How Purity Culture Affects Your Enneagram Type

I have wanted to do a deep dive on the intersection of the enneagram and purity culture for a while, but I just needed to find the right enneagram expert to fill in the gaps. Thankfully, Kate Doyle of Against the Arrow reached out to me on Instagram with the same idea! Kate wrote this article about how toxic beliefs like purity culture affect each enneagram type.

We also brought our expertise together to create a free pdf guide that goes even deeper into each type, how toxic cultures affect both women and men of each type, and the growth path from toxic beliefs to freedom. Sign up for our free guide, “How Purity Culture Affects Your Enneagram Type” and you’ll also learn which of my 5 Purity Culture Myths affects each type the most.

Enjoy Kate’s article below and don’t forget to sign up for our free guide if you want to learn more!

As a teen in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I was inundated with messages by what we now refer to as “purity culture” by the church and Christian school that I attended. In my particular denomination, along with an emphasis on purity, I also lived in a culture of patriarchy. 

I’ve typically prided myself on being an independent thinker, never wanting to go along with something just because it was taught to me. I like to challenge ideas and even go against the grain at times. So, it shocked me to my core when I realized about three years ago just how much these harmful teachings had affected me. 

Like many people in the Evangelical church, especially of my generation, I got married very young. I was 20 years old. My husband was 23. He grew up on the other side of the country as me, but he had been raised in a very similar Christian church and school environment. I’m incredibly grateful to say that my husband did not buy into these toxic teachings and did not attempt to enforce any of them in our home (in fact, quite the opposite). Even so, because they had been deeply ingrained in me, they affected our marriage because they colored the way that I viewed myself in our relationship, and the way I viewed my husband.

What is Purity Culture?

Purity culture was a major focus of many Evangelical churches in the 1980’s and reached its height in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. It emphasized sexual purity before marriage, defined as complete sexual abstinence and put much of the responsibility of this on girls and women. Ironically, women in the churches that taught this were also steeped in patriarchal culture, and told that they could not be in leadership positions, teach men, and had to be submissive. In other words, the only time women got to be in charge is when it involved men’s sexual purity. There was a hyper focus on dressing “modestly” so as to prevent our Christian brothers from lusting. Girls were told that “boys will be boys” and that it was our job to keep the physical relationship from going “too far”.

But when we got married, we were to flip a switch and be completely sexually available for our husbands (bonus points if you could be enthusiastic about it all the time), not necessarily for mutual enjoyment, but to continue to keep our husbands pure from their natural “manly” tendencies to wander. This brought about a lot of guilt over “mistakes”, shame regarding our bodies, pressure to perform correctly, fear of betrayal, and mistrust of the men in our lives. These teachings also put a different kind of unspoken pressure on boys and men to conform to a particular kind of masculinity, one that is aggressive, domineering, and controlling. They were to be the head of the household and the church, after all. Dr. Morgante further breaks down the harmful teaching of purity culture in her article, “5 Purity Culture Myths”.

When the Enneagram and Toxic Beliefs Collide

A few years ago, some friends, my husband, and I had all started discussing the Enneagram. We read The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile and met weekly to discuss it. Then I began to listen to a lot of podcasts about the Enneagram personality typing system. It was life-changing to begin to really see and understand myself. I’m an Enneagram type 4 and if you know anything about that type, we are deeply emotional and suffer from an inferiority complex. (Keep reading to see how that played into harmful church teaching.)

Somehow, Enneagram podcasts rolled into religious podcasts and I was first exposed to the idea that church teachings do not always equal Christ-centered teachings. In fact, there are many things being taught and rules put into practice that promote the opposite of what Jesus demonstrated as the heart of God during his time on earth. 

Harmful teachings like patriarchy and purity culture will be received differently by the varying personalities. The first dose of harm for all the types is that these toxic cultures want everyone to fit into the same mold. They would say that to desire to know and understand yourself is sinful, or at best, navel-gazing. To want to stand out in any way, especially as a woman, is prideful. To question or have a different opinion is rebellious.

But how can we say this when God has created such a beautiful vast world full of variety, color, and mystery? How does this teaching go along with Jesus’ words that one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? By His example, it seems that Jesus wants us to love our neighbors well. Does that not mean we need to love ourselves well then? 

God is highlighted in the Psalms as knowing His beloved intimately, even to the number of hairs on our heads. I believe that as we know ourselves better, we are more connected to our Creator. As we love ourselves, we are led to worship God in a more personal way and freed to love others better.

I believe that as we know ourselves better, we are more connected to our Creator. As we love ourselves, we are led to worship God in a more personal way and freed to love others better.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram presents the idea that there are 9 basic personality types. Each has its own perspective on the world, its own particular vices to wrestle with, its own set of unique strengths to offer. We all develop our personalities naturally as we try to make sense of the world. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona, meaning mask.

When we discover our Enneagram number, or personality type, what’s being revealed to us is all the ways that we have built up a mask of defenses and coping strategies to protect that deepest part of ourselves, that person that God created us to be. So, we all have particular vulnerabilities, limiting beliefs, and false messages that we’ll be prone to fall victim to. The Enneagram goes beyond describing how people behave, and reveals the why behind the behavior. You can have 9 people in a room doing the same thing for 9 different reasons.

The 9 Enneagram Personality Types

In the following brief overview of the Enneagram types, you’ll read about what drives each of them and how these motivations can either be their gifts or go awry when lacking self-awareness. 

To read more on how toxic purity culture affects each type in a more specific way, and also what healthy growth looks like, download our free guide, “How Purity Culture Affects Your Enneagram Type”.

Type 1s (Reformers) long to be good, to do the right thing, and to follow the rules. They have an eye for seeing what can be improved upon. They live life with an inner critic that is constantly pointing out their own faults to them. They avoid being bad, wrong, or at fault.

Type 2s (Helpers) are driven by making connections with people. They have an intuition for other’s emotional state and their needs. Their biggest fear is feeling unwanted or unloved. They can find themselves living dependent on the affirmation of others.

Type 3s (Achievers) equate their value to their success. These are go-getters, looking to be the best at whatever they do. They have the ability to adapt to any scenario they’re in in order to meet the expectations of whatever group they’re a part of. This can come at the cost of not knowing who they really are.

Type 4s (Romantics) experience a depth of emotion, unafraid of facing truth no matter how hard it is and are often creative types. They long to be seen and understood for who they are, but more often believe themselves to be on the outside of things. They suffer an inferiority complex that sometimes results in self-sabotage.

Type 5s (Observers) tend to be very withdrawn. They observe the world around them and spend a lot of time gathering the information they believe that they need in order to independently make their way through it. We all benefit from their capacity for information and creativity as they churn out innovative ideas and concepts. They compartmentalize their life and frequently take time alone to recharge.

Type 6s (Loyalists) are stereotyped as planners, always thinking ahead and being prepared for any possible scenario. They fear being without support. Some of their preparedness comes by making connections in order to form support systems. They distrust their own instincts and lean heavily on their support, authority figures, and outside systems.

Type 7s (Enthusiasts) are experts at finding the silver lining. Their busy minds constantly think ahead to new ideas and new adventures. There’s a compulsive need to reframe anything negative into a positive. The energy, planning, and reframing can come from a place of fear. The fear is of getting stuck in a negative space, having to face any pain residing inside or pain that might present itself in the present moment.

Type 8s (Challengers) are bold, direct, and hate feeling controlled. They will fight for and protect themselves along with others who can’t protect themselves. Displaying such strength means being out of touch with their vulnerabilities but at their core they have a heart that cares deeply.

Type 9s (Mediators) have the ability to understand all sides of a situation. They’re very intuitive to the energies of those around them and they are always scanning for disturbances of peace (internally and externally). The desire for comfort and peace wins out over facing their own needs and desires.

If you don’t know your Enneagram type, a typing session is a great way to discover it.  I’ll be there with you each step of the way as you aim to connect to the truest part of yourself that’s hidden beneath the mask of personality.  To learn more about coaching sessions, connect with me through my Instagram, website, or email.

And now that you know about the Enneagram, you may be curious to learn how your personality type is affected by purity culture. Download our free guide to go even deeper into each type, how toxic cultures affect both women and men of each type, and the growth path from toxic beliefs to freedom.

About Kate:

Kate Doyle is a certified Enneagram coach at Against the Arrow where she gets to follow her passion for helping people understand who they were created to be, and thereby live with more confidence, compassion and grace for themselves as well as for others.

You can get in touch with her through her website Against the Arrow or on Instagram @againstthearrow

Though raised in the midwest, Kate and her PNW husband have called New Jersey home for most of their 17 years of married life. They stay busy raising their 3 sons, 1 daughter, and rescue dog Nyla.

Other Related Blogs

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close