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In a recent post from Suspect Press, writer Amanda E.K. shares her thoughts about growing up in purity culture. One of the things she was urged to do was write letters to her future husband:

We read books called When God Writes Your Love Story, The Bride Wore White, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I think it was one of these books, or maybe Brio Magazine (a lifestyle and entertainment mag for teen Christian girls) that sparked the husband-letter trend.

The letters included promises to pray for this unknown boy’s purity and to remain pure for him (though you were unclear where the line was drawn for self-gratification). You let him know your interests, and how close your walk with God was. (“How’s your walk been?” you might add as a postscript.)

The letters were never sent, but collected and saved to present to your husband on your wedding night.

Amanda then shows a printed copy of one such letter, written at the age of fourteen, in which she assures her future, unknown husband that she is guarding her heart and body for him, and prays that he will do the same.

I can already say I’m saving myself completely for you. I pray that you have stayed pure for me, as for others you’d have regretted in my place before marriage. You’re [sic] abstinence will mean the world to me.

I feel I’ve gone off the track, and have started to sound cheesy. I just want you to know I’m a normal teenager with reality on my mind. You mean Heaven and earth to me I hope we make a beautiful family together. May the Lord bless us with many children, and the wisdom to raise them under his Kingdom.

A recent Twitter thread by Amanda asks followers to describe how their expectations about marriage lived up to the reality. (Almost comically, she ended up marrying an atheist.)

If the outrage from those who grew up with I Kissed Dating Goodbye is any indication, women who grew up in this culture were eventually surprised and disappointed to realize that “purity” alone is not enough to guarantee a successful marriage — nor does a “failure” to maintain perfect purity guarantee a disastrous marriage.

Purity culture lied to an entire generation of young Christians by teaching them that good, God-approved marriages are all about sex: not communication, not compatibility (sexual or otherwise). Worse, it shamed women and girls who were left feeling “broken” and unable to be redeemed by past sexual experiences, consensual and non.

If their marriages weren’t successful, it’s likely because they were ill-prepared to handle real conflict — not because they went to the altar as non-virgins.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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