A great piece on Fresh Air posted yesterday. So much of it rang true for me. I ended up walking away from the faith, but not for any of the reasons that she goes into in this interview or book. Although the purity movement did not do me any favors in my relationships, I see this as a failing of religious doctrine and dogma, not the religion itself.
I have broached this very subject with my mother several times, trying to get her to understand the deep hurt that the church (and she) instilled in me concerning the purity movement. And she just doesn't get it. She is quick to condemn my youth group leaders and the church for teaching me to hate my body, making me afraid of sex, and shaming me. Yet, she pushes away any culpability on her part. When I discussed this interview with her this morning she said, "It isn't the job of the church to shame women about what they are wearing. That's the job of the Holy Spirit." Basically stating that she *does* think people dress and act inappropriately, but with enough GAWD the problem will fix itself. "No," I told her. "Nothing is wrong with how she is dressed. It doesn't matter. How someone is dressed is not indicative of how pure, wonderful, kind, or good a person is. She can dress in the most low-cut dress in the world and it means nothing about who she is spiritually." It is at this point I should state that I am still in the closet with my family, so my mom thinks I am arguing from a religious standpoint. Then we moved onto the topic of sex and the used up chewing gum scenario (Oreo cookie in the interview) that people use. My mother used to teach a True Love Waits course at our church. I know for a fact that she used to teach this very concept to other young women. Yet, when I bring up how wrong this idea is, that a woman is undeserving of love because she has had sex, she immediately states, "I do believe in purity." Yeah, well, what about young women who have been sexually abused? I mention a girl who I know was in her class. A friend. Melinda was being sexually abused by her step-father who ended up spending five years in jail for it. You taught her that she was a used up piece of gum and no one would want her because she had already had sex. How did you think that made her feel? How many young girls were taught this? How many girls will go to youth group tonight and be taught this exact same thing? The conversation ended abruptly as my mom headed into work, but I know it's like talking to a brick wall. Despite realizing how harmful the purity movement was to her own daughter, she can't help but be judgmental of other young women, assuming that if they dress a certain way or behave in a certain manner, they just aren't listening to God. After all, if you are a good Christian girl who obeys God you will look and act a specific pre-defined way. It took me ten years to get her to admit that what I was taught was wrong. It will probably be another ten to get her to understand that a woman in a bikini is no more or less spiritual than a woman in "modest" clothing. I have no hope of my mother ever leaving the faith, but I would settle for her not body shaming the women around her, especially since she is still involved in children and youth ministries.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.