Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free Review

From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s purity culture has had on a generation of young women—in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir.

In the 1990s, a “purity industry” emerged out of the white evangelical Christian culture. Purity rings, purity pledges, and purity balls came with a dangerous message: girls are potential sexual “stumbling blocks” for boys and men, and any expression of a girl’s sexuality could reflect the corruption of her character. This message traumatized many girls—resulting in anxiety, fear, and experiences that mimicked the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—and trapped them in a cycle of shame.

This is the sex education Linda Kay Klein grew up with.

Fearing being marked a Jezebel, Klein broke up with her high school boyfriend because she thought God told her to, and took pregnancy tests though she was a virgin, terrified that any sexual activity would be punished with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. When the youth pastor of her church was convicted of sexual enticement of a twelve-year-old girl, Klein began to question the purity-based sexual ethic. She contacted young women she knew, asking if they were coping with the same shame-induced issues she was. These intimate conversations developed into a twelve-year quest that took her across the country and into the lives of women raised in similar religious communities—a journey that facilitated her own healing and led her to churches that are seeking a new way to reconcile sexuality and spirituality.

Sexual shame is by no means confined to evangelical culture; Pure is a powerful wake-up call about our society’s subjugation of women.

Title:Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Canadian Reader

    Klein’s book about the “purity movement” and sexual shaming of girls within the powerful evangelical community in the U.S. may focus on a worthy enough subject, but the writing is so pedestrian ...

  • Sarah

    Thanks to Touchstone and Netgalley for this ARC. I grew up on the fringes of purity culture. It wasn’t part of my religious upbringing, but I was pretty well acquainted with the movement as a teen i...

  • Mehrsa

    I didn't grow up evangelical, but I completely understand this purity culture and I'm glad people like Klein are writing about it. The purity myth is another great book on the same theme. I did not lo...

  • Christina

    This book is sad on two levels. 1. The traumas experienced by so many women and the fact that distortion of Christian doctrine led to their abuse and/or struggles, in many cases driving them away from...

  • Touchstone Books

    Wow. Shocking, deeply empathic, and meticulously researched, Pure exposes a terrifying phenomenon in this country—one that affects us all, evangelical or not. ...

  • Ali Shaw

    I was raised in an evangelical community that HHS’s subscribed to purity culture. I lost count of the times while reading this book I felt relief and horror that other people had the same feelings a...

  • Janelle

    A timely, relevant, harrowing, and eye opening memoir about the purity movement.If you’re anything like me, you find it fascinating to learn about a person’s life that is so different from your ow...

  • Julia Graf

    The subject matter is interesting but the writing is so stiff and basically just a transcript of her interviews. I was expecting more insight and conclusions from this book....

  • Robert D. Cornwall

    As I finished reading Pure, the U.S. Senate was concluding a day long hearing pitting the memories/claims of a previously obscure woman and the nominee for a life-time appointment to the U.S. Supreme ...

  • Heather Yockey

    A weekend read. Once I started, I couldn’t put down. Mainly because of the stories, each page reminding me of a world that’s a long ways back in my rear view mirror. Wondering if 12 years ago, whe...