The Purity Culture – How to Move Beyond the Fallout

Recently the news has been filled with fallout from the short comings of the purity movement. Many wives in Awaken Love classes relate to the challenge of embracing sex when the only message they heard was, “Don’t do it!” Other women just gave up trying to be pure. Once lines were crossed – whether it was their choice or not – they figured they were already ruined, so why try. And I’ve met plenty of brides that felt confused and angry when sex didn’t feel amazing, even though they followed all the rules. But pointing out the failings of the purity culture only casts blame. How do we move beyond the purity culture, not only for ourselves but for future generations?

Healing for You

If you grew up during the purity movement, you may have related to one of the examples of fallout. Regardless, we all have believed lies about sex and we all have sexual brokenness. Don’t put off working on your marriage bed until years of resentment build. Make it all that God intended by taking an Awaken Love class, joining a Passion Pursuit study, reading my book Awaken Love, or meeting with a counselor. Regardless of where you have been or what you have been through, go after healing. We cannot change the past, but we can take responsibility for pursuing our own healing today.

Moving Forward in The Church

The main message of the purity movement, waiting to have sex until marriage, was not wrong. God created sex as a way to unite marriages and to create a deep intimacy. Connecting intimately during sex also helps us understand deep intimacy with Christ.

Saving sex for marriage shows trust in God’s goodness and spares us natural consequences. God is not stingy. He wants to protect us from broken hearts, comparisons of past experiences, or creating a habit of disconnection during sex. But when we only hear, “Don’t do it”, we haven’t received the full picture of sex. We need to know what we are saving ourselves for.

God created sex for marriage and it is definitely something to look forward to. Though it will take hard work in marriage to create a mutually satisfying sex life, God creates intimacy through the struggle. Song of Songs shows us the passion and intimacy God intends for marriage. Sex is something worth waiting for.

Single people also need to understand that crossing boundaries does not ruin them for life, like that flower that lost all of its petals. God is a God that forgives and redeems. When we repent, we can start fresh as we learn to live in a way that honors Him with sexual integrity. The church can’t be afraid to share with others what they’ve learned from their mistakes. Let’s equip others to make good choice for themselves. Let’s move beyond simple messages for “Don’t do it” or simplistic answers that convey fear and shame about sex.

Changing the Culture of Sex in the Church

It’s easy to complain about the faults of the purity movement, or throw up our arms because nothing ever changes in church. But I am here to encourage you and say that things can change. I’ve witnessed it.

Start at Home

The truth is that conversations in the home about sex have more of an impact than any youth group message, or sermon. When you grow up knowing that your parents enjoy sex and they aren’t afraid to talk with you about it, you end up with a healthy respect and attitude for sex. As parents, we cannot let message from culture, or porn, or even church, trump the influence that we have with our kids. If you don’t know where to start check out Tips for Conversations, What Do You Want to Communicate, and Creating New Messages for Teens. Work through your baggage around sex, embrace the freedom God intended for you, and start talking to your kids about what they are waiting for and why.

Churches

More and more churches address the topic of sex in a positive way. Recently a local church contacted me because they were doing a sermon series on sex.  They not only hosted an Awaken Love class, but the pastors facilitated the Men’s Edition class for the husbands. As a culmination to the series they invited me and 2 others from outside of the congregation to answer sex questions during church. Not only did we talk about sex, we talked about masturbation. This church normalized the conversation of sex and created a safe place to find answers. The silence and shame surrounding sex was replaced with God’s truth – and it came from the top down.

I’ve seen other churches open up the topic of sex when one individual stepped up. I’ve had lots of ladies seek approval to host Awaken Love video classes at their church. Sometimes the leaders are happy to help and offer a room, office help or even marketing. Other times leaders aren’t ready and the women end up hosting classes in their house.

Either way the transformation ripples out to create conversations about sex with spouses, kids, and in the church body. You do not have to wait for your church leadership to tackle the topic of sex. You can start by inviting a few friends from church in your corner of the world.

Final Thoughts

The purity movement missed the mark for many people. Thirty years later,  during the age of internet and porn, we cannot expect simple answers or formulas to work when we talk about navigating singleness. We must go after healing and embrace God’s gift of sex for ourselves first. Then when we talk to our kids, we become the source of Godly truth and real answers.

Help married couples understand the importance of sex and the freedom God offers. Create a safe place for singles to ask questions, understand natural consequences, and begin a journey of sexual integrity. Open up the conversation about sex in your church and see the impact ripple. Move beyond the purity culture and take sex back from the world.

Restore Vulvar Skin with Julva

Navigating the changes of menopause comes with extra challenges if you love to have sex on a regular basis. When already sensitive skin loses its suppleness because of a lack of estrogen, it doesn’t take much for what used to be pleasurable to turn painful in a hurry. One of the products that I became curious about in restoring vulvar health was Julva, a cream created by OB/GYN Dr. Anna Cabeca. After finally tiring Julva myself for 2 months, I am eager to share about my experience.

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The Basics of Vulvar Skin Care

I have always had sensitive skin that required special care – especially my vulva. With a tendency toward yeast infections, an auto immune skin disease called Lichen Sclerosus, and the challenges of menopause, I finally made an appointment to see a Vulvar pain specialist. I found an amazing doctor who immediately put me at ease by asking questions and listening to my story.  What surprised me most was the importance she placed on the basics of vulvar skin care.  Many of her tips confirmed practices I had already put in place, but these important guidelines might be helpful for you too.

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Understanding Sexual Fantasies

Fantasies allow us to experience pleasure during sex in the midst of boredom, conflicted feelings, or even painful memories. Though fantasies are complex and not simple to understand, let me at least give you some basic insight. I like to think of fantasies in three categories. Dreams, Fantasy to Orgasm, and Ingrained Fantasies.

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5 Ideas for Couples Struggling to Connect After a New Baby

Recently I received an email from a woman that had taken an Awaken Love class. Though she has embraced God’s design for sex, the arrival of another baby has left her struggling to connect with her husband.

I just had a baby about two months ago. During pregnancy and now with an infant and toddler our intimate life has been a struggle. I’m really having a hard time getting in the mood. I have a baby nursing all day long and still have some residual healing that needs to take place post birth. My husband is getting sexually frustrated and I’m sort of at a loss. It feels like I serve the kids all day long and then don’t have it in me to serve him by being there sexually. I feel like my body is just a milk machine. Do you have any advice? Is it okay to be less intimate during this life phase? I just mentally struggle with feeling like I’m ‘faking it’ with him because I do not feel sexual or turned on, no matter how hard I try 🙁 Any advice would be wonderful!

Seasons of life filled with exhaustion present extra challenges. But I am so glad this young mom asked for advice. Instead of letting the lack of sex drive a wedge in her marriage, working together they can embrace the opportunity to redefine intimacy. No easy answers exist for the exhaustion that babies, nursing and raising kids create. So let me just offer a few ideas for couples to ponder and maybe try….

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Anxiety – The Destroyer During Sexual Experiences

One of the biggest destroyers of having great sex is anxiety.  Worrying about sex prevents our body from naturally responding the way that God designed it to. Anxiety draws us into our head instead of letting ourselves enjoy what happens. Worry creates fear about performance that can  cause us to avoid sex. Even a small amount of anxiety can impact connection and enjoyment during sex. Anxiety can make you feel like you are drowning with nothing to grab hold of.

When my husband and I weren’t having sex often, my body often felt nervous each time we engaged. I remember telling my husband, “I don’t know if I remember how to do this.” It took me a long time to relax and to warm up. Each time I felt like I was starting over during sex because I didn’t know my body well enough and trust it to respond. I felt anxious and worried.

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Stepping Into Freedom

Before my awakening, I had no idea how much freedom God wanted me to experience in our marriage bed. Though we explored more than missionary position, I felt uneasy expressing myself. At times I reined myself in out of fear of going too far or losing control. Where were the guardrails? Could we enjoy what the world enjoys? What was okay and what was not? How much pleasure was too much pleasure?

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Adapting to Physical Limitations During Sex

A few weeks ago, I had a molar pulled that had bothered me for years. The recovery of an implant has been slow. With activities like kissing eliminated, my husband and are learning to adapt. Rubbing noses and burrowing into each other’s necks have helped us stay connected during sex. Rather than avoid sex we are learning new things, and grateful for what we have – not unlike a friend of mine.

I will never forget the night that Stacy showed up in class. With eyes that sparkled, and a smile that lit up the room, she rolled into class on her scooter. Years of a physical disability might have limited her mobility but God filled her soul with a passion for living that made me just want to hang out and learn from her.

After reconnecting with her at my book signing party, I asked if she would share a few thoughts to help others challenged by a physical limitation. What follows are her words.

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Finding Miss America

Marie is guest posting today from the mission field. For years has quietly spoken truth to women about sexuality, one woman at a time. This year she discovered Awaken-Love and is facilitating video classes to other missionaries.

I was on my way to another house visit in Asia. Temperatures were sweltering over 120 degrees and no one had air conditioning. I was soaked with sweat down to my underclothes, with my hair flat, wet and clinging to my face. Then I heard a desperate cry: “Miss America, wait”.  Images of Miss America in her tiara and evening gown began to flood my mind, and they just did not mesh with the hot, dusty, dirty streets surrounding me. “Miss America, please don’t go.” I turned around, and a lady who must have been following me began running toward me, crying.

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The Beauty of Our Vulva

God created women with amazing bodies. Our vaginas stretch large enough to birth a baby and still shrink to hug our husband’s penis. Breasts nurse our babies, provide hours of entertainment for our husband, and are sensitive enough to trigger an orgasm. Our clitoris created solely for our pleasure can provide a lifetime of new and pleasurable experiences. And yet, how many of us really know our vulva? Song of Songs 4:7 says, 

You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.

Early Messages

Girls and boys have completely different experiences discovering their bodies. When boys learn to go to the bathroom they form a very hands on relationship with their penis. A part of everyday life, their penis can quickly become a best friend. They know what it looks like, what it feels like, how it changes with temperature and what creates pleasure. Their penis, just a familiar part of their body doesn’t feel dirty or scary.

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