Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How I left the purity movement

From Salon:

The church taught us it was a man's duty to lead us down a righteous path. But again and again, I strayed

Saturday, Nov 1, 2014

“This is so we can stay pure and abstain from sexual sin,” he said as he awkwardly placed the purity ring onto my finger, and another one onto his. The ring’s engraving read, “True Love Waits.” I was 16. He was nearly 19. We were both virgins struggling to stay pure in an evangelical Christian community.

The Pentecostal church forbade any form of premarital sex. While leaders of the church didn’t specifically address oral, anal or masturbatory sex, its young congregants assumed it was all sin before marriage. Foreplay was an area rarely discussed. I asked one of my female mentors at the church about this one.

She referred to a verse in the Bible:

“Young women of Jerusalem, promise me by the power of deer and gazelles never to awaken love before it is ready.”  — Song of Solomon 2:7, Contemporary English Version (CEV).

However, I later found out the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) version read: “I warn you, daughters of Yerushalayim, by the gazelles and deer in the wilds, not to awaken or stir up love until it wants to arise!”

My love and desire definitely wanted to arise. To awaken. To be discovered. I was a compulsive masturbator during my early to late teens. I asked for God’s forgiveness after every session. After a while I negotiated with God – at least I wasn’t having premarital sex. That would definitely be worse.
Christian Pentecostal girls dated what the charismatic church called “Men of God.” In retrospect, they were more like “Purity Boys.” That’s how I refer to them now. My first Purity Boy gave me a purity ring to represent our sexual abstinence and virginity pledges to God. I thought it romantic, although I had to admit he had just increased the pressure and sexual tension with this seemingly chivalrous gesture.

I spun the purity ring round and around my finger during class, allowing unwarranted sexual thoughts. His hand on my thigh. His lips softly grazing mine as he dropped me off at home after Wednesday night church service. His long, velvety finger circling my chin, while gazing shamelessly into my eyes.

Purity Boy No. 1 expressed similar sexual desires, which he referred to as “lusts of the body.”

“It sounds so dirty, so impure,” I said.

“That’s because it is,” he told me.

My thoughts, although technically sinful, were also romantic, sweet. Not impure. But I doubted my reasoning; it contradicted my religious beliefs, which translated to doubting my very foundation.

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