By Alison Bowen
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In her new book “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free,” Linda Kay Klein shares the confusing messages she received growing up about sex and talks to other women who were also filled with shame because of a lack of sexual education.
As a young adult, Linda Kay Klein had not had sex, but she was convinced there was a possibility she was pregnant.
So much of what she had been taught about sex was focused on staying pure. What if, even as a virgin, there was a chance she failed by not following the never-quite-explained rules of her evangelical youth?
Klein describes how a culture focused on sexual purity surrounded her when she was a teenager in the 1990s, and how that haunted a generation of girls like her through adulthood in her new book “Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.”
While her church youth group, she writes, often discussed the importance of sexual purity, there was uncertainty about what exactly purity meant. Should you wait until marriage to have sex? Even wait to kiss your partner until the wedding day? Nonetheless, the importance of being sexually pure couldn’t be more clear: To be pure was to be good; to be impure was to be bad and put a future relationship or your soul in jeopardy. Staying pure was directly connected to self-worth and being a Christian, Klein said.
And this wasn’t just a conversation in her Midwestern youth group. At this time, celebrities like Jessica Simpson were lauded for waiting until marriage to have sex, the Jonas Brothers wore purity rings to symbolize a commitment to abstinence before marriage.