What are some of the ways the church weaponized “purity” especially in the purity movement

As I get older and older and hear about more and more stories , especially from female friends, the more I hear about how it was weaponized to belittle and shame innocent people. What made me want to do this post is after listening to season 3 episode 10 ( series episode 82 ) titled “ Breaking Free from Purity Culture” by Linda Klay Klein on Pete Enns podcast “The Bible For Normal People” where a college aged woman was essentially not treated as being a good “ proverbs 31 woman “ versus a “ proverbs 7 woman”. Which is metaphors for wisdom and folly and not actually a standard for women. But anyways she was essentially not being encouraged about looking or acting godly until she was really sick and lost a lot of weight ( I am under the impression this was from healthy to unhealthy and sickly looking ) and not ha I energy to go out and be herself. Which is sad and angering.

I remember years ago I ran into a girl that I went to church with and around 16, she drove herself, she stopped coming. I never understood why until in our mid 20s I ran into her and we was taking. She said she stopped coming because she was embarrassed because she was constantly stacked for not wearing baggy clothes because she was “developed” and told it was distracting. But she put up with it for a while until two more things happened. The first was that in a youth group music night they played some song called “ hop on the bus” and after the song the young pastor asked her to go help him move some stuff and then once away from others he criticized her for trying to seduce people by jumping around knowing her body was to distracting to bounce around. “ Then the final straw was a few weeks later before a youth group gathering she was told that when they ask everyone who has never been baptized to come up and be baptized that she needed to not come forward because her wet clothes on her would be distracting. So she came to the pool party, never swam and watched the baptisms and left and never came back because people kept giving her looks as to why is she to embarrassed to be baptized. Was she embarrassed to publicly declare her faith. Which was not why she was avoiding it.

I’ve heard a lot of stories like that in passing without ever trying to even seek them out. I’ve heard plenty of stories about make up being criticized, and perfume being to strong and so on when it was not.

In my own experience I definitely felt the peer pressure on and off during my life that having opposite sex friends, especially close female friends, was somehow playing with fire. The whole movement seems almost entirely focused on “ females will be objectified because they are stumbling blocks and their bodies causes guys to sin” and almost never pressure placed on guys to learn how to not objective women. Even now I mostly hear it from the second perspective.

Does anyone know healthier alternatives to the “purity movement”? At face value the name and goal seems good. But it seems more like it is usually weaponized to cause harm.


Conservative evangelicalism is a man’s world. Therefore what many women learned about themselves in those environments was often filtered through the ways that influential men chose to see them, and it can be hard to unlearn. Also, in legalistic environments the focus is often on rules – and making rules is always easier than disciplining yourself to see people differently.

Yeah, I’m sure many advocates of “purity” meant well, but much of it became very externally focused. Especially considering one of the major principles of Christianity is that we can’t actually be “pure” without Jesus – if you lose sight of that, you’re mostly left with either rebels or pharisees. I believe Linda Kay Klein has a book out about the purity movement, but I haven’t read it, so I don’t know whether she proposes alternatives. I think in a lot of ways, just learning about healthy consent can be an antidote to some elements of purity culture. Sheila Wray Gregoire has written a lot about healthy Christian sexuality, so I’d recommend her blog to anyone looking for a better perspective on that.


Yup, and what you will find is that this isn’t just the puritans, that’s pretty much entire society. And it’s not almost never… it’s NEVER! How many times as a man were you ever told to not stare at women etc? And how many times you’ve heard girls being lectured?
Ever heard the saying"leave something to imagination"? Basically even if you are “modest” you are still being objectified, as guys are"imagining". Sums it all up… And please, if you are reading this, whoever you are, stop saying this!

This is where some atheists step in. Like, hey why do you want to be Christian if that’s how you being treated? And you know what? I almost switched sides because of it myself. Great majority of people who know me ( but doesn’t know me THAT well) would swear I’m an atheist because of my strong feminist views. I wouldn’t know what to say if someone where to ask me how I reconcile all this mysogyni(let’s call it what it is) hence I never discuss my faith with people I don’t know too well.
It seems like there’s no church who is willing to take this matter on, so no, I don’t believe there’s a healthy alternative, at least not within church, as I’m guessing that’s what you’re asking. It’s up to individuals to educate themselves and act accordingly.
I also have very serious doubts if there were ever good intentions behind it all. Looks to me like attempt to shame women and gain power over them. I even heard claims that purity culture fuels rape culture


I suppose it goes without saying that “she won’t be for everybody”, but Nadia Bolz Weber has a lot to say about her experiences growing up with “purity culture” in her recent book “Shameless” which I recently read. The subtitle (at least on my Kindle edition) reads: “A Case For Not Feeling Bad About Feeling Good About Sex.” … which should be adequate to scare off anybody not ready to find these discussions in Christian literature.

While I won’t go on record here as calling my self an adoring supporter of everything she says, I did learn a lot (and do think a lot of her criticism is spot on about how evangelicism has conducted itself around all this.) She will be balm to the wounds of the many who’ve found themselves on the outcast end of the church’s judgments all around sexuality, and sees her calling as reaching out to the many unreached in the corners that could never darken the doors of any church service because … yeah.


There is definitely a lot of things in the Bible that seems very off putting to equal rights at times. A lot of times I think the best answer is to look at Christ. If Christ is supposed to be the nature of Yahweh and his well made flesh then I think comparing his words and lifestyle is more important than trying to figure out everything in scripture.

We see Jesus giving attention to women and kids and not just men. We see Jesus repeatedly coming to defense of women. We see Christ interacting with women in a healthier way than what we almost see throughout the entire Bible.

As for not staring at women we were taught at a young age that you’re not supposed to objectify women. I was raised with a strong emphasis on not just picking someone because they are pretty, or being forced to pick someone just because they are good but to find someone we are attracted to in every way. In my family roughly for every male cousin I have I have 4 female cousins. The majority of my life I was raised up with 11 female cousins and 2 male cousins. My family also allowed both boys and girls to spend the night. Although I’ve always had more male friends I have also had close female friends. That’s all well before Christianity was even part of my upbringing. But we were definitely brought up not to stare at women. Since me and all my cousins grew up on the same 200 acres we were pretty close. I was far closer to my cousins than to my parents or grandparents. I went 8 years without seeing or even taking to my parents and during that time several of my cousins drove 1500 miles or flew out to see me or we met half way for a few days.

I think I’ve heard the comment “ leave something for the imagination but I’m not sure if it was from s movie or someone” in person.

But I’ve heard plenty of terrible things in the same vein. I remember my aunt coming to my school because me and my cousin was both in a class in like middle school and a guy visited and said something about “ if you don’t want to be raped then limit it by not drinking and especially by not wearing short skirts or tight shirts and ect… “ and my cousin told her mom and her mom came to the school the next day during a 3 day thing and went off.

Most of my experiences though of seeing how weird some men are around women was in my young 20s though with the massive insecurities I was seeing in relationships and very backwards thinking. Especially in the army. But I also seen the opposite as well because you knew they had to do everything the same. Sure the 2/2/2 was different but it was still there and all the courses was the same. The women had to pack on rucksacks just as heavy as a big guy and home the 15 miles all the same.

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I will not pass judgement either way. This is an issue of religious diversity. That church was clearly not the one for her… can’t say it does much for me either. But you cannot make those kind of decisions for other people either way. Can it be psychologically dangerous? Absolutely! Religion can be dangerous. No doubt about it. So you need to be cautious and clear about your decisions. It’s not a bad I idea to talk to a good psychiatrist if you are worried about the way things are going and you are not sure if you can manage it yourself. A good psychologist will get you to ask yourself some good questions.

Another way I saw the purity movement being used to shame people was with entertainment. Such as if there was one sec scene in a film, or nudity , it was believed that the whole film should be dismissed. That you can’t even watch it if you are a Christian.

But I’ve always found it a bit ironic that the Bible was full of very sexually charged language and stories. Obviously the Song of Solomon is very sexual. There is even a joke about lions and a pinky finger in the Bible.

Another was “ don’t give the appearance of evil” which was a catch fall for everything. Don’t wear all black because of “trench coat mafia “ and the columbine shootings. Don’t draw on yourself using a pen because it’s glorifying tattoos and your body is a “ temple” and only prisoners gets tattoos.

I think don’t give the appearance of evil and your body is a temple may be the most weaponized verses I’ve seen in my life. Used for literally anything someone doesn’t not like.


I’ve never had any desire for a tattoo but it seems to me a person might get them to decorate their temple. I used to draw quite a lot in young adulthood so maybe if it had been as mainstream as it is now back then I might been more inclined to get them.

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I fall into the camp that our body being a temple is not about food, drink or things like tattoos, plastic surgery or if we are muscular and so on. But I can understand the metaphor of what you’re saying.

I remember once a man was going on about the body being a temple and how I was dishonoring that temple with tattoos and so I asked given the fact that he was morbidly obese did Gos value his temple less than mine since I’m athletic and if that counteracted the tattoos Lol. He then said what we look like does not matter it’s about fruit of the spirit and that tattoos were fruit of the flesh because we are saying with tattoos god did not make us perfect…. I was like well I am not perfect……are you.


When I was young, there were still believers who were really strict about what people should wear, at least when they came to the church. The same people rejoiced when they heard message and saw pictures from the missionary fields where some people from southern tribes became believers. In the pictures from the tribes, the women did not have much cloths - bare breasts.

These old believers changed their attitudes when there was some revival among the punks. Suddenly, in the meetings there were people with wild colored hair, much metal on them and otherwise looking not so traditional. And they were fresh brothers and sisters. I guess that some of the old believers were thinking that lets give some time to them, then we can start to ask for proper clothing and less metal hanging from the ears.


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