Purity culture, prevalent in Christian communities, places an excessive emphasis on sexual abstinence and the significance of virginity before marriage. However, this movement often distorted the true essence of Christian ethics and identity. There are many myths perpetuated by purity culture, more than we can cover in a blog post. But here are some of the common ones and how we can answer these with a Gospel-centered perspective that emphasizes grace, redemption, and the transformative power of Jesus.
Myth #1: Purity culture equates sexual behavior with Christian identity.
Fact: While sexual ethics are a part of Christian ethics, purity culture wrongly emphasizes sexual behavior as the primary marker of a Christian identity. In reality, our faith in Jesus and belief in His redeeming work should be the defining characteristic of our Christian identity. Our purity does not come from our sexual status, our purity comes from our renewal through the cross.
Myth #2: Purity culture promotes fear-based control rather than discipleship and self-control.
Fact: Purity culture often devolved into a fear-based system of control, focusing on rigid rules instead of teaching discipleship and self-control. True discipleship involves a holistic understanding of self-control and a transformative relationship with Jesus, rather than a checklist of external behaviors.
Myth #3: Purity culture links purity solely to physical virginity.
Fact: Purity culture places an unhealthy emphasis on physical virginity as the ultimate goal, disregarding the transformative power of Jesus and His forgiveness. Our purity is rooted in the redemptive work of Jesus, not solely on our physical state.
Myth #4: Purity culture unfairly burdens women with responsibility for men’s actions.
Fact: Purity culture often shifts the responsibility of controlling sexual desires onto women, creating an unfair imbalance. The focus should be on promoting mutual respect, healthy boundaries, and self-control for both men and women.
Myth #5: Purity culture perpetuates harmful stereotypes and generalizations about sexuality.
Fact: Purity culture may propagate false or unhelpful generalizations about sexuality, such as men being more sexual and women being less so or that women are obligated to give men sex. Such notions undermine a woman’s understanding and acceptance of her own sexuality and can hinder healthy discussions about intimacy within relationships.
Myth #6: Purity culture restricts gender roles and relationships.
Fact: Purity culture often imposes narrow and restrictive views of gender roles and relationships, limiting individual freedom and dignity. This can result in the mistreatment of women and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes. A healthy Christian relationship should be built on mutual love, respect, and compassion.
Myth #7: Purity culture fosters shame and suppresses natural desires.
Fact: Purity culture teaches individuals to fear, suppress, and disassociate from their natural sexual desires and tendencies. Instead of celebrating the gift of sexuality, it covers it in shame. A healthier approach involves understanding and embracing our natural desires in a God-honoring way.
Myth #8: Purity culture undermines healthy understanding of one’s body and sexual experiences.
Fact: Purity culture often discourages discussions about sex, leading to a lack of knowledge and unrealistic expectations. A holistic view acknowledges the importance of consent, understanding one’s own body, and embracing healthy sexual experiences within the context of marriage.
Myth #9: Purity culture can lead to unhealthy power dynamics and justification of abuse.
Fact: An overemphasis on gender roles can create an unhealthy power dynamic within relationships and provide a basis for justifying abusive behavior. A Gospel-centered perspective promotes mutual respect, love, and the equal value of both partners.
Myth #10: Purity culture fails to incorporate the person of Jesus and the Gospel into its worldview.
Fact: Purity culture often focuses on a legalistic approach to purity, devoid of the transformative power of the Gospel. It overlooks the redemptive work of Jesus and instead promotes a life of striving and never feeling good enough. A Gospel-centered perspective offers hope, grace, and the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness in our journey toward purity and wholeness.
Purity culture, with its emphasis on external behaviors and fear-based control, falls short of embodying the transformative power of the Gospel. Embracing a Gospel-centered view involves recognizing our identity in Jesus, embracing grace, forgiveness, and the redemptive work of Christ. It makes room for us to understand and appreciate sexuality, especially women’s sexuality, through a healthy biblical lens, knowing that God designed women to experience amazing pleasure. Let us break free from the limitations of purity culture and strive for a holistic understanding of God’s love, acceptance, and freedom.
In my Mind-Body-Sex Reset Vaginismus program we carefully break down the harmful lies of purity culture and build healthy biblical constructs for how God designed sexuality to be. Purity culture exposure can have damaging effects on the marriage bed- from vaginismus, to difficulty with sexual communication, and inability to experience orgasms. Healing from this can make a significant difference in enjoying intimacy the way God intended us to.