If you were home schooled or ran around in Fundamentalist Christian circles, you’ve probably heard of something called purity culture or purity rings.
You can get a purity ring in just about any Christian book store, or at any purity culture event, like the Silver Ring Thing.
Mine looked like this…
Some children actually signed a contract when they received or bought their rings. These contracts were not legally binding because the youth were underage at the time of signing them, but many children were led to believe that they were.
I grew up in a fundamentalist-minded, Christian homeschool group. The parents in this group wanted the best for their children. So, they turned to the purity culture promises.
Do this and your child will never have a broken heart. Follow this formula for your child’s relationship and they’ll never deal with the pain of a break up. Do things God’s way and your child’s relationship will be blessed.
Except the promises of purity culture crumbled. They were well intended lies, nothing more.
Kiss dating goodbye, but don’t kiss before marriage. If you screw up, you are the equivalent of chewed gum, spat in water, dirty, unclean, a whore, etc.
But you know what? That’s wrong.
To think that there is a formula for relationships to work out perfectly is foolish!
Those parents wanted what they thought was best for their kids. They suffered broken hearts and didn’t want to see their children do the same.
But they were wrong.
What they didn’t know is this: If you follow all of the rules, all of the legalism, and buy into all that purity culture says is true, your spouse will still break your heart.
I do not know one single couple on this earth that has not experienced a broken heart.
My husband has broken my heart before. And you know what? That’s okay. I knew that someday that would happen, because we told each other it would.
We weren’t waiting with bated breath for it to happen, but we weren’t surprised either. We had realistic expectations on our side.
Relationships are hard, whether you choose to wait or not. And waiting will not guarantee that you will always be happy and love each other the same way you did when you fell in love.
I don’t regret my decision to wait, but I do regret the purity culture lies that I believed to make it there. I was naive. I was a jerk to people who chose not to wait. If you are one of those people, I’m sorry.
I want my son to learn from this. I want him to know:
- Whether you wait or not, that is your choice. I’ll love you no matter what. There are risks and benefits to every decision you make in life, and this is no exception. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are literally trying to sell you something.
- If you decide to wait and mess up, you can always find forgiveness. Your mistakes don’t define you. You aren’t dirty.
- There is no magic ring or formula that will protect your heart from the world and the pain it holds.
- It’s normal to have your heart broken, it’s part of the world we live in. People are imperfect humans and it will happen someday.
- I followed the purity culture, and I’d do it again if I had the choice because it was part of who I now am, but I want better for you.
I love you, Bubba!
New Crunchy Mom
Rebecca Lemke was a Good Christian Girl who wanted a Good Christian Husband and a Quiverfull of kids. The sort of blessed, picturesque life promised to people who followed The Rules.
The Rules were these:
Don’t wear anything that could cause your male friends to stumble. Scratch that, don’t wear anything but denim skirts and long-sleeve shirts, even when at the pool.
Don’t touch before you get married. No kissing, no hugging, no hand-holding. Break this rule, and you are damaged goods, chewed gum, spit-in water.
Don’t have a crush. If you have a crush on someone before you’re married, you cannot give your husband your whole heart. You’ll have an emotional STD that will infect your marriage! You should really just marry your first crush.
Don’t have problems. Good Christian Girls don’t have problems.
Don’t ask questions. Good Christian Girls don’t do that, either.
Don’t fight back. If a man hurts you, then you led him on and deserved it.
Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
As long as you follow The Rules, everything will be great.
And everything was great. Until it wasn’t.
The small town homeschool group she attended imploded, leaving Rebecca isolated and alone.
Everything came to a head when one of her friends was violently raped by none other than her older brother.
Everyone around Rebecca said that the girl had deserved it.
But the girl had followed The Rules. The Rules that were supposed to keep them safe and give them a good life.
That was the moment she knew something was wrong, and she wasn’t going to stay silent any longer.
The Scarlet Virgins is a memoir of Rebecca’s journey through the ramifications of spiritual abuse and purity culture, wrestling with the temptation of apostasy, the descent of herself and others into the depths of addiction, alcoholism, anorexia, depression, self-harm, and suicide. She outlines the dangers of finding your identity in your purity or ability to follow the Law rather than in Christ and what he has done for you.
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