Purity Culture: Why Purity is Important
September 29, 2022
Many people complain that purity culture is toxic. They say putting virginity on a pedestal promotes an unhealthy relationship to sexuality. But is that the case? To understand why the mainstream sees sexual purity as such a dangerous and outdated concept, we have to first establish what the social norms of our time are, and the ideas connected to them.
Our society is now fundamentally nihilistic. The basic perception of our culture is that we come from nothing and we go into nothingness. Our culture is also very atheistic. The lack of believing in a Higher Power takes away meaning and purpose. People tend not to think about this existential dread. Rather they see the purpose of their lives in getting as many pleasurable experiences as possible. In a world without meaning pleasure becomes its god.
This is what you probably see in your day to day life. Consumer culture is at its all-time high. More people than ever are addicted to pornography. Smoking weed is something that is seen as almost normal for teenagers and young adults. We might not know who our neighbors are but we’ve definitely watched the netflix show that everybody in the office and on social media is talking about.
In this nihilistic, pleasure-seeking environment the highest virtue is tolerance for personal preferences, no matter how hedonistic they are. It seems like the more you push on those boundaries outside the norm, the more praise you get. I recently browsed through YouTube and I stumbled on a channel that is talking about celebrity relationships. This lady had put out two videos back to back: one about an actress that had said in an interview that she had more than two hundred sexual partners and one about a professional olympian that was nearly forty and still a virgin searching for a husband. The first video was praising the actress and encouraging the audience to become a slut and not let themselfs feel judged for it. In the other video the narrator had a serious tone talking for fifty minutes about how strange the olympian is for choosing a celibate lifestyle. It said that there’s something wrong with her for not having a husband yet if that’s something she really wants. It concluded that she should give up and just sleep around.
These fundamental ideas about reality are also shaping our society’s view on sex. Sex is reduced to pleasure and pleasure is seen as our greatest good. As the purest form of pleasure sex is thus worshiped. This explains its portrayal in art. On TV it is mostly seen as a passionate but somehow loveless act. In music videos women show themselves as barely dressed posing in sexual scenes to keep the attention of the audience and to draw eyes onto themselves. Most of the time this is paired with an independent and fierce attitude because if they can be sexy they feel in control – or at least that’s the message.
This pleasure-centric view on life is fundamentally selfish. It always asks, “How can I benefit?" and “How can I fulfill my every temptation?" This is especially prominent in how our culture is talking about sex. We are encouraged to find out what we like in the bedroom and then define ourselves by that.
In fact, it seem to be seen as the most fundamental and important part of our personality. And everyone who strays from the norm is seen as special and part of a comunity. They might not have anything else in common, but being apart of the LGBT community makes them unique.
In a world that centers around sex it seems boring and restrictive to only practice it in marriage. It also seems risky. What if you are not compatible in the bedroom and what about the urges people feel before they get married? Purity culture is an inseperable part of Christianity. For those of us who try to follow the wise commandments of the Bible, our whole conception of reality is different from the mainstream. We searched for and found purpose in Christ. We have answers for questions like, “Why do we suffer?" or “Where did we come from and where will we go?"
We know that we are loved by God. We know that His advice is categorically good for us in the long term even if our heart tells us that we want to do something differently in the immediate. He is a Father to us that wants the best for us and He can see more then just the situation from the viewpoint of the present. Every good parent thinks this way. The child might only be able to see the here and now but good parents see the context and help with decisions that are good for the child in totality. They don’t just give into every whim that the child has. This really helps children to feel safe with their parents. They know that they can trust their parents and even though they are only allowed to make some decisions for themselves, they still know that they are not alone.
Disney movies may tell us to follow our hearts but the bible says in Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" [NKJV] Jer 10:23 says “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." How true are these words! We can be very happy that we have our loving Father guiding us. The world might find this view strange and too dependent, but in my eyes it is better to humble oneself in this way than to be part of the ever growing croud of people that suffer from severe anxiety because they don’t know how to make good choices in life. No wonder they feel left alone with their decisions.
And what is one of the earliest things God explains? Genesis 2:24 reads “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." In Genesis 1:28, it says: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” A fundamental appeal was to get married and have kids; to become an adult and start a family.
Even though God allowed the Israelites to get divorced, Jesus later clarified what God really wants. Matthew 19:4-6 says, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate,” verse nine continues, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Marriage is sacred and should last a lifetime. The only reason to divorce is if one partner cheats. which shows the significance of the role of sex being only within marriage.
When you’re married, you are one with your spouse in God’s eyes. Sex is a physical representation of that oneness which is also designed to create new life. If you have sex only out of selfish pleasure, children are a problem requiring birth control and abortion to keep them away. In marriage, having kids is a blessing. In marriage, sex strengthens closeness and it’s not separate from the relationship. Closeness has to also be reached through good communication, trust and showing the other person how important they are to you. Sex is not a separate entity and trying to reduce it only to the physical aspect degrades marriage. It makes people ask questions like, “How will you know that you’re good together in the bedroom?" rather than knowing that a righteous marriage will also give a satisfying sex life.
The bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." God cares for us and even if it’s hard sometimes, it is worth it in the end.
People that are against purity culture sometimes ask, “What about if someone gets raped? Do they lose their purity then?” If someone gets raped, they are never to be blamed and nothing that somone else did to them can take away their decision if they want to live a godly life. No one can take your devotion and goodness away from you and I hope that every single rape victim gets the help they need to heal.
We need God’s love and forgiveness either way. We are all sinners and that’s why Jesus died for us. The common Hebrew term translated “sin” is chat·taʼthʹ; in Greek the usual word is ha·mar·tiʹa. In both languages the verb forms (Heb., cha·taʼʹ or Gr., ha·mar·taʹno) mean “miss,” in the sense of missing or not reaching a goal, way, mark, or right point. It is still important to try to get the mark and try again and again if we need too. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity."
Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." It’s also important to think about situations that could make you weak and try to avoid them, especially impurity. Proverbs 27:12 says “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished." Gods sincerely loves you dearly. That means putting him and his law first. Try your best to hit the mark. Following God’s law is good for anyone, even unbelievers. Staying celibate untill marriage and dating with the intention of finding someone to marry is the path for most everyone to live a purposeful and fulfilling married life.