The focus of the show was a family of four - father, mother, two daughters, 18 and 16 - who are part of the purity movement and have attended Purity Balls in all their splendor, including the purity pledge/covenant ceremonies. Also featured were Jessica Valenti, author of "The Purity Myth", as well as a couple of individuals from the documentary I recently wrote about, Purity Ball founder Randy Wilson and Jessica (the young lady who became pregnant, ultimately chose a different path than her family's, and has been estranged and shunned because of it).
I'm glad to see this cultural, cultic insanity confused with religion being covered by the mainstream media. That said, there was much left to be desired. In all fairness, one hour (which translates to 40some minutes of actual airtime) is barely enough time to introduce the issues relevant to this subject. It'd take a month's worth of shows just to scratch the surface. Some good questions were asked, and some good observations were made, but I'd like to have seen someone more studied on cultic forms of religion (or even a qualified psychologist) asking the questions rather than Anderson (who likely knew only as much about the issues as his producers told him) or audience members who know nothing of the dominionist movement, or, who know nothing of the ideas behind the ideas. At best, I have a "battlefield commission" on this nonsense, but at that, I'd have liked to be the guy speaking into Anderson's earpiece with "Now ask this..."
The show revolved around the sexual aspect of the purity movement, and the religious undertones were either avoided or everyone was just oblivious to it all. This was largely due to Valenti's book, or at least that's my assumption (I haven't read her book). I agree with Valenti 100% that the purity movement pushes against sexuality with more sexuality - which is ridiculous, but coming at it from that angle is, in a lot of ways, like trying to cure a disease by treating the symptoms. Until the source of the wound is addressed and treated (the crazy, dominionist religious ideas), all the rest is just so many words in the wind. That's where the show dropped the ball, in my opinion.
For instance, the double bind that these purity pledges put these young women in. You sign away your own will, and if you ever come to the realization that you're an independent, autonomous person, with the same access to God as any other person (including your father or pastor), and have no need for a human mediator, the contract itself is used against you as proof of your lack of "character and integrity". The father of the family of four insisted that the purity pledges were his daughters' idea. To me, that's a roundabout admission of genuine suckage as a father. NO good or responsible father would agree to something like this. NOT ONE.
The two daughters were quite obviously naive and oversheltered in a lot of ways - if not every way. The eldest (in the brown dress - who rocked side to side for almost the entire show - she felt a lot of pressure and was searching for a comforting rhythm) mentioned a boy she had once kissed and how the relationship had deteriorated, mutually, after the fact. What she didn't go into was WHY the relationship deteriorated. The smart money is on "because daddy said so". THAT's some ground I'd have liked to have seen plowed. It was one of those moments where I wish I'd been in Anderson's earpiece. Also, she, and the rest of the purity movement people, kept insisting that it wasn't just about sex, that people shouldn't be judged strictly by sex, that purity was about the whole person, physical, emotional, spiritual, yadda, yadda, yadda... Yet, when she began speaking of some women she considered "impure", Anderson asked her, "Why do you consider them impure?" Her answer? You guessed it. "Because they've had sex." Why he didn't follow up meticulously on such a gross contradiction is beyond me. Everything these girls had to say just went in circles. Round and round and round. As is common in cultic groups, they could give you the company line to obvious and expected questions, but struggled to substantiate anything when questioned further. Their minds have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that they've become part of the collective, for lack of a better description.
Randy Wilson just made things worse every time he opened his mouth - saying that these Purity Balls were originally supposed to be about fathers being the fathers they're supposed to be, or something or other. He's just a dominionist nutjob. He was angered by even having to be there, and the frustration showed on his face and in his phrasing. He's a true believer - just the kind of stooge the dominionist movement/cult needs to forward its agendas. He also needs a better hairpiece. Preferably one that doesn't look like roadkill. In a short video package that Anderson played about Purity Balls, there was a clip of Wilson talking about "fathers being the High Priest of the home". As far as I'm concerned, here's the bottom line for homes where the father acts as "High Priest of the home"...
Such homes are absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably NOT Christian homes. Christ has been done away with. The Holy Spirit is obsolete. There's no argument otherwise that I can see. None. Either Christ is your High Priest or daddy is. Not both. Claiming Christ while denying Christ is a spiritually futile undertaking.
I believe Randy Wilson loves his children, just as I believe the parents in the family of four love their children, just as I believe most P/QF parents love their children. The problem is, doctrine is valued over person, and that love has become religiously/culturally perverse and unhealthy, denying personhood to human beings created with free will and, through the tearing of the veil, given full access to God through Jesus Christ, not through daddy.
The most telling moment in the entire show happened when Jessica (not Valenti), the girl from the documentary "The Virgin Daughters", shared a very, very small snippet of her story. While she was speaking, they cut to a shot of the two daughters on stage, and then to a couple of shots of purity movement girls in the audience. They LOATHE Jessica. They hate everything about her. In their faces, all at once, was this hatred, disdain, fear, loathing, and a complete disregard for her humanity. She was beneath them, rebellious, and didn't deserve to be heard.
The "whole person" my ass.
Just for context, I'm gonna list a few of the 8 dynamics of cultic Thought Reform of Robert Lifton. Those that I'm listing below were/are relevant to issues/behaviors that came up on the show...
MILIEU CONTROL the most basic feature is the control of human communication within and environment if the control is extremely intense, it becomes internalized control -- an attempt to manage an individual's inner communication control over all a person sees, hears, reads, writes (information control) creates conflicts in respect to individual autonomy groups express this in several ways: Group process, isolation from other people, psychological pressure, geographical distance or unavailable transportation, sometimes physical pressure often a sequence of events, such as seminars, lectures, group encounters, which become increasingly intense and increasingly isolated, making it extremely difficult-- both physically and psychologically--for one to leave. sets up a sense of antagonism with the outside world; it's us against them closely connected to the process of individual change (of personality)
MYSTICAL MANIPULATION (Planned spontaneity) extensive personal manipulation seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative the "principles" (God-centered or otherwise) can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment) the individual then develops the psychology of the pawn, and participates actively in the manipulation of others the leader who becomes the center of the mystical manipulation (or the person in whose name it is done) can be sometimes more real than an abstract god and therefore attractive to cult members legitimizes the deception used to recruit new members and/or raise funds, and the deception used on the "outside world"THE DEMAND FOR PURITY the world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group) one must continually change or conform to the group "norm" tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group's controlling and manipulative influences once a person has experienced the totalist polarization of good/evil (black/white thinking), he has great difficulty in regaining a more balanced inner sensitivity to the complexities of human morality the radical separation of pure/impure is both within the environment (the group) and the individual ties in with the process of confession -- one must confess when one is not conformingSACRED SCIENCE the totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited a reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychologyDOCTRINE OVER PERSON every issue in one's life can be reduced to a single set of principles that have an inner coherence to the point that one can claim the experience of truth and feel it the pattern of doctrine over person occurs when there is a conflict between what one feels oneself experiencing and what the doctrine or ideology says one should experience if one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intenseDISPENSING OF EXISTENCE since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist "being verses nothingness" impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence by joining the group fear manipulation -- if one leaves this group, one leaves God or loses their transformation, for something bad will happen to them the group is the "elite", outsiders are "of the world", "evil", "unenlightened", etc.