Joy Williams has left purity culture. Like, in a major way.
Last year, she released a new music video for the song “Woman (Oh Mama).” When I found it a few months ago, my first thought was: if CCM shunned Jaci Velasquez for her underwear scene in Chasing Papi, what will they ever do with Joy Williams’ nude music video?
For anyone who didn’t grow up in the conservative Christian movement, these are bold moves.
She explains her decision in an interview with Diffuser.
“So much of this music video (and the upcoming album) is about acceptance, transcendence, forgiveness and growing stronger for having stared into the darkest places within myself,” Williams explained in a statement. “That’s when the light begins to appear, the transformation.”
And if you’re wondering why she was cool with doing away with the clothing in parts of the video, she says, “I am a universe wrapped in skin. Maybe too much skin. But I felt I needed to show who I was from the inside out. Who we all are.” Read More: Joy Williams Bares It All in ‘Woman (Oh Mama)’ Video
Relevant magazine explained her career in 2009 like this:
A one-line bio of former CCM singer Joy Williams reads like this: girl hits it big, sabotages own career. Signed on the power of her arena-spanning voice, Williams burst on to the Christian radio charts at the beginning of the decade, and went on to sell more than 250,000 copies of her first three albums and picked up 11 Dove Awards (think Grammys for the Christian subculture) along the way.
Only problem was, she wanted out. After her third album, the then-24-year old found herself in a musical situation that she didn’t have any passion for. “I got signed when I was 17, before my senior year of high school,” Williams explains. “I had grown to a different place as person. I either had to change things drastically or become a duplicitous person.”
But they still interviewed her after her album released in summer 2015.
Back when I was growing up fundie, my pastor still thought her music was marginally okay after Jaci was considered too secular, like the scandal of Amy Grant and Sandi Patty before her. I still remember her for By Surprise (2002) and Genesis (2005).
Just so you can see how far Joy Williams has come in her own journey, take a look at what Dannah Gresh wrote about Joy Williams and Rebecca St. James in her book Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty back in 2004:
When this book was written, Rebecca St. James was one of the young, homeschool alum leaders of the purity movement in evangelical subculture, right up there with Joshua Harris and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. She was in the spotlight. So was Joy Williams.
And now the girl who only gave side hugs wears flowy dresses and bikinis and shares quiet moments with her newborn baby and how life is good.
Back in college, I wrote about how I left purity culture behind. I stopped believing things like this.
Let me be honest with you. If you are aggravated with this or are planning to ignore it, you probably don’t have a modesty problem. You have a love problem. You see, when you truly love God, you obey Him. His guidelines for living may still be hard to swallow, but you still follow them because you realize it’s about loving Him. (pg. 81)
Now I recognize that when Dannah Gresh writes this, it’s just control and using my spirituality to promote an agenda. I’m learning to accept my own humanity as a beautiful, unique creation. And that I am enough.
Together, the millenials are kissing purity culture goodbye. And we are embracing freedom.