Breaking Free of the Evangelical 'Purity' Movement

Author Linda Kay Klein spent her formative years in a repressive church environment

God is omnipresent. Among all his duties, he makes it a point to listen to lustful thoughts. When it comes to the relationship between sexuality and Christianity, the two do not make a comfortable partner. Even contemplation of sexuality is sinful in the Christian world. Only reproduction is authorized as good by the Lord. An evangelical church went a step further: it prized something called sexual “purity.” The church also taught young women in its fold that boys and men are sexually weak, and women are the ones entrusted to keep in check male sexual desire. This is done, as per the church doctrine, by maintaining a sexless body and mind. The women are supposed to take a “purity pledge” and promise to maintain their virginity until marriage. The evangelical church gave such tenets a quasi-spiritual authority by weaving Christian values like compassion, humility, and love into the blend.

Linda Kay Klein was one of the many victims of this evangelical movement. She became a part of this movement at 13 years old. Looking back, it was clear to her that the church has only one overwhelming motive: to stifle the sexuality of women and create a “deep and long-lasting shame” in its practitioners. The sense of shame was so deep-rooted that she felt shame and anxiety when she thought about her sexuality and body. She has internalized the abnormal philosophy of the church.

One way she tried to free herself from the clutches of the church was through writing. Klein wrote her memoir, titled Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free. The book is a tell-all, revealing her tough, complicated past. She also explains the highly profitable business of keeping the children chaste. The church made money from a lot of chaste related products like purity rings and services like abstinence sex education.

The book details Klein's tries to remain a morally upstanding person. It details her self-sacrifice, even at the cost of her own health. She analyzes the conflicting statements offered by organized religion: sex is not to be had until marriage and God loves you in an unconditional manner with a few caveats. Klein describes all these proclamations as a kind of personal “hubris.” She realized all the symptoms she suffered were similar to classic PTSD.

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