Surfed the internet lately? If yes, then you may have seen a few headlines relating to sex in the Christian community. First, there was the Duggar’s older son inappropriate sexual touching before he was married, Billy Graham’s grandson’s infidelity in a crumbling marriage, and Bristol Palin announcing her 2nd out-of-wedlock pregnancy despite being a public advocate for abstinence. In the old days, all these visible Christians would have been publicly shamed for the rest of their lives.
The reality is we are all sinners, prone to temptation, and each and every one of us have committed sins and will commit sins in our lives. Welcome to the reason why the Bible talks about redemption. Despite knowing that, I do get a sick pleasure when limelight Christians screw up. Why is that? Because it shows that no one is immune and we need to be careful of our actions when we decide to put ourselves in the forefront as perfect Christian leaders.
Let’s chat about abstinence . First, let me say that I do not believe in abstinence only education. Our society is not set up to re-enforce that concept. Second, abstinence does not address some important biological and situational nuances that typically lead to breaking that vow. Third, abstinence is a difficult practice to maintain especially the more sexually charged you are and the length of your intimate relationship.
I believe there are two kinds of abstinence: one is the letter of the law abstinence and the other is the spirit of the law abstinence. When people talk about abstinence they are referring to no sexual penetration using the male and female sex organs. Therefore, if two people in a relationship never have coitus, then they have fulfilled the letter of the abstinence law. This letter of the abstinence law is very important for virgins and those who want to remain “pure” until marriage. However, the spirit of the abstinence law is very different. This is in reference to ALL sexualized behaviors ie. mutual masturbation, over and under the clothes touching of breast and genitals, anal sex, oral sex, foreplay and everything that stops short of penetration. If Christians should be judge by the spirit of the abstinence law, then a great number would be found guilty.
I applaud the concept of no sex before marriage. It’s a great idea for a number of reasons; however, by the time most couples get to their wedding night they have already engaged in various sexualized behaviors “to take the edge off,” and the only thing left is the grand finale. True abstinence is not an easy feat. Christian couples engage in the same dating style such as spending quality and alone time with their partners. Like all relationships, the two people are instinctively and biologically sexually drawn to each other, and each intimate alone time breaks down the abstinence defenses.
When was the last time you went on a date with a chaperone? Do you always kiss your partner on the cheek with a side hug? When the phone conversation turns intimate do you stop and say “God would not approve because we are not married?” or have you instituted a rule that you don’t talk in the bedroom and not past a certain hour? When was the last time that the most intimate thing you did with your partner was holding hands for longer than 5 minutes?
If true abstinence is to be practiced, then the Christian couple has to become puritanical in every sense of the word. If you cannot do that, then it’s time to have the talk (You should have had this talk already if you decided to be in a long-term relationship). The talk should involve what to do if you can’t wait or the it-just-happened moment. It’s time to have the real sex talk and not the ignorant watered down ‘Christian’ version. The version in which birth control and pregnancy are a reality. The version in which when things go too far how do you work through it instead of being riddled with guilt, shame and sometimes blaming.
It’s obvious that Ms Palin, the abstinence advocate, found her own message difficult to uphold – twice. If it was not for the pregnancies, which is how most Christian couples are outed, she would have been able to hide the hypocrisy. I could take cheap shots at her; however, her failures show the holes in the modern-day abstinence message. I do believe that most Christians are very sincere when they take on the abstinence challenge. However, they fail to see and prepare for the inevitable obstacle which is to underestimate how strong one’s normal sexual desires can be in the presence of romantic partner.
For those who intend on practicing the abstinence spirit of the law, I wish you God speed because you will need it. I also wish that you put in place preventive methods instead of reactive measures. Abstinence in a relationship is a good thing; however, ignoring one’s natural sexual urges will make it a feat to truly accomplish in avoiding ALL forms of sexual activities before marriage.