Damaged Goods: pursuing purity and sexual liberation

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and just like many Christian households, preparation for morning mass was a must. Going to church didn’t really excite me as much as the job of welcoming church members, first timers and sometimes foreigners.

That day wasn’t an exception. In fact, my excitement was over the top. As soon as I heard, “One Way Jesus” lifted up by the music team, I took off my heels in excitement. 

As shy as I was, all I could do was run and avoid dancing my way to the front of the church. I joined the other ladies who were already soaked in sweat from obviously shouting, jumping, dancing and running.

When the boys went left, we followed. 

When they went right, we did too.

I danced without hesitation and eventually, I took my seat. For a moment, one would scrutinize my explosive excitement and quickly link it to the fact that I was just happy to be in the house of the Lord but that wasn’t the case.

I mean who wouldn’t be happy about the topic that was up for discussion. 

I had always been an enthusiast of subjects that pertained to sex, purity and virginity. I’m not sure anyone would’ve been surprised if they had stumbled on my diary in which I had boldly written “my virginity my pride”. This wasn’t just at church, but in school, biology was a personal favorite. 

Perhaps, to me, worth had everything to do with virginity and losing it meant that, as a woman, I had lost something greatly.

One of the reasons why I question our purity culture today is because we tie the value and how much respect a woman deserves to her total avoidance of sex and sometimes her ignorance of it. Our purity culture champions and over-emphasis the need for girls/unmarried women to be the exact opposite of what it preaches to boys/unmarried men.

For instance, we tell girls “know your worth”. We tell them, that in order to bag a solid Christian man they need to remain virgins. We also say, the woman is the prize and so what happens if she loses her worth?, don’t sell yourself cheap. 

Our myopic interpretation of purity is the reason girls /young women feel like men or boys owe them loyalty after they have had sex with them. We place a prize on the vagina and if any woman enjoys sex before marriage, she’s reminded that she could be subject to disrespect by her husband and ridicule by her society because she is damaged goods. This simply means, as long as she breeches those ideals, disrespecting her is warranted by her partner and society as a whole.

We cage women but allow men to fly. We tell girls, don’t have sex lest you be disrespected by your man, the same man, who might probably have never kept his zip closed. This isn’t to say that it is okay for the woman or girl to do same because the man does it, but it is to point out the ridiculous standard set for women. It is for us to admit that we have done more harm than good to ourselves in teaching the wrong kind of sexual ethics.

Young girls and boys are sometimes made to take purity pledges with the sole aim of promoting a life of abstinence until marriage. Some even go to the extent of giving their daughters purity rings as a symbol and reminder of the pledge they have taken.

I have met young girls/unmarried women who have an inflated sense of self-worth not because they have a degree, or a sustainable income or even a very good relationship with God (even though they aren’t enough reason to feel like you are better than anyone) but just because they are virgins. They say it and take pride in it, which is far from wrong but the problem is that reason is shifted from the essence of purity and watered down to support a screwed social agenda. That social agenda for which we are all partakers of. 

As Christians, we need to educate ourselves and be very honest (always but also) when having conversations such as these. I have gone for camp meetings and sat to listen to Christian women who claim they have never gone “wayward”. Their stories always portray them as the caliber of women the church always advocates for: virtuous, calm and friendly. This makes me very uncomfortable. We are not only being fed with lies, we are also being presented with a “perfect” group to teach us the same lies they were taught.

We put on self-righteous clothes and punish the thoughts of women. We condition them to believe that sex is something they should not want until the time is right and sadly when the so-called time is right their sexual choices are made from a place of shame/and condemnation rather than a place of sexual liberation.

I would’ve said the church is different but it does same, subtly. If it didn’t, it would have a strategy to educate men on purity and self-control as it does women. I stopped attending Christian Women Conferences because women/girls are not given the room to fail and the center of the discussion is mostly men.

Conversations are mostly about purity, marriage and motherhood. As a single young woman without a child who fails whiles on her purity journey sometimes, I would want to hear something a lot different from what is preached or taught. 

I would want to hear how women can become powerful and dominate in their careers/jobs, I would like to hear stories of how women can make it without husbands especially if they have chosen to remain single, I would like to hear such conversations because honestly, we don’t need to portray ourselves in anyway to satisfy anyone. 

We need to have more Christian Women Conferences where we discuss ways in which women can grow in their relationship with God without their husbands/partners being the reason for it. 

Teaching both men and women about healthy sexual choices is a step in the right direction. We need to encourage individuals to have sexual lives that is free from shame and condemnation. Generally, we grow up knowing very little about what healthy sexuality is and so we tend to make very bad choices.

Our attitudes towards sex is the reason some men feel like they own women’s bodies and also the reason some women feel dirty when they have sex with their husbands. Marriages that suffer from the lack of sex or having very little of it, can sometimes be attributed to the kind of vague sexual ethics that has existed over the years. Sex is not something you give, it’s a choice you make to enjoy every bit of it with your partner without feeling guilty.

Another thing that contributes heavily to this ill-information is the fact that some messages are driven by misogyny. I have listened to Pastors and individuals who have consistently placed purity on the shoulders of women. The claim is that men are more sexual than women and so it is the woman’s duty to ensure that sex doesn’t happen. Self-control is an expectation of women but not of men because we believe men are very sexual beings. Perhaps, so sexual that they cannot control their libido. This is a very erroneous notion some have unfortunately come to accept.

Take note of these;

Virginity is not purity. Virginity is a subset of it.

 Purity is more than just sex.

 Do not choose purity because you feel guilty for having sex before marriage or because of your future spouse, choose purity because it is the best option for you.

 Sex is not something you give for in return for loyalty. It is something to be enjoyed.

Self-control/Purity has nothing to do with gender.

Let’s start by teaching our girls that they are whole and worthy, whether or not they are virgins. Your worth and value isn’t measured by who or the number of people you have sex with, the source of your worth and value is Christ.

Let men and women/boys and girls in on what healthy sexual liberation means. Let’s promote purity in the best ways possible.

8 Replies to “Damaged Goods: pursuing purity and sexual liberation”

    1. Hello Eben,
      The intention is never to say anything harsh about men, but to point out the different standards set for men and women that affects us negatively.
      Thanks for reading.

  1. Beautifully written! It’s important to highlight inconsistencies such as this and expose some of the effects of this way of thinking. And shows that sometimes, although a teaching may begin with good intentions, it’s value may be lost along the way and replaced with something that causes more harm than good.

    1. Thank you so much Cindy. It is true. It’s a very good time to have this conversation. We need to identify what harms us and what doesn’t, and apply the good.

  2. “As you advise the cat,you do same to the mouse”..one party is prey to the other.for a typical intercourse between the opposite sex,we see who bares the “shame” the most especially if the parties are not married. Jesus had to save a woman adulterer from being lynched,,until today we do not know who the man was.These matters at church especially in mine is a shame more to the lady than the man,because in most cases the guy wouldn’t even be a church boy.
    But I somewhat agree with the church’s position on focusing on virginity and sexual purity for the female.
    I believe these to be the some of Empowerment nuggets the church can offer young female,abstain until marriage;be sexually pure amongst others.
    Why?
    STIs,Pregnancy which may not be wanted and may lead to abortion which may lead to death.
    The stigma alone in being pregnant whiles unmarried dumps spirit for education and family.
    A young man may suffer the least of these.
    A virgin who thinks she is pure only by being a virgin and yet masturbates or does anything shady leaves little to be desired.

    I see the church’s position to be a protection of the young female.

    1. This is very true. This is why it’s essential to teach boys purity same way it’s done women.
      Thank you so much for reading Cliff.

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