You might have learned this in church: Don’t have sex before marriage. Sex is only for a husband and wife. Anything else is a sin.
But, not everyone believes this.
There are many topics, like sex, that Christians disagree on. Depending on your church and denomination, you may have a different takeaway than others do when reading the same Bible passage. Some people don’t agree with leadership at the church they attend – and that’s OK! Sex is a sensitive and personal topic, and it’s no surprise to see divergent points of view.
Let’s look at both sides of the debate around whether sex before marriage is a sin.
Continue reading “Is Sex Before Marriage a Sin?”
Growing up in an evangelical church, I was sure premarital sex was the unforgivable sin. Someone who lies can come clean, and someone who kills can repent, but if you’re not a virgin on your wedding day, you can never go back and fix it.
When I took Bible classes at my Christian college, I was surprised to find that the Bible wasn’t so clear on this topic. In fact, the Bible never says sex before marriage is a sin.
But as a single Christian woman, that alone didn’t grant me permission to start having sex. It was when my faith deepened and I discovered a God who is genuinely loving. Shame separates us from God, not our actions. Christianity is built on unconditional love, not good morals.
Continue reading “Premarital Sex Is Not a Sin”
The Bible does not condemn premarital sex. I was surprised to learn this, after a lifetime of reading verses that clearly said that sex outside of marriage was wrong — but then I began to study the text more deeply.
According to Jennifer Wright Knust, author of “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire“:
“The only way the Bible can be a sexual rulebook is if no one reads it.”
Yet, when Christian leaders present reasons why we should wait until marriage to have sex, they often start with the Bible.
I revisited all the verses I had ever associated with Christian purity, and dug up translations to see if I could gain some clarity.
Continue reading “What God Says About Sex Before Marriage”
Abstinence and chastity are not the same thing. Abstinence is about saying no, while chastity is about channeling healthy sexual desires. We’ll go over definitions for both.
Depending on your background, the word “chastity” might make your skin crawl.
For me, it conjures up an image of a woman in a frilly 18th-century dress with multiple layers of undergarments, being careful to not reveal her ankles to anyone.
Even as an evangelical Christian raised in the golden age of purity culture, I viewed chastity as a bit weird. But I’ve come to change my mind.
First, let’s talk about abstinence.
Continue reading “The Difference Between Chastity and Abstinence”
As someone who grew up in the evangelical church in the 90s, my early understanding of sexuality centered around delayed gratification. Wait for sex until marriage, and God will provide a great husband, and hey, even the sex will be better (and of course, marriage could only be heterosexual).
Rejecting purity culture sounds simple, but it can take time and unwinding of your former worldview. Personally, the residual effects of purity culture continue to plague me, because it was never just about abstinence, but for women, about keeping your body covered, and for anyone who read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, also about restraint in kissing, hand-holding, even being alone with a love interest.
The books below come from a range of voices and experiences, some specifically addressing Christian purity culture, others more broadly discussing sex from an academic, journalistic, memoir, or anthropological perspective. They are loosely ordered by level of conservatism so if you are very far along in your deconstruction, you might skip to the end.
Do you have a favorite not listed here? Tell me on Twitter: @danifankhauser.
Continue reading “15 Books For Recovering From Christian Purity Culture”
On this week’s episode, I spoke with Jamie DeWolf, founder of Tourettes Without Regrets, an underground performance art show in Oakland. The show has a few simple rules, one of which relates to consent, an issue our culture at large is slowly but surely beginning to grapple with.
You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below. Continue reading “True Love No Shame: Talking about consent with Jamie DeWolf of Tourettes Without Regrets”
Today’s episode of True Love No Shame is with Laura, the creator of No Shame Movement, which started as a hashtag and now has a dedicated site aimed at discussing purity culture. I spoke with Laura, the woman who started and now runs the movement.
You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below. Continue reading “True Love No Shame: Talking about Christian purity culture with No Shame Movement”
For this episode of True Love No Shame, I spoke with Christina Weber, creator of Underground Unattached, a curated dating experience. I wanted to bring her insight on this podcast was because based on her work she has a lot to share about how to do relationships and how to do them well.
You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below. Continue reading “True Love No Shame: Talking about love with Christina Weber of Underground Unattached”
For the fifth episode of True Love No Shame, I talked with Asha Dahya. We actually met through a Facebook group of former Christian conservatives. She’s working on this amazing documentary series project that’s about abortion.
You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below. Continue reading “True Love No Shame: Talking about new perspectives on abortion with filmmaker Asha Dahya”
For the fourth episode of True Love No Shame, I spoke with Tina Schermer Sellers, author of Sex, God, and the Conservative Church: Erasing Shame From Sexual Intimacy. She’s also founder of the online community Thank God for Sex and the Northwest Institute on Intimacy. I came across Tina’s 2006 article actually just very recently. I wish I had found it earlier. Christians Caught Between the Sheets: How Abstinence Only Ideology Hurts Us.
You can listen to our conversation in full on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the edited version below. Continue reading “True Love No Shame: Talking about intimacy and shame with Tina Schermer Sellers, author of Sex, God, and the Conservative Church”