America and the evangelical church is wrestling with the ramifications of purity culture: a teaching that tells people they should not have any sexual contact before heterosexual, monogamous marriage. In some circles, purity culture also demonizes masturbation, sexual fantasies and even simply being attracted to or aroused by someone else.

The teaching has fueled abstinence-only sex education and led to a generation of people feeling deep shame for their sexual desires resulting in sexual dysfunction, violence and confusion.

Reckon talked to author and V Emily Joy Allison, about her book, “#ChurchToo,” which discusses how purity culture teachings have upheld abuse in the church. In our interview on IGTV, Emily shared some resources for people who are looking to establish their own sexual ethic outside of purity culture. Here are her recommendations:

Regardless of your faith, Emily suggests you read

  • “Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms” by Mathias Roberts
  • “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski (great for cisgender women)

Emily’s reading for LGBTQ Christians

  • “A Lily among the Thorns: Imagining a New Christian Sexuality and Liberating Sexuality: Justice between the Sheets” by Miguel A. De La Torre
  • “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” by Matthew Vines

Emily’s reading for pastors and teachers

  • Our Whole Lives Sex Education Curriculum from the Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Metropolitan Community Churches provides theological resources for ministers, which you can read here.

Emily’s watching for Christian parents of LGBTQ kids

Emily is listening to

How do I find support for recovering from purity culture?

You can buy Allison’s book #ChurchToo direct from the publisher or from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Bookshop or from your local independent bookstore.

Read Reckon’s reporting on purity culture here.