“I got the idea for Purity while driving down a rural Georgia road. At the time, I thought it’d be a light fluffy, funny story about a girl losing her virginity. Then came the first draft, and the story that seemed simple became a much more introspective, philosophical tale than I’d anticipated, and required more soul-searching than anything else I’ve written.”
Shelby promised three things to her dying mother: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Keeping the promises becomes the glue that holds Shelby’s life together after her mother dies and her father becomes a distant shell full of grief. Keeping the third promise involves a “life list” of outrageous and adventurous things for Shelby to do.
Keeping the first promise has been easy so far. Since Shelby and her father seldom really talk to each other and Shelby doesn’t let him know much about what she’s doing, all she has to do is listen when he does tell her something. However, when Dad asks Shelby to attend the Princess Ball with him and recite a purity pledge, Shelby is aghast. Pledging to abstain from alcohol until she’s of age, from drugs completely, and from sex until marriage is totally unthinkable. But breaking the promise to listen to her father is also impossible. What can Shelby do?
With the help of her friends Jonas and Reba, Shelby comes up with a loophole, a way to keep both Promise #1 and Promise #3. If she loses her virginity before the Princess Ball, then Shelby will have no purity to pledge, making the Purity Pledge null and void! Great idea! All Shelby has to do is find a guy with whom she can have meaningless sex before the Princess Ball.
Then, we get a treatise on the three kinds of sex: making love (good), getting laid (neutral and inconsequential), and “dirty porno sex” (bad). Shelby decides to “get laid” since she’s not in love with anyone.
Make no mistake, there is a moral to this story—actually, several morals. Living life without restraint is good, and it means being free to have sex whenever and wherever you want. Sex is meaningless and mechanical unless you have it with a person you love; then it becomes a life-changing spiritual experience. A relationship with your father is good, unless he interferes in your life and your pursuit of happiness. “You’ve gotta be honest with the people you love” (says Shelby)—other people, not so much. And a God who lets your mother die of cancer is either cruel or impotent, so you should be very, very angry with God.
These are not the messages I want to read about nor the messages I want my daughters to learn. I want them to know that true freedom is found only in obedience to Christ and His commands. I want them to have a beautiful and loving sexual relationship with their husband someday, and until then, to trust that sex is a wonderful gift best expressed in the commitment of a marriage relationship. I want them to know that both their earthly father and their Father in heaven love them and desire for them a joy that is deeper than thrill-driven “happiness.” And I want them to know that purity is not a pledge; it’s a life of honesty and the knowledge of forgiveness before a holy God who loves us in ways and to a depth that we cannot begin to understand.
Purity, the novel, is preachy and didactic with a very twisted lesson to teach. It’s not the novel I would recommend to anyone, young or old, who is looking for either guidance or entertainment on the subject of moral purity and living a meaningful life.
Image copyright . Review copy obtained from the reviewer's local library.
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.
Note: A link on this page does not constitute an endorsement from BreakPoint. It simply means that we thought that the linked news item or opinion piece would be of interest to Christian parents of teens and preteens.