The Purity Discussion: Not Just For Girls

Recently, I read a good article on Focus on The Family called “Sexy Too Soon,” with the subtitle being, “Combating the Early Sexualization of Our Children.” It was a good article, but it struck me that the article only talks about how girls are influenced, and how we need to teach our daughters purity and modesty, yet completely leaves out the influence over little boys and their need to be taught and to value purity. I’m happy to assume that the writer had a word limit and simply couldn’t fit the other half of the article in, but if that’s the case then the subtitle should read, “Combating the Early Sexualization of our Daughters,” not “Children.”

This article aside, society (Christian society especially) has a tendency to place the responsibility of purity disproportionately on women, and perhaps even little girls. I’m very happy to do my part in showing purity as a value that I hold dear. It’s evident in how I talk, dress and behave in the company of others. But it wasn’t always an easy way to live, especially in my high school and college years.

Sure, I could blame my struggle with purity solely on the media. I grew up under Britney’s anti-purity anthem “Slave 4 You,” and Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrrty.” But what about Sisco’s “Thong Song?” And by that I mean, what about men’s responsibility to purity? It’s not just “bad girls” influencing our daughters, but boys too. More specifically it’s the boys whose parents didn’t teach them to live purely, or to value girls who live purely that made the struggle with purity a defining overtone of high school and college for me.

I knew back in high school that I wanted to date a Christian boy, because I expected that a Christian boy would value purity also, and I hoped that we could avoid that struggle down the road. My first crush on a Christian boy was shattered when he told me he wasn’t ready to date me because he felt that God didn’t want him dating yet. That was okay with me, and I respected his spiritual maturity. Unfortunately it appeared as if God didn’t mind him having sex with the Britney Spears lookalike that sat on the other side of us in history class. (Evidently everyone but me was aware of it.) The girl actually confronted me, “I heard you’re into “Chris,” and I wanted you to know that even though he usually likes dorky girls, he doesn’t date them because they’re too prude.” Ouch. Not only am I a “dorky girl,” but I’m also a “prude.” It’s hard to feel good about your purity in situations like that, and unfortunately, that situation was repeated over and over in high school, and each time I felt the pressure to compromise even more.

I didn’t totally lose pride in my purity until college, when again, the girls who dressed immodestly and behaved the least appropriately were the ones with boyfriends. And it wasn’t the media that broke me down, it was boy after boy who would stop calling me after I wouldn’t go home with him, or fool around in his car. Looking back on it, each of those boys is someone’s son. Someone’s son who should have been taught to live purely, and to value girls who live purely, too. And to leave that message out of the purity dialogue is to ignore fifty percent of the issue.

Eventually I felt like a fool for valuing purity for so long. I actually became ashamed of it! The whole purity fantasy just seemed like a big lie to me. So I began living like other girls had for so long, dressing immodestly (“if you’ve got it, flaunt it!”), drinking, dancing immodestly at parties and clubs, and dating boys that were fun, but only were interested in me because I was attractive and they thought they could use me for my body. And if you have any experience with that lifestyle, you know how undignified and unfulfilling it is; eventually it came full circle and I felt ashamed and embarrassed over my immodestly and ugly behavior. It’s true, Godly men aren’t interested in immodest women, and that’s exactly what I had become. And where were all the Godly men, anyway?

What’s unfortunate is that my story is many women’s story. How many girls and women’s lives would be changed if purity was taught equally to boys as it is to girls? It’s not just telling boys, “sex is for marriage,” and that’s that. It’s showing them real life examples of who’s living purely and who’s not. It’s by sharing with them (when it’s appropriate) your own struggles with purity, to save them from repeating the mistakes you might have made. And it’s teaching them to treasure girls the way God does, and to find value in a girl that guards her purity.

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5 Comments

  1. Christina

     /  September 17, 2010

    ❀ Agreed. I hadn't heard it worded this way, but it definitely voices feelings I've had regarding purity.

    I've heard "guys will be guys" used so many times to explain why they trail after girls who dress or act inappropriately. They are responsible also for encouraging that behavior and not holding girls who remain pure as women worth pursuing.

    Reply
  2. Sarah Linn

     /  September 18, 2010

    Hey Melissa!
    Just read your latest two posts… so true. As a mom of both a daughter and a son, I can see already how it’s true that we place the brunt of the responsibility of purity on our daughters… perhaps because the physical outcomes for living impurely are so much more… visible and seemingly dangerous. But you are so right… we need to bring our sons up this way. You bring up the point in the post… “where are all the Godly men, anyway?” As if you had the time, the book “Wild at Heart” is a great book for men (and women) seeking to know what Biblical man hood is… because, quite frankly, most christians don’t even know what that looks like.

    On the lonliness and loss of self after becoming a mother… you are so not alone. I remember being really sad after Lucy was born. Sad not in the ‘normal’ baby blues way, but sad that life as “just the two of us” was over. Motherhood is so… not what you expect… and again, as if you had the time… let me suggest reading “The Myth of the Perfect Mother” by Carla Barnhill. Totally changed my perspective. Don’t be shy… reach out… seek out things that fulfill you as a person, not just as a mother. It’s only now, 3 years after the birth of my first kid, that I feel I have enough mental and emotional space to carry on an adult conversation and pursue things that I feel passionate about… so… be patient. You’re doing an amazing work!
    Sarah Linn

    Reply
  3. I just came across an article with the same subject at Jezebel that had a feminist slant but says similar things…http://jezebel.com/5643846/six+year+old-cares-about-lipstick-and-other-tragedies-of-early-sexualization.

    Reply
  4. Angie

     /  October 13, 2010

    Excellent! This is something I have long been amazed at how Christian parents seem to neglect. Why do so many think their little girls need purity talks, books, rings and such and yet do none of that for the boys??? What a difference we could make in our children and our culture if we taught this to both sexes! I grew up seeing this inconsistency and I am now a mom of a young boy and am embarking on teaching him purity.

    Reply
  5. Great post. My wife and I are soon to have a little boy, and I so desperately want to create inside him what you talk about – I look forward to growing in him a treasured value for purity, purity in girls and girls in general. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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