My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 Grapes of Wrath who said after a traveling preacher had attempted to save 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.
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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:
Here is the article written by the author noted in the above article:
Author's website and blog: http://diannaeanderson.net/blog