The Cult of Purity: Part One

Oftentimes, I too am lured by the sleek edges, happy homes, and glossy photos of “the pure,” or the women who were always wholesome. The ones who come from two-parent homes where their families didn’t yell much.

The ones who wore purity rings in high school and joined Christian sororities in college, the ones who then went on to marry at a reasonable age (at 25 or younger) and saved themselves for their one true love who God spoke to them about.

These women often live in huge, well-organized homes with good lighting. And the lighting is important you see; because it allows for picture-perfect social media feeds. Their Instagrams are decorated with photos of the perfect family, beautiful children who begin to prophesy at the age of three, husbands who are too good not to brag about, and of course the “pure woman,” she has perfect hair and expertly applied makeup, she’s fit and eats clean. She’s the woman you could’ve been; if only you’d been pure.

But I am not that woman.

I am not an Esther, a Ruth or a Sarah. I am a Rahab.

Every time I stumble across these feeds, or more accurately, whenever I seek the social media accounts of women who’ve made the right choices in life, I begin to feel a sharp pang of guilt, or envy, your call. It’s not because I fail to understand that social media is a lie, full of filters, photoshop, false smiles, and tricky angles. It’s not because I’ve been bamboozled into believing these women actually lead perfect lives, despite what their accounts and various books say. It’s because I can’t relate. I am a Christian. But I am not an Esther, a Ruth, or a Sarah. I am Rahab.

I am Rahab because I am a woman with a past. Not a past of prostitution. I never worked in a brothel, I was never an escort nor any kind of sex worker, but I have a past none the less.

And my past is what blocks me from relating to the image that purity conjures up: I have never worn a purity ring, I avoided the Christian groups at my university like the plague, I didn’t start serving in a church until last year, God didn’t speak to me about my first love. In fact, I didn’t even speak to God about him until we were at least a year in and not exactly living purely. And wholesomeness was a concept I viewed as inaccessible at best, and a lie at worst.

This hostile view of wholesomeness stems from the image it conjures up: Perfection. Something I can never live up to and something I don’t believe any human can. Yet groups, blogs, and Christian influencers shape their ministry around this false image. And over and over again I have compared myself to the glossy photos of what my life without a past might look like, perfection.

I originally created this blog in order to dismantle the false narrative of purity and to disband the cult of purity and perfection. I am imperfect but I am pure. I have a past but I am made right with God. I am a new creation.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

But then God placed an even greater responsibility on my heart, to build women and girls up, especially those who have a past, and restore their identities in Christ. To use my story as an example, and to share stories with other women in order to free ourselves from shame and the false notion that only the perfect get to experience God’s love, grace, mercy, and a flawless social media feed.

What have you been running from in your past? I’ll tell you more about mine in part two.