Talking Back To Purity Culture

Pastor’s Bookshelf - Welcome to my bookshelf! Each month I will discuss a recent book that I’ve finished. *disclaimer; I don’t always have time to sit and read physical books, but I do quite a bit of my reading through audiobooks these days.*

This month I’d like to talk about Talking Back to Purity Culture

By: Rachel Joy Welcher


I cannot recommend this book highly enough! I’ve known Rachel and her husband Evan (a fellow pastor) for a few years now through social media, and I was very excited when she began this project. When it first came out, it was my privilege to join the launch team, and I bought five copies personally. It is a phenomenal and much needed resource in this time of confusion regarding teachings on sexual ethics.


For those who may not know, “purity culture” refers to a movement in the 1990’s and early 2000’s that started with a desire to teach youth about sexual purity. It started with good intentions, but quickly became a toxic teaching that led countless young people into lives steeped in shame. As the description in the book writes, “many still struggle with purity culture’s complicated legacy – it’s idolization of virginity, its mixed messages about modesty and lust, and its promise of a healthy marriage and great sex for those who follow the rules.”


Now those students who were simply taught “no sex before marriage and nothing else” are all grown up and we have some questions. Rachel does a phenomenal job of calling out the problems with the way sex has been handled as a topic in the past, and yet she is careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” – to use the old expression. She presents a view of sexual ethics that rejects legalism AND license. It is not all about the rules, but neither do we want to say “just do whatever you want.” Instead, Rachel charts a new course that steers us back to the good news of Jesus Christ. I loved reading it, and I hope it blesses you as it blessed me.