In one passage, she blames relationship struggles she and Troutt experienced while dating on “‘small’ moments of compromise” of the contract.
“Here’s the thing—sex and all sexual acts were created to be experienced in the confines of marriage and to bring unity to the marriage,” she writes. “But when we experience them outside the covenant of marriage, they bring the opposite—all the destructive consequences Grant and I experienced and, sometimes, irrecoverable devastation. This is true for any sexual acts, not just sex. Anything done that arouses you. Whatever that means for you.”
The message is an uphill climb. On social media, and in society at large, women of all ages are unpacking how hurtful purity culture can be, and how toxic and sexist the messages gleaned from it can be (the hashtag #purityculture on TikTok has more than 450 million video views, mainly from people decrying it). Last month podcasters and TikTokers Syd King and Becca Stephenson, whose content focuses on unpacking the harmful messages of religion among other things, posted a video asking what the weirdest message purity culture taught their followers was, and got dozens of responses and stitched videos from women recalling the degrading messages they absorbed.
“My 8th grade BIBLE teacher told the girls if a shirt is fitted enough that I can tell you have breasts it’s tempting and inappropriate,“ wrote one person. “My church called women “stumbling blocks.” So anyway that was obviously my villain origin story…” wrote another.
Online, Troutt has her fans, but she’s also an object of scorn and lurid fascination by those who don’t share her beliefs. Last year, a TikTok Troutt posted of herself telling a crowd that “Jesus is the only one who can satisfy” went viral. It quickly became a meme. One creator’s video, in which he describes the things that “satisfy” him besides Jesus (a beanbag chair, an air fryer) got nearly a million views on TikTok. Another posted a response video in front of a cardboard box. “Everything in that box did come from Adam and Eve” (yes, she’s talking about the sex toy company).
“I knew that there was going to be backlash…this has been a part of following Jesus for as long as he’s been here,” she says. “People have not understood it and people have persecuted and hated and all the things. I’ve known that pretty much my whole life that it kind of comes with the territory. I expect it in a way, and in no way does it discourage me. In no way does it make me question what I believe. If anything, it just reminds me of why I do what I do and just encourages me to keep going.”
She is willing, though, to engage with critiques of purity culture, telling me that she knows that not everyone believes what she does. She’s insistent that even if they aren’t Christian, everyone can get something out of her book.
“I have the understanding that we’re all on our own journey and we’re all figuring it out,” she says. “I think those feelings that we all have of empowerment and knowing what we deserve and wanting to stay true to our values is really the message [of the book]. I would just encourage anyone, no matter where they stand in a relationship with God, that you deserve to be treated with kindness and love. All women deserve to be respected. My hope would be that all women would know their worth, and know that you don’t have to give your body to someone just to feel more worthy or to feel loved or accepted.”
Her message is resonating with fans, thousands of whom fill her comments with messages of support and asking for advice. Troutt says she spends a lot of time counseling women in her DMs and IRL after her speaking engagements, but says she doesn’t consider herself a preacher, exactly.
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“As Christians, we’re all ministers in some way,” she says. “I believe that we’re all ministering and communicating about something…for me, being a minister and just sharing my faith is so important. Almost even seeing it as [being] a missionary. I’m on [a] mission and my goal is truly just to encourage as many people as I can with the gospel that has saved me and brought me so much hope and joy and peace and my life. So yeah, I would definitely say to some level, but I probably wouldn’t label myself as a minister. I guess I would say a Bible teacher, or just someone who’s eager to share her faith or to hopefully influence people to want to pursue a relationship with Jesus.”
Three years after appearing on TV and launching her platform, Troutt has more followers than ever. If attention is currency, she’s rich. Every viral reaction video only spreads her message more, which is ultimately, what she wants. Looking at her feed, you have to wonder: is this the future of Christianity? Can the faith live on through a cadre of influencers for God, just like Troutt?