Toxic Purity Culture and being bonked on the head

I had not thought that my desire to please everyone and my desire to figure it out, to make myself responsible for everyone else’s happiness had maybe come, in part, from toxic purity culture.

I have begun to think that maybe my hatred of my body or my own wants and needs came in part from purity culture.

All I did was read an interview and I had some “oh holy shit” moments. That’s me! I haven’t even read the book yet and it’s hitting hard. I want the book, let’s just be clear on that.

You should read the full interview here:

It made me think, though. A lot of things I’ve grown up with: feeling like a bad person if someone notices my body, feeling like a bad person if I like my body and want to dress in a way that shows that, feeling like it is rude for things to go wrong when I’m around because I assume it is my fault somehow? I didn’t realize how a lot of this can be linked back to purity culture.

Thankfully I’m with someone who sees me and loves me and who calls to the deeper parts of me. But I am still learning to love myself, as we all are.

I wonder what purity culture has done to men. I wonder what it does to a person to grow up hearing that if you wait sex is gonna be bomb and you’ll get the smoking hot wife. I wonder what it does to you to hear about the other gender described as chewing gum or as a gift for you. I wonder what it does when you grow up and those gifts don’t seem as excited to be with you, or they don’t believe you’re entitled to them. I wonder what it does to grow up hearing that your wife should submit to you and that it’s a woman’s responsibility to protect you from your own lust? I wonder what it does to you to grow up being told that you’re some uncontrollable sex fiend. There has to be some sense of glass-shattering when the girls don’t want to be your gift, when they don’t want to submit like you were told they should, when the things the men in your church did with their wives don’t work for you, when you’re not tempted every second of the day to have sex like they said you’d be, when your girlfriend wants to be your equal, dare I say your helpmate? There has to be some confusion and upset at things not matching up, or even in realizing that in this massive mistake, you now have so much more work to do? Not only to unlearn and relearn what it is to be a Godly man, but to even earn the trust of the women you were made to believe would love you just for making the first move? There has to be some frustration that you now have to unlearn for yourself, correct the mistakes of others, and earn the trust that we as women were basically given every reason not to give to you?

Maybe I’m oversimplifying or getting all the messaging wrong here. What DID guys get taught when the girls were having the “don’t show your shoulders” talks? How has purity culture hit our men hard? What other ways has it affected me that I don’t realize yet?

In other news, getting bonked on the head. I heard a lesson today in which the pastor said that a lot of people teach that the “rod and the staff” as mentioned in Psalm 23 is a tool of discipline, to whack the sheep when they’re misbehaving. I have definitely heard that. I’ve even heard it comedically, like, haha, God hits us to help us sometimes, and that’s okay, cause it’s Godly discipline!

But this pastor said that even though that’s what’s taught a lot it’s not really an accurate explanation of those tools. The rod and staff are used to guide the sheep. The rod and staff are used to ward off (or hit) animals that might want to hurt the sheep. The rod and staff, if it’s a real fancy shepherds hook staff, might be used to yank a sheep back from danger when it’s going the wrong way, in an emergency when you need speed.

The rod and staff are not used to hit. This sent off alarm bells in my head. Have I been taught an outright lie? Have I been taught an outright lie that has God hitting me as a form of discipline?

So when we got home, my husband and I looked that up.

It’s true. The rod and staff are for guidance and fighting, not for whacking the sheep. The sheep need to trust the shepherd and they’re not very bright to begin with. Whacking them doesn’t accomplish anything. They don’t even see very well in front; it’s more to the sides. So they tend to wander off where they can see, and the shepherd just has to pull them back in. It’s not a violent thing because why would it be?

This brought up another interesting point. “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, which is not a Bible verse but more like a very popular paraphrase, is a pretty common one to throw around when the subject of parenting comes into play.

To spank or not to spank? Consequences are important, yes, and no one wants little bratty children who grow into big bratty adults, for sure. But a lot of people use this paraphrase of this one verse (holy crap it’s one verse and how many people have I heard say you shouldn’t build a doctrine off of one verse? It’s ONE VERSE and it’s not even that, it’s a paraphrase!) to claim that spanking is Biblical.

I have grown more and more uncomfortable with the idea as I’ve gotten older. I know that some of the phrasing that comes with it (this will hurt me more than it hurts you) has helped to do me a great deal of harm, even though the intention was good. I wasn’t spanked much as a kid, but the thought of disappointing my parents was terrifying.

We found an article that went in depth on this whole issue. You can find it here:

This article felt like something I had been waiting for a long time to read. No matter how uncomfortable with the thought of spanking I was, and no matter how confused I may be as to my faith right now, there are certain things that you just know you have to accept as right and wrong or even just best practice. I was going to be so sad to give my future children the only effective form of discipline, but if it is the right parenting way then I guess I have to. But I really really didn’t want to. This article has got me excited. It felt like something I’d been looking for, hoping for.

I was waiting for someone else to speak the answer because I don’t trust myself. I should trust myself more.

The idea in the article presents a much more difficult and intentional concept of parenting. You HAVE to be. I love that.

Anyway. I’m excited and I’m mad and I’m a little heartbroken and I’m deeply happy over all of these things at once. Thanks for reading my disorganized jumble.

Here’s one more source:

3 responses to “Toxic Purity Culture and being bonked on the head”

  1. Andreas J. Avatar

    Dang. This is a great read. A lot of thoughts, a lot of realignment, a lot of glass shattering. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dan Avatar

    Gotta cook on this one. Child discipline; 2 year old has somehow disassembled an electric outlet. A live one. You come around the corner and he has one un insulated wire in one hand and he is reaching for the other. If he touches it with the other hand he will die. Period. You (pick from what I’m hearing parents do):
    1. Say “Johnny please put that down!” Johnny does not comply. You say 1…2…
    2. Say “No No Drop that!”

    Given proper conditioning, which of the two above will result in immediate release of the outlet?

    We have to love our children enough to condition them to respond immediately reflexively. A discussion of electrical theory won’t work. The child has to respond from training that does not require reasoning.

    1. Moriah Reif Avatar
      Moriah Reif

      I agree that children should have a reason to respond immediately. I just don’t think that reason needs to be fear of being hit, but rather a respect for the parent and even more importantly, a deep trust. Certainly there are natural consequences. “Don’t touch the hot stove” disobeyed results in a hurt hand. But it doesn’t come from the parent, it comes from what the parent was protecting their child from. Ideally the kid won’t get hurt at all, but disobedience happens and is often a teacher, just like natural consequences should be a teacher for all of us no matter our age. I am not saying children should not be obedient or listen immediately. I’m just saying that the reason they listen should be because they trust that the parent knows what they’re talking about. This isn’t a great example because I am not his kid, but I DO trust my husband. The other day we were chilling on the couch and he suddenly tells me not to freak out and not to move. Without hesitation, I did as he asked because what was literally going through my brain was “there’s probably a creepy bug on me, but if I reserve my freaking out for later, I know he will take care of this because I trust him to”. And I was right. He just got the bug and I didn’t have to see it or deal with it because he took care of me. I knew that I could ask all my “oh my gosh what is it” questions later because I wanted to give him the space to do what he needed for me. That’s not the same as a life-threatening situation, for sure. But the principle, I think, can be transferred. Little Johnny should begin to learn that when Mom or Dad gives a command, it’s for good reason, and that he can trust they know what they’re doing. He can ask questions or make protests later, but he knows that in that moment, he wants to be still or to drop the cords or whatever the parent said, because they love him, have protected him in the past, and must have a good reason. And then once he’s let go and they’ve scooped him up, maybe he will be naturally curious as to ask why, and this can lead to a wonderful scientific discussion. I just feel like there’s got to be an in between. I don’t think one needs to go either all out in physical discipline or all out in bargaining with a child. I think that when children are young, they need to be protected and trained. But that doesn’t mean they need to be hurt. Hurt will come no matter what we do. Whether it’s the hot stove, careless words, or mistakes made by adults in their lives, hurt will come. Our job as parents is to train the children to know what is right and wrong, what is damaging and what is helpful, and to understand that every decision and action has consequences. I don’t want to teach my future kids how to avoid getting spanked. I want to teach them how to determine what in real life is going to be detrimental for them. Then when they are older, they can determine for themselves that they want or don’t want the things I used to tell them they couldn’t have, because they’ll either have been warned of their effects or have felt them themselves.

      I want my kids to know that I am not lying to them, that everything I do is out of love and nurturing for them, and that my role is to protect and teach them, not control them.

      Thanks for starting a discussion! 😀

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