Monday, October 08, 2012
Last week, I was invited to the Purity Driven Conference by one of my Christian Facebook friends. These sorts of conferences pop up every so often in Edmonton, under names like "The Right to Wear White." The purpose of these conferences is to encourage young people to abstain from sex until they are legally married. Let me preface this by saying there is nothing wrong with choosing to abstain from sex until marriage. Such a decision should be upheld by one's family and community and should never be mocked - just like any other personal decision about one's lifestyle. However, the problem I have with these sorts of conferences is the pervasive message that those whose vows of chastity have "slipped" or "broken" (just like the condoms that are often erroneously discussed with exaggerated failure rates) are somehow not "pure." It's only logical, that if pre-marital virginity equals purity, then pre-marital non-virginity equals defilement. What an awful message to send to those young people who may have made mistakes, who may have been coerced into something they were not ready for, who may have given in to the messages of our hyper-sexualized society. And what an awful message to those who made a conscious decision to share an intimate part of themselves with someone they love in the absence of a wedding ring. The message is also two-sided: sex before marriage makes one "impure" while after marriage you are as pure as the driven snow, even if you're going at it three times and day and four times on Sunday. Yet the damage has been done - the minds of young people are like sponges soaking everything up. Will the "purity switch" really be flipped on the wedding night, or will guilt and shame join the couple between the sheets? Another issue I have with "purity conferences" is that a lot of the message is aimed at young women. It is as though a large part of our self-worth should be tied up in whether or not our hymens are still intact. If not, we might not have the "right to wear white." Of course that is aimed at girls - men usually don't wear white to their weddings. Young people are best taught to respect themselves, to respect each other, and to make choices that are right for them.