Why Abstinence Isn’t Working in America by Guy Chmiesleki
Excerpts (these are only portions; click the link above to read the whole page):
- The call to young Christians to be abstinent until marriage is not working.
Why do I say that?
The September/October 2011 issue of Relevant Magazine, in an article entitled (Almost) Everyone’s Doing It, starts with the following revelation:
- Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Two-thirds have been sexually active in the past year.
Even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, 76% of Evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong.
80% of young, unmarried Christians have had sex… Wow! 66% of them have been sexually active in the past year. And yet three-quarters of Evangelical Christians believe this is wrong.
In January of 2011 I wrote a post on my blog entitled, “Is sex before marriage really a sin?” I did this because I had increasingly been asked by “committed Christians” whether or not this was true — and where it said so in the Bible.
I figured that other campus ministers, pastors, parents, professors, etc. (the primary target of my blog) were likely experiencing something similar.
To my surprise, this post blew up and became the most viewed post on my blog for 2011. In fact, some version of “is sex before marriage a sin” or “is sex before marriage really a sin” shows up in the “key words” search of my google analytics (it’s a blog stat tracker — sorry for the nerdy blog lingo) multiple times everyday. Everyday!
And I’m quite certain that it’s not a bunch of non-Christians out there googling these words in an attempt to find justification for their sexually-free lifestyle.
No. It’s Christians who are single and either having sex, or really wanting to have sex, who are looking for justification… OR it’s someone who cares about them and is trying to find something definitive to read, study and point their sexually-active loved one towards.
A big part of the problem with abstinence is that it’s only half of the picture.
Christian pastors and parents are telling their kids to abstain from having sex (making it sound bad, or even evil), or to wait on sex until they are married (not considering that some –many — won’t ever get married…
or will have to wait for a long time before they say “I do”), and they’re not giving them any suggestions about how to deal with all of the natural urges and inclinations their young bodies are constantly bombarding them with.
This is why I like the idea of celibacy over abstinence. Celibacy includes the premise of abstinence — in that you need to hold off on sexual activity until marriage (should that happen for them… someday) — but it adds to it the bigger, more inclusive notion that for now (and for always) we can delight ourselves in God. We abstain from sexual activity and redirect those energies towards our pursuit of Jesus.
… And this leads us to the root of the issue of sexual promiscuity among young Christians (not to mention countless other issues they’re dealing with)… a lack of discipleship.
Our young Christians don’t know about celibacy, or how to practice it, because far too many of them are not engaged in a life of discipleship.
And this is likely linked to what they’re seeing modeled for them in their home.
Whether it’s an oppressive form of Christianity, or a more cultural one, many of our young people are coming from homes (and dare I say… churches) that don’t model a life of discipleship for them.
I would also add, or clarify to the author’s points, that celibacy and virginity are not presented as being workable, real alternatives for young people or even older singles by Christians.
It is just assumed by both Non Christian and Christian culture that nobody can withstand the cravings for sex, even though they damn well can.
As another article put it (and I noted this before myself on my own blog),
- The problem is that the very idea of living life without sex [by Christians, not just Non Christians] is now seen as taboo, thus many, including numerous churches, seem unable or unwilling to present long term chastity as an option, considering it unrealistic and outdated.
This has led to little support for Christians who are happy to remain sexually abstinent and, for now at least; do not want to consider marriage.
When Christians do publish articles or give sermons or podcasts about sex-related subjects in their online magazines or programs, the topics discussed generally and repeatedly run from “how to have a great marriage” tips, to, “oh my, isn’t it sad how many young men are viewing porn these days,” or, “young ladies should wear long skirts and be modest,” or, “Oopsie, another preacher caught in adultery this week.”
Noticeably absent from all this coverage are positive discussions about CELIBACY and VIRGINITY and how ALL PEOPLE – not just a “tiny gifted of God few” – are capable of keeping their penises to themselves or their skirts down.
I have yet to see a Christian magazine interview an honest- to- God Christian virgin who is over the age of 30, and they do in fact EXIST.
If someone is interviewed by a Christian show or publication about sexual matters and abstinence, it’s almost always a 30 to 35 year old, born again Christian, whose testimony typically goes like this (really, I have heard or listened to dozens upon dozens of these online, or on Christian television, the last ten some odd years):
- 1. (a.) [there may or may not have been a childhood history of sexual abuse by a step father, brother, or uncle, or they simply felt neglected and lonely as a child],
(b.) the person became very promiscuous as a teen ager, and possibly worked in the sex trade too (i.e., strip clubs, X-rated movies while in their 20s)
2. The person, while in their mid-20s or so, accepted Jesus, or re-devoted their life to Jesus, and became celibate (favored terms for this: “spiritual virgin,” “born again virgin,” or “secondary virgin.”)
3. This person then starts a “sex ministry” where she (or he) goes around America at Christian conferences, public school appearances, TV shows, or writing books, or being interviewed by Christian publications, about how she over came sexual sin to be chaste.
Then she goes on and on about the dangers of pre-marital sex and pornography.
There is sometimes also a book or program she is selling to churches or public schools on these matters.
I have yet to see a Christian magazine interview someone who is 30, 35, 45, 55 years of age (or older) who has never married and never had sex, and ask that person for advice, tips, opinions, and thoughts about sexual abstinence.
The person who is still a virgin past the age of 35 is more an expert on sex and celibacy/virginity than the 30 year old who boinked about in her teen years but who has not had sex the last two years. Christians don’t seem to understand this, though.
I have a history of alcoholism in my family. This is pertinent to my discussion about sex and celibacy, so please keep reading.
So, yes, as I was saying, I have a history of alcoholism in my family, among some immediate family and some extended family members.
Guess what? I’m a teetotaler. I do not drink alcohol.
Me being a teetotaler makes me more an expert on how not to cope with problems in life by not getting sloshed than it does some guy sitting in A.A., twelve step meetings. The recovering alcoholic has already failed. He turned to the bottle and had to climb his way out.
I never went in the bottle to start with when life got tough.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to ask the gal for advice who never went to the bottle how she managed to stay away, despite the temptation, than go to the guy who fell in?
I’m not saying you cannot learn anything at all about recovery and getting on with life from the person who failed and bounced back (you can learn a lot from those people), only it makes more sense to me to ask the never-done-that person the secret to their success.
It’s the same in the area of sex. Most Christians remain too ignorant of this point and prefer to interview, or look to as experts, the people who have failed sexually.
Yes, God can forgive sexual sin, but I don’t feel the church should be holding these folks up as heroes or role models, but they do.
And actual adult virgins – those who have not given in to temptation – are treated like freaks or losers, if we are considered at all by the Christian community. Then the idiots wonder why so many teen to adult Christian singles are porking before marriage.
Related posts this blog
The author of this admitted to having had pre-marital sex:
(Link): Sexual Purity Under Attack in Nation’s Schools, Says Christian Author Dannah Gresh
(Link): Stop Rewarding People For Their Failure – Christians Speaking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouths About Sexual Sin – Choices and Actions and How You Teach This Stuff Has Consequences – Allowing Sinners To Re-Define Biblical Terms and Standards