Gendered Messaging in the Evangelical Purity Movement: My guest post at the Anxious Bench

Klein pureI’ve been a fan of the Anxious Bench for years so I’m excited to have this piece picked up by the editors there. The topic is outside the usual cluster of themes I write about here and I may be overextending myself. But consider it a conversation starter if nothing else. Basically, I use my interest in 1980s evangelical youth culture as a spring board for considering what gendered messaging may have been packaged in the “purity movement.” Others, such as Linda Kay Klein, have raised this question in relation to young women, but this piece reflects on messaging to teenage boys. Here’s a taste:

In a complementarian world where youth pastors, retreat speakers (and most rock bands) were men, it begs the question of gender messaging. Future marital rewards implied that wives were there to provide pleasure for men. As Klein has written, young men were told that although their wives might be lambs during the day, they would turn into tigers at night. Shades of this objectification theology can be seen in Paige Patterson’s comments that teenage boys were simply displaying their God-given and “biblical” urges when they ogled attractive girls, when pastors brag about their “smoking hot wife,” and more recently, in the comments of Mark Driscoll. Even amid evangelical authors with healthier perspectives, good sex is a hot topic—so much so that one wonders if the idea that God rewards abstinence with mind-blowing sex is more prevalent now than in the past …

You can read the entire piece here.

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