197: Rachel Joy Welcher | Talking Back to Purity Culture
Rachel Joy Welcher | Talking Back to Purity Culture
Rachel Joy Welcher works as an editor at Fathom Magazine and Lexham Press and received her Master of Letters in theology from The University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
She is the author of three collections of poetry and the book Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality (IVP, 2020).
Rachel lives in a small town with her husband, Evan, a pastor and fellow author, and their longed-for daughter, Hildegaard.
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Rachel Welcher and Amber discuss holding up God’s sexual ethic while proclaiming the truth that Jesus forgives and how purity is not a badge of honor that promises us a spouse, a great marriage or a fulfilled sex life.
Questions Discussed During Talking Back to Purity Culture:
- (8:37) As a young, Christian female growing up in the 90’s you read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye, When God Writes Your Love Story, among others. What messages did you begin to internalize in your youth about Christian sexuality and marriage?
- (13:23) What are some of the things that God does teach about purity in marriage from his word that differ from some of the messages authors would share?
- 918:07) Regarding your book, Talking Back to Purity Culture, you said, “My goal is not to create a new sexual ethic but to help the church return to a more faithful, orthodox understanding of the Bible says about sexuality and the grace and forgiveness we have through Jesus Christ.” Will you expound on that a bit?
- (22:46) You write, “We wore purity rings as badges of honor, forgetting that it is Jesus who cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The Christian pursuit of sexual purity is biblical, but it must flow out of a recognition that it is Jesus who makes us pure.” How does that shift change everything?
- (25:42) Christian teachings on purity will often place more responsibility on women to preserve the purity of both genders through modest dressing, body language, and so on. Where does this fall short and what are some more healthy ways we can discuss these topics with girls today?
- (34:13) Reading books in a group can help facilitate conversation on hard topics. How did you encouraged those conversations when you were teaching?
- (36:43) I deeply appreciate that you end each chapter with discussion questions and an activity. With that said, when readers get to the end of your book, what lessons do you hope they will have learned about sexual purity?
Talking Back to Purity Culture Quotes to Remember:
“We practiced all the purity culture, rules about saving sex for marriage, and we were married and had a very beautiful marriage for about four years. But around that time, he started to question his faith and ultimately decided he no longer wanted to be a Christian. When he realized that he didn’t want to be a Christian, he didn’t want to be married to a Christian either, and so he divorced me…I was left to wonder a few things. One, is God punishing me? Like, did I not live out the rules well enough? Does God still love me? Or were these rules, these promises that I thought I’d earned through my good behavior, maybe they weren’t actually promises God had ever made me?”
“One of the messages I internalized was this idea that good behavior is always rewarded by God with good gifts. And you see some verses in Proverbs that seemed to promise that, but one of the things I think I was missing…the suffering Christ. The fact that God loved Jesus more than anything, and his love could include suffering and loss. And so I had internalized this message that if I save sex for marriage, and was very good in that way, that I was insuring myself a great marriage, a great sex life and the ability to have kids.”
“The idea that marriage solves lust is another promise that purity culture taught that is not true.”
“What we see in Scripture is that we are all guilty. We all need Christ, and He makes us pure. Now, obedience does matter. But…our obedience is not what saves us… [and] our past is not what determines our purity. Ultimately, it’s Christ.”
“I try to encourage people to view the pursuit of sexual purity as a form of worship…We don’t strive for holiness, because we’re earning God’s favor. We strive for holiness as worship in response to the purity he has already granted us.”
“Every single one of us is a sexual being, and that is a God created good.”
“I believe that the pursuit of sexual purity is just one of many ways that we worship God, with our body, our heart, our mind, and our soul.”
“You can’t treat someone as a sister if you view them as just a walking temptation, and you never look them in the eye.”
“Women were dehumanized in purity culture, by being depicted as just temptation, or that our bodies themselves were sinful, just because they’re beautiful.”
“I believe that purity culture also dehumanize men by treating them as though they they don’t have the Holy Spirit as much as women do.”
“Don’t forget that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Cling to that in your weakness, cling to that on good days. And remember that he is your righteousness, and you are whole and complete in him.”
- 2 Cor. 5:21 – We are righteous in Christ
- Heb. 4:14-16 – Sympathetic high priest
- John 1:14 – God became flesh
- Book: Talking Back to Purity Culture by Rachel Joy Welcher
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