If you grew up in purity culture, you may find it nearly impossible to connect with your sexuality in a way that feels genuine and enjoyable. You may experience PTSD symptoms during consensual sexual experiences, even within marriage. You may wonder if the sexual violence you’ve survived must be because you were too loud, too tempting, too alive. Shame may be such a regular part of your identity that you often don’t even notice it’s there. 

The term Purity Culture refers to a movement within the Evangelical Christian Church during the 1990’s that still resides in many church communities today. This movement attaches great value to females’ virginities and preaches that women lose their worth as a spouse and as a Christian if they do not remain “pure” until marriage.

Not only are women expected to remain pure in our own thoughts and actions, but we are also held responsible for the thoughts and actions of the men around us. This paradigm directly supports rape culture.  A woman’s promise to abstain until marriage is often sealed with a purity ring, a written oath, or some sort of religious ceremony. In many communities, the female’s virginity is regarded as a gift from the patriarch(s) in her family/church to her husband. Her body is not her own.

The effects of purity culture are far-reaching and often invade every part of who we are. When we are forced to forego healthy sexual development in our formative years, the results can be devastating. And yet, our resilient brains are just waiting to be rewired. Our hearts are waiting to be healed and our bodies are waiting to be freed. 

The process of deconstructing purity culture can be exciting, painful, confusing, and disorienting. Don’t forget to honor your unique journey with patience and self-compassion. Aiming to reconnect with your body through movement, self-expression, and mindfulness can be a wonderful place to start. Remember that you were robbed of healthy sexual development and you deserve kindness as you awaken this part of yourself. 

You may find it easy to disconnect purity culture from your individual spirituality, and it may feel muddled and marred. It’s okay to not know right now. What’s most important is that you have a support system you can trust.

If this resonates with you, please consider joining our upcoming group Free From Shame: Reclaim your Body from Purity Culture. At Simply Being, your experiences, opinions, and strength are celebrated, not quieted.