Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Review of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

When Linda Kay Klein was in high school, she broke up with her boyfriend, convinced that God had asked this of her. Her church had very strict rules about dating and clothing choices and she was often criticized for "tempting boys" with her curvy figure. She left her church after learning that her youth pastor had been charged with child enticement and he had done this at other churches without consequence. As a grownup with a boyfriend, she found herself paralyzed by shame, fear, and anxiety, so she went back home and tracked down her friends from youth group to find out how purity culture affected their lives and relationships.

This book is very, very in my lane. In fact, I had one of the purity rings that Klein describes. I am the daughter of a pastor and remember sitting in True Love Waits classes with the other teens in the church. Today, my sisters and I often talk about finding another way for churches to talk about sex and relationships that informs without shaming.

I think this is what I missed from Pure. Linda Kay Klein does a thorough job of outlining the experiences that she and her peers had as they grew from young girls who had been told sex would ruin them to women who wanted to have sex with their spouses or partners. She doesn't do a lot of embellishing; she records experiences, often without additional insight. But I wanted more--I wanted to know her thoughts, after talking to all of these people, on ways that parents and leaders in the church can talk about sex with our children. I almost felt like this was part one and we are desperately in need of a second part, that will help us to raise kids within the church who know that they are loved by God and by their community, whether or not they have sex.

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement
That Shamed a Generation of Young Women
And How I Broke Free
By Linda Kay Klein
Touchstone September 2018
353 pages
Read via Netgalley

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