Did you grow up with purity culture? And if so, how did it affect you?

We’re launching in to two months of podcasts looking at how specific beliefs may impact sex in marriage, all leading up to the release of our new book The Great Sex Rescue, based on our survey of 20,000 women. It’s coming March 2, and I’m so excited!

One of the things we covered in our book, but didn’t delve too deeply into, was “purity culture”–that cultural movement in the 1990s and early 2000s that equated purity with virginity, asked teens not to kiss until marriage, and promised great rewards if they did everything right.

We didn’t go into it too much (though we certainly discussed many aspects of it!) because other books had already done that so well.

One of those books is Rachel Joy Welcher’s Talking Back to Purity Culture, which is awesome. And we were thrilled to have her on the podcast today, to talk about unrealistic expectations, and then answer some reader questions with us!

Rachel Joy Welcher
Talking Back to Purity Culture Rachel Whelcher

Listen in to this second edition of the Bare Marriage podcast (we just rebranded from the To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast!). 

And, as always, you can watch on YouTube if you’d prefer:


Timeline of the Podcast

0:30 What is purity culture?
3:21 Are we promised great sex lives if we wait until marriage?
6:45 Does purity culture give us a selfish view of sex?
8:01 Does sex before marriage doom your sex life?
10:20 Virginity = Purity?
13:30 Conservative Christianity could be linked to risky sex?
18:03 RQ: Advice for my daughter who is struggling to ‘stay pure’?
23:58 RQ: A single woman struggling with porn and masturbation
37:45 A discussion on how sexual assault is portrayed in Christian books
42:08 Research on honeymoon sex and arousal levels
47:25 Is more information better when teaching kids/teenagers about sex?

Main Segment: Were you promised great sex if you did everything right?

I decided to delve deeply into one particular chapter of Rachel’s book–the promise that if you do everything right and wait until marriage for sex, you’ll experience amazing sexual rewards. Sex will be great and easy and you’ll have it all the time.

Rachel actually critiqued many of the same books we do in the Great Sex Rescue, with some difference. She focused more on books for singles; we focused more on books for married couples. But we came to similar conclusions–including that Every Man’s Battle calling women “methadone” for their husband’s sex addictions is sick in multiple ways.

Reader Question: How can I help my 19-year-old daughter stay pure?

A concerned mom writes in:

My fantastic 19-year-old daughter just tearfully confessed to me that she and her boyfriend of two years are struggling in their physical relationship. Sex has not happened yet and they are both Christians and want to remain pure until marriage. Due to school and military commitments marriage is out of the question for at least 2 more years. Besides setting up rules for their relationship (never being alone together where someone can’t walk in) what other advise is there? Is there a book that’s recommended?

We had plenty to say about this one (especially the equation of virginity with purity), but you can all chime in in the comments as well!

Reader Question: How do I stop masturbating to porn?

This one’s from a young woman: 

I’m single and very interested in sex and have a high sex drive. I want to experience a great sex life in marriage and have everything that God wants for me, but I’m afraid I’ve wrecked it. I started watching porn and masturbating to porn when I was 14. It’s been hard to stop. I talked to a mentor about it and she said that masturbation is okay without pornography, so I’ve been trying to do that instead, but I find I can’t finish and often turn to porn just to get release. Will this continue when I’m married? How do I stop?

I have other posts on how to break the porn habit, but we talked here about how sometimes our rhetoric around lust and porn makes it sound like you’ve doomed your life, when you really haven’t. Yes, porn rewires the brain. But you know what else rewires the brain? Counseling. Letting go of the porn. The brain is elastic and healing is more than possible!

Again, leave your answers to this one in the comments!

New Research: Most women have lousy sex on their honeymoons

Okay, this one isn’t entirely new research, because some of it is from my book The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, but what I found when surveying women for that book is that about 20% of women have great sex on their honeymoon, 20% have terrible sex, if they do anything at all, and for the rest it’s pretty blah. Follow that up with an informal poll I did on social media last year, and only 52% of women report being aroused the first time they had sex when they were married.

So how can we better understand the sexual response cycle, and make it so that sex is more of a natural progression, even if you wait for marriage, rather than something you have to do right away?

We talked about this a lot last spring when we looked at arousal as the missing piece in many women’s sex lives.

We loved having Rachel on the podcast!

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Things Mentioned in This Podcast: 

Talking Back to Purity Culture Podcast

What do you think? How did purity culture affect you? Or do you have any thoughts on any of our reader questions? Chime in in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find BIBLICAL, HEALTHY, EVIDENCE-BASED help for their marriage. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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