I broke my four-year dating fast and dated four men this year.
Call it a response to purity culture.
Call it an attempt at personhood.
Call it whatever you please.
Four times I ventured outside my comfort zone. Four times I decided to let someone inside my wall. Four times I took a deep breath and said, “Hey, yeah, in spite of logic, in spite of even my better judgment,
you have the permission to know me.”
Four times I showed up as myself, and four times I learned how to stay myself when it ended.
Four things stuck out as my take-aways from these experiences. Four quotes come to mind when I see each of their faces. I’m going to share them with you because I am tired of the way that people who love Jesus DO love, and I am trying to change.
I am trying to work harder.
I am trying to be better.
And if I stay single for the rest of my life after this sudden surge in my romantic life, Lord willing it will not be because I never figured out how to love.
Relationship #1: “I’m not over her.”
This one killed me. This one put me through two months of early morning torment,
waking up every morning to lethargically to drive to work and run through that last freezing Friday evening when he told me he wasn’t over her, and he wasn’t ready.
It turns out that wasn’t true. I’m sure he meant it, and I’m sure he really thought he wasn’t.
But this same man just sent out his save-the-dates with some other woman, so I can only conclude that was not quite true.
Here’s what I can conclude, because I still respect and trust the man who told me this particular un-truth.
He wasn’t over the idea of her… and I know a thing or two about that.
I spent three years of my life being in love with an idea, and here’s the thing about ideas:
Ideas can’t spoon you. Ideas can’t hold you. Ideas can’t pull your head onto their shoulder when one too many three-year-olds yell at you one day.
Ideas are the loneliest things to love, and they are also the easiest.
They require nothing of us.
We get to write angry love poems about them and pine for them and route and re-route our potential lives like a thousand Google maps for them.
We’ve gotta stop. We need to do better.
Relationship #2: “I’m not trying to tame you, I just wanna come along for the ride.”
So this was technically the right thing to say.
This is what I always wanted a man to say.
I wanted to be loved for my fire and my quirks and my passionate couch-jumping and my loud voice and my red lipstick and my cut-off t-shirts and my adventurous, wandering, grieving, revolutionary-type soul.
And he did, he really did. Or at least he tried harder than most.
Except he didn’t tell me the truth either.
Because most of us ARE actually trying to tame somebody. We are trying to love a real person while somehow fitting all of their square pegs into the round holes of our well-edited good Christian checklists.
We’re not looking for people, we’re looking for spouses. We are desperately trying – to fill this role of our perfect sexy virgin spouse and none of us – NOT ONE OF US – is good enough to be anybody’s perfect sexy virgin spouse.
Epilogue of relationship #2: also engaged.
What can I say?! I’m good luck.
Relationship #3: “I’m not what you need, so I’m not gonna fight for you.”
He sat across the table from me, one of my dearest, oldest friends,
and before this last quote, he half-heartedly said something about how we weren’t that bad. We could still work things out. Things hadn’t been bad that long.
It only took twenty minutes for him to give up on all that.
Admittedly, my communication skills leave whole worlds to be desired.
Bono said that “the best of us are geniuses of compression”, and I am an expert bottler. My heart is a bottling factory.
All of a sudden all of the concerns that I’d kept inside our whole relationship came spilling out of me.
They were good ones, too. I was fighting for my faith; he was letting his slip away. He was spending his nights bar-hopping with co-workers; I was reading and blogging and studying and arguing theology with people who actually cared. We were growing apart before we even had a chance to grow together.
But what’s sad is… we could have. We could have worked at it.
And when he walked to the door that night, tears gathering just underneath his lids –
when he turned around and said,
‘I needed this, Hannah. Nobody ever calls me out on anything.
I wanna fight for you, but I feel like you’re speaking from the Lord and I need to heed this warning…
… So I won’t’
I couldn’t help but think how different things could be, if he hadn’t walked out just then.
If he had tried.
If we both had just tried a little harder.
RELATIONSHIP #4: “Move across the country for me.”
Finally I had found my soulmate.
I had found him three years too late, but I had found him.
We had tried to date back when I was celibate and heartbroken, and I had rejected him one too many times.
But here he was, knocking on my door, keeping me up late on the phone, and he got me.
He practically WAS me.
We agreed on everything. We cracked jokes about all the evangelicalism and feminism and we questioned all the same things. We were so in sync. I was getting somewhere. I could feel it. Here was a man I could maybe marry…
if I moved across the country for him.
He was real set, you see. He had grown up in his city and he wanted to die in his city. I couldn’t understand that devotion to a geographical point on a map, but I respected it. I could go, right? I could find something to do, something to BE there, right?
And then, just as suddenly as he had happened to me, he disappeared. I was worried about moving for him for no other foreseeable reason, and at the first hint of strain, he just stopped. No more words. No more phone calls. He just
Four relationships later,
I’m wide awake.
I remember what it was like to love.
I remember what it was like to open up my heart and let somebody walk in my gate.
I remember what it was like to beat down somebody’s gate too.
I used to be real good at this, when I was 18 and in love and planning a marriage to a man I don’t know anymore. I asked all the questions and I listened to all the answers. Then I lost him and I thought, maybe, I hadn’t loved him hard enough.
Maybe, maybe, if I had just tried a little harder.
If I had just fought a little longer.
But what I’m learning is,
whether right or wrong, I am
I am condemned to beat down the doors of the men that I love. I am a hard worker. I’m a fighter.
Because love – love is a skill. Love is a habit. Love is something you work at. Love requires effort. Love requires patience. Love requires determination.
Love means deciding, after considering all things, that
“where you go, I will go.”
After four boyfriends in 2013, that’s what I’ve learned.
For better or for worse, it is my calling.
And I am called to stay single, until I meet a man who can handle that kind of commitment, regardless of emotional attachment and regardless of the reasons why not.
And today I realize that I am rehabilitated from purity culture. My project is complete. I have learned how to be me, and I have learned when to withdraw. I have learned to accept my body as the gift that it is – no more, and no less. I have learned that, while everyone must decide for themselves what these are, physical displays of growing emotional intimacy and attraction are actually healthy. Whereas I used to boycott the institution altogether to set myself apart, I have learned how to be in relationship without giving in to the dating requirements of the increasingly obsolete Christian subculture.
I have learned that my well-being is not dependent on my relationship status.
I have learned that my comfort zone is not necessarily the way things should be.
I have learned how to look in a man’s eyes and tell him exactly where I stand, without using God as my crutch.
I have learned how to just BE.
And I urge you, in the same token, not to expect anything more from anyone else. Don’t expect anything more from anyone than being who they are. None of us deserves any better than that. Love – romantic or otherwise – is something we learn how to do.
Love is a skill. Hone it. Develop it. Stay up late practicing it. No one expects you to know how overnight, but you will be –
you ARE –
expected to try.
Friends, it is time to begin again. It is time to start something new. Something real. Something that does not shame us, something that does not inhibit us from being the men and the women that we miraculously, imaginatively, creatively ARE.
And if you’re ready, let’s get started.
Let’s try. Together.
It’s a great feeling to have all of your lifelong fears and discomforts finally validated;
when a whole community of writers and bloggers starts speaking up and tearing down the cultural constructs that have so oppressed and depressed you throughout the entirety of your childhood and early adulthood;
when all of the opinions that used to make you a rebel – a pariah, of sorts – are finally not only your own and the burden of the truth, the whole truth, no longer seems to rest on your shoulders alone.
One Sarah Bessey I’d never heard of or read before out of nowhere writes an article about her experience with something called “purity culture” and all of a sudden I’m in a heap in front of the gate to my preschool,
ugly crying as I pull a torn notebook page out of my back pocket and just as suddenly start writing again. I had really sworn off writing, you see, after two arrogant sorts in my college poetry club wore me down until I couldn’t hear my voice over their imagined critiques every time I set pen to paper. But there it was, that nagging voice that I just can never quite squelch, the one that starts whispering in my ears whenever my soul rubs up against any kind of injustice or injury towards the outsiders of society. I have always liked the borderliners,
the people of the outskirts,
the ones who liked to dance to their own beat right on the fringes of society and orthodoxy.
I considered myself quite one of their own.
Little did I know that I was dancing right behind that Pied Purity Piper all along.
See, here’s the thing:
I’m a virgin.
Emily says that I should define my terms which, whatever, but what I mean is my hymen is firmly intact. Not only that, there’s never been any danger of that changing.
So there’s all my cards out on the table. Yikes.
Oh yeah, see, I followed the purity culture rules to a tee. I am its angry, sulking poster child. I snarled and seethed and bathed in red lipstick but I never did quite get off my high horse. In fact, I did purity culture one better and I kept my kiss-ginity too. (yeah, that’s a thing.) I avoided boys like the plague and kept romantic moments quite out of the question and I ran as far away from that hypothetical ledge as I could and dear lord if you could get medals for self-control I WOULD HAVE THEM. Oh, I compromised alright, but I made sure that any rules I broke were the ones not quite black and white enough to find their way into the verbose, exacting purity culture handbook.
I was not about to be sullied!
I was not about to become pee water!
I was not about to give any Christian boy any further reason to discredit my viability as a spouse, seeing as how they already found plenty.
I was like those people who don’t believe in God but say a few rosaries & light a few candles every now & then, just in case of Apocalypse.
Now I’m 22 years old and I feel like I may still actually be a prepubescent teenager, unsure of myself or how to appropriately interact with the opposite sex and you know, how to hold a boy’s hand and stuff.( Are the fingers supposed to lock? Is that a thing? That is not pleasant. Am I just supposed to get used to that?) Sigh.
While my friends were getting labeled and shamed for engaging in sexual behavior, I was busy trying to convince everyone around me that I had no interest in and desire for sex at all.
While others were abused physically, I was abused emotionally by men who were so indoctrinated into purity culture that as long as they never kissed me on the mouth or slept with me, they earnestly believed they’d done right by me.
It’s strange to me that we seem to have the same triggers now – those of us who experienced physical abuse and those of us who suffered emotional heartache and physical neglect by men who thought they could divorce our hearts from our bodies. I do not claim that these two kinds of wounds are equal in destructive repercussions, but it seems that they are more similar in kind than they are often given credit for.
And I’m afraid I find myself at a crossroads.
Emily and I are two months into our Purity Culture Rehab Project and all of a sudden I realize that tearing down purity culture will have to involve constructing something inside the void that it left. But what? What goes there now? Do I start mercilessly sleeping with every boy I come into contact with? Do I throw caution to the wind?
I discovered this week that quite a few of the writers I admire most seem to vary rather widely when it comes to the whole “Is Extramarital Sex Still a Sin” thing, which I naively didn’t know was a question anyone was asking. Anyone who ascribes to any semblance of a Christian philosophy, that is. For me that’s not a question, based on what I believe about the Bible and stuff, but I’m learning how not to shame people for having choices that differ from mine.
I’m learning how not to shame myself for making choices that I can’t carefully, methodically defend.
I’m still a little ashamed though.
I’m a little ashamed of my inexperience.
I’m a little ashamed of my stupidity.
What is an ignorant virgin trying to combat purity culture for, anyway?
Isn’t it a little superfluous to try and rehabilitate myself from purity culture fully intending to stay a virgin at the end of it?
I’m still not sure it isn’t an exercise in futility.
My conclusion is this:
my virginity – or lack thereof – is the property of my personhood.
I am not less a person for losing it.
I am not less a person for keeping it.
I am not required to catch up.
Taking back my personhood means taking back my sexuality. It does not belong to my church or my friends or other people’s opinions or even to my own stubborn stereotypes of what should be; of what’s normal.
I have time to figure this all out, you see. Tearing down purity culture doesn’t necessarily mean that, at the end, I will have built a healthy understanding of my sexuality at the same time. While rehabilitation does require breaking a collection of destructive habits, it also necessitates the beginning of new healthy ones to take their place. So here’s my Rehab Project shifting focus a bit – from dismantling the evils of purity culture to creating something new to replace it.
I wanna talk about how I’m afraid that all of us fighting against purity culture will, by heading towards the other extreme, lose any audience we may have had with the conservative Christian culture that so desperately needs change.
I wanna talk about how sin & shame are two different things.
I wanna talk about how purity culture is as harmful to those who comply with its demands as it is to those who do not.
But right now, I just wanna sit
in the bliss that is knowing
that I am mine.
or, “an un-serious treatise on the total appropriateness of 2013’s standard gender binary.” //
1. Well, first off, I think my face just says it all, don’t you?
2. I want to “fix things” all the time, which they tell me is a real manly trait.
3. I like wilderness and stars and fighting for things I love and have even been known to PURSUE THE OPPOSITE SEX (horror of all horrors), so John Eldredge has got me good and pegged, DOESN’T HE JUST.
4. I *like* being respected. Love is great & I like it, but I also like respect, so yep, DEF MALE.
5. Not to mention, my sex drive, which is approximately 3 TIMES the appropriate female sex drive (in that it exists & all), as every Christian book on male-female relationships has ever led me to believe. My only conclusion: I MUST, IN FACT, BE MALE.
6. I’ve been known to season my speech with all manner of colorful words & phrases, which, if I was female, would ensure me a long & lonely spinsterly existence, so, being that I have a lively, often even exciting dating life, I think we can safely assume that must mean I am IN FACT, MALE.
*6.5 SMALL TALK. WHAT EVEN IS THAT. DON’T WE ALL ALREADY KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER IS LIKE (WE LITERALLY JUST WALKED IN OUT OF IT) & IF I REALLY WANTED TO KNOW WHAT BRAND OF MASCARA YOU WERE WEARING – IF, GOD FORBID, I COULD DISTINGUISH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MASCARA BRANDS – DON’T YOU THINK I WOULD ASK YOU. Somehow though, as much as women can generally small-talk me under the table and I abhor it (I tend to take it as a sign that you don’t actually want to know me), I have to believe that a skill that inane must be a societal construct and hardly something I can blame on any particular gender. However! We are talking about why my interests mandate my being a man and so therefore: NO SMALL TALK = INHERENTLY MALE.
7. I am going to pick a movie with a proliferation of blood & guts in it, nine movie nights out of ten. Guy movies. I like guy movies. Gladiators and glory and Russell Crowe. ALL OF THE CROWE. Chick flicks (with the ironic exception of What a Girl Wants. Pre-wonkers Amanda Bynes traipsing around London in hippy bell-bottoms, giving stodgy Englishmen their well-deserved come-uppance?! the BEST!) are of little use to me. TOTALLY MALE.
8. I am only gentle and quiet some days. I’m hardly the new face of conservative complementarian womanhood. In the face of genuine sorrow and death and mourning and weeping girls, I can be gentle and quiet. I can mourn with those who mourn, okay. But a lot of days I am screaming lyrics off of my living room couch to anyone who will listen while intermittently yell-expounding on the profundities of existentialism and preschool. Tonight, as I’m writing this, I’m mostly just jumping off of furniture yelling “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiii… AM EVERYDAY PEOPLE” with Sly and the Family Stone in whatever non-descript rom-com is currently gracing my screen while yelling “THAT DECISION IS FRAUGHT WITH MORAL COMPLEXITY” at Emily Allison.
Actually I’m not quite sure what gender that makes me. Is there a third choice?
9. I am no use at hanging demurely on anybody’s arm. Unless you like girls who scream their faces off behind microphones on stages, you’ll probably have little use for me either. I am also not passively waiting for a spouse – nor do I think that any [accurately] translated version of the Bible expects me to. MALE.
Still, although my gender does appear to be currently in question, I keep trudging.
10. I could name a thousand other stereotypes. I could talk about how I like my coffee black or how anything frilly makes me vaguely nauseous or how the Sons of Anarchy and motorcycles and craft beer and theology are all topics that can make me get loud. I could, but rejecting the gender binary means that I don’t have to. I don’t have to adhere to any stereotypical gender norm because
– say it with me –
I AM A WHOLE PERSON.
Whole people are not bound by the confines of societal constructs or culture, no matter how oppressive, and are therefore freed up to be themselves without pretense.
I can wear dresses with whimsical Peter Pan collars and still (in my dreams) ride motorcycles and get seminary degrees and pursue members of the opposite sex. (The only unreal thing about that sentence was the motorcycle part. But hey! A girl… ahem, a PERSON can dream, amirite?!)
Let’s talk, though, about “manhood” and “womanhood” and if those words mean anything anymore. I want to think they do. I’m not trying to erase gender, after all. Contrary to popular opinion, the Christian feminism of 2013 is hardly trying to make everyone believe that we all came out blank slates and the blind hands of “nurture” somehow roughly and abusively formed us into who we are today. That would be giving “nurture” – and culture – far more power & credit than it deserves.
So what have we constructed in the name of biblical gender and can therefore do away with? What must we irrevocably keep?
I’m all ears.
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.
LOVE AND DANCING AND KISSING AND RED LIPSTICK ALWAYS,
Emily & Hannah
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.”