Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed A Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

Book - 2018
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From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianitý™s purity culture has had on a generation of young womeń”in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir. In the 1990s, a ́œpurity industrý� emerged out of the white evangelical Christian culture. Purity rings, purity pledges, and purity balls came with a dangerous message: girls are potential sexual ́œstumbling blockś� for boys and men, and any expression of a girĺ™s sexuality could reflect the corruption of her character. This message traumatized many girlś”resulting in anxiety, fear, and experiences that mimicked the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disordeŕ”and trapped them in a cycle of shame. This is the sex education Linda Kay Klein grew up with. Fearing being marked a Jezebel, Klein broke up with her high school boyfriend because she thought God told her to, and took pregnancy tests though she was a virgin, terrified that any sexual activity would be punished with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. When the youth pastor of her church was convicted of sexual enticement of a twelve-year-old girl, Klein began to question the purity-based sexual ethic. She contacted young women she knew, asking if they were coping with the same shame-induced issues she was. These intimate conversations developed into a twelve-year quest that took her across the country and into the lives of women raised in similar religious communitieś”a journey that facilitated her own healing and led her to churches that are seeking a new way to reconcile sexuality and spirituality. Sexual shame is by no means confined to evangelical culture; Pure is a powerful wake-up call about our societý™s subjugation of women
Publisher: New York : Touchstone, 2018.
Edition: First Touchstone hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781501124815
Characteristics: viii, 341 pages ; 24 cm


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IndyPL_MaryW Feb 11, 2019

What messages are women getting about themselves from the Evangelical Christian churches? Hide your intelligent, men do not like smart women. Men lack control, therefore it is a women’s responsibility to put a kibosh on sex before marriage. Sex before marriage= damaged goods, so if you don’t want to be alone or risk your salvation …... Disenchanted with these messages she received as a youth, Linda Key takes a step back, contemplates her own experiences and seeks to learn how other adult women with a similar faith experiences are faring as adults. While some are content, many struggle. Poor body image, lack of knowledge, and feeling unworthy of love are some of their struggles. Some even have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like symptoms. Will those that were damaged remain faithful to the church, abandon religion altogether or navigate a new understandings of faith? As a reader, I gained insight to the state of affairs for women in the purity movement. I finished the book asking questions. Is it possible for Evangelical Christians to keep their faith and not cause irreparable damage to young women? Where is grace and forgiveness? What other religious teachings and practices can lead to harm ones sexual, mental, and emotional health?

Feb 08, 2019

This book is not perfect, but it is very important.

Nov 26, 2018

I picked this book up because my sister, and now my nieces, are living within the culture described in this book. It made my heart hurt for them, and for the women brave enough to share their stories and others around me silently living with similar histories. I longed to read a memoir, rather than several shorter accounts in this book. I want to learn more about these women, who in their teens and twenties (and beyond) struggle with feelings of shame for having bodies, hormones, and feelings that come naturally to anyone. In many ways, they are like LGBTQ+ , culturally pushed into feelings of shame for who they naturally are. I was left with a little more hope in the end, but also with the impression that like these women will suffer from PTSD for a very, very long time, even if/when they get help.

This is by no means an uplifting book, but it helped me understand and empathize.

OPL_EllyR Nov 02, 2018

This book read a lot like an anthropological study of the impacts of evangelicalism on teenage girls. It's heavy on interview quotations and personal allegory, which I found made for a very readable narrative. Given that Klien conducted about 60 interviews during the research phase of this book, the stories used are well-chosen, compelling, and may strike close to home. I'd call this an introductory read to the subject, with good references for further exploration if it piques your interest.


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