The Cult of Purity: Part Two

Rahab is one of my favorite women in the Bible because of her checkered past. She, like me, does not easily fit into the image that purity conjures. Yet her courage and faith, not only reconciled her with Christ but also made her pure again and cleaved her to a royal family.

Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.

James 2:25 NLT

She married Salmon, one of the spies she helped to hide in Jousha 2. She gave birth to Boaz, who married Ruth. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who was the father of Jesse. Jesse fathered King David and Jesus came from King David’s line. Rahab went from being deemed a harlot to being mentioned in a family line with Christ. So of course even I, with my tattoos and my own unwholesome past, became part of Christ’s family once I accepted Him into my life. Even with my mistakes, I am God’s masterpiece.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2: 10 NLT

Here is a shortened version of my story:

Men were never hard for me to get, I never sought boyfriends or male companions, and I often found myself in relationships or relations (unholy ones) with men, serious men too. The ones who worked in hedge funds, engineering or were billionaire heirs. Though I never bragged about these things or even worked hard to acquire this kind of admiration, my friends and acquaintances saw me as some kind of gem, and at times, I was addicted to the way they venerated me. So I hoarded it.

Internally, this made me feel small and worthless. Externally, I beamed with false pride.

Often, I did not have deep feelings for these men. I was attracted to them, but hyperaware of how incompatible we were. Many of them reduced me to my appearance and were happy with just some kind of trophy girlfriend they could brag to their friends about, I often felt owned by them instead of equal to them. Internally, this made me feel small and worthless. Externally, I beamed with false pride. I even began to give advice to the many women who wanted to be just like me, because they believed their value was in being devalued.

Even though I knew God had more for me, it took me years to understand the damage these flings and relationships caused to my psyche. It has taken me some time to unpack the depth of the impact disregarding God, dishonoring my body and not following His instructions has had on my life. It took me leaving my favorite city in the world, my hometown, in order to fully confront this issue.

And once I became obedient to God, followed his instructions, moved, surrounded myself by “Godly” people, worked at a church, served in church, promised to save myself, the same issues not only persisted but began to reign down on me, with more problems added to the mix. Though it took some ups and downs that I will discuss more in an upcoming post, I refused to yet again become a slave to my flesh and my ego. God freed me from that bondage and I accepted my status as clean, as a new creation, as pure, just like Rahab.

So even if I don’t fit into the carefully curated image of purity in the media, I am confident that Christ views me like royalty, fearfully and wonderfully made. And I am here to tell you that you are too. He sees your mistakes, your past, the trials, and tests you haven’t yet endured, and still loves you.

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.