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Purity culture is pervasive across the church. It is most starkly seen in fundamentalist church cultures, yet even in many progressive Christian communities, there are implicit messages reinforcing purity culture. Below are just some of the lies purity culture teaches women and girls that we as the church must work to undo. 1. Women are responsible for men’s sexual sin. Purity culture claims that women’s bodies and clothing can cause men to “stumble” with lust. Rather than placing the responsibility for sexual thoughts or actions on the man or boy who enacts them, purity culture places the responsibility on the woman or girl being looked at and lusted after. It’s almost as if Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, go and tell the thing you... Read more
Recently, the world was shocked, or not so shocked, by the revelation that Josh Duggar—of the hyper-conservative Duggar clan—was caught red-handed seeking to engage in an affair on the now infamous Ashley Madison site. His name was dropped, along with countless other pastors and public figures, who must now answer for their behavior. Now, this topic has been done and done again in the last few weeks, so I don’t want to recycle better and more informed analyses of how the Duggars’ beliefs can lead, psychologically, sexually, relationally, and spiritually, to this kind of moral failure. I also don’t want to devote an article to what Josh individually did wrong as it is my hope that the body of Christ can agree that the depth of violation and abuse is inargua... Read more
1. You’re Causing Your Brothers to Stumble Have you ever imagined what it might be like to carry the weight of other people’s sins? Women don’t have to imagine that—it’s been a part of the church (and world’s) gender rhetoric for centuries. The church chose to respond to the sex question by putting women on trial—indicting them for their indecent and consuming sexuality (Tertullian) and the shamefulness of their bodies (Martin Luther), and charging them with the weighty responsibility of regulating how men respond to their physical forms (Saint Clement of Alexandria). This woman-shaming theology of modesty is still present in the church. By teaching girls that their bodies are dangerous—the very root and cause of male lust—the chur... Read more
I attended a few weddings this past year that left me feeling a little uncomfortable with some small traditional details. When the pastor introduces the bride and groom as a married couple for the first time, he/she often refers to the couple as, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” not “Mr. and Mrs. John and Mary Smith” or even “Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Mary Johnson” (if each partner chooses to retain their last name). The woman’s name is erased—completely removed from their identity as a couple. Her individual identity is swallowed up in his identity, as if her name and personhood no longer matter. Although many women do not generally continue to use their husband’s first name in place of their own after their wedding day, the tradition st... Read more
Seems like every few days, the Christian blogosphere produces a new article on the 5, 7, or 10 people Christians should avoid marrying. Some lists are great, but others are patriarchal beyond the point of absurdity. So my husband, Tim, and I made our own list. If you’re a woman looking for a partner, not a patriarch, here are some men to look for... 1.       Nobody Jesus wasn’t married. Why should you be? Single Christian women have been changing the world for millennia! 2.      The Jesus-lover This man loves Jesus. He takes his faith seriously and takes steps to connect with God in ways that are meaningful and unique to his personality. He seeks to model Jesus’ humility, gentleness, and compa... Read more