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The Image of God and Sexuality – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Jan 182007

There is a very disturbing thing going on to encourage abstinence among Christian teenagers and children. It started with Purity Balls “a memorable ceremony for daughters to pledge commitments to purity and their fathers to pledge commitments to protect their girls.” I could not find the pledge the daughters make on their website, but here is the pledge the fathers make:

I, [daughter’s name]’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

This year the same organization put on an Integrity Ball for mothers and sons. There was no mention of the mothers making a pledge to their sons, but here is the pledge the sons take:

I, _________________________, choose before God to remain pure in my lifestyle, as I grow toward the goal of manhood, and until such a time that I marry.

I will be a young man of integrity and accountability as I strive to be an example to those around me. I will be bold and courageous, no matter what.

Today, I choose to seek after the high calling of God in every area of my life.

During the Purity Balls girls and teenagers are told to keep themselves pure for their future husbands, and as seen in the pledge, fathers pledge to “cover” their daughters and protect their virginity. During the Integrity Balls boys are told that the every girl they will date is someone else’s daughter and potentially someone else’s future husband. Would these young men want another man messing around with their future wife? Boys pledge to take charge of their lives and body; fathers pledge that they will protect their daughter’s virginity. Exactly how does Generations of Light (the organization behind the balls) view women?

Generations of Light view women as objects to be managed by men: first by fathers then by husbands. Instead children and teenagers should be taught that they are created in the image of God, and for that reason alone they need to respect each other. Boys should have been told that every girl they date is made in the image of God, and he needs to respect her and treat her accordingly, and girls need to hear the same thing. Christian teenagers also need to realize that first and foremost they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They might date, and they might break up. They will eventually get married, but through all those transient relationships, they are still brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is that girls and women have sexual drives and needs as well as boys and men. This assumption that men are aggressively sexual and women are to be passive resistors of temptation is a horrible patriarchal myth that needs to end. Both men and women have sex drives, and both men and women have access to the fruit of self-control that the Spirit gives us. We should be teaching our teenagers how to cultivate self-control and set boundaries that will help them keep these pledges they make. It goes with saying that girls should be making their own pledges to take control of their lives and bodies as do the boys.

When men and women view each other as made in the image of God, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we can respect each other and cultivate the self-control that is necessary to resist sexual (and all other) temptations. When a woman is a person in her own right and a man respects that, then they can set biblical guidelines and boundaries to their relationships.

Did you know there are only eight verses in the Bible that discourage women from speaking and holding leadership positions in the church? Did you know there are thousands of verses in the Bible that tell the stories of women who were leaders in their homes, towns, and religious circles? Meet the women in the Bible who were religious & civic leaders, business women, & women who challenged both Jesus and Moses in What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School. What else didn’t you learn in Sunday School? Find out when you buy What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut Up & Sit Down from Wipf and Stock Publishers or Amazon.com today.

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  7 Responses to “The Image of God and Sexuality”

  1. Amen, sister friend! Awesome post! I liked how you critiqued this: ” fathers pledge to “cover” their daughters and protect their virginity.”

    My father is rather conservative, but has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about my sexual behaivor. I appreciate that. I don’t know why, but I would find it creepy if my father signed a pledge like that.

  2. well said Shawna- I too find this whole issue rather disturbing!

  3. Thank you both for your comments. Mermade I would find my father signing a pledge like that creepy as well.

  4. I think of american christians as prude. This creates a dissonance between the public and domestic. Christian americans seem to have no body between the upper chest and knees in public, and I have never seen so much “secret sins” as in the states – even among christian youth having had oral and anal sex is not rare…

    It also seems that persons of opposite sexes can´t relate to each other in an unsexual manner. They can´t be just friends.

    In Sweden, the issue isn’t that much of an issue. We expect youth to abstain, and also makes it clear it is perfectly possible. They can socialise, be friends – it is not unusual for a girl and a guy to hang out alone. It is not even rare that married people have friends of the opposite sex – I know my wife and I do.

    I think a lot of the problems in this area in the States is rooted in you making it such an issue, and also maintaining a mythology that says that sex is a uncontrollable beast that, once given the opportunity, will be unstoppable.

    Retelling and believing in that myth creates fear, tension and a situation where people can’t be made responsible for their choises and actions – they can’t be expected to control the uncontrollable.

    The ball you describe is a horrible example of this.

  5. Pastor Astor, I agree with you, and it’s great to have the perspective of a Christian outside of the United States because we do not have a healthy or a theological view of sex.

    One of the things I hate about our culture is the way opposite sex friendships have been wiped out. I think the Swedish have a much more healthy and biblical view of relationships and sex.

  6. YES!! Great post. And “bleeeech” for the “covering” *&%+!

  7. Thank you Dorcas. 🙂

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