The day I learned I was a hipster/progressive/”current feminist” advocating ‘commitment-free’ sex for all!

And here I thought I was just Catholic (but if I snap out of my “current” feminism anytime soon, I’ll be sure to let you know). ;-)

In the meantime, allow me to give you a brief summary of the pushback to my virginity posts: 

1. Juicy Ecumenism–a website affiliated with The Institute of Religion and Democracy (The IRD)– –posted a piece mocking post-evangelical bloggers. The official Twitter feed for The IRD mentioned me and so, I figured the mocking post was roasting me.

2. However, the pseudonymous author later left a comment saying he wasn’t writing about me. He was writing about…Ann Voskamp. Which was even more confusing because I’m pretty sure Ann is not post-evangelical. She is evangelical. Also? She doesn’t wear hipster glasses. BUT I DIGRESS.

3. And then, yesterday, The Gospel Coalition critiqued me (and the other brave, Christian women who wrote similar posts) for our flawed ‘underlying complaint.’ According to The Gospel Coalition, our underlying complaint “seems to demand that we accept different decisions without critique or even regret.

So, I have some feelings about all this. (Oops. I said the “f” word. Feeeeeelings. Excuse me for a moment while I lay aside my irrational, lady-emotions and put on my lady-brain. Don’t worry, this change of clothing will be ENTIRELY MODEST, ba ha ha)

Here goes:

  1. Regarding the satirical post mocking post-evangelical bloggers: writing a mocking post under a pseudonym is cowardly. Even though the author later clarified the post wasn’t about me (so why was my name tagged in the tweet?), that didn’t make it OK. Ann Voskamp is a friend of mine. If you’re going to roast real people then have the guts to do it under your real name. 
  2. Regarding The Gospel Coalition: the underlying complaint of my virginity posts was NOT a demand that Christians accept “different decisions without critique or regret.Dear Gospel Coalition, if you’re gonna critique my position, at least be honest about my position (pun! pun!). In fact, NONE of the virginity posts I’ve read in the last week (Preston offers a nice round-up list here) have called for “accepting different decisions w/o critique or regret.” The very title of The Gospel Coalition post is misleading! NONE of us are advocating ‘commitment-free’ sex. Good grief.
  3. What we ARE rejecting is a culture of mass shaming, making a public example of God’s precious children and scaring them with fearful rhetoric. 
  4. What we ARE calling to light are the harmful practices and behaviors of evangelical purity culture. We are doing this by sharing our personal stories about how we’ve been affected by the guilting, shaming and public spectacle-making of purity culture. As we share our stories, we experience freedom. As we share our stories, we release shame. Freedom in Christ IS freedom from shame and THAT was the message of our virginity posts.
  5. Furthermore, the women who began this conversation are all Christian women. I, for one, am a married mother of five. I am a Catholic Christian. I believe All The Things. But somehow I apparently approve of ‘commitment-free’ sex? Um, NO. If my kids tried to use that logic on me I’d be all: go get your little lying butt to Confession right this minute!
  6. What this means is that The Gospel Coalition is intentionally attempting to change the conversation AWAY from harmful methods and practices and is inventing an entirely different conversation. Straw man, anyone? Er, straw-lady?
  7. It is such a bizarre conclusion that I can only wonder at the motivation. Was The Gospel Coalition post really about defending traditional Biblical beliefs or was it about publicly shaming, silencing and dismissing the women who were brave enough to speak up about their abusive, personal experiences? SUMFIN SMELLS ROTTEN IS ALL I’M SAYIN’.
  8. No, seriously:
  9. By accusing us of trying to change traditional Christian beliefs, The Gospel Coalition proves it’s not interested in hearing about harmful behaviors within the Christian community but instead, has invented a conversation of its own wherein they–the Gospel Coalition–bring all the women into line by accusing them of aberrant theology. 
  10. Now, where have I seen such dismissive/silencing tactics before? Hm. Oh my frail little lady-brain must be failing me again. Maybe I should just go home and ask my husband….
  11. Quoth the husband: “Elizabeth, I’m proud of you.”
  12. WHAT UP.
  13. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must needs go put on my Red Rahab lipstick and have lots of
  14. committed
  15. Catholic
  16. sex.
  17. (Hipster glasses not included).
  18. And all the people said……..
  • http://twitter.com/rachelisasmith Rachel N. Smith

    AMEN. good job, and thank you for being so brave. Eshet chayill!

  • http://twitter.com/AccidentalDevo Abby Norman

    A. Men. Also, how interesting that there were no man posts to shame. Because there were LOTS of dude voices that were conveniently forgotten.

    • Holgrave

      I can’t speak for Mr. Gingerich, but my satirical piece was specifically directed at Tony Jones.

      • Anonymous

        Well, Mr. Gingerich posted your article on “Juicy Ecumenism” right? And he also personally RT’d the IRD tweet that mentioned my name. So, clearly he thought I was one of the ones you were mentioning. Just sayin’. :)

        • Holgrave

          Yeah, see my comment above.

    • Anonymous

      Very telling, indeed!

  • sarahlcc

    AMEN!

    And EE, I am serious, you need to read the book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck. (if you haven’t read it already) I WILL SEND YOU A COPY if you want, I have extras!!!

    • Anonymous

      Send it! I haven’t read it. I will email you my address! YAY!

  • JoAnn

    AMEN!
    The whole thing is very confusing. If you were FOR free sex (whoohoo!) then why would you be so upset at other’s saying that? Unless you had secret motive, like…what? My brain just exploded. It just doesn’t make any sense.

  • http://twitter.com/profligatetruth Caleigh Royer

    Amen and hallelujah! well put, Elizabeth.

  • Kimberly

    I think that “shame” is realizing that you do sin and recognizing your sin. Yes, we are freed from the bondage through Christ, but that doesn’t mean we should never feel shame. We are blessed we are forgiven because none of us can ever be perfect. I also really do not know about the “purity culture” with which you speak. Should evangelicals NOT encourage purity within their youth? Purity rings are just a symbol, to get kids to think BEFORE they act. They are not wrong anymore than little girls who are getting their First Communion are wearing mini bridal gowns. I believe church can only do so much for any of us…it’s up to parents to help them understand if they do not get it. I’m not saying those articles are right either but it’s just that I’m not getting where you are coming from with some of the articles I see you write. And yes you should write posts defending your position. I think it’s just that I don’t always get your position. This is not a critique insomuch as it is a conversation. I think it lies in the fact that I came OUT of Catholicism and into more Evangelical churches where I learned everything about the Bible I didn’t know having grown up in the Catholic Church. And don’t get me wrong on that either, I love Catholics. I just have a doctrinal disagreement. That being said I’m not sure it’s even right to post this….perhaps we all should focus on that which we have in common rather than our differences? Just a thought. Not sure I’m right or wrong.

    • herewegokids

      We should feel shame. But we should not be ‘shamed’. Notice how Jesus treated the woman caught with the Red Rahab lipstick on. And it was in marked contrast to how the religious men of the hierarchy had acted…..which is really the issue here. Well, part of it. The other (huge) part is that the religious male hierarchy and in some cases female enablers….have decided they get to define what constitutes ‘shameful and immodest’ and it’s just silly. And dysfunctional. And there’s not nearly as much of that going around in Catholicism so it’s not surprising that you wouldn’t get it. Count your blessings.

    • http://twitter.com/rachelisasmith Rachel N. Smith

      i think you are confusing shame and guilt. guilt is a feeling we get when we have done something wrong or wronged another, and we feel conviction. Shame is a feeling that who we are, our core identity, is wrong or bad or dirty. Guilt we can ask forgiveness for and receive it, and move on. Shame is much more insidious. I don’t think we are meant to feel shame about things for which we are already forgiven. I think those shame feelings are what keep us all from operating in the way God would want us to, as beloved children.

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      Yes, it does have to do with the fact that you came OUT of Catholicism.

      I was shocked to hear about purity culture. For most Catholics, it simply does. not. compute. The Protestant “purity culture” is very different that the Catholic idea of purity or chastity.

      A purity ring isn’t just “think before you act” (Which is a completely Catholic way of viewing it, BTW.) It’s not like a scapular or religious medal. It is a sign to the world that advertises virginity. Lose your virginity, off goes the purity ring. Forever.

      That’s not healthy.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, there is a difference between GUILT and SHAME. Guilt is the feeling we have when we realize we’ve done something wrong. WE can feel ASHAMED of our sin but that still does not give license for others to SHAME us or GUILT us. True contrition is not about SHAME, it’s about confessing, turning away from our sin and making amends through a new way of living. :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/txmom2jami Laura Jinkins

    AMEN!

  • TheresaEH

    AMEN!! I do believe you are becoming a “thorn” in the side of some people eh ;p
    After reading that post and then reading the comments from that post, I am thinking your next book should be titled “The Perversion of Purity”.

  • http://heathershodgepodge@blogspot.com HeathersHodgepodge

    Amen!
    But, if I may raise the question (and others have probably asked this before and I’m simply unawares), how do we say sex outside of marriage is wrong without shaming? How do we call sin for what it is without casting stones? I am 100% with you and the others who have posted about this. I agree that the purity culture we grew up in can cause more harm than good. So how do we do it better? How do we stress the importance of waiting without condemning those who haven’t, or idolizing virginity?

    • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

      this is my question too- one possible way (I read it somewhere lately…) is to describe premarital sex as opening a Christmas gift before the day- it is better to wait (but NOT using used kleenex type negativity)- also- while virginity is great (I’m glad I was)- it is not ALL that a woman is (yes…men are almost out of the discussion)…I hope EE will development this issue more- I think just about all of us hope that our children refrain from sex before marriage and have healthy sex lives within marriage….how to increase the odds???

    • Amanda

      What if, instead, we were to say, “I know you are going to have desires to have sex before you are married. Although Jesus loves you either way, as will I, God gave us sex to make children, and express love between husband and wife. Sex is very special, and if you wait until marriage, you will get to share that special moment with your spouse, and only with your spouse.”

    • http://twitter.com/SecreteDisciple Secrete Disciple

      I think we need to stop talking about waiting….

      We need to have a sexual ethic for single people.

    • http://twitter.com/mmgutz Melissa Gutierrez

      I think we stop asking each other how to do this, and start asking other people about their lives — what they’re doing, what they think, and why. I think this is really hard to do in a non-defensive way. “Why?” can be such a weapon, or the biggest present ever. I hope I can make it be the latter!

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    Love when you get out your soapbox, woman.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve learned from the best. Hint: you. ((hugs))

      • Anonymous

        So while you’re both here, can I just tell you that you I adore the both of you? I’m so glad for the brave and wise and good humoured Sarahs and EEs of the post evangelical, current feminist world. ;-) (and Sarah, I spelled humor wrong just for you, love.)

  • Devon Van Essen

    I’m loving these posts about virginity and purity culture. Especially since they nicely complement a book I’m reading, a cultural history of virginity called Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank. Besides being very thought-provoking on the issue of how people have defined virginity through history and why it has become such an powerful (and dangerous) concept in so many cultures, the book is full of fascinating trivia: Did you know that wedding veils originally were about keeping the evil eye of witches off the bride, NOT symbolizing her purity?

  • MaryBeth

    I love number 11!

    Also, I sent my sister a link to your blog and she said, “I feel like she’s inside my head!” (In a good way, not a creepy way, haha) We grew up fundamentalist and conservative and have since become Catholic (her) and Episcopal (me). So thank you for continuing to use the voice God gave you and for calling out bullshit when you see it. I deeply appreciate your blog.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Mary Beth (and sister!). Maybe we’re all in each other’s heads AND loins. Wait. That just…doesn’t sound right. Ahem. Anyway, I totally GET it. And if you see me in real life, we can all hug it out and I won’t think you’re a creepy stalker! :)

  • Holgrave

    My satirical piece was particularly targeted at a post by Tony Jones entitled “Is it time for Christians to celebrate pre-marital sex?” I did make a sideline joke referencing her writing style, which seems to have been the focus of a lot of the comments. I have no significant criticisms of what she writes. Similarly, it wasn’t my choice to mention you in their tweet. I hadn’t read your blog prior to my article being published on JE.

    It wasn’t and isn’t my purpose to beat up on women who are coming to terms with some really difficult and even scandalous abuse you experienced in evangelical or fundamentalist churches. Like you, I grew up in that environment (though as a male, I was perhaps not as much exposed to the abusive ideas and assumptions).

    • Holgrave

      By “her” I mean Ann Voskamp — oops.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the clarification, “Thomas.” I’m guessing “Thomas” isn’t your real name? :) Or is it? I’m confused.

      I mean, I thought the piece was sorta funny and I did chuckle. But mostly, please understand that when you DO write a piece like that–women like myself (and Ann and Sarah Bessey and others) WILL feel attacked as we come to terms with the abusive practices. I don’t endorse what Tony Jones wrote in that piece–insofar as he’s promoting a different ‘sexual ethic’–so it DID feel sorta unfair to have myself unintentionally lumped together with him. Anyway. Thanks for the comment, here.

      • Holgrave

        It’s not my real name. Sorry for the lack of authenticity there, but I like to keep my name off the Internet.

        Thanks for your feedback on my piece. I was honestly surprised at all the reaction it got, and if I could do it over I would probably change some of what I wrote to make it clear what I was or was not trying to say. Giving offense to you wasn’t my goal. I appreciate your ministry here. My intended audience was the JE fan base, so I expected polite chuckles if anything. (None of my serious writing seems to attract much attention–oh well!)

        • Anonymous

          Awww, thank you! This actually makes me totally upset for you because it seems like Mr. Gingerich AND The IRD hijacked your post and used it for their own reasons. That sucks. Apology accepted. Hugs all around. Have a great Saturday.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the clarification, “Thomas.” I’m guessing “Thomas” isn’t your real name? :) Or is it? I’m confused.
      I mean, I thought the piece was sorta funny and I did chuckle. But mostly, please understand that when you DO write a piece like that–women like myself (and Ann and Sarah Bessey and others) WILL feel attacked as we come to terms with the abusive practices. I don’t endorse what Tony Jones wrote in that piece–insofar as he’s promoting a different ‘sexual ethic’–so it DID feel sorta unfair to have myself unintentionally lumped together with him. Anyway. Thanks for the comment, here.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy in this Journey

    I love it when you get all up at arms and stand on your soapbox and call things what they are.

    • Anonymous

      Just don’t tell anyone I shared your bed during our World Vision trip to Bolivia. ;-) Or, at least, your room.

  • Liz

    Dear EE,

    I want to be you when I grow up.

    Sincerely,
    (another) Elizabeth

  • Lauralyn

    AMEN!!!

    I’ve been lurking around your blog for a long time, and figured it’s time to comment :) Your posts are always thought-provoking, and I love that you’re not afraid of sharing what you think and why you think it.

    The purity culture in Christianity has become more of a production than anything, and I’ve noticed that it’s aimed more at girls. We’re told if we can’t give our husbands our virginity on our wedding night, we’re not giving him the best gift we possibly could, implying he would love us less if we weren’t “whole.” I’m a cradle Catholic, and while purity is definitely important to Catholics, I never felt it was shoved down my throat or that I would be less of a person if I happened to mess up because God’s grace and forgiveness was right there if I was repentant. But I also grew up in a charismatic ecumenical Christian community, and many of my friends were mega-church Protestants, and I would attend chastity rallys and youth group with them from time to time, and the sense there was basically “if you mess up, you’re damaged goods” and that God would forgive you, but you’d seriously messed up your life for whoever you’d marry. They probably didn’t intend for that to be the message we got, but we got it anyway. So we signed our purity cards and wore our purity rings, all the while staying far away from guys. I’ve had a very hard time connecting with men now that I’m in my 20s, and I think there’s a fear that someone would see my attraction, and the message in my teens was that that just led to trouble, so I shove it down and tend to come across as stand-offish to guys even though I don’t want to come across that way. I learned to guard my heart *too* well.

    So, all that to say, while I advocate purity and think it is excellent, there has been an unintentional backlash from it, which is highly unfortunate. There has to be a desire to remain pure because that’s what God wants for us, rather than a desire to remain pure because of fear.

    Thank you for writing so boldly on this subject. Few people have the courage to do so. God bless.

    • Anonymous

      Well, howdy! Thank you so much for the kind words. I sincerely appreciate it! :)

    • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

      Virginity is very different for Catholics. Yes, it’s important, but if you mess up, you can go to confession. You’re not damaged goods. Go, and sin no more.

      If you read the Catholic blogosphere, true love is as likely to come after a out-of-wedlock positive pregnancy test (Choose Life!) than to wait.

      My wife, K, grew up around the evangelical “Purity culture”. Although she never bought into it, she was definitely affected by its very warped view of relationships, sexuality, and theology. Growing up Catholic, I had no idea about any of this, so this “impromptu sex week” started by EE and continued by others has been very informative and healing for us.

      Catholic sexual “issues” are more related to sex in marriage than outside of it. Sometimes the teachings can be presented in a very legalistic, overly technical way with a particular fixation on reproduction. This can be VERY harmful in a marriage. It’s not supposed to be a series of rules, but, unfortunately, that’s often how it is presented.

  • http://twitter.com/frognparis Rebecca Erwin

    amen

  • http://twitter.com/SavedSister7 Wendy Douglas

    I am so thankful for sisters like you and Sarah for bravely putting your hearts on a page. You all encourage and challenge me to be able to do the same.

  • Guest

    AMEN!!

  • Shawna Benedict

    This is fantastic and I love it. Thank you!

  • Anna Whiston-Donaldson

    Amen! Thank you so much for these posts. I am a mom of a daugther and they have given me so much to think about.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Amen! Preach!

  • http://twitter.com/wrenartist wren

    AMEN.

    Keep up the good work, lady. It’s you and all the brave women who are speaking up that give me hope.

  • Amanda Crook

    You make me so proud to read your blog!!!! You Go GIRL!!!!! Jesus is not about shaming humans (men and women) about sex! He is about coming as you are, loving others, treating others with RESPECT!!!!! Should we wait until marriage for sex? Yes. Should we shame those that don’t? No. Should we tell our daughters they are only worth their hymens? Definitely not! There is so much more to my Jesus than my hymen, (or lack thereof). Am I a virgin, no, does Jesus still love me? YES! I regret nothing because of Jesus, because I know He has forgiven me, and I know He loves me with (or without) my virginity! Reading my Bible, and learning more about my relationship with God has helped me move on from my mistakes and grow from them.

    People like your “accusers” (same world the original Greek text used for Satan, btw), fit this quote from Ghandi, “I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity … The trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings”.

  • http://twitter.com/SecreteDisciple Secrete Disciple

    Amen!

  • Stuart

    ” Freedom in Christ IS freedom from shame and THAT was the message of our virginity posts.”
    I don’t want to be accusatory, because I’m as frustrated with the Gospel Coalition’s response as you are, but I’m just going to be totally honest. If that’s the point of the virginity posts, why could I read them and miss that? I guess I would just like to see that articulated so that it’s not taken wrongly. It’s kind of like the theater principle: If its not absolutely explicit, people are going to miss it. And I know you don’t want to communicate that free sex is A-OK, soaybe just being a little more careful would help with the confusion.

  • Gloria

    Thank you for being extremely direct in #4 about why we talk about any abusive ways. The same thank you for #9. Sometimes it seems like if something is said, such as abusive or even heretical ways in the church, it’s not the person abusing or teaching non-Biblical doctrines that gets corrected, but the person who is bringing it to light.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahnmoon Sarah Moon

    love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/becca.fullerton.5 Becca Kempe

    Amen. And thank you.

    Thank you for your post. And thank you for standing up for yourself. And thank you for offering a narrative about sex that includes grace and conviction and humor.

  • http://www.jessicaclemmer.com/ Jessica Clemmer

    Loved your response, and the humor within. Especially the “frail little lady brain”. And thoroughly enjoying the conversations the past weeks as well. I just want to stand up and cheer for the whole bunch of you truth-tellers!!

    And I, for one, am thankful we are not living in the law-days of checking the virginal sheets, and that we are worth more than our hymens, because frankly…that ship sailed in the unfortunate meeting of my bicycle with a fence when I was 10 years old. Just sayin’… ;)

  • Ty Alexander Huynh

    Good comments, Elizabeth. People should not be making mocking comments at all unless they are being friendly with one another. One thing I must note, though, is that the freedom in Christ the Bible speaks of is not about being free of shame. True we are free from shame, but the Bible is talking about the freedom from being condemned to eternal death by getting eternal salvation. It is important to use God’s Word in correct context at all times.

  • http://twitter.com/erikalifeartist Erika Morrison

    I don’t know about “all the people”, but this girl still thinks you be DA-smartest-BOMB!!!

  • http://twitter.com/thatsjackstoyou Jackie Turner

    Amen :).

  • http://ear-sword-miracle.blogspot.com/ Miles O’Neal

    8. And all the people said……..
    Bwahahahahahaha!!!!

    Brilliantly said. Although it’s nobody’s business whether you wear hipster glasses during your business…

    The irony I didn’t see anyone mention was that all this was on the “Juicy Ecumenism” blog. Given the subject matter that really cracked me up.

  • Rachel

    Okay…so if that is what you are saying, then cool.

    But I also got a different impression from your original blog post, as did many of the commenters. Even many of the comments to this post, seem to imply that waiting to have sex until you are married is a great idea but not an issue of sin.

    So, I am a bit confused about where you actually stand on these things.

  • Samantha

    I just love the assumption that because I don’t want have all my value as a human being based on whether or not I have a hymen is somehow equal to me no longer caring about morals. Brilliant, that logic be.