I grew up in the heyday of the “True Love Waits” movement. I never signed a pledge card, but I had a ring that I wore everyday for about five years or so until puberty ended and my hands got thinner and my piano teacher noticed I kept trying to adjust my ring while playing because it was sliding off. I have a new one now. I don’t wear it everyday anymore. I don’t need to. But sometimes I still wear it.
It is a shame that, when speaking about this, I feel it necessary to explain all this. Many people feel that those with views such as mine are simply trying to validate their own sin. I promise you, that’s not the case.
There is a huge double standard, even in the Christian community. While both women and men are taught that it’s sin to have sex outside of marriage, this message gets directed at young women more often. The true love waits movement was much more directed to women. And then there’s the messages we’re given…
As a young woman in the church, I was told, with the other young women, that we were wrapped presents, not to be unwrapped. We were new cars, and we shouldn’t let anyone drive us. Afterall, no one wants a present that’s already been opened or a used car.
I wish I could say I was alone in this. But the metaphors get worse: a flower with no more petals. Chewed gum. If you think women are not really being told these things, you can check out #notyourobjectlesson. It’s real. And, from what I’m gathering, men are not being told quite these same things. As Sarah Galo points out in her article in RELEVANT magazine: purity culture is mimicking rape culture. That is, the way we’re talking about sexuality in the church, particularly female sexuality, links a person’s worth to their body. It links a person’s worth to their actions. As Christians, our worth comes from Someone Else’s body, from Someone Else’s action: our worth as Christians comes from Christ and His action in dying and rising again, for us.
To send this message that women’s value lies in their bodies is to objectify women. It is not something that Jesus would have done. And it’s not something that we should do, either.