Abstinence and ‘Purity Culture’ Are Often Conflated but Aren’t The Same, Tim Keller Explains, by B. Showalter

Abstinence and ‘Purity Culture’ Are Often Conflated but Aren’t The Same, Tim Keller Explains 

I’m not totally in agreement on Keller (Link) on everything, but he is correct that too many believers (Link): falsely conflate the concepts of being sexually abstinent outside of marriage with the faults in purity culture and unfortunately ditch the concept altogether.

Yet other Christians (Link): falsely believe and teach that the Bible does not support the practice of remaining a virgin until marriage.

The progressive Christians (and (Link): occasionally, doofus conservatives) try to ease the guilty consciences of fornicators (Link): by downplaying fornication.

(Link): Abstinence and ‘Purity Culture’ Are Often Conflated but Aren’t The Same, Tim Keller Explains 

April 17, 2021

by Brandon Showalter

What’s often referred to as “purity culture” is not the same thing as remaining sexually abstinent outside of marriage, though many conflate the two, according to Tim Keller, founder and former pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City.

Keller explained in a Facebook post that in the early church, the Christian sexual ethic — that “sex was only for within a mutual, whole-self-giving, super-consensual life-long covenant” — was “revolutionary,” given the prevailing Greco-Roman ethic of the day.

“It was based on a radical egalitarian principle that the husband’s body belonged to the wife, and the wife’s to the husband (1 Corinthians 7:4). That meant that anyone who within marriage exploited or abused was violating the Christian sex ethic just as much or more as those who had sex outside of marriage,” he said. 

In the Greco-Roman era, men of higher social status were permitted to demand sex of anyone of lower social status even if they were married. 

By contrast, purity culture is a phenomenon that arose in recent decades in some churches with the ascendancy of the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, a book Harris has since apologized for and now rejects. 

The book overshot Scripture and elevated specific behaviors, including sex outside of marriage, as “unforgivable sins,” Keller said, and “went far beyond the Christian sex ethic to argue that you should not ‘date’ or even kiss someone unless you were sure you were going to marry them.”

“However, to say sexual abstinence outside of marriage is automatically ‘purity culture’ is at best historically naïve and uninformed and at worst deliberately dishonest. They are not the same. Those who are angry at the abuses of purity culture are right to be so,” Keller added. 

“It has done harm and it should be called out and lamented. There is a difference.”

His words come two years after Harris apologized for his book and subsequently announced that he no longer identifies as a Christian and his marriage was over.

Harris’ public deconstruction came amid an ongoing push within some progressive religious voices, such as Bromleigh McCleneghan, author of Good Christian Sex: Why Chastity Isn’t the Only Option – And Other Things the Bible Says About Sex, who are calling for the abandonment of the historic Christian sexual ethic altogether, in part because of the damage that the purity culture of the 1990s has wrought. 

Other voices, such as Juli Slattery, who leads a ministry called Authentic Intimacy and is the author of (Link): Rethinking Sexuality: God’s Design and Why It Matters, have since responded to the pushback against purity culture, acknowledging the harms that it caused while distinguishing between the overemphasis on sexual morality and abstinence within purity culture and God’s redemptive plan for human sexuality showcased in the entirety of Scripture. 

“Every sexual issue is at heart a spiritual issue. When sex becomes confusing, it causes us to reexamine what we believe about God. Getting sex wrong usually begins and ends with getting God’s character wrong,” Slattery wrote in a March 3 blog (Link): post on the overreach of purity teachings. 

“The purity movement taught a God who gave us moral rules to follow, but underemphasized His redemptive nature. In our current day, we teach about God’s love and mercy, but tend to skip past His holiness and righteous judgment. This is a grave danger of which every Church generation must be aware,” she said.


Related:

(Link): Confusing Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse with Consensual Sex and Then Condemning Sexual Purity Teachings – and other, related topics

(Link): No, Christians and Churches Do Not Idolize Virginity and Sexual Purity (they attack both concepts)

(Link): The Christian and Non Christian Phenomenon of Virgin Shaming and Celibate Shaming

(Link): Conservatives Have Now Abandoned All Pretense of Advocating For Sexual Abstinence and They Actually Lament the Lack of Fornication – The Bradford Wilcox Piece, 2019

(Link):Douglas Wilson and Christian Response FAIL to Sexual Sin – No Body Can Resist Sex – supposedly – Re: Celibacy

(Link): Why So Much Fornication (sex outside of marriage) – Because Christians Have No Expectation of Sexual Purity

(Link): Christian Preacher Admits He Won’t Preach About Sexuality For Fear It May Offend Sexual Sinners

(Link): “Jesus Didn’t Die to Save My Hymen” Declares An Anti-Sexual Purity Advocate – My Response

(Link): Is Premarital Sex a Sin? Bible Scholars Respond

(Link): When Adult Virginity and Adult Celibacy Are Viewed As Inconvenient or As Impediments

(Link): Stop Telling Adult Singles and Adult Virgins That Their Virginity and Singleness is “For God’s Glory” – just stop it already

(Link): Sometimes Shame Guilt and Hurt Feelings Over Sexual Sins Is a Good Thing – but – Emergents, Liberals Who Are Into Virgin and Celibate Shaming

(Link):  Why Are Young Feminists so Clueless About Sex? by M. Wente 

(Link): Slut-Shaming Is Bad—But The Overreaction Against It Also Hurts Women by J. Doverspike

(Link):  Churches No Longer Teaching that Pre-Marital Sex is a Sin

(Link): More Virgin and Celibate Shaming in Article: How the New Abstinence Movement is Trying to Reshape Our Views on Sex (from Relevant Magazine) Another Christian Anti Virginity Hit Piece – Fornicators Need To Repent of Their Pride in their Fornication Testimonies Maybe?

(Link):  Abstinence Groups: New Sex-Ed Study Misses Point of Urging Teens to Wait

(Link): A Day In The Life Of An Abstinence Ed Teacher by S. Gomez

(Link):  Teenagers Given Condoms at School Likelier to Become Pregnant and Get STDs / STIs: 2016 Study

(Link): Woman raised in the Bible Belt by religious parents says she ended up in TWO abusive relationships – because being banned from dating made her ‘ignorant’ about men

(Link): Christians Who Attack Virginity Celibacy and Sexual Purity – and specifically Russell D. Moore and James M. Kushiner

(Link): Slut Shaming and Secular and Christian Culture – Dirty Water / Used Chewing Gum and the CDC’s Warnings – I guess the CDC is a bunch of slut shamers ?

(Link): The ol’ Christian myth that married couples are impervious to sexual sin but singles have lots of sexual sin

(Link):  When We Sacrifice a Girl’s Innocence from NatePyle.com Re: Modesty and Purity Teachings

(Link): Are Most Churches Too Judgemental About Sexual Sin? (of the hetero variety)

(Link): Just Because You’re Married, Doesn’t Mean Sexual Temptation Goes Away – Relevant

(Link): Hypocrisy From The ‘No Slut Shaming’ Crowd by C. Nance

(Link): CDC Report: Virgin Teens Much Healthier Than Their Sexually Active Peers (2016 Report)

(Link):  We’re Casual About Sex and Serious About Consent. But Is It Working? by J. Zimmerman

(Link):  Some Researchers Argue that Shame Should Be Used to Treat Sexual Compulsions

(Link): Christians Speaking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths About Sexual Sin – Choices and Actions and How You Teach This Stuff Has Consequences

(Link): Christian TV Show Host Pat Robertson Disrespects Virginity – Says Pre-Marital Sex Is “Not A Bad Thing”

(Link): Annie Murphy’s Sex and Relationship Column Gives Some Fantastic Advice About “Losing Your Virginity” by Princess Weekes

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