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July 09, 2014


Trevor P.

This question "why does purity matter" seems to me a bit decontextualized (or at least as it pertains to Judeo-Christian doctrine (can't speak about the other faiths), because purity was far more systematic and comprehensive than just "don't have sex before you're married?". The whole "no wives of other nations" and "no idolatry" etc. That's why purity matters, because it plays into the whole system of being part of the chosen nation, but since most of that is right out the window for the run 'o de mill 21st century Christian, the insistence specifically on sexual purity is also decontextualized and yet its ascribed importance in the church is both astounding and absurd.

It seems to me the church frequently cordons off sex into its own little ethical issue rather than being part of the whole picture, which I'm sure creates no small degree of consternation when the questions come up because there simply isn't much in the way of discussion about sex throughout the Bible (in comparison to the many other issues regarding where and how to apply the ethic(s) being advocated by the text). The systems therefore stand on a very ad hoc foundation which generally leads to internal and external incoherence.


Richard Beck's "Unclean" is a nice unpacking of purity in evangelical circles as a largely personal and social boundary-making process. And as you've noted in previous posts, this is all wrapped up in sustaining tribalism - who's in and who's out.

Matt Mikalatos

Almost all of the evangelical "family" material starts to fall apart when you realize that God never prohibited having multiple wives. It's pretty hard not to see most of the arguments as cultural after that.

other ideas

simply because they didn't specifically address 'physiological answers like disease and pregnancy' doesn't mean they didn't have a sense of under which conditions things sometimes went wrong... a good way to keep a mate for life is sometimes under the conditions that said mate has no basis for comparison. (ie: modern divorce rates) Additionally it likely helped reduce relationship-wrecking promiscuity (ie: young girls often bully those they see as 'sluts'). As for why nobody can really explain it, perhaps it comes less from the text and more from paternalistic social norm. In a paternalistic society, the individual is subject to rules, not enlightenment or moral comprehension skills...

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