(Photo by Selma Komisky)
By Zelda Dominguez
Today I’m reflecting on my family’s cultural views on purity. I come from a Hispanic background, and I’m just merely relating my own experience and perhaps you can relate.
In my family next to my parents was an older brother whose job was to watch over me. I remember him telling me as a child not to run around so much because falling would scar up my legs and when I grew up, boys wouldn’t like that. I was active, what they use to call a tomboy so it was confusing why that would matter.
The topic of sex never was spoken of but there was this whole connotation about a girl wearing white on her wedding day. It seemed extremely emphasized like a bride leveling up, donning her trophy gown as if waving a banner to all that she was worthy to be in this elite group. And if you heard that someone got pregnant out of wedlock there was this immediate rumble of talk as to why was she wearing white? It was a big requirement taught without mentioning a word of sex. Let me add if she still wore white to save face, and hide her baby bump, there was a gasp, along with whispers in the shadows.
But before that, you had to have a boyfriend, someone that my parents met, and approved of. In my family, my parents and other relatives got married young. I, on the other hand, was still not married in my twenties. So I’d hear my mother say, “Oh she’s a career girl”, as to make an excuse for my singleness. I think they felt it was a reflection on them in some way that maybe their daughter wasn’t good enough. Maybe it wasn’t that, but that’s how I read it.
My family’s comments planted seeds of inadequacy. Now I was in my thirties and still single. Relatives would talk and of course, the question came up, “when is she getting married?” “Is she serious with this guy?” “Don’t you want grandkids?” One day I could hear my mother talking to relatives downstairs. My mom was saying my high school sent a questionnaire looking for me not thinking I still lived at home. They were having a reunion and it asked for my address. My mom quickly retorted, “ ZERO” What was my spouse’s name? Again, “ ZERO!” How long have I been married? “ZERO!” How many children did I have? “ ZERO!” I could hear everyone laughing and my mom saying, “ haha she’s a big ZERO!”
Religion was central in my family. Whether they went to church or practiced, the beliefs, traditions, and superstitions were there. I grew up believing God was a god of wrath. If you were bad then he punished you. So growing up I thought having intercourse before marriage, was pretty much a ticket straight to hell.
For a girl in my family, there was no reason other than marriage you had to or were encouraged to move out. Reflecting I see these cultural views brought pressure, fear, and guilt. But once I became a believer in Christ, he brought me peace and love.
God is Love. The word khesed is used in the old testament many times in the original language, reflecting a boundless, loyal, everlasting, love in action, and this is the kind of love God has for His people.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son (Jesus), so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16
He showed the same kind of love beyond boundaries, titles, status, culture, gender, or tradition. He touched the leper, others considered unclean, or outcasts as he healed or ministered. Jesus broke tradition many times by engaging women in conversation, such as His encounter with the Samaritan woman or the adulteress. He dined with the tax collector and his friends and rebuked the religious leaders calling them hypocrites for focusing more on self-righteousness than obedience to God.
This was a key promise of God. Because of His loyal love, there would come a day when God would wipe clear the sins of the people: Jesus’s life was offered as redemption, salvation provided by God so that we could be in right relationship and have eternal life.