Broken and Poured Out {Book Club}

Broken and Poured Out {Book Club}

I came of age as “purity culture” strengthened in America in the 1990s and early 2000s. I wore the purity ring, read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and committed to wait to have sex with my future husband until our wedding night (I don’t remember if I ever actually added my name to a piece of paper or if it was just in my heart).

Many people have been deeply hurt by aspects of purity culture, even turning away from God. While I hold on to the good—my purity ring was a special gift and I do think it is important to have boundaries in all areas of our lives—I also have come to realize one of the dangerous undercurrents I held on to for far too long: judgment. And pride.

Our section for this week in Rethinking Sexuality included chapters on the gospel and sexuality, understanding our brokenness, and redemptive hope. In chapter six, Dr. Slattery shared the story from Luke 7 when Jesus dined at Simon’s house and a woman anointed Jesus’ feet. We read in Luke 7:37-38 (NLT), “When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.”

If I was in the room with Jesus and the others, I probably would have looked on in shock. This woman’s reputation preceded her. I would have thought, “At least I am not like her.” Judgment. Pride.

Dr. Slattery highlighted the others at this dinner party, and the three spiritual positions we might also find ourselves in. Perhaps we identify with this woman before she brought the perfume and crossed the threshold. Whatever has happened in our past weighs heavy. To even enter Jesus’ presence might feel impossible.

Or maybe, like me, you see yourself in Simon. He didn’t come right out and condemn the woman, but he certainly entertained judgment in his mind and heart. As Dr. Slattery wrote, Simon relished his “relative purity and wholeness” (p. 85).

Our judgment gets in the way of understanding and steals an opportunity to show compassion. Pride distracts us from our own brokenness, and we lose the chance to peel back layers to the longing or pain buried deep in others or in ourselves.

The woman who knelt behind Jesus and poured her heart right out with her perfume and tears knew the power of humility and adoration. I would have turned away in shame and fear, but she didn’t.

Dr. Slattery said, “Spiritual pride in Christian leadership may be the greatest barrier to sexual revival in our families, our churches, and our communities” (p. 84). I would also add, the spiritual pride in me. Pride that says I know all the answers or keeps me from seeking a connection with someone very different from me.

This was a longer section with a lot in these chapters! I’d love to know what stuck out to you. Is there a statement you are continuing to ponder? Something that made you furrow your brow or that you weren’t sure about? What stirs in your heart as you read the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet?

Here’s our schedule for the rest of the book:

September 21: Part 3 (Chapters 8-10)

September 28: Part 4 (Chapters 11-12)

In October we will be reading Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar! Here’s a summary of the book: In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.

6 Comments

  1. Rachel Kahindi September 14, 2021

    Chapter 4, The Purpose, was my absolute favorite. The concept of sexual desires driving us into covenant relationships and being a physical reflection of the spiritual desire we have (and people may not even realize it) for the eternal covenant relationship God offers us. Just as physical hunger and thirst reflect our more easily ignored need for spiritual food and Living Water. “This means our sexuality is infused with a significant spiritual purpose, regardless of our martial status.”

    Reading this chapter, I was in awe of the beauty of the metaphor, while at the same time so frustrated that the purity culture I grew up in was more concerned with who is or isn’t a virgin than communicating this. But what concerns me most now is communicating this to other believers as I am discipling them. (But I think that is what Part 4 of the book will be about.)

    1. Sarah Hilkemann September 17, 2021

      Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, Rachel! I keep pondering this and what it would mean to look at sexuality and the gospel this way. I appreciated that she included the single perspective too: “Single Christians know the ache and longing for a covenant love that hasn’t come. Even those of us who are married feel this longing because the “shadow” will never fully satisfy our true longing for intimacy” (page 56). 🙂

    2. Amanda Hutton September 27, 2021

      Yes Rachel! I agree that chapter four was fantastic. The Lord’s covenant with us is about so much more than right and wrong. I am so excited to process and reflect on this more. In my ministry context, it is normal for adolescents to shack up and teen pregnancy is quite common. I have always struggled with the “right/wrong” piece, and it just isn’t the right perspective for ministry, especially in a culture where it is NOT considered that “bad.”

  2. Michelle September 14, 2021

    I appreciated chapter 5 and specifically the focus on who or what are we fighting for. I loved Juli’s comment that we are not fighting to bring back a morality culture. That we are fighting FOR people, not against them. I also very much appreciated your comments Rachel. And the thought that ultimately our sexuality has a spiritual purpose as it reveals the longings in our hearts for intimacy.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann September 17, 2021

      Thanks, Michelle! Yes, such a good reminder that we are FOR people. She gets into this more in the next section I think but it is a helpful way of looking at it!

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