Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's Throw Out Sexual Purity Language

As a Christian mom and LGBTQ ally in the 21st century, how I think and talk about sexuality has to shift.

I read a fascinating blog post criticizing the widespread Christian use of purity language linked to sexuality, and I thought it made some great points. Certainly better points than this morning’s rambling thoughts of mine will make.

Purity is good, but is it what God desires? In any area of life, does God demand purity? I mean, I have only had sex with 1 man in my life, and that was within the vows of marriage, so am I still “pure”? 

I’m not a virgin any more. Does that mean I’m “impure” even though I followed the rules?

God doesn't demand purity: God desires us to be wise. Gentle. Kind. Heck, it’s all in that fruits of the Spirit passage in Galatians: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. I don’t see purity there. Then there’s the famous Love passage of 1 Corinthians about what love is, love being, of course, Jesus’ final commandment before He died: long suffering, kind, not envious, not proud, not arrogant, not rude, not selfish, not easily angered, always giving the benefit of the doubt, not happy about evil, rejoicing in the truth. No purity there either.

Let’s dump the whole purity thing. I don’t want my daughter to be pure. I want her to be strong.

I want her to be, to quote Jesus again, as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. I want her to be kind, generous, loving, wise, competent, and capable of critical thinking. Or as my husband puts it: “a net gain to society.”

What heroes of my faith are pure anyway, besides Jesus? 

Moses and David were cold blooded murderers. Paul was a religious fanatic who killed Christians. Rahab was most likely a prostitute. Abraham was a coward who prostituted his wife to save his own life. Miriam was a leader who tried to usurp her brother’s power. Esther was a harem woman who hid her true ethnicity. Jeremiah was a bullfrog. Wait, maybe not that last one.

Every day my daughter asks me for a “Jesus Bible story.” We learned, eventually, that it doesn’t have to be about Jesus. Sometimes I read straight from the Bible to her. But more often I retell the day’s lectionary reading to her. And because she’s almost 5 and smarter than pretty much everyone I know, I editorialize a little too. Today the story was about the young man who wanted to be good enough for Heaven. Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it away, and the man wouldn’t do it. I explained to Tori why that was not good. She doesn’t have to be financially pure. But I do hope that she is financially generous; that she understands that money is just one of many tools we can use to increase the amount of love in the world.

The Bible teaches about a lot more than sex. I want her to learn about a lot more than sex. And as she gets older, she will learn about sex too. Not just “avoid sex until you’re married.” What is sex? Why did God create it? What is the point of sex? Why does sex feel so good? When are you ready to have sex?

I’ve got another blog post in my head about sexuality and crime. But that’s for another day.

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