Premarital Sex Is Not 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.

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15 Books For Recovering From Christian Purity Culture

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.

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