In his July 27 "ASK Dr. Brown" episode, Dr. Michael Brown examines the good and bad consequences of the so-called purity culture, a movement that originally sought to inspire young people to live virtuous lives rather than fall to all kinds of sexual immorality or impurity.
"If we're talking about a culture that encourages purity versus a culture that encourages impurity, obviously all of us who love Jesus want a purity culture not an impurity culture," he said.
However, he admitted that the term "purity culture" has now been tarnished, particularly when Josh Harris, the best-selling author of "I Kiss Dating Goodbye" and a pastor for years before renouncing his faith, said that he regretted teaching about so-called purity culture.
The Line of Fire host explained that by adopting Harris' statement and his quitting the Christian faith, many others have spoken out about how they, too, have been harmed by their negative experiences under the purity culture.
Brown clarified that the last thing he wants to do is deny that people were harmed or that there was legalism.
He said that for others, their experience with "purity culture" was extremely damaging, blinding, legalistic, and one-sided, with all of the focus and responsibility placed on women.
"On the other hand, for many, this was just being Biblical. This was just recognizing our bodies are not our own, or our bodies, in terms of their sexual aspects, are made for our spouses and nobody else. That the last thing that we want to be doing is parading around in such a way so as to draw sexual attention to ourselves," he went on.
Loving the beauty of holiness
Concerned about what he perceived as a swing from one extreme to the other, Brown said that he fears today's generation would have little understanding of "holiness, modesty, and purity from within."
Brown's concern was sparked by the commotion over Pastor Bryce Brewer's apologies for telling female students at summer camp to wear one-piece swimsuits.
Thus, Brown refers to Scripture, claiming that genuine disciples of Jesus would "love holiness" and enjoy the beauty of worshiping God with their bodies. He did, however, clarify that holiness and modesty are reciprocal, with both men and women glorifying God with their own bodies.
"That's a far cry from legalism," he commented. "That's a far cry from trying to change people from the outside, and that's a far cry from shaming people into living rightly."
Legalism to license, and hyper grace culture,
For the callers take on the "purity culture," the first one who claims to be a Gen Xer, said that the pressure espoused with purity culture was unsuccessful in keeping young people from sleeping around. However, he agreed with Dr. Brown that it is still reasonable to require couples to remain pure before marriage in accordance with God's Word, which mandates that Christians abstain from fornication.
The second caller, a woman, was similarly concerned about the pendulum swinging too far to the opposite side. She said that since there are progressive books out there that mock purity culture, college women would often utilize the "grace" card to get past purity.
"The very thing that I've preached about for decades is don't run from legalism into license," said Brown in response. "This is part of the hyper-grace culture. This is part of the culture that looks at any standard as legalism, any call to holiness or purity as death giving and guilt driven. It doesn't realize that the grace of God calls us to a higher standard than the law."