God's children are never "'damaged goods."
This sentence was all I needed to hear. Suddenly the whole purity movement fell apart at its very core and although I had never been an adherent, the way I dressed and saw myself as a woman while being in the evangelical world was shaped by this sub-culture. And it was all based on a lie; a lie that says grace isn't enough, that you can be damaged beyond repair.
But grace is enough.
Grace covers all of our sins, whether of body or mind. That is the hope we have, the good news - the great news. We aren't damaged beyond repair. We can be fixed, and God is in the fixing business, making us new creations on a daily basis. Grace is enough.
And what about this obsession with the body and the neglect of the mind? If we need to be pure - and we do - why should we not be pure in mind and spirit? Why not insist all young people never lie or deceive, and that one lie is enough to disqualify them from marriage? That sounds rather absurd. But if absolute purity of the mind is absurd, why is it not absurd to say that having sex before marriage makes one impure, makes one damaged goods.
Perhaps the anxiety is based on the very real risk of an unwanted pregnancy. It's not something to laugh about, but the answer isn't less sex education, we need more sex education. And not the kind that talks only about abstinence. We need sex education that is based on science and not superstition, just as we need to provide access to free contraceptives without the lectures. But, you say, will this not promote promiscuity? Only if we promote a view that women are objects. If we, on the other hand, talk about men and women as people who make decisions, we promote a healthy view of humanity which allows young people to make their own informed decisions. We do this when it comes to driving. We send our teens to driver's education, hoping they'll learn to drive without crashing. But if they do crash, we take them to the ER, and no one thinks to say, "You are now damaged goods, your license has been revoked for life."
Come to think of it, if we would talk about innocence instead of purity, we would make it the business of grownups to protect children from harm and introduce the subject of sex to teens as something positive, something that belongs to the world of grownups. We do this with most things and no one thinks twice about it, for really, we want our teens to grow up without feeling the pressure of having to become adults too fast, but neither do we want them to remain children forever. Sex is just one of the many things our teens have to learn to deal with before they begin their own lives. Hiding the facts and shaming young people for their very real feelings is not going to produce anything other than guilt, and guilt cripples.
Grace is enough for us. Let's accept it.