What Can Men Do to Help Eliminate Toxic Purity Culture?

As a Christian teenager in the 1980s, I had an eyewitness account of the rise of the purity culture. From seventh to ninth grade, I attended a Baptist Christian school and well remember my frustration over the hypocrisy I saw there—namely, female students couldn’t wear slacks, our skirts had to cover our knees and touch the ground if we kneeled, and we had to wear culottes the same length for gym class. On the flip side, the male students had no such clothing restrictions and could even remove their shirts during sports practice (which nearly all of them did on a regular basis). When I asked a teacher why it wasn’t immodest for the boys to be shirtless, I was tagged as a troublemaker who clearly didn’t understand my place in the Christian home.

This one example showcases how easily the purity culture can become toxic—and why there’s been a lot of backlash over the past few years about the purity culture and how poisonous it has become. While much of the purity culture itself is focused on women and what our role should be, men too have responsibility to eliminate the lethal nature related to sexual purity.

First, let’s get on the same page as to what we mean by a purity culture. One writer defined it as “the notion that a woman’s place and worth in life is defined solely by how she chooses to express her sexuality, thus implying that her sexual ‘purity’ is her only value.” Toxic purity culture “is anything that adds to or avoids the whole content of God’s commands for sex and sexuality.”

While women have been fighting to change the noxious nature of the purity culture, men should also work to reduce the toxicity residing within the purity culture. Here are six things men of all ages can do to redeem sexual purity.

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