Impure Motives Of ‘Purity Culture’ Critics by R. Dreher
Before we get to the link and excerpts to the page by Dreher, let’s talk for a moment about the liberal Christian and ex-Christian backlash against Purity Culture:
I’ve seen this as well, time and again from the “anti purity culture” brigade on Tweets and blogs:
They think that dismantling “Purity Culture” means rejecting all Christian sexual ethics, or the “rules” or specific morals of it they do not like, including the biblical teaching that fornication is considered a sin (some self-professing Christians are actually on blogs insisting that God doesn’t prohibit pre-marital sex, but they can’t point to verses that say that God accepts it, either).
But there is definitely a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” mindset among many of the “anti Purity Culture” adherents. They also tend to “look down their noses” at adults over the age of 30 who voluntarily sexually abstain – both liberals and Christian conservatives view adult celibates as repressed, weird, or as freaks.
I’m a woman who never married, was committed to the idea of abstaining until marriage, so I am still a virgin – and I’m currently in my forties. I mention that because one thing I’d like to make clear: not everyone who leaves the faith does so due to sexual considerations.
I myself am not quite Christian and not quite non-Christian – but I remain celibate. I’m now fine with the idea of having sex outside of marriage, but only in a committed relationship – but I arrived at this view years after my faith crisis began.
In other words, having sex was not a reason as to why I’m somewhat walked away from the faith – sex was not the cause or my reason.
So, if you are a Christian who tut tuts and shames people online for leaving the faith, please stop assuming that most who leave the faith do so because they are sexual libertines who want to have sex all over the place. That may be true for some ex-Christians or for some doubters, but it’s certainly not the case for all of them.
Matthew Lee Anderson (Link): makes a true and necessary point about Josh Harris’s apostasy and the subsequent critiques of Evangelical “purity culture.” Excerpts: [omit]
….As I’ve said before, I don’t have any direct experience with “purity culture,” though I have friends who are theologically conservative on sexual matters, but who say that they were damaged by it.
Their point, as I understand it, is not that traditional Christian sexual ethics are wrong, but that “purity culture” distorts them in a rigidly legalistic way that can harm the ability of particular believers to live out these ethics. I accept that this can be true. I have seen this kind of thing at work within non-Protestant religious circles too.
That said, Anderson is certainly right that whatever the problems with purity culture, they can never justify throwing out Christian sexual ethics, tout court.
As Christians are thinking critically about purity culture and its deleterious effects, they should be ruthlessly honest with themselves about their true motivations.
Are they trying to rationalize their own desire to be “liberated” from the obligation to obey teachings that they don’t want to follow?
In my past, I kept my distance from Christianity exactly for this reason — not wanting to submit to Christian sexual morality — but I told myself that I had serious theological doubts about this or that Christian claim. I was a sophisticated self-deceiver; my objections were, deep down, entirely about valorizing my refusal to accept and obey teachings that limited my options.
So yeah, I’m deeply skeptical of Christians who throw out traditional Christian sexual teaching based on the faults of others who profess them.
Argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy, it is true, but I have found over the years that there is no subject on which contemporary Christians lie to themselves and to others about more than sex and sexuality.
Sexual autonomy is the god of this age, and most Christians are eager to be syncretists, while hiding from themselves their true motivations….
Read the rest of that page (Link): here