Recent Reads: Damaged Goods by Dianna E Anderson

Damaged Goods

What the book's about: As it's subtitle suggests, Damaged Goods is about new perspectives on Christian purity. Using her own story as well as stories from interviews she conducted, Dianna explores some of the damage Christian purity culture has inflicted on young adults before then offering an alternative: The formation of a sexual ethic. 

Why I read this book:  As a high school youth pastor, sex is always something that teens want to discuss. When we last discussed this two years ago, my curriculum felt dated so I decided to overhaul it. I read Damaged Goods in preparation for doing just that. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "A generation of Christian women & men, girls & boys, is broken & hurting from the sexual dysfunction & shame of purity culture." 

- "God's children are never 'damaged goods'." 

- "Sexuality is not the center of a person's life, faith, or health. Yet an unbalanced and improper understanding of sexuality can put everything else in life off-kilter." 

- "Biblical literalism & hard-line stances on purity have created cages. The 'ethic' of purity is simply a set of rules about when to say no, rather than an education in how to say yes." 

- "Holiness, for a Christian, is not about following some set of rules in order that God will not punish us, but rather about embracing the wholeness of our humanity and understanding and exploring our very selves."  

- “By reducing married sex to babies & bonding, the purity movement runs the risk of reducing the sacredness of sex to a biological function. Such thinking takes sex out of the realm of the mysterious & sacred and places it in the banal.”

- “As the Apostle Paul says, our bodies are temples, and temples, in Paul's time, were houses for the divine. In honoring the temples of other's bodies, and their stories, we honor God.”

- "The purity movement places women in a position of supposed power where they own sex & have the ability to dole it out at will. But such a position turns sex into a transaction, rather than an exploration of knowledge & self." 

- “God doesn't function in a currency of shame. Shame isn't from God, it isn't of God, and it isn't something Christians should engage in.”

Who I'd recommend this book for: Those who have been scarred by the Christian purity culture of True Love Waits will find Damaged Goods liberating, as will progressive Christians.  

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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