It sounds like a story from the Book of Exodus (if it were written by a feminist); alas, it is actually happening. In Denver, Colorado, a liberal Lutheran pastor named Nadia Bolz-Weber is calling on women to send her their Christian "purity rings" so that she can make herself a vagina statue.
The Christian Post reports that Bolz-Weber, founding pastor for Denver’s House for All Sinners and Saints, announced on Twitter her "massive art project" to create a golden idol to female genitalia in protest of evangelical purity.
"Beginning November 12th, until December 17th, you’ll have the opportunity to send in your purity rings to be melted down and recast into a golden vagina," she explained on her website. "This sculpture will be unveiled at the 2019 Makers Conference."
Those who send Bolz-Weber their rings will receive a "certificate of Impurity as well as a SHAMELESS, impurity ring."
Evangelicals sometimes refer to such purity rings as "promise" or "chastity" rings. They are typically given to young girls as a sign of promise to abstain from pre-marital sex.
Bolz-Weber explained her desire to "take down" the evangelical purity culture at the 2018 Makers Conference. Speaking with HuffPo, Bolz-Weber said her position is one of determining for herself what is good, not what others dictate.
"This thing about women that the church has tried to hide and control and that is a canvas on which other people can write their own righteousness ― it’s actually ours," Bolz-Weber said. "This part of me is mine and I get to determine what is good for it and if it’s beautiful and how I use it in the world."
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has developed generally liberal views on abortion, homosexuality and universalism. Bolz-Weber said her denomination has largely supported her.
According to the Christian Post, the purity movement among evangelicals began in the 1990s and 2000s partly because of Joshua Harris’ 1997 book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," in which he suggested that dating should only be for preparing for marriage. Harris has since apologized for that viewpoint, saying he presented an unhealthy view of recreational dating.
"I didn't leave room for the idea that dating could be a healthy way of learning what you're looking for in a long-term relationship, that it could be a part of growing personally," he admitted. "I gave the impression that there was one formula that you could follow, and if you followed that, you'd be happily married, God would bless you, and you'd have a great sex life and marriage. Obviously, the real world doesn't work that way."
"Fear is never a good motive," he said, adding, "Fear of messing up, fear of getting your heart broken, fear of hurting somebody else, fear of sex."
Tim Challies, an author and pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, recently said that Harris over-reacted to the prevailing culture.
"This usually happens when Christians are attempting to counter ideas that are prevalent outside the church," said Challies. "Instead of reacting in a measured way, we collectively over-react. I think the purity and courtship movements were two examples — or perhaps one example, since they were so closely aligned."