Does a Strong Focus on Sexual Purity Help or Hinder Sexual Development?

September 11, 2019

Categories: Sex

I have written in a previous post about a problem that occurs when Christians focus too much on purity—it can hinder our ability to love.

Problems With Sexual Development

Today I want to talk about another problem I have noticed sometimes when there is a very strong focus on sexual purity—problems with sexual development.

How Do You Grow?

Consider this question: In the various areas of your life (e.g., work, hobbies, marriage, parenting, etc.), how do you develop and grow? How do you get better (e.g., working at your job, playing the piano, loving your spouse, parenting your child, etc.)?

The Role of Practice

My guess is you use a variety of strategies to develop and grow in these areas of your life. You might take a class. You might have a training period at your job, where you shadow someone who is more experienced. You might take lessons. You might read a book. But at some level, in order to develop and grow, you probably spend time practicing the thing you are trying to get better at. You try it out, make mistakes, and learn from them. In most areas of our lives, this process is viewed as normal. We are taught to view mistakes as part of the learning process, and not worry too much about them.

Sex is Viewed Differently

For a lot of people, sex is viewed differently. Maybe it’s the strong moral context that surrounds sex. Maybe it’s anxiety about the possible negative consequences of sex, such as pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. But for individuals who grew up with the purity narrative about sex, sex is something to be avoided (at least until marriage). And if you make a mistake around sex, it isn’t like mistakes in other areas. It’s not viewed as normal and part of the process. On the contrary, sexual mistakes are viewed as a destruction of something sacred.

I think the purity narrative can make sexual development difficult. It takes the primary way we generally learn and grow (i.e., practice and learning from one’s mistakes), and makes it off-limits.


What do you think of the purity narrative? Do you think it helps or hinders sexual development?


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