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On Her Knees
Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel
Brenda Marie Davies
Foreword by Joshua Harris

HARDCOVER; Published: 4/6/2021
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7853-3
Price: $ 22.00
232 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.5
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DESCRIPTION

“The problem was, because Purity is an idol (a validated and worshiped idol), I didn’t know who or what I’d be without my totem. My Christianity depended on Purity.” 

Going to a conservative Christian church when she was young, Brenda Marie Davies heard a consistent message—save yourself for marriage—that instilled in her fear and shame about sex. But after moving to Los Angeles at nineteen and finding herself suddenly exposed to a world far outside her comfort zone, she was forced to wrestle with the power and perversity of Christian purity culture. 

On Her Knees chronicles Brenda’s spiritual journey over the course of a decade in LA, through marriage, divorce, unlikely friendship, and sexual exploration. Through it all, she began tearing down the false idol of purity while refusing to abandon her faith. 

Told with raw honesty, sans obligatory shame, this is a story for anyone who wonders if it’s possible to love God without fearing sex, in all its shades of grey.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Act One
     1. Mansion
     2. Steeple
     3. Sinners
     4. Saints
     5. Wolf
Act Two
     6. Idol
     7. Atonement
     8. Madonna
     9. Revelation
     10. Libertine
Act Three
     11. Severance
     12. Jezebel
     13. Succubus
     14. Satyr
     15. Indecision
     16. Altar
Epilogue
Recommended Resources

REVIEWS
“This is a testimony unlike any you’ve heard because it’s so honest. Brenda refuses to repent of learning, and failing, and even blesses her rebellion for what it taught her about life, pleasure, and real faith. What will upset the tightly wound religious more than anything is her insightful critique of the stifling, spiritless, dead church that she left behind. Brenda doesn’t pretend that everything was roses and rainbows back home. This legalistic, ‘elder-brother religion’ is not what she returns to—it’s what she comes back to dismantle and reform.”
— Joshua Harris
from the foreword
“Davies journeys from evangelical Christian purity culture to Hollywood at its hottest as she struggles to reclaim a sexuality that has been squeezed, suppressed, used, and abused to meet the disparate desires of men. In the process, the young woman who spent most of her life on her knees—be it for a rock-and-roll god or a religious one—learns to stand up for herself. Hers is a story with which many young women, forced to reconcile the world’s incongruous expectations for their sexuality, will identify.”
— Linda Kay Klein
author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free
“Behind the walls of fear, shame, and opprobrium, Eros always seeks a way through the cracks. Brenda Marie Davies is that rare brave soul who trusted the instincts of her desire. Now, with On Her Knees, she looks back on those walls and cleaves open those cracks, so that others, like her, might find their way out of the shadows and into a place of sexual authenticity and self-integration.”
— Ian Kerner
sex therapist and New York Times bestselling author of She Comes First
“In On Her Knees, Brenda Marie Davies exposes the lies of evangelical purity culture that have long crushed the spirit and ruined the lives of millions of faith-filled Christians. This brave and honest story exposes the experience of thousands like her who have suffered the debilitating shame of the patriarchal purity movement. In contrast, stubborn and resilient explorers like Brenda, who listen instead to the quiet voice of their hearts, offer an alternative. They hear the true loving voice of God. It is a voice calling them toward truth, calling them toward love, and calling out the abuse of power that has long been the tradition of patriarchal Western empire religion.”
— Tina Schermer Sellers
author of Sex, God, and the Conservative Church: Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy
On Her Knees is no flimsy summer ‘beach read.’ No, it’s the kind of book that grabs you by the shoulders and makes you think. In this book, Brenda Marie Davies takes readers on a guided tour of conservative Christian purity culture that will leave them haunted. With the precision of a surgeon, she vividly explores the way purity culture distorts the way people view bodies, sex, and the Divine. From the carnage of an evangelical hellscape, Davies offers hope for self-acceptance, healing, and, dare I say, salvation.”
— Jonathan Merritt
contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch
“Refreshing and honest, On Her Knees provides a soothing antidote to all of us who grew up in the shame-addled world of purity culture and a shocking, unfiltered anecdote to those who did not. A vital and necessary work for one and all, no matter your upbringing.”
— Karen Maine
writer and director of Yes, God, Yes
“Reclaiming spirituality after the loss of religion is a complex, and often painful, journey. For many of us, what feels most frightening is that we believe we are doomed to take that journey alone. But in her profoundly candid memoir, On Her Knees, Brenda Marie Davies offers herself to all of us as both sister and mother, companion and guide. Let this book wash over you like a baptism—a stunning reminder of the holiness of your entire being.”
— Jamie Lee Finch
author of You Are Your Own: A Reckoning with the Religious Trauma of Evangelical Christianity
“Brenda Marie Davies brings important truths to the long, complicated history and intersection of sexuality and spirituality. She is a sex-positive Christian, and her journey in On Her Knees is a must-read for anyone struggling to reconcile their faith with their orgasm.”
— Liz Goldwyn
author, filmmaker, and founder of The Sex Ed
“Brenda has the courage to talk about a topic that most others either won’t touch or that they distort through the lens of purity culture—and she does so with strength, knowledge, vulnerability, clarity, and authenticity. Not all will cheer her on, but they will have to listen.”
— Peter Enns
author of How the Bible Actually Works and The Sin of Certainty
“Davies’s story reads like something out of our sacred text: a narrative full of humanness, complexity, and faith. By telling us about her life and what she has learned, she carves out even more space for a spiritual life in the grey, inviting us to see that no matter what we have been told there is room for the holy in our sensuality.”
— Hillary L. McBride
author of Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
“What Brenda does in On Her Knees is expose the all-too-common story of what happens when power corrupts faith communities. It’s a hard look at how the bad theology inherent in evangelicalism is lived out in our actual bodies. And, better still, Brenda is showing us all a better way to be followers of Jesus in the here and now. Said another way: the bitch can preach. Read her book.”
— Kevin Miguel Garcia
author of Bad Theology Kills: Undoing Toxic Belief and Reclaiming Your Spiritual Authority
“In this honest—and at times raw—memoir, Brenda Marie Davies leaves behind the god she calls Purity to rediscover the God of love. With searching candor and open-heartedness, Davies writes about the damages she suffered from purity culture and her path into greater authenticity, compassion, and faithfulness. On Her Knees is both a compelling read and a thoughtful companion to anyone on her own journey of desire and temptation.”
— Natalie Carnes
author of Motherhood: A Confession
“There’s a lot of imagined, wished for, regrettable, forgettable sex—and body talk, and bawdy talk—in this memoir, but it’s absolutely not sexy. Davies has a sexual story only a former fundagelical could write—where body and spirit have come completely and tragically untethered from one another. That’s not what the church intended, but it’s what the church has wrought for lots of us. God help us get ourselves put back together. Stories like this should help.”
— Katie Hays
founder and lead evangelist of Galileo Church and author of We Were Spiritual Refugees
“Brenda Marie Davies has had an extraordinary life, and yet there is nothing extraordinary about her efforts to overcome the shame of evangelical purity culture. Fear of God’s punishment, guilt about sexual desire, and self-blame are themes that resonate for anyone who has struggled with the exacting toll of sexual purity. Written with candor and grace, Davies’s unique story holds truth for so many of us who are seeking to find unity between our bodies and our souls.”
— Sara Moslener
director of the After Purity Project and author of Virgin Nation: Sexual Purity and American Adolescence
“I used to think you were either happy or sad. There was right and wrong, good and evil, black and white. You were a believer or you weren’t. But then life happened. Brenda leaves the comfort of what she’s expected to believe, who she’s expected to be, and in the chasm between expectation and lived reality, with a perfectly imperfect journey, she courageously steps outside cultural and religious norms and into the immense grey. In the space between, she discovers a God more loving, healing, and expansive than the flattened version she learned about in Christian purity culture. Davies boldly shares her story, shame free, and contagiously invites us to dig deeper into our stories, beliefs, and narratives about love, sex, God, and who we believe ourselves and others to be. No matter who you are, what you do or don’t believe, there is an invitation for you in this book as you encounter God in the grey.”
— Kat Harris
author of Sexless in the City and host of The Refined Collective podcast
“As a fellow spiritual refugee of the religious abuse known as purity culture, I found Brenda’s memoir at times oddly familiar—although at times notably much more star-studded and juicier than my own life. In the vacuum that remained after leaving her evangelical, patriarchal concepts about sex behind, she struggles to find a new morality, a new sexual ethic, that honors her convictions, her desires, and her sense of agency. Brenda deconstructs the toxic theology she inherited with honesty and raw humor and unearths for the reader something precious in its wake: grace.”
— Elle Dowd
preacher, activist, educator, and author
Publishers Weekly
“An introspective account of [Davies’s] journey through religious purity into sexual freedom. . . . Though some traditionalists will bristle at the premise, it’ll provide much food for thought for Christian women who have questioned the restrictions and expectations set upon their bodies.”