I love that this is getting talked about. Evangelical purity culture is so ridden with shame and unhealthy, irrational obsession over virginity (hey guys! scientifically speaking, it doesn’t even EXIST), and women are starting to speak out about how waiting until marriage didn’t help them.
Beth Morey wrote a beautiful, heartbreaking piece recently about coming to terms with her own lack of knowledge about her own sexuality because of purity culture teachings:
I feel betrayed.
This is a portrait of the woman, betrayed.
The betrayal, the regret, was born on my wedding night. The night that finally — f i n a l l y — after twenty six years of life, it was acceptable for me to be a sexual being. Not too sexual, of course, but sex was finally permissible.
My husband and I came as virgins to the marriage bed. And —
we walked away virgins.
We did not have sex until four months after our wedding.
I did not enjoy sex for years after our wedding.
And we didn’t learn why we couldn’t have sex until many weeks after our wedding.
This wounds us, wounds my husband and I to this day.
For more than a decade, I wore my virginity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.
An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you’re going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.
As someone who has a similar story (waited, did everything “right,” still got divorced, didn’t benefit from waiting in any way other than having one less thing authority figures were trying to control about my life before marriage), I love that these conversations are happening. Shame is debilitating and destructive. The more we talk about this, the fewer people will be bound up in shame and fear.
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