Why the obsession with "purity?"
Why is this when our children are susceptible (and have been subjected to) abuse?
Should we really be worrying (or worse, boasting) about them, say, saving their first kiss for the marriage altar, while a significant number are violated in some way during childhood?
We can talk all we want until the cows come home about "purity," but when it comes down to it, we must realize that many people who are sexually promiscuous, or sexual addicts, have been abused in the past.
We run the risk of being the biggest hypocrites ever, being so obsessed with barring and locking the front door, while leaving the back door wide open to the devil.
People do not become sexually promiscuous because they didn't hear enough sermons about sexual purity. Or because they weren't "vigilant" about their thought life. Or because they were too "unguarded" in the way they interacted with the opposite gender.
People become sexually promiscuous because they're wounded and broken. And alone.
And no one is more alone than the victim of sexual abuse or harassment. The victim who has no one to stand up for him or her. The victim who's told to shut up, to remain silent, to withdraw blame, because to speak up would be more shameful than to continue to suffer in the dark.
Because to speak up sometimes means to be in a worse state than before.
I'm no longer surprised when yet another spiritual leader falls, uncovered as a predator. Especially not if they were a staunch advocate for the purity movement; they used that thing to cover their prurient interests, and they benefited greatly from it.
What shocks and horrifies and angers me, is how many people rush in to defend them when they're exposed (IF they're even exposed in the first place.) How many people are quick to vilify the victims, who deserve nothing less than the utmost compassion and mercy.
Why, why in Jesus' name would we ever, ever do this?
(And, yes, there are people who do this in Jesus' name. Taking God's name in vain if there ever was a case of it.)
Such an environment means children grow up in a horrific double-standard: unprotected when young, but expected to conform to a rigid set of rules and behavior once they hit puberty - a rigid series of conduct that would-be predators themselves aren't held to in the least.
Maybe they'll rebel as they grow older, or maybe they'll conform, outwardly. Maybe they'll even create their own rigid structure that they religiously adhere to, in an attempt to deal with the shame, and the self-condemnation - to feel in control again.
I'm not sure if my personal exposure to sexual harassment (from the age of ten) was directly responsible for my adopting a stringent courtship code for myself as a young teenager (there were other influential factors in my life at the time) but it certainly didn't help; it led to a lot of fear, shame and condemnation. Things that feed the whole courtship and purity movement.
My experiences are, by far, nothing compared to the unaccountable horror that numerous, maybe even countless, individuals have been subjected to. Others who grew up in Christian circles, like I did, and some who have, understandably, turned away from "church," because church was never a safe place, but a place where wolves were allowed to roam and eat freely. (It happens more frequently than you might think.)
It seems so incredible to constantly preach a set of behavior that one should live up to, and place more emphasis and concern on that than whether or not someone has been abused in their past.
There is no freedom in this.
Where is the standard that ought to be in place? Where is accountability for predators, safety for victims, and grace for those of us who aren't "picture perfect?"
The sexual purity movement cannot heal our broken and wounded lives. There is no power in empty, carnal rules that merely mask over the power and destruction of sin. No amount of preaching can save us.
Only Jesus' healing and redemptive work can.
The only way to be pure, in its truest sense (and by "purity," I'm not referring to an outward behaviors at all) is by being washed in the blood of Jesus.
Jesus washes us in His blood, and empowers us, so that we can stand for truth and righteousness, and stop walking in shame.
So that we can become so much more than what our past wants to define us as.
So we can stop casting blame and start offering healing.
So we can start protecting the vulnerable and the victimized among us.
So that everyone knows they are loved and valued, for who they are, and not for how they "measure up" or conform to an impossible standard.
Let us start valuing the least of these.
Let us let go of this mindset that righteousness and purity can be attained by our efforts.
Rather than speaking down to those who don't measure up to our standards, let us instead begin speaking out for those who cannot defend themselves.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea."