God’s Will or Oddly Repulsive?

One of the weirder and, let’s face it, creepier aspects of conservative Christianity is its obsession with sex. And, nowhere is that more apparent than something known as “purity culture”. Now, some of you may be wondering “What the hell is ‘purity culture’?” Well, according to No Shame Movement, it is “simply the view of any discussion of things of a sexual nature outside of the context of heterosexual marriage as taboo.” Technically, that is correct; but, friends, that clinical definition doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the skin-crawling aberration that is purity culture.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m writing about this movement, thinking it’s strictly a fundamentalist/evangelical thing and doesn’t really affect the rest of us. If you think this, let me assure that you are wrong. In fact, you are so wrong that your wrongness surpasses any conceivable descriptor for being wrong. Your wrongness is so wrong that it makes Ben Carson’s all-too-frequent use of slavery and/or the Nazis as metaphors actually look right. Okay, that last one may be a little over the top, but still. Look, my point is that purity culture affects us all. How so, you ask? Like this:


That is a mother at a recent Omaha Public Schools parent meeting about proposed changes to the system’s sex education curriculum, including lessons on sexual orientation, sexual identity, contraception, and sexual trafficking. These alterations prompted the outburst from woman (now known across the internet as “puritymom”) in the video. In case you can’t make it out, what she’s saying is, “It’s my daughter! My daughter! Who’s going to keep her pure? Nobody! I am! Not OPS! Not OPS!” So, purity equals ignorance? I did not know that.

But, friends, parents raising hell because their ignorance is being challenged is just the tip of the disgusting iceberg. Take purity balls, for example. If you’re unfamiliar with this phenomenon, the purity ball is a religious ceremony/ formal dance event where dads and daughters dress up in evening attire for a night of dining and dancing, culminating with the daughters pledging to the fathers to abstain from sex until marriage. Photographer David Magnusson put together a book documenting this creepfest. Here’s a sample of his work:

From the book Purity by David Magnusson published by Bokförlaget Max Ström 2014. Copyright © David Magnusson 2011. Rules for use in copyright notice.
From the book Purity by David Magnusson published by Bokförlaget Max Ström 2014. Copyright © David Magnusson 2011. Rules for use in copyright notice.

I got this from an article on Huffington Post, but click that link with the understanding that you may feel the need to shower afterwards; it’s that bad. From what I can see, Magnusson’s book looks like a collection of prom photos from the Warren Jeffs School of Parenting. In a word, “Ewww”.

If that’s not enough for you, I ran across another story about this abnormality that raises the “ick” factor even more. In Christian Today (a UK-based media company not to be confused with Christianity Today), Carey Lodge reports that “Twenty-something Brelyn Freeman, now Bowman, presented her pastor father with a certificate confirming her virginity.” But wait. it gets better (and by “better”, I mean “oh, so much worse”): the certificate was signed by a doctor who, it seems, had actually examined Ms. Bowman to verify that her hymen was intact. Okay, then. When my daughter got married last year, if she had presented me with a document attesting to her virginity, I can honestly say it would’ve creeped me the fuck out. But, this dude? He posted a picture on Instagram of himself and his daughter holding the certificate, grinning like a possum eating briars. What the hell is wrong with these people?!?

I wish I knew the answer to that question. Maybe then I could begin to wrap my head around why seemingly intelligent adults think that keeping kids in the dark about sex will somehow magically prevent them from getting pregnant (because everyone knows teenagers don’t have an innate desire to knock boots every chance they get), that signing a pledge has a prayer of stemming up to the flood of hormones that comes with puberty and that a woman’s worth is irretrievably tied to her virginity. This whole thing is just fucked up.