Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Dental Dam
Dental Dam
Adebusola Abujade / Her Campus Media
Wellness > Sex + Relationships

The Purity Movement and Why it is Harmful

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SPU chapter.

Growing up in the church meant being taught that my body was a sacred temple and should not be given away to anyone until marriage. Many of the ways I was taught about sex in the church was centerend around the purtiy movement, a movement intended to promote a strict view of abstinence. 

This ideology centers around the idea that if you engage in sexual acitivity ,you are giving away pieces of yourself emotionally/physically, until there is “none” left for your future spouse. This leads young people to be lost in self-condemnation, guilt, and isolation for having thoughts and desires that are developmentally normal and appropriate for their age. 

God hard wires us for intimacy, connection and pleasure,so these thoughts and desires  should not have to be suppressed. I vividly remember learning in my developmental psychology class that we are all born sexual beings and to have these desires is perfectly normal. It is seen everyday in the lives of children (loving, hugging, and engaging in many acts of pure joy-filled pleasure), so these feelings are not something to feel guilty about. 

This movement creates the idea that when one desires pleasure, whether it is real or fantasy, it is considered to be impure or lust, thus meaning they were sinning against themselves, their future partner, and God. 

The mindset the purity movement constructs is an incredibly unhealthy one as you are inevitably being led to a life full of shame. It leads people to believe that not only are they being bad, but that they are fully broken human beings, resulting in hiding their true core self because of shame. 

This then leads to self rejection, which then further leads to rejecting any love from God or others in one’s life because they think that if that person really knew them, they would reject them. 

God calls us beloved and loves and accepts us as is; there is nothing in this world that could ever separate us from the love of God. I believe this purity movement leads young followers to believe the opposite of this, which is incredibly harmful. 

I personally have felt the effects of this shame that Christan culture can put onto others because of the purity movement.It is a feeling I would never wish upon anyone and a feeling I am confident God would never want any of us to feel. As followers of Christ we are not called to judge and shame others, but to love them unconditionally. 

When you are raised in a church and religion that promotes this movement it is incredibly difficult to retrain your brain to unlearn the shame that is promoted within the purity movement. I remember being 19 years old and absolutely terrified for those around me to find out I was going to be moving in with my boyfriend (I know… what a groundbreaking concept). I feared the crippling judgment and disappointment I would bring to those around me. 

This difficult decision that I thought  would bring me shame, turned out to  be one of the most freeing and healing choices. It has opened my eyes to how beautiful the  learning process isas I grow my own personal intimate relationship with God, rather than listen to the opinions of those around me who try to act as if they are God themselves. I have never felt so free of judgment in my life now that I have grown to unlearn the harmful values of the purity movement.

My hope is that anyone reading this, who may currently be struggling with these feelings of shame and judgment, knows how incredibly loved and valued you are. Your worth has nothing to do with the ways in which YOU choose to live your life, whether you want to have sex with 30 people or wait until marriage, you are equally as worthy and loved by God.

Social Justice and Cultural Studies + Psychology Major who aspires to work at UNICEF