Rules are lightning rods of shame for those seeking after the flesh.
Length: 3,200 words;
Reading Time: 12 minutes;
So far, I have covered two posts at Patheos, written by Jackson Wu. This post will cover Wu’s third and conclusive article about the Purity Culture at Patheos, When purity brings shame, not honor (2020 August 19). Of note, the title of this post is a gaffe. True sexual purity brings holiness and honor, not shame and ignominy. The shame results from the lack of purity. Let’s not skirt the issue.
Wu hits a lot of topics in this post, so my analysis here stretches rather long. However, I urge readers to take the time to go through it because there are some important takeaways.
Guarding Your Heart
The author brings up a catch-phrase that was common in the Purity Movement,
“You have to guard your heart”, which is based on the following scripture passage.
“Guard your [own] heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”Proverbs 4:23
This verse uses “keep” instead of “guard” in most translations (ESV, NASB, NRSV, NRSVA, RSV, et al.), but several other translations use “guard” (CSB, HCSB, NET, NLT, TLV, et al.).
It was presumed that “guarding one’s heart” was directed against the possible temptation to sexual sin. But the author notes,
“Christian subculture sanctioned mass segregation of gender and a guarding of others’ hearts not my own. Much of the onus fell on women, who were told that their bodies were “stumbling blocks” for men.”
Actually, gender segregation is a common practice in many (if not most) societies, and it has been since before antiquity. There is good reason for doing so. People might think this is oppressive, but temptation and sexual sin is more so. Putting the onus on women is necessary, because if left to their own devices, women will naturally resort to playing games and having fun with their hypergamic sexual proclivities. It is their nature to do so, although they will soundly deny it.
7 “Lies” that Purity Culture Teaches Women
Wu cites an article written by Natalie Collins at CBE International which listed 7 Lies That Purity Culture Teaches Women (2015 September 8). So I had to go check out the CBE International site.
When I read through a few of the articles there, I almost choked on all the stars and horns! To give you the flavor, the banner at the top of the site reads, “Women and men leading together, serving as equals”. Note that it’s “women and men”, not the linguistically favored “men and women”.
Wowzers! So now I have to segue into this article before I can go on to address Wu’s statements. The seven lies are listed here.
- Women are responsible for men’s sexual sin.
- Women’s bodies are something to be ashamed of.
- Women shouldn’t have sexual desire.
- Your virginity is the only thing of worth about you.
- Women don’t enjoy sex as much as men.
- If women have sex before marriage, everything will go wrong.
- There’s no difference between sexual abuse and sex before marriage.
To keep it short, I’ll only go over the 7 lies recounted above. My comments are listed in respective order.
- The claim that this is a lie flat out denies that (1) women are the fundamental gatekeepers of sex, and that (2) men are biologically wired to spread their seed.
- The claim that this is a lie denies the fact that men are visually oriented, and are easily distracted by the feminine form, which causes them to focus on their fleshly desires. (See Romans 8:5-8.)
- The claim that this is a lie is obviously true, but the motivation behind rejecting this lie is to assert female sexual independence. The core truth which is never stated (by neither Collins, nor Wu, nor churchianity) is that women should learn to control their bodies (i.e. sexual desire) in a discreet and honorable manner. (See 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8.)
- The claim that this is a lie denies the fact that men prefer virgins for marriage, and for very good reasons. Actually, “prefer” is an understatement. In fact, bridal virginity is so important that the Bible says that a woman who is not a virgin upon marriage has “played the whore” and has defrauded her husband, and is therefore liable to the death penalty. (See Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8.)
- At face value, it’s true that this is a lie. Women enjoy sex even more than men do. Men just have a greater urge to merge, not to be confused with enjoyment. On a case by case basis, whether this is a lie all depends on whether the man and woman have achieved a mutual sexual authority in their relationship. There are many reasons why many women do not enjoy having sex with their husbands, but the most prevalent cause (in this day and age) is because they have forfeited their sexual authority and marital sanctification by cavorting with other men before marriage (AKA Alpha Widow Syndrome), and by waiting so long to marry that they cannot maximize their potential in their choice of a husband (AKA post-wall “settling”). This further supports the necessity of marrying a virgin. Collins and feminist churchianity make the mistake of thinking that women should prioritize the pursuit of sexual enjoyment, never mentioning that sexual enjoyment is best achieved through being obedient to God (i.e. having sex only within the marriage covenant).
- The claim that this is a lie is a bald faced lie in itself. Just from my earlier comments, it should be clear why. However, the problem of natural desire combined with the current SMP, the cultural emphasis on the flesh, and the fashionable delay of marriage all contribute to form an environment in which obedience is d@mn near impossible. As a result, hamsterized excuses and solipsistic justifications have grown to run the gamut of psychological dissociations, including the anti-shame narrative, technical virginity, “re-virginization”, the fear of sex, hopelessness, and the quirky idea that Coram Deo equals Coram Mundo.
- The claim that this is a lie is based on converged victimhood naiveté and it is a denial of moral agency. Premarital sex is an abuse of God’s gift of sex, so it is not surprising that physical and emotional abuse might be a part of that, because one is excluded from the protection offered by God’s covenant. Collins talks about consent. Unmarried women don’t have the moral authority to give consent to illicit sex. According to the Bible, it is the young woman’s father who has the authority to give consent – NOT the young woman. And not the state either, by way of those “age of consent” laws. Collins states that she felt humiliated and degraded after she had premarital sex and then concluded that it was “wrong” for her to think this was a result of her failure to remain pure. She then blames her then-boyfriend for abusing and exploiting her. But sweety, it is a direct result of your failure to remain pure. This self-abuse is the reason why God forbids premarital sex. There’s no way around that. If you claim victimhood status by displacing the responsibility for your own sin onto your ex, then you haven’t truly repented. [Note: This is a red flag.] Of course, Collins isn’t introspective enough to give her personal reasons why she stayed with a man who was pressuring her to have premarital sex nor why she gave into his demands, but I can guess that she wanted something that wasn’t meant to be hers. She ate the forbidden fruit, and now she’s crying that it wasn’t fair. Adam and Eve 2.0.
In summary, only one of these statements is truly a lie (#5 in red). Six of these seven lies are not lies at all. Collins doesn’t address where these lies originated from, nor the core reasons for why the Purity Movement failed. She is merely putting a subjective feminist spin on the obedience, wisdom, modesty, and propriety that were emphasized in Purity Culture, and calling them lies. All this hamsterbation is a result of glorifying the fleshly incarnation, and placing the pursuits of the flesh as a priority.
Going back to Wu’s article… Apparently, he agrees with all of Collins’ points and this disappoints me.
“If women’s bodies are blamed for lust—if the church claims that they need to be covered up for the sake of men—this inevitably leads to shame.”
The shame referred to by Collins and Wu (and many other critics of the Purity Movement) is the natural consequence of being an immodest temptress. This is in alignment with scripture.
“Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”Psalm 25:3; Romans 10:11 (ESV)
If a person feels ashamed, then it is probably because he/she has violated the most essential requirements of God’s order. A refusal to acknowledge guilt or shame and correct one’s behavior accordingly is a rebellion against one’s own conscience.
“What does Christian subculture do to combat the threat of impurity? It creates rules to ensure we go nowhere near anything that might possibly resemble or remind us of impurity. But such regulations are extrabiblical and only fuel shame in those who transgress them, even though various behaviors are not sin.
In the first sentence of his answer to the question in bold, Wu is right. Without the broader patrilineal social structure necessary to reinforce the values of purity, cold hard rules of the road for fornication have to be implemented, and this patchwork puppy was ineffective and usually legalistic in the application.
In the second sentence of his answer, Wu is woefully wrong. The Bible contains chapters and chapters of covenantal regulations surrounding sex and marriage. (Leviticus 15; 18; 19:20-22,29; 20:10-21; Numbers 5; Deuteronomy 22:5,13-30; 24:1-5; 25:5-12😉 The modern Christian subculture ultimately ignores this, yet it is (or should be) a fundamental part of Christianity. But instead, converged churchianity teaches and exemplifies all manner of worldly feminist values.
Wu doesn’t name the regulations he speaks of that are extraBiblical, but things like sexual purity before marriage, propriety in dress, and even gender segregation are indeed small fries compared to the Old Testament requirements under Covenant Law. Perhaps he believes the Old Testament is only a historical account that no longer applies.
Imagine how life would be if God were to be so excruciatingly exacting that everyone felt ashamed for violating any and every letter of the Mosaic Law. We fail to appreciate how the common grace of the Lord prevents us from falling into gross anarchy.
Instead of comparing our present culture to the Ancient Near East culture of the Bible, the author compares Purity Culture with fundamentalist Islam.
“In [Muslim] cultures, the honor of a man and a family is closely tied to a women’s sexuality. A woman’s body is a potential cause for shame. If she is judged promiscuous or even flirty, severe consequences may follow. Modesty, therefore, is a virtue stressed upon girls from a young age.”
Yes, Muslims are better acquainted with the truths (and responsibilities) of God’s created order than are modern Christians. This is why Muslims consider westerners to be infidels.
Wu never describes how female immodesty can be a source of shame in Muslim culture, nor does he mention any of the real reasons why Muslims have such strict norms surrounding sexuality. But he does mention several ugly manifestations of Islamic culture, such as women wearing hijabs/burkas, female circumcision (AKA genital mutilation), and honor killings. He lumps gender segregation into this mix to build the case that all social regulations surrounding sexuality are offensive and oppressive. He never entertains the question of why Muslims would deem these extreme measures necessary, nor why Muslims would agree about such things. Certainly there must be an understandable reason, or does he believe that Muslims are total barbarians?
How much can I get away with?
Next, Wu brings up an important issue. How do we deal with every teenager’s question, “How far can I go?” But instead of addressing this question with a view to determine the bounds of decency, he wants to know how much one can get away with. In today’s culture, the answer to the second question is a second mile past the first.
“One question on the mind of every church boy and girl is this, “How far is too far?” In other words, what can I do physically where I can still be counted as “pure”? The obvious problem with the question is that it overlooks the matter of the heart (the subject of my second post in this series).”
Wu is describing the psychological justification of technical virginity. The problem with this juvenile approach is not only that it ignores the convictions of the heart, but moreso the fact that it represents a mindset that is wholly focused on the flesh and is looking for the optimal way (in the form of rules) to go about satisfying the desires of the flesh.
5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”Romans 8:5-8 (ESV)
Now, I would expect that Wu might say something about getting in touch with the true meaning and purpose of sexual purity. After all, this was the subject of his last post. But no…
“In the same way, we need to ask the same question to ourselves. When it comes to teaching about purity, sexuality, among other issues, how far is too far? The various guards our (sub)cultures put in place often go too far.”
Instead of setting the record straight, Wu is pressing for an answer to this false question, with an admission that churchianity won’t do it. It is a false question because there is no true answer. You can’t use a rule to draw a line between sin and holiness.
“The range of formal and informal rules men used to control women creates an environment that breeds shame. Fear and hypersensitivity to mere social guards push one inward, into hiding, not wanting anyone to see what you might have said or done. A good reputation is quickly lost, only regained at a slug’s pace.”
Look at this! Now he goes back to discuss the appropriateness of setting rules, and blames the devastation and shame on men’s habit of “controlling women” (c.f. feminist boilerplate rhetoric).
Is he actually fearful that illicit sex is incompatible with virtue signaling within intersectional feminism??? Has churchianity sunk this low? Get out!
That sentence in bold is loaded.
First, the idea that “men used rules to control women…” Let’s back up. Rules are made to protect good people from those bad people who would otherwise capriciously break those rules. Rules are also for kids who can’t understand the reasons why there need to be rules. So in effect, Mr. Wu is admitting that women are like bad kids, and that they have no moral agency, but setting rules is not the right way to handle it, because shame.
Secondly, that “the rules create an environment that breeds shame…” Shame would only result if someone intentionally violated the rules (which IMO, young women feel entitled to do all the time). Concerning the environment, enforcing discipline on one who violates the rules is the purpose for having rules in the first place, that is, to protect the others and give them safety and security.
I guess I need to dumb this down even more. Children, if you don’t follow the rules, then you will get into trouble!
But we’re not just talking about rules, are we? We’re talking about Biblical Law under the Covenant. If we think that Biblical Law is merely a collection of rules, things we have to do if we hope for God to bless our marriage or to earn salvation, then we are immature kids at best, and legalistically self-exonerating Pharisees at worst.
Again, rules are created to preserve the social order, and to protect it from those who don’t care about preserving it. We’re free to go against that order, we’re free to “break the rules”, but if we choose to do so, then we should expect to lose out on certain blessings as a result. Doing so only proves that we are incapable of integrating into the covenant social order, and therefore are not deserving of the benefits of said order. If one has inflicted significant damage on the social order, then a punishment is warranted in order to teach one not to continue down that path, and to serve as both a security and a warning to others.
One of the many purposes of the Law was to give us a warning about the consequences of our choices, and a promise of blessing if we obey. The whole idea behind Biblical law is that we are better off if we trust and revere God, and try to live in harmony with His ordained order. The problem is that the order is so debauched by Feminism (i.e. converged Churchianity) that it’s impossible to navigate with any confidence or surety.
“Of the making of many rules… there is no end. We need to be wary of going too far. Otherwise, we not only foster shame in those around us; we allow it fester inside ourselves as well.”
Maybe he has a point here. These days, setting rules to reinforce righteousness and to protect the innocent will not work, because the majority have gone astray, even the leaders, and the mountainous task of enforcement would intimidate everyone and sink the whole ship. But on the other hand, maybe this junk should be scuttled.
The Church fails to emphasize the joy of Shalom in Christian community
One, Stefan Stackhouse, left a worthy comment,
“Lost in all of this is any notion of our all being “brothers and sisters in Christ.” The scriptural truth is that we are all that first, and remain so regardless of our marital status. This requires more than basic respect for each other, and must go on to kindness, consideration, caring, compassion, and helpfulness.
Of course we all need to maintain proper boundaries, especially young adults. Unfortunately, this so-called “purity culture” has reduced what should be their sisters in Christ to mere potential breeding material or forbidden fruit in the eyes of what should be their brothers in Christ. How is that really any different from pornography? Both, at heart, are just objectifying women – objects for self-gratification, potential or actual. Christ calls us to see each other instead as subjects for our unconditional charitable love.
A real brother in Christ would never want to do anything to harm a sister in Christ, but always to seek what is best for her. This is the true and solid ground for a proper and healthy relationship between young Christians of different genders.”
Here here, we have forgotten the blessings of Shalom! Feminism has objectified women to the point of being degrading, and the church tacitly looks away.
- Wintery Knight: Don’t Dismiss Best Practices For Christian Living As “Legalism” And “Denying Grace” (2020 September 30)