten Commandments of sexual purity and come out on the other side unscathed, un-struck by lightning, pick up the pieces of their love and keep on going. I had always firmly believed that I could escape that fate. That I could get to other side – the other side meaning marriage and a happy ending, I suppose – having completely avoided even temptation herself.

I had confused the temptation with the sin.

I had equated sexual attraction with adultery.

I had spent nine months of my young life pretending that I could somehow talk God into giving me the gift of celibacy. http://trashtown.tumblr.com/page/96

And yet here she was, sitting across from me, telling me that it was inevitable; that at some point I would fail, that I would give into – even momentarily – my attraction for someone and do something I’d wish I hadn’t. That that wasn’t somehow game over – that you could forgive and be forgiven and change and grow from that point forward. But something was not quite right.

I tried to imagine the last time I’d felt even the slightest inkling of that sort towards anybody. Nothing came to mind. I literally could not recall the last time that I’d wanted to do anything but side-hug anyone at all! Could it be that in all my valiant effort to inflict the “gift of singleness” (whatever that is) upon myself that I’d actually completely squandered my ability to want someone? It was strange, to be sure! When anyone ever asked me what my “love language” was, I would sheepishly admit that it was, in fact, physical touch – only I knew the embarrassing truth that whenever anybody touched me – no matter who, no matter how – it immediately registered as a sexual action in my mind, primarily because I had taught  myself that touch of any sort was to be avoided as sin.

And so, here I was, nearly immune to even the most persuasive advances, and feeling considerably less arrogant about the fact then I had heretofore.

Well, this particular confession led to a chorus of shocked but mildly impressed girls asking if I could teach them how to do that. Looking around the room, I realized that I had forgotten that sexual attraction was sort of a pervasive, across-the-board sort of thing.

It was then that I realized that purity culture had made me into a cold, repressed, unapproachable, difficult-to-love sort of girl: a far cry from who I actually was.

Because everything else about myself is widescreen hobohemia technicolor. I want to know all of the things. I want to read all of the things. I am fascinated by souls and journeys and mysticism and baking and linguistics and jawbones and stars. My curiosity and my adventurous spirit are elven and rampant and tireless. I write poems sometimes and love to sleep in grass and on beaches and stay up all night screaming the blues and I suppose you could call me frigid, but please, please don’t. You really wouldn’t be taking my whole person into account. AND THAT’S WHAT THIS WHOLE JOURNEY IS ABOUT, ANYWAY. https://ajesusgypsy.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/today-i-embark-on-an-expedition-to-take-back-my-personhood/

It’s finally midnight, so today marks day 1 in an adventure that Emily, my new roommate and loud, proud, Jesus feminist over at http://www.emilyjoyallison.com/, are embarking on to put ourselves through PURITY CULTURE REHAB. We’re going to do a bunch of things that we never would have done as drinkers of the purity culture Kool-Aid but that we’re doing now as holy women of God who are slowly but surely recovering our moral agency.

Won’t you join with us? As much as it is not my desire to decry anyone of my brothers or sisters that Jesus loves dearly, it would seem to me that there is, indeed, a better way than the one that purity culture at large has left us with.

This is not an attempt to throw off the shackles of Scripture and create our own way, but rather to walk in the ways of Jesus without the cultural constraints that Western conservative pseudo-Christianity would place upon us. We’re going to start taking care of our bodies, because we don’t have to be gnostics anymore. We’re going to ask a boy to coffee – and PLATONICALLY, too. We’re going to get our battle cry eshet chayil! tattooed on our arms to remind us not to give up.

We’re going to do a couple other things too – but you’ll have to wait and hear about those when we grow the balls to actually do them. 😉

Courage, my friends and sisters. Your desires are not to be squelched and squandered. You were created with a mind and with a body too. I remind myself daily, along with you, that it is no sin to seek to be loved as both.

Perhaps together we can reclaim eros as an expression of love to be treasured and valued and yes, protected, but not defamed.

Let’s recover and rebuild, redeem and restore ourselves and those we love as WHOLE PEOPLE that our kind Father created and declared that first day and everyday since,

“It is very good.”

in which i forgive Christian men.

this post was originally called “confessions of a Christian slut”.

then i changed it to “the date rape nobody talks about”.

now it’s called what it is,

if that tells you anything about the emotional journey i took in writing it.


She told me to type & i did, scowling as the voices that haunted me appeared in black & white on my screen.

You hurt me.

You led me on.

You seduced me.

You hurt me.

You can’t be trusted.

You just like the attention.

You need to stay away from us men. 


Every epithet that any Christian boy had ever hurled at me – the roots of which poisonous weeds had sunk so deep that as I wrote, I could not distinguish lie from the truth. I had hurt them. I had wounded them. I had let them down. I had failed; failed to do the only thing they’d asked of me: to respond to their advances with open arms.
Of course, few of these slurs had been cast directly at me – out in the open where I could savor them, turn them over on my tongue and feel each one’s weight individually. They were whispered behind closed doors; they were passed from man to man till I could not tell – and no longer cared – where the lies had originated from.
They had no discernible source, and therefore must be true.
I used to stare up at that imposing, straight-up fifteen-story edifice they all lived in at Bible school and it felt as if I personally carried the weight of each weathered brick. I imagined their faces. I carefully picked up the hearts that I had thrown aside and gathered them, like children, on my bowing shoulders. They were my necessary burdens; my thorns in the flesh. They were my sins, and every day I repented of them anew – as if every day I committed each one again.
Our hearts seldom allow for the logical fallacies we so quickly point out in the arguments of others.
One January morning, after months of this torment, I trudged out into the bitter cold to meet a dear, sweet friend who had walked the streets of foreign marketplaces & eaten sheeps’ brains & run in the rain with me a thousand times. We were bosom friends. Kindred spirits. Anne & Diana. That sort of thing. All I could think of was the little flame of joy I’d leave with after seeing her, cupped & protected between my two shivering hands.
I had plopped under a big old oak tree on our shared lawn & almost immediately, saw her walking through the grass towards me. She was keeping her eyes on her feet & she greeted me with just a fraction of her usual effervescence.
“Hannah,” she said slowly, haltingly, “I have something I need to talk to you about.”
She proceeded to tell me about the rumor she’d heard from so-and-so who’d told it to that other guy who heard from it the best friend of the man whose heart I’d most recently broken. She said she knew that I didn’t used to be the flirtatious type, but that maybe I’d been caught up in the attention and the excitement of thirty eligible Jesus-loving bachelors at my disposal & forgotten how to properly behave.
She was just concerned, she said, and of course she wouldn’t be a good friend if she didn’t say something.
I turned my head towards the street to hide my suddenly impaired vision & the red lipstick I’d so joyfully applied that morning.
I somehow felt that this particular shade of red somehow proved my guilt – that I was the whore every self-respecting Bible school student would avoid if he just had the sense to.
By Valentine’s Day I’d dropped out of school & fled the country.
If I couldn’t stop hurting men & keeping my eyes and thoughts and smiles and damn red lipstick to myself, then I would simply remove myself from the equation and there’d be an end to it.
I typed and I typed and I felt each accusation, fresh and humiliating, just as I had heard them so clearly from the sheepish mouths of the men who’d been brave enough to tell me what they’d heard. Again I wondered, just as I had that frigid January morning, how anyone could ever actively choose to be in a relationship with someone of such ill-repute? Three years and a thousand miles later, I felt as though their faces hung on me like stains that every new love interest of mine would either have to forgive or ignore.
Then she asked me to say their names.
One of them had run off & started a new life serving the poorest poor in the far reaches of rural India. He’d sent me a friendly message a few months ago, a Facebook postcard of sorts, checking in on me & telling me about his adventures. Another had gotten married & graduated, in that order, and we perused the pictures of his new life & wife & city. He looked calm & peaceful, like a man finally come home after a long journey. Another had moved back to his family’s house in the misty mountains of Colorado and was now running the old youth ministry he’d grown up in.
They were all, to my utter disbelief, HAPPY. They were all overwhelmingly WHOLE. They had no need of my suffering.They had all decided to go on living without me.
My shoulders alone were sagging with undue weight.
My judgment alone was still blinded.
My heart alone was still paralyzed.
And so that night I forgave Christian men for the offense they took at my existence.
I forgave them for making me despise me and my personality and my occasionally devilish grin & most of all, my RED LIPSTICK.
I forgave myself for the feelings I’d bruised and the hearts I’d bent (but never quite broken) and I laid them all to rest in the graves they belonged in.
I don’t hate or fear my brothers anymore, so that’s a plus, I think. I don’t automatically assume that they’re going to abuse me or defame me or make me bear the weight of their embarrassment and sorrow. Some might still try – but what they don’t know is that I have since become a woman of valor, and I will gently, graciously reject all condemnation in the name of Jesus, for such words are not of Him who healed the lepers and chose the tax collectors and drove away the executioners of a woman accused & scorned by her community.
 This weekend I wore some red lipstick & I held hands with one of these men & I told him I’d like to see what happened if we tried to grow together. He held my hand right back & listened to all of my sob stories & then he smiled & said he’d like to try and redeem all that mess & he told me – oh praise Jesus – that IT WAS NOT MY FAULT.
That there was no one left to condemn me.
This is just another step in the long road towards taking back my personhood. But I like to think I’m making progress.