I find the purity movement that I lived through while I was both an adolescent female and an evangelical Christian absolutely horrifying in retrospect. Perhaps it is in bad taste to speak ill of the dead, but I couldn’t help but barf in my mouth a little today when I read people on F-book gushing about WHAT A GREAT ROLE MODEL Elisabeth Elliot, author of Passion and Purity, was. I didn’t want to viscerally insult some of my friends who are still trapped in the self-hating, sex-shaming, husband-defined life of fundamentalism… So here I am on the blog that is only occasionally read by random strangers.
Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity can pretty much be summarized with the old adage “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Eh? Eh? *Nudge*” I’m not sure what else to say about her, except maybe leave you with some cringe-worthy quotes which pretty succinctly summarize why I’m not a Christian anymore.
“I took it for granted that there must be a few men left in the world who had that kind of strength. I assumed that those men would also be looking for women with principle. I did not want to be among the marked-down goods on the bargain table, cheap because they’d been pawed over. Crowds collect there. It is only the few who will pay full price. ‘You get what you pay for.'”
“What God gives us is not necessarily ‘ours’ but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes.”
“Did I want what I wanted, or did I want what He wanted, no matter what it might cost?”
Crass economic metaphors for marriage, total insistence on self denial… Can anyone else please just come out and say that what she stood for was horrible, and that being a sad, old virgin is heartbreaking in a way that no amount of prayer to a non-existent God can make up for? That she lead a whole host of women down a path like lemmings to a life devoid of intimacy and fulfillment?
What I find incredibly disturbing are some of the comments left on this book’s Goodreads page. One girl gives the book only 1 star, not of course because it’s TERRIBLE, but because it WASN’T PURITANICAL ENOUGH. “When they got married, it was only a relief that they didn’t have to control themselves any longer, rather than a joy to see the two united in the service of God.” Good point, actually! That many people who are obsessed with purity inevitably become obsessed with sex.
Another girl asks a question: “What does this book say about oral sex?” GOOD QUESTION. Well, I don’t remember her saying ANYTHING about it, although I imagine that if she would have had an opinion on the subject that it would have been more buy-the-cow business. Someone had the nerve to comment daintily “what a vulgar question!” I guess what she should have asked was “What are my substitution options?” Ya know, swap the fries for a side-salad? Food/object/diet comparisons, E.E. would have LOVED it.