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Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity

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Dianna Anderson offers a fresh approach to the purity conversation, one that opens a new dialogue with the most influential Christian authors of her generation. Anderson's new sexual ethics draw on core biblical principles and set a standard for today's Christians that may be as influential Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Don Raunikar's Choosing God's Best, and Eli Dianna Anderson offers a fresh approach to the purity conversation, one that opens a new dialogue with the most influential Christian authors of her generation. Anderson's new sexual ethics draw on core biblical principles and set a standard for today's Christians that may be as influential Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Don Raunikar's Choosing God's Best, and Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity. Anderson uses her own illuminating experience with the purity movement to: * Reach out to women and men trying to reconcile their own sexuality with their understanding of "what God wants," cultural stigma, and media pressures * Demonstrate how Christian ideas about purity have infiltrated American politics and culture-and why women are losing * Offer an affirmative, healing path for everyone to understand their sexuality: one that reconciles scripture, culture, and common sense Provocative and engaging, she will revolutionize the way you think about sex, abstinence, politics, and faith.


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Dianna Anderson offers a fresh approach to the purity conversation, one that opens a new dialogue with the most influential Christian authors of her generation. Anderson's new sexual ethics draw on core biblical principles and set a standard for today's Christians that may be as influential Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Don Raunikar's Choosing God's Best, and Eli Dianna Anderson offers a fresh approach to the purity conversation, one that opens a new dialogue with the most influential Christian authors of her generation. Anderson's new sexual ethics draw on core biblical principles and set a standard for today's Christians that may be as influential Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Don Raunikar's Choosing God's Best, and Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity. Anderson uses her own illuminating experience with the purity movement to: * Reach out to women and men trying to reconcile their own sexuality with their understanding of "what God wants," cultural stigma, and media pressures * Demonstrate how Christian ideas about purity have infiltrated American politics and culture-and why women are losing * Offer an affirmative, healing path for everyone to understand their sexuality: one that reconciles scripture, culture, and common sense Provocative and engaging, she will revolutionize the way you think about sex, abstinence, politics, and faith.

30 review for Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charity Andrews

    I am going to be honest here. I have never felt more disgusted or sickened by any book I have read. Dianna writes as if God is not static, but changes with the culture. Ugh. God never changes. You cannot create a god that YOU are comfortable with and then claim that is the God of the Bible. I will repeat this statement, “You cannot create a god that YOU are comfortable with and then claim that is the God of the Bible“. Period. Throughout this entire book Dianna is discussing how we need to do wha I am going to be honest here. I have never felt more disgusted or sickened by any book I have read. Dianna writes as if God is not static, but changes with the culture. Ugh. God never changes. You cannot create a god that YOU are comfortable with and then claim that is the God of the Bible. I will repeat this statement, “You cannot create a god that YOU are comfortable with and then claim that is the God of the Bible“. Period. Throughout this entire book Dianna is discussing how we need to do what our bodies are telling us. Only we know what’s good for our bodies. ?????? That is COMPLETELY fine if you want to believe that. It is your right. However, it is not OK to claim that is how God works. Maybe your god, but not the God of the Bible. You can reference all of the old testament laws you want, but there are many places where God tells us that fornication is wrong. Look, I am not some innocent purist. I was a single mother (OBVIOUSLY having sex) and I was raped. I became pregnant. You, Dianna, tell us that it is ok to have an abortion if that’s what your body is telling you. YUCK! No. Absolutely no. My son is the greatest gift that could have ever come from such a monstrosity. God gave us laws. Absolutely. He gave us rules. There is a reason for that and it is because there is freedom in Christ. When you listen to the things that He tells us not to do, you can see how disobeying those lead you to boxing yourself in and losing your freedom. There is not one thing that God is asking us to live by that would take away our freedom. I would argue that EVERY SINGLE ONE of those would actually GIVE you more freedom. We should never hate someone that sins. We all sin. There should be no guilt either because God has paid for our sins. So, I am not condoning judgement in any way. I am saying it is wrong. That’s it. I am completely disappointed in Faithwords for allowing this book to be published. I also hate to promote it with a review. It will lead so many more people to think that you can make a “god” up that you are comfortable with and claim he is the real God. The road is narrow, my friend. This is exactly why. 0 stars. Thank you, netgalley, for the book. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more (hopefully good) books!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Henry Le Nav

    I wished I could have read this book when I was in ninth grade (which was over 50 years ago). I approached this book as something of an outsider. I left the church and Christianity, indeed 50 years ago, over shame and guilt about sexuality. I was forced to go to Lutheran Catechism. Sex and purity was mentioned but not hammered into our heads like the evangelical purity culture. But none the less there was a tremendous emphasis on SIN! SIN! SIN!. Unlike the narrator in The Grapes of Wrath who sai I wished I could have read this book when I was in ninth grade (which was over 50 years ago). I approached this book as something of an outsider. I left the church and Christianity, indeed 50 years ago, over shame and guilt about sexuality. I was forced to go to Lutheran Catechism. Sex and purity was mentioned but not hammered into our heads like the evangelical purity culture. But none the less there was a tremendous emphasis on SIN! SIN! SIN!. Unlike the narrator in The Grapes of Wrath who said after a traveling preacher had saved his soul: "Wisht I knowed what all the sins was, so I could do ’em." I really had no desire to do any of the sins except that one that a young lad wants to do with a young lady. I was pretty good on the 10 commandments. Well most of them anyhow, but I burnt (as St Paul said) with a desire for loving sexual union with a woman. I was also pathologically shy so the actual chances of me committing such a sin was almost nil, but the Lutherans had me covered on that. Yes, there are three ways to sin, by: thought, word, and deed. The deeds (other than those of a solitary nature...which will also earn you a free trip across the River Styx) I was good on. Even by word I didn't do too bad. There was no use of a pimply faced, skinny, awkward dwebe like me making any claims of getting laid...I had a red V painted on my forehead. To even remark on the desire to do so would start a bunch of stories...everyone in 8th and 9th grades was getting laid except me. I knew it was 99% bullshit but still these guys were convincing bullshitters because they had the muscles to back up their claims against 98 pound weakling doubters like me. That leaves thought. Oh my yes, I entertained many an impure thought and after a time quit asking for forgiveness. Repent and promise that I would not do that again? Hell I was lusting in church. I remember of praying about it...nothing, well that is because I was not genuine or some how not good enough. Then one day I got pissed off and said enough. I didn't feel this way when I was 9 years old. Prior to puberty, girls were fascinating but I wasn't damning myself to hell over them. I couldn't help the eroticism that burned within me. I didn't ask for it, and I was sick and tired of feeling guilt and shame over it...especially considering I wasn't even getting laid. I quit the church and have never since asked for forgiveness of my many impure thoughts. That was child's play compared to the situation that Anderson describes. I have to admire her courage to stand up against her culture and protest. She makes some excellent points in the book especially about God not shaming us. I was a little disappointed in the later chapters which seemed a bit general, diaphanous, and repetitious. She wants us to do a lot of "honoring." It got trite after a while. Never the less, this was a very good book and one that I think would be helpful to those who have endured the difficulties and shame of the purity culture. Links: For those who actually want to read a review of the book instead of my tales of personal, teenage, marinated in sin, sexual angst, here is an excellent article: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/a... The author's article noted in the link above: http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-09-09/g... Author's website and blog: http://diannaeanderson.net/blog

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hicks

    I picked this book up from Barnes and Noble today and sat down and read it from cover to cover. I struggle with rectifying faith and sexuality so I figured I needed to read more books like this. Plus, Rachel Held Evans gave it the thumbs up so I was IN! Overall, I think this book challenges traditional views of Christian sexuality and purity in important ways. I can't say I'd recommend it to an adolescent woman struggling to rectify her faith with her conservative upbringing. Maybe someone older I picked this book up from Barnes and Noble today and sat down and read it from cover to cover. I struggle with rectifying faith and sexuality so I figured I needed to read more books like this. Plus, Rachel Held Evans gave it the thumbs up so I was IN! Overall, I think this book challenges traditional views of Christian sexuality and purity in important ways. I can't say I'd recommend it to an adolescent woman struggling to rectify her faith with her conservative upbringing. Maybe someone older who already has a basic understanding of what the Bible has to say about sex. The author makes good points about healthy sexuality but doesn't back them up with scripture or theology. In fact, the author seems to come to her conclusions about healthy sexual expression on her own and then uses scripture to justify her viewpoints. She discredits some passages used to justify abstinence for a few pages but she doesn't ever use scripture to show what holy sex looks like. She also puts little emphasis on prayer and Bible study which seemed odd considering how vital those things are to any person of faith seeking guidance. To me, it came off as more of a "go with the flow" or "whatever feels right to you" approach which, in my opinion, is just as potentially damaging as teaching women that their value comes from their virginity. Sex is an important part of life and God has an opinion on it. People of faith should seek it, learn it, pray about it, and honor it in their every day lives. Don't get me wrong. She raises some great points about rape culture, the ownership of women's bodies, harmful gender stereotypes, the true nature of sexual orientation, etc. All of these things have to be discussed among Christians in deep, meaningful, ways. This book is intelligent and thought provoking. It has the potential to start some much needed discussion among devout people. That's great. However, the conclusions drawn don't seem to be rooted in honoring God with our sexuality but in a more humanistic approach that views sex as more of a biological appetite for some than a gift from God. I kept thinking, "that's all well and good but if what I'm doing doesn't glorify God, what's the point in doing it to begin with?". I may not have agreed with her the whole time but I'm glad I read this book. It was definitely worth the investment of my time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sara Diane

    I got this from NetGalley to review. I was very excited to get this, as I was eager to hear a Christian perspective that wasn't all gungho on courtship. As a woman who reached her teen years right as the "purity movment" was starting, who had a "True Loves Waits" ring, and spent many an hour wondering if I was making a brother stumble, I've had to come to grips with how dangerous much of that doctrine is, as well as how un-Biblical much of it is. And while Ms. Anderson does a good job of pointing I got this from NetGalley to review. I was very excited to get this, as I was eager to hear a Christian perspective that wasn't all gungho on courtship. As a woman who reached her teen years right as the "purity movment" was starting, who had a "True Loves Waits" ring, and spent many an hour wondering if I was making a brother stumble, I've had to come to grips with how dangerous much of that doctrine is, as well as how un-Biblical much of it is. And while Ms. Anderson does a good job of pointing out the pitfalls and motivations of the Purity Movement, she does not give us an actual Biblical perspective on what purity is. Oh, she gives us lots of her own ideas, and her own code of conduct, and a lot of justification of why it's not a sin to have sex outside of a marriage, but she fails to back it up with much (if any) support from the Bible. The worst thing is, I think that some of what she says could be supported by the Bible, and I think that much of her arguments are sound, they are just lacking the support that she should have listed. So she is either a very lazy researcher and debater, a woman who is just trying to justify her own actions, or she did the research and found that her arguments weren't, in fact supported. Whichever it is, it is a shame, because I think the church needs to take a good long look at the lies we've been telling our young people for a few generations (for example, it is NOT a woman's responsibility to keep her spiritual brother from sinning in his thoughts--though I do agree she should not set out to make him stumble, it is upon his shoulders to control and discipline his own thoughts and take responsibility for himself. And she should take responsibility for herself.) However, this book is unlikely to make a difference in the church because of the lack of Biblical support given. In short, if you are going to write about Christian purity, you should, perhaps, actually bring God into the equation and not just treat him as a far distance creator who has no daily dealings with his creation. Just maybe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    I was excited to read this book because we see so much right now in the media with either being over-sexed or really sheltered. Some of what we see comes from the Duggar family and their purpose to have rules for courtship and even saving their first kiss for marriage. While that is beautiful and even wonderful and special, many of us have made mistakes or chosen a different path for our lives and that kind of media attention can make one feel shamed for their sexual experiences outside of marria I was excited to read this book because we see so much right now in the media with either being over-sexed or really sheltered. Some of what we see comes from the Duggar family and their purpose to have rules for courtship and even saving their first kiss for marriage. While that is beautiful and even wonderful and special, many of us have made mistakes or chosen a different path for our lives and that kind of media attention can make one feel shamed for their sexual experiences outside of marriage. Damaged Goods allowed me to assess my heart as it stands now and forgive myself for the past and be able to move forward without feeling like I am “damaged goods” the way many would point out. I am simply a human being who made human decisions. Being able to wipe away the shame and know that I am a Christian and I am not alone are wonderful feelings. The target audience for this book is hard to figure out. It seems aimed at people my age (late 20’s) but also could be given to a teen or someone coming out of a lengthy marriage etc. I am not sure if that is what the author had hoped to achieve or if it was simply a lack of cohesive writing. Regardless, I believe that people can only benefit from reading about the different beliefs and experiences about sexuality and I hope a lot of people read this book and feel redeemed by it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Edythe Hamilton

    “Current purity movements and theological strictures tell us that making this journey means we must master and control our flesh, subdue it…Instead of our fighting against our own bodies, holiness needs to be about integration and moderation.” Dianna E. Anderson discusses Christian purity questioning the teaching principles that are based upon the bible and how that affects the person who fights to control their flesh by not having sex before marriage. In Damaged Goods, there is discussion on the “Current purity movements and theological strictures tell us that making this journey means we must master and control our flesh, subdue it…Instead of our fighting against our own bodies, holiness needs to be about integration and moderation.” Dianna E. Anderson discusses Christian purity questioning the teaching principles that are based upon the bible and how that affects the person who fights to control their flesh by not having sex before marriage. In Damaged Goods, there is discussion on the church teaching modern relaxed issues concerning areas of sex before marriage as Christians struggle with the flesh and the spirit within. There is also mention of the feeling of guilt once having sex outside marriage which blame is put upon the church and its teachings, but in my opinion, the actual problem is that guilt feelings comes from the flesh fighting with the spirit knowing the difference between right and wrong according to God’s Word. You cannot mask wrong and say it is okay to test the waters of sex before marriage by exploring your sexuality without facing consequences. If you believe in God’s Word, you will fight the flesh and not the spirit that guides you in the right direction. This book has plenty of voiced concerns and brings good points to the forefront and all I can do is recommend that you read for yourself and see how you feel about the message given. I leave you with this verse: Romans 8:1, Authorized King James Version “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I received this book free from Faith Words/Center Street through the Net Galley reviewer program in exchange for an honest opinion in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a very timely and important book. I think the Church desperately needs to revise its approach to sexuality and start moving away from an ethic of shame, ignorance, victim-blaming, and complicity with patriarchial paradigms that aren't actually Christian. While I think this book is somewhat America- and female-centric and could benefit from a broader perspective, I think that overall it hits the nail on the head about what a healthy Christian sexual ethic looks like. Hooray for this book This is a very timely and important book. I think the Church desperately needs to revise its approach to sexuality and start moving away from an ethic of shame, ignorance, victim-blaming, and complicity with patriarchial paradigms that aren't actually Christian. While I think this book is somewhat America- and female-centric and could benefit from a broader perspective, I think that overall it hits the nail on the head about what a healthy Christian sexual ethic looks like. Hooray for this book and for the conversations it will spark and the healing it could bring to people who have been wounded by the Church's failures in this area! Let's learn to know and respect ourselves and others, stop being so obsessed with purity and virginity as an indicator of worth, view ourselves as God's children, and have a sexual ethic that promotes health, pleasure, consent, mutuality, and responsibility. I'm so pleased that this book exists!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shellie

    I'm torn on this one. Very important message, but the delivery failed to impress. I grew up in the "purity culture" that was so prevalent during the '90s, and I identify with so much of what the author writes. I, too, felt shamed (as a 6th grader!) into signing True Love Waits pledge cards and sitting through retreats as a young adolescent, not understanding what sex was, much less why it mattered within the context of the church. Of course, I wasn't equipped with the vocabulary to express these I'm torn on this one. Very important message, but the delivery failed to impress. I grew up in the "purity culture" that was so prevalent during the '90s, and I identify with so much of what the author writes. I, too, felt shamed (as a 6th grader!) into signing True Love Waits pledge cards and sitting through retreats as a young adolescent, not understanding what sex was, much less why it mattered within the context of the church. Of course, I wasn't equipped with the vocabulary to express these ideas at the time, so my concerns went unaddressed by church staff and clergy. I'm so glad the author shed some light on this; now I know I wasn't the only one who found the whole thing destructive and rather odd. Criticisms: I couldn't tell if this was an autobiography or self help book, as the chapters meandered between the two in tone and content. The book was very repetitive and could easily have been reduced to half its length. Even so, I read it in less than a day and am glad I did. Good read for children of the 90s evangelical movement.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toks

    So today I have a review for Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna Anderson. I was already a big fan of her blog, tumblr and twitter and I knew I had to get my hand on this for her beautiful and affirming insight into Christianity and feminism. I'll also be doing a Q&A with Dianna here on my blog GalacticTides closer to the February 10th, 2015 release date. Book reviews are always personal to me, and the reasons that I picked up Damaged Goods are more personal than most. So today I have a review for Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna Anderson. I was already a big fan of her blog, tumblr and twitter and I knew I had to get my hand on this for her beautiful and affirming insight into Christianity and feminism. I'll also be doing a Q&A with Dianna here on my blog GalacticTides closer to the February 10th, 2015 release date. Book reviews are always personal to me, and the reasons that I picked up Damaged Goods are more personal than most. So although this is not the full context of my faith as it pertains to purity culture, here it goes. I grew up in the Catholic Church and went to Catholic school from grade six onward, but during my preteens and teenage years I attended a Nigerian evangelical church and attended a youth group. I was more curious than critical and often found myself arguing with a pastor or youth group leader or religion teacher. I wanted things explained. I wanted alternate interpretations. I wanted to know that no one had all the answers and that you could study the Bible and still be curious and even critical. I was accused of: being a bad influence, not trusting God, wanting more than was my due, not being quiet or demure or ladylike enough and of course, being too worldly and probably, a slut. The euphemism at the time was "listening too closely to the Devil" I think. I drifted away from the church with time but one of the things I learned is that despite not at all believing many of the purity culture teachings is that I managed to take away a really messed up understanding of gender and sexuality some of which I am still unlearning. What I love about Damaged Goods is that it deconstructs purity culture and dispel its myths. It also manages to give someone the tools for dealing with sexuality, gender and Christianity in a way that is positive. It interweaves analysis and history with the personal stories of people who have been hurt by purity culture including some of the author's own. And again, the wonderful thing is that unlike a lot of these Christian teen guides that she quotes, there is room in these sexual ethics to adapt as needed, in a way that "honors the agency, autonomy and personhood of one's fellow human beings" (pg 46). Not only that, but one that respects different types of relationships without predetermined roles for its participants. I really appreciate the depth and the breadth of her analysis. The discussion about how modesty culture is erasure of queerness, fatness, women of colour and those with disabilities because of its inherent assumption of what sexual purity and relationships are is phenomenal. That being grounded in Liberation Theology is a powerful message. Moreover Dianna Anderson talks quite openly about the role that information and what we are taught plays in building a new sexual ethics. With a keen eye towards the political, she talks about contraceptives, abortion and abstinence-only education in terms of knowing so you can plan and make the right decision for yourself, emotionally. This section ties into creating a culture of consent not just individually but as a community. I'm going to end off with what I think one of the important takeaway from the book: "Shame is not nor will it ever be a useful response to a person's experience of the world, especially when it comes to sexual experiences" (126). I wish someone had handed this to me when I was younger. Full disclosure: I received this book as a Netgalley from Jericho Books in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Danie Williams-Rivera

    I grew up in the conservative evangelical purity movement and in a very conservative christian environment. I am still VERY passionate about Jesus and being a Christian, but I would definitely say I am no longer conservative... and truthfully, I don't know if I ever was. One of the hardest times I had in my private Christian Middle School, High School, Church and College was that I got a lot of push back for having different ideas. I felt very strongly that if you didn't believe X, Y and Z there I grew up in the conservative evangelical purity movement and in a very conservative christian environment. I am still VERY passionate about Jesus and being a Christian, but I would definitely say I am no longer conservative... and truthfully, I don't know if I ever was. One of the hardest times I had in my private Christian Middle School, High School, Church and College was that I got a lot of push back for having different ideas. I felt very strongly that if you didn't believe X, Y and Z there was something wrong with you, if you hung out with "those people" you weren't Christian enough, and the IDEA that I might want to get tattoos and piercings made me an outsider. I don't mean to paint the picture that everyone was like that towards me, because they weren't. I've had many very close, conservative Christian friends who have loved me for who I am and with whom I can have a conversation in which we strongly disagree, but respect each other's opinions. However, I have noticed that there was quite a bit of damage done to me from the idea of what a woman should be and the purity movement. I was raped by my Christian fiance when I was 21. After reading this book I've had my eyes opened to some of the things I've still struggled with - old wounds, shame, and how oppressing the purity movement has been in my life. I've realized that my definition of consent had been very confused and there were several occasions were I wasn't giving consent, as much as I was "giving in." I remember after I was raped, I was blamed because of a variety of reasons (that I've since learned were total BS reasons) and have either ended relationships because of it, or have had to do significant amount of repair. I think the biggest thing to point out about the book is that Dianna is not attacking those who choose to wait for marriage, or those who choose NOT to have sex. Rather, she continually is pointing out the humanity of people regardless of their choice. I strongly suggest this as a read. EVEN if you strongly disagree with what she is saying, it's so important for us to have this conversation, and to stop blindly believing something just because this is what we are taught (which is what I did for so long as a teenager and early adult). It's important that we start to talk about consent and alter how we are having the conversation about purity, women, and alternative lifestyles. It's not an "us vs. them" we are ALL "us." We need to start acting like that!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joy Matteson

    I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book by Dianna Anderson. It's difficult for me review this book, because I agree with her conclusions about the patriarchy's damaging and shameful influence on Christian millennial generation. That being said, Ms. Anderson's writing seemed quite disjointed, filled with indignant anger and frustration, often pointing fingers at almost any Christian leader who disagreed with her on social media. She had some gre I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book by Dianna Anderson. It's difficult for me review this book, because I agree with her conclusions about the patriarchy's damaging and shameful influence on Christian millennial generation. That being said, Ms. Anderson's writing seemed quite disjointed, filled with indignant anger and frustration, often pointing fingers at almost any Christian leader who disagreed with her on social media. She had some great things to say about shame and guilt, but unfortunately the whole of her narrative (is it a memoir? A collection of essays on purity culture? A rant against the patriarchy?) did not flow easily. Perhaps it's because I received this as an egalley, and some of these items will be edited nicely. In the end, however, I was very disappointed, because books like hers need to be read. We need books for teens and young adult women (and men, who are we kidding) who show them they can follow Christ and respect their bodies. I just don't see it happening with this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Anderson

    This is such an important book because it paves the way for a deeper and more nuanced conversation about sexuality in the Church. Anderson's writing style is very readable and her tone is knowledgeable yet casual. It felt like sitting across from her in a coffee shop having a very real conversation. I didn't agree with all the theological conclusions Anderson made in the book, but I didn't expect to. While she falls more theologically liberal on the Christian spectrum this book is absolutely acce This is such an important book because it paves the way for a deeper and more nuanced conversation about sexuality in the Church. Anderson's writing style is very readable and her tone is knowledgeable yet casual. It felt like sitting across from her in a coffee shop having a very real conversation. I didn't agree with all the theological conclusions Anderson made in the book, but I didn't expect to. While she falls more theologically liberal on the Christian spectrum this book is absolutely accessible to Christians of all stripes, IF they can read with an open mind. Bottom line, the Christian purity "conversation" has been one sided for too long. Whether you are "all in" with books like Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye, or not, it is important to recognize that our Christian literature on the subject needs to reflect the greater diversity of opinion in this area. Anderson's book does just that. My hope is that years from now, we will look back on this publication as a watershed moment for opening the dialogue on the issue of sexual purity in the Church.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    4.5, if only Goodreads would let us do half-stars! (I've asked...they say no can do, because I guess it's just too complicated? Wev.) This book and Dianna's voice and perspective are very important and needed in our society. I'm not a Christian, was not raised in a religious household, had no purity standards forced on me, but even still, I got a lot out of reading this. I especially hope that people who *did* grow up in that culture can get a copy of this book and can unlearn some of the shame 4.5, if only Goodreads would let us do half-stars! (I've asked...they say no can do, because I guess it's just too complicated? Wev.) This book and Dianna's voice and perspective are very important and needed in our society. I'm not a Christian, was not raised in a religious household, had no purity standards forced on me, but even still, I got a lot out of reading this. I especially hope that people who *did* grow up in that culture can get a copy of this book and can unlearn some of the shame and guilt they've been blanketed with. It is important for young people of all kinds to know that when they are told they're shameful or sinful or wrong or broken, it is not God telling them those things, but rather humans who have their own agendas for warping others' self-esteem and worldview. I'm sure it's incredibly hard to unlearn all the years of that stuff, and I hope this book can help some folks in that journey.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hernandez

    First, some disclosure: I am not a Christian. I ordered this book because I am interested in the dynamics between feminism and the current evangelical church, and since I too, grew up in the "purity movement". Anderson makes wonderful points and I agree whole-heartedly with her broader statements on sexuality, sexual ethics, consent, and bodily autonomy. My only criticisms is that perhaps since I am not this book's target audience (which I have interpreted as either one struggling to reconcile th First, some disclosure: I am not a Christian. I ordered this book because I am interested in the dynamics between feminism and the current evangelical church, and since I too, grew up in the "purity movement". Anderson makes wonderful points and I agree whole-heartedly with her broader statements on sexuality, sexual ethics, consent, and bodily autonomy. My only criticisms is that perhaps since I am not this book's target audience (which I have interpreted as either one struggling to reconcile their sexual self with their faith, or as a teenage Christian), I did not enjoy the read. I read it as a little unorganized; perhaps it would have been easier to keep up with her mental jumps if it were organized essay style. Also, as one would assume, it is written in the style of other Christian "self-help" type books. Some people like that, again, not for me. Overall, it is an important message being imparted, and I would recommend it for a bit of a younger audience (teens?).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book gives me mixed feelings. This book aptly and thoroughly critiques the evangelical purity movement and promotes a sexual ethic rooted in sex-positivity. Ultimately, I don't think it lived up to its potential because while Anderson's rhetorical strength is in arguing against shame, the same strength is not present when she argues for a different way of thinking about sex. For me, the critique of the purity movement was the best part. Anderson quoted many proponents of the purity movement This book gives me mixed feelings. This book aptly and thoroughly critiques the evangelical purity movement and promotes a sexual ethic rooted in sex-positivity. Ultimately, I don't think it lived up to its potential because while Anderson's rhetorical strength is in arguing against shame, the same strength is not present when she argues for a different way of thinking about sex. For me, the critique of the purity movement was the best part. Anderson quoted many proponents of the purity movement and unpacked how their conceptions of sex depend on shame, demeaning women, and control to survive. It was also helpful to have a variety of voices present. I think it was good that there were more "mainstream" purity theorists like Joshua Harris juxtaposed with Mark Driscoll, who arguably is also mainstream but is also horrifying. Though they may have different styles, their philosophies are rooted in the same belief systems and if we recognize one as harmful, we must also recognize the other as being harmful, too. I will also say that Anderson said a lot of the right things when it came to a sex-positive ethic. She tackles the importance of protection during sex, consent, feeling empowered to say no to sex, abortion access, birth control, and so forth. Recognizing that the book's primary audience is for those raised within the purity movement, these are all important lessons and I am glad that being safe, consenting, comfortable, and happy during sex are some of the main takeaways from this book, because those are the lessons I want to see in the world. Nonetheless, when it came to a feminist sexual ethic for Christians, I found myself disappointed. For one thing, the sex-positive ethic sections read more like a self-help memoir than a thoughtful justification. Personal stories are good, as are efforts to encourage the intended audience. Still, anecdotal evidence is weak when trying to form a new basis of thought. Especially when purity culture can back itself up with numerous Bible verses—however misguided their interpretations might be—it is hard to take on faith a book that doesn't cite the Bible, feminist critics, or theologians. I like the messages, and yet they are unsubstantiated. The main reason this book that this book is not rated higher is because it could have cited more feminist thinkers, and didn't. The most egregious example of this is when Anderson discusses gender performance without so much as name-dropping Judith Butler, but obviously she didn't come up with a critique of gender essentialism or White people's benevolent racism on her own. It is disappointing that Anderson doesn't identify the ways in which she is indebted to other feminist thinkers and theologians, but another side effect is an inability to identify where these feminist ideas are coming from. While I can think of T.F. Charlton as one (the?) woman of color Anderson quotes directly, it's unclear where Anderson's other ideas about race are coming from. One part that really got me was a section discussing how black women are demonized for getting abortions, and White evangelicals are described as "not realizing" the harm they do by pushing purity narratives, and I could just hear some of the black women I follow on Twitter rolling their eyes. While this was a weaker moment in Anderson's text, there's no indication of where this idea came from, so it is unclear if Anderson is jumping off another author's text or if this is her own take on the matter. I can see how simplicity could be helpful in dealing with a culture that is quick to attack sources and people rather than ideas themselves. Then again, just yesterday on Twitter I saw a lady mocking someone as though using any book other than the Bible as a source of knowledge was ludicrous—so it seems like in not sourcing any texts, more harm is being done to the writers Anderson borrows from and the text of Damaged Goods in the long run. TL;DR: I like the message and I think it would be good for youth and youth leaders alike; however, the book would be stronger if it likewise had stronger arguments for sex-positivity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Russell

    I hope that in offering a different perspective on purity this book might open doors to more discussion on how we treat ourselves and other people in the church. HOWEVER- I wasn’t a huge fan of this book in particular. I think it had a lot of potential but the “angry feminist” didn’t settle well with me... it seemed like a long drawn out rant where the author seemed kind of on the fence. If she was writing from a biblical standpoint I think there would have been more scripture-based conversation I hope that in offering a different perspective on purity this book might open doors to more discussion on how we treat ourselves and other people in the church. HOWEVER- I wasn’t a huge fan of this book in particular. I think it had a lot of potential but the “angry feminist” didn’t settle well with me... it seemed like a long drawn out rant where the author seemed kind of on the fence. If she was writing from a biblical standpoint I think there would have been more scripture-based conversation or mention of prayer. If she was writing as a professional author who did a lot of research on the negative impacts of the purity movement, I think there should have been more concrete evidence (not just a small pool of personal interviews or random references to tumblr or other authors). Because of this, some of the conclusions drawn weren’t as effective... Which is a bummer because I think it was a good start. I’m not saying I agree with everything she said- I had a very similar upbringing but do not harbor the same anger that the author had. I grew up wearing a purity ring my mom gave me when I turned 13. I had no problem signing the pledge or going to purity retreats. I don’t feel like I don’t have a say or that I am public property. I’m not upset that I’m inexperienced and that it made college awkward. I do not blame the church for any issues I have. I don’t have any regrets that I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 22. My story is unfolding, simple as that. HOWEVER- What I do regret is the black and white nature of modern day Christianity. If you do this thing, you’re good. If you do this other thing, you’re bad and people forget about that good thing that you do. It’s hypocritical and unfair and not loving and a huge turn-off. I think the world is a little more complex and grey areas exist and can be discussed. (Which is more or less what I was hoping this book would be about).. What I regret and what I want to start talking more about is this judgement in the church (towards Christians and nonbelievers.. it’s ridiculous). Remember when Jesus said “Let he without sin cast the first stone”.. it was as if Jesus did a mic drop and everyone had a little wake up call and walked away.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Viki

    I cannot recommend enough the book Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna Anderson. We may not have had purity balls and purity rings in the ICOC/coC, but I do remember hearing the "chewed up gum" analogy, I remember hearing "you won't die if you resist masturbating", I remember the triangles-turning-into-a-circle analogy to show how men are visual, and I remember seeing couples disfellowshipped for living together. Anderson touches on a lot of topics that fall under purit I cannot recommend enough the book Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna Anderson. We may not have had purity balls and purity rings in the ICOC/coC, but I do remember hearing the "chewed up gum" analogy, I remember hearing "you won't die if you resist masturbating", I remember the triangles-turning-into-a-circle analogy to show how men are visual, and I remember seeing couples disfellowshipped for living together. Anderson touches on a lot of topics that fall under purity and modesty. The bottom line: evangelical churches are ignoring science and mistreating women. This book was so eye-opening just to see how the purity movement came to be and what its real motivations are (it's not to prevent teenage pregnancies - it's to shame and control women). This book made me angry, but the last chapter gives you a little guidance toward healing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Camden

    As someone currently researching purity culture with plans to write my own book on the topic, I was intrigued by this book. When I saw one of my favorite Christian feminist bloggers, Rachel Held Evans (who I generally, but not always, agree with) endorsed the book and it's author, my hopes were raised even more. Sadly in the end, I was very disappointed in this book (and in Evans' enthusiastic endorsement). It was not what I expected at all; the subtitle "new perspectives on CHRISTIAN purity" wa As someone currently researching purity culture with plans to write my own book on the topic, I was intrigued by this book. When I saw one of my favorite Christian feminist bloggers, Rachel Held Evans (who I generally, but not always, agree with) endorsed the book and it's author, my hopes were raised even more. Sadly in the end, I was very disappointed in this book (and in Evans' enthusiastic endorsement). It was not what I expected at all; the subtitle "new perspectives on CHRISTIAN purity" was very misleading. First of all, what I liked about it: the author is obviously passionate about her subject. She has a lot of compassion for the LGBT community, and how the messages of purity culture affect it. In fact, she seems to identify as a member of this community, as she confesses she is attracted and open to relationships with both men and women and transgender individuals. She discusses the issue of consent at length, and how purity culture makes women's bodies "public property" by constantly emphasizing modesty and making women gatekeepers of men's lust and sexuality. Her chapter on the history of purity culture is helpful, especially as it explains the cultural and historical events, such as the first sexual revolution of the 1920s and the "religious right" reaction to Roe v. Wade in the 1970s-1980s, that have shaped the modern purity movement. My problems with the book: The author is called a "theologian" yet her credentials are a Bachelors in theology and a Masters in English. She appears to be younger than 30 (she mentions a pamphlet written before 1986 being older than her), and while that doesn't automatically discount her expertise, I hardly think she's lived enough life with her new sexual ethic to see the fruit of it bear out in 10, 20, 30 years. Her main point of the book is: we should not just base our sexual ethic on what authority tells us, but a thoughtful reflection of our own personal sexual morals and values. While I agree with personal exploration of one's values, her basis for these values are one's own feelings and experiences. In a true postmodern, secular humanist worldview, she asserts that everyone should decide for themselves what their sexual ethic is. I was flabbergasted when she proposes that any sexual activity that is consensual, pleasurable, and mutual is holy and sacred, and each of us must decide for ourselves what that is. One night stands, threesomes, and same sex activity are all approved as long as they are consensual. It's not hard to understand why she couldn't find a mainstream Christian publisher for a book with views like this. I didn't find her arguments to be well-researched or compelling; she had very little basis or foundation for her views other than her own experiences and feelings. No wonder she implores readers to use their own feelings as the basis of the development of their own sexual ethic. In her chapter on purity myths in the Bible, for example, she tries to argue that the Bible does not condemn premarital sex because the couple in Song of Songs are not married and speak passionately and intimately about each other's bodies. There is no deep exegesis or thick analysis of the passages, almost just passing commentary. It's obvious the writer has anger and hurt toward the Church and Evangelicalism as a whole. In fact, she admits she still has anger toward the Church and "hopes [she] never fully let go of" her anger. Her arguments on "Christian purity" and personal sexual ethics are enticing in that they allow an individual to decide for him/herself what's best based on nothing more than his/her own desires. This idea is completely secular and not founded in Scripture or Christian tradition, which commands us to submit our own feelings, experiences, and values to God's leading. Christians must be guided by more than our sinful desires and whims. How we teach purity is fraught with problems, but the command of Christians to practice chastity is unequivocal.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    *I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* I grew up in the purity culture that was the impetus for Dianna Anderson to write this book: True Love Waits and all the rest. I still struggle with the ramifications of what I learned and what was ingrained in my soul. When I heard about Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity I was excited because I absolutely think the way sex has been handled in the church in recent days is 1) unsuccessful and 2 *I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* I grew up in the purity culture that was the impetus for Dianna Anderson to write this book: True Love Waits and all the rest. I still struggle with the ramifications of what I learned and what was ingrained in my soul. When I heard about Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity I was excited because I absolutely think the way sex has been handled in the church in recent days is 1) unsuccessful and 2) harmful. Long story short, this book is worth reading with an open mind and an open heart. Long story long, though, I'm not sure if I can agree with Anderson's conclusions or not. Maybe I'm too conservative or maybe I have not actually gotten past what purity culture portrayed to me about sex. But it is difficult for me to be able to get behind the idea of "instead of talking about waiting for marriage, we need to talk about waiting until we're ready." Part of me says that makes complete sense given how our culture differs from Biblical culture, but then part of me shrinks from this without hesitation because it smacks of relativistic thinking. I just don't know where I fall. I am planning on reading this again and continuing to engage the issue, because disagreement doesn't necessarily mean that I am right. And there are great, wonderful words here about doing so ("it's OK to question, to wonder, and to decide to walk away from the traditions you have always been taught"). Anderson is still visibly and tangibly angry about what happened to her - and so many others - as a result of the shaming that accompanies purity culture; it was hard to tell at points where her words were the result of that anger and where they were the result of careful study and consideration, which I think actually decreases the overall effectiveness of what she's saying. But I agree absolutely that the shaming needs to stop. She talks a lot about this: "If you find yourself failing under the weight and expectation of the shaming that declares a person's moral state lands somewhere in their nether regions, I hope you will remember you are worth something. I hope too that you will find a way to articulate your discomfort with patriarchal norms, to press for a better, holier, holistic understanding of sexuality and abstinence and sexual activity. And it is my sincerest hope that you will find a way toward understanding yourself, toward making good decisions with your life (whatever those decisions may be)and toward articulate communication about who you are as an individual, created and loved by God." (emphasis original) I am grateful that Anderson wrote this and I plan to keep contemplating what she presents. This book is certainly a good addition to the conversation, even if the reader disagrees with the author's conclusions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia Kinderman

    Having grown up in the purity movement, although I was not as heavily involved as the author, I was quite familiar with a lot of the rhetoric and ideas she was deconstructing. Although I didn't agree with everything in the book I believe it is important that we start conversations about the damage purity culture has done and this is as good a place as any to start. Anderson covers many problems I myself have had with purity culture for quite some time. The idolization of virginity, the denial of Having grown up in the purity movement, although I was not as heavily involved as the author, I was quite familiar with a lot of the rhetoric and ideas she was deconstructing. Although I didn't agree with everything in the book I believe it is important that we start conversations about the damage purity culture has done and this is as good a place as any to start. Anderson covers many problems I myself have had with purity culture for quite some time. The idolization of virginity, the denial of a female sex drive, the animalization of men, and the overall shame and misinformation that comes with discussing sex are critiqued here. I especially loved that she addressed the issue of consent and how victims of rape end up being shamed by rhetoric that is basically "either/or". Either you are a virgin and thus godly and better than everyone else or you are not a virgin and it doesn't matter what happened, you are less and dirty. This is an extremely damaging logical fallacy that we Christians need to stop espousing because it shames victims of sexual abuse, something God would never do. She also dealt with comparisons that, while well-intended, end up communicating worthlessness and fear. For example: you are like a piece of gum. If you are involved with a boy (even just dating) and break up, you have been chewed. And nobody wants a piece of gum that has been chewed. While I don't think the people that came up with this had evil intentions, the reality is it breeds fear of the opposite sex and leads women to believe they are worthless if they made a "mistake" or were raped or molested. It also isn't biblical. Where does God say to not love others and if you do it diminishes your worth? I had a few minor complaints, I felt that the chapter on biblical interpretation was really weak (there was so much to cover it really needs its own book). I didn't agree with all the author's conclusions. So I think, based on that, the fact that I highly recommend this book and think every Christian should read it shows just how important it is. We need to start having new conversations about purity and sex that don't involving creating fear of the opposite sex or shaming people. We need to stop basing someone's worth in whether or not they've had sex. We need to treat other people like human beings that God loves. We need to stop shoving people into boxes based on their gender. We need to start talking about consent. This is a great book to get this conversation started. Note: the copy I read was an ARC so some things might've changed between now and publication.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Over the years I have read countless books that address the topic of sexuality from various Christian points of view and I have been disappointed overall in this genre. However, this book I will be recommending to my friends and perhaps later on to my clients as I am finishing a MA in counseling and psychology. It is an easy book to read and is written clearly and for a wide audience. The author also does a good job of explaining the concepts of purity culture for those who are not familiar with Over the years I have read countless books that address the topic of sexuality from various Christian points of view and I have been disappointed overall in this genre. However, this book I will be recommending to my friends and perhaps later on to my clients as I am finishing a MA in counseling and psychology. It is an easy book to read and is written clearly and for a wide audience. The author also does a good job of explaining the concepts of purity culture for those who are not familiar with it. One of the things that I find really valuable about this book is that the author writes it from her own personal perspective of wrestling with the contradictions and outcomes of the purity movement within conservative evangelical circles. In chapter 3 Anderson examines what she considers to be the myths of the purity movement and the interpretations of the Bible that have led to this ethos. I agree with her challenge to her readers to examine scriptural passages that are used to "prove" the purity ethic and look at the context in which they were written. One of the issues that I never see addressed in books or sermons on sexuality is that consent is an essential element to healthy sexuality and the absence of it is rape or sexual assault. I believe that the absence of a ethic of consent within Christian culture has led to a lot of pain and dysfunction within families and individuals, so I was thrilled to find that chapter 11 addressed the importance of consent. Those involved in the purity movement have taught that a women's body is not her own, but belongs to her husband, therefore there is no such thing as marital rape. This is a dangerous doctrine with terrible consequences and I am glad to finally see it addressed clearly along with other purity doctrines that support rape culture. Finally, I applaud Dianna for discussing the importance of removing shame from sexuality and instead focusing on healthy sexuality by emphasizing the importance of consent, mutual pleasure, discovering who you are as a sexual being, communicating about sex and setting boundaries. I agree that a new healthy and holy sexual ethic needs to include "loving thy neighbor", whether that is ourselves, the person that we are in a physical relationship with or an acquaintance that we are tempted to judge for their sexual choices. Part of accepting that we as humans are comprised of both body and soul is coming to terms with our sexuality and I applaud Dianna for being brave enough to share her personal journey on coming to terms with this part of herself and being able to integrate her faith into that process.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    As someone who lived through the 90s True Love Waits purity culture, I agree with a lot of Anderson has to say in this book. There is a definite need to reframe the discussion around what it means to pursue purity in relationships - it is so much more than kissing dating goodbye or just saying no. I liked how Anderson challenged those ideas head on and offered tangible examples of how purity culture harmed many of us by sending damaging messages. However, I thought the book had a few key weaknes As someone who lived through the 90s True Love Waits purity culture, I agree with a lot of Anderson has to say in this book. There is a definite need to reframe the discussion around what it means to pursue purity in relationships - it is so much more than kissing dating goodbye or just saying no. I liked how Anderson challenged those ideas head on and offered tangible examples of how purity culture harmed many of us by sending damaging messages. However, I thought the book had a few key weaknesses that diminished my enjoyment of it overall. It's positioned as an alternative to many others (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Passion and Purity) that are aimed at teenagers, and there were parts that did speak to teenagers, but other parts of it were speaking more to those of us in our 20s and 30s who experienced purity culture. There were also a few parts that I thought were speaking to those of us who work with teenagers. Because of that, it did not feel as cohesive as I would have liked. I also thought that her conclusions, which mirror many of my own conclusions, were not explained as well as they could have been. I wished she had done a little more work on the front end to bring the reader along with her, mostly because I feared that she hadn't done quite enough to convince a skeptical reader (although maybe that wasn't her target audience? That ties in with my earlier confusion about who the book might be for). Finally, I have to say that I had to raise an eyebrow at all of her stories about couples who waited and then had terrible sex. I understand the point she was making, but I felt like that was just as bad as the stories I heard growing up about girls who had sex and then got pregnant and died. Despite her constant refrain that waiting is an okay choice, too, I didn't walk away feeling as if she really believed that. The book was strongest as it talked about rejecting shame, a strong message for all of us. In the end, I would recommend this to youth leaders who are interested in finding other ways to talk to their students about sex and who are thinking about what pitfalls to avoid.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I read this book thinking I'd either love it or hate it - I really liked the author for a while a few years ago, when she was blogging regularly and giving me new-to-me perspectives on a number of topics, including Christian views on feminism. In the end, though, I didn't love or hate the book. I actually found it to be rather bland and somewhat unconvincing. Most of the book just rehashed ideas that I'm already very familiar with, such as the concepts of purity culture, rape culture, objectifica I read this book thinking I'd either love it or hate it - I really liked the author for a while a few years ago, when she was blogging regularly and giving me new-to-me perspectives on a number of topics, including Christian views on feminism. In the end, though, I didn't love or hate the book. I actually found it to be rather bland and somewhat unconvincing. Most of the book just rehashed ideas that I'm already very familiar with, such as the concepts of purity culture, rape culture, objectification of women, victim-blaming, heteronormativity, and issues of consent. Therefore, this book would likely be more useful/interesting to a reader who doesn't know much about these topics. Also, I never really understood the goal of the book - it didn't seem to have a clear direction as I was reading it. The mixture of facts, opinions, and personal stories seemed perhaps better suited to a lecture/sermon format than a book format. I especially disliked the occasional "should" statements that were often ambiguous and didn't have much to back them up - for example, "we should look at virginity loss as a process." (Really? Why? What if some people don't want to look at it that way?) There were also some contradictory statements/ideas throughout the book - for example, the chapter "Choosing Celibacy" was not about choosing celibacy - it was about abstinence-only sex education! And finally, while I agree with the main point of the book's last chapter - people have inherent value and shouldn't be shamed due to their sexual experiences or lack thereof - I didn't like the "anything goes" attitude that permeated it. I believe it's completely possible to value people no matter their experiences, while also retaining "traditional" beliefs of saving sex for marriage, or at least for long-term committed relationships.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia Marie

    This book was a feminist manifesto, a college thesis paper and a little bloggy all in one, which I think made for a strong piece of nonfiction to appeal to a larger audience. I preferred the academic and feminist parts of the book for sure as someone who does not belong to an evangelical or purity community. I was definitely raised in a strong religious background and I think Dianna's strong thesis here should have been Christianity should not be a religion of oppression because that is a religi This book was a feminist manifesto, a college thesis paper and a little bloggy all in one, which I think made for a strong piece of nonfiction to appeal to a larger audience. I preferred the academic and feminist parts of the book for sure as someone who does not belong to an evangelical or purity community. I was definitely raised in a strong religious background and I think Dianna's strong thesis here should have been Christianity should not be a religion of oppression because that is a religion I could believe in. A few things unclear: intended audience (academic, Christian women, feminists?). There was more academically I craved here but I can find out about in another method, so this book was maybe a good springboard into subjects that interest me. Who is Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, what do they really think and complete history/modern formation/importance to political society. I think I would have liked this book as a young teen who didn't know much about subjects that Dianna treated as as an intro to feminism, rape/consent, LGBT, racial justice and ableism--I would have been fascinated and wanted ot know more, because I didn't til college. One of the strongest parts of the book is when Dianna really deconstructs that purity culture ACTUALLY means being white, thin, cisgender, able bodied. We read this for a feminist leaning book club I am in and we polled how many people completed the book. Most did not because we knew that evangelical Christianity is a big part of middle America but we ourselves were not part of it--we were a really diverse background of cultures and religious tradition. We had a really great discussion though and I would recommend it as

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    I wanted so badly to love this book. It addresses a very important issue in the church, and I do think it's important that we examine how we approach the subject of purity. As Anderson makes abundantly clear, "purity culture" has led to a great deal of confusion, disillusionment, and pain, particularly in young women. My issue with this book wasn't the overall premise, or even the content. I think that the organization and the structure of her arguments were extremely poor. Anderson clearly did I wanted so badly to love this book. It addresses a very important issue in the church, and I do think it's important that we examine how we approach the subject of purity. As Anderson makes abundantly clear, "purity culture" has led to a great deal of confusion, disillusionment, and pain, particularly in young women. My issue with this book wasn't the overall premise, or even the content. I think that the organization and the structure of her arguments were extremely poor. Anderson clearly did a lot of research for the book, but she does not organize her findings in a logical manner. She also draws heavily on her own experience, but she leaves out the most crucial part of her experience: What made her change her views. Instead, she jumps straight from "I suddenly realized that sex is something I might one day enjoy" to telling her first sexual experiences. She then spends the rest of the book operating on the premise that sex before marriage is appropriate for Christians - an extreme statement that she only slightly backs up with study or explanation. In fact, there is an entire chapter entitled "Choosing Celibacy" in which she doesn't make a single positive comment about celibacy. I gave the book three stars based on one magnificent chapter about the importance of "enthusiastic consent" in any sexual encounter. She discusses the damaging ways Christian authors have used stories of women being coerced into sex. She also explains beautifully how rape and coercion can occur even within marriages - how being married to your partner does not necessarily make every sexual encounter appropriate. Even if you read no other part of the book (or if her disorganized arguments bore you halfway through), I highly recommend skipping ahead to read that chapter.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elissa Anne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I believe Christians need to read this book. It is time for us to start talking about our sexuality instead of simply swallowing everything we are taught. This really opened my eyes to American purity culture and rape culture. I'm Australian and quite frankly it's not quite as intense here as it is there. We don't have purity balls. I think we do hint at rape being the victims fault in some instances and this is something that needs to stop. Christians here also definitely shame their brothers a I believe Christians need to read this book. It is time for us to start talking about our sexuality instead of simply swallowing everything we are taught. This really opened my eyes to American purity culture and rape culture. I'm Australian and quite frankly it's not quite as intense here as it is there. We don't have purity balls. I think we do hint at rape being the victims fault in some instances and this is something that needs to stop. Christians here also definitely shame their brothers and sisters for sexual "sins." Dianna really tests the boundaries. I don't necessarily agree with her ethics around premarital sex, but I agree things cannot remain the same as they have been. Shame needs to stop. Sharing sexual experiences needs to be encouraged and accepted in christian circles. Thank you for challenging Christendom!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    What this book does well is showing how the purity culture is heteronormative and based almost exclusively on the white, male experience. Anderson demonstrates how those who are not heterosexual, white and male become others and are dehumanized by the movement. Their experiences are ignored and devalued. What this book could have done better is the analysis of the five myths purity culture teaches. That section should have been a chapter in its own right. Because those myths were not properly ref What this book does well is showing how the purity culture is heteronormative and based almost exclusively on the white, male experience. Anderson demonstrates how those who are not heterosexual, white and male become others and are dehumanized by the movement. Their experiences are ignored and devalued. What this book could have done better is the analysis of the five myths purity culture teaches. That section should have been a chapter in its own right. Because those myths were not properly refuted, I'm afraid people who are currently in the movement are not going to give Anderson's arguments credence. In summary, this book is really important but I'm afraid it won't be read by the people who need to read it the most.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Morgan

    I grew up steeped in purity culture. I heard all the stories, went to all the conferences, and felt all the shame you could possibly feel as a fifteen year old girl, questioning every aspect of herself, and being told she was inherently wrong. This book gets that. Dianna gets that. I didn't agree with all of her takes but this book is worth reading for everyone who grew up thinking they were a piece of chewed up gum, who wrote letters to their future spouses only to realize they were gay, who we I grew up steeped in purity culture. I heard all the stories, went to all the conferences, and felt all the shame you could possibly feel as a fifteen year old girl, questioning every aspect of herself, and being told she was inherently wrong. This book gets that. Dianna gets that. I didn't agree with all of her takes but this book is worth reading for everyone who grew up thinking they were a piece of chewed up gum, who wrote letters to their future spouses only to realize they were gay, who were coerced into sex and thought it wasn't rape because they had let down their guard. For everyone hurt by how the church has tried to control sexuality, gender, love, and pleasure, this book is for you.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily McFarlan Miller

    I've written before about Christian purity culture and the conversations that need to happen there, even with people who think differently from you – maybe especially with people who think differently from you. Dianna E. Anderson is one of those people who thinks a little differently from me about this, and I'm grateful for her new perspectives. She writes graciously and gives us all the vocabulary needed to have the conversation. I received a free ARC of this title from the publisher to review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    HQ

    Wish I would've read this in high school or college. In my case most of the author's messages encouraging reflection, exploration and self-determination of one's sexuality was preaching to the crowd. But for my younger self, it would've been revolutionary. I'd recommend this for "recovering" Christians who are wrestling with/questioning traditional church teachings on sexuality/gender roles. You may not agree with all of it, but there is a lot of food for thought and questions you should be aski Wish I would've read this in high school or college. In my case most of the author's messages encouraging reflection, exploration and self-determination of one's sexuality was preaching to the crowd. But for my younger self, it would've been revolutionary. I'd recommend this for "recovering" Christians who are wrestling with/questioning traditional church teachings on sexuality/gender roles. You may not agree with all of it, but there is a lot of food for thought and questions you should be asking yourself.

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