“Abstinence Only” Exposed as Subversive of Actual Evangelical Values

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/abstinence-only-exposed-a_b_1737130.html


“Chastity is getting a makeover. Surrounded by a sex-saturated society, millions of young people are pledging to remain virgins until their wedding night. But how, exactly, are evangelical Christians convincing young people to say no when society says yes?” So writes Christine J. Gardner in her brilliant book Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns (University of California Press).

Making Chastity Sexy is important and perceptive in a profound way that casts light on a large subject — religion in general and evangelicalism in particular when it comes to attitudes toward sex, life and religion. Gardner (an evangelical herself teaching at an evangelical school) takes her readers far past merely investigating the sex education/abstinence campaigns to make the point that individualistic society and the autonomous self has become the means of the “wait until marriage” virginity — sanctifying movement. In other words the evangelicals are using pop culture techniques to make abstinence only “sexy.”

Implicit in the abstinence sex “education” programs being promoted around the country, on which billions of dollars have been spent by the government especially during the Bush era, is the belief that committing to delay sex until marriage makes sense only if one has a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ. At the heart of the campaigns that are supposedly about sex education is a belief that without a “new life in Christ” the life of abstinence is almost impossible to follow. Thus abstinence only programs like True Love Waits, Silver Ring Thing, and the Pure Freedom are selling virginity as a sexy choice of personal affirmation using consumerist techniques that are promising “better sex,” in fact “great sex” and perfect marriages ifvirginity is maintained as a “gift” for the prince or princess, God will lead you to as a reward for putting on that ring, signing a pledge and delaying sex.

Studies have shown that those who pledge to maintain their virginity and who do not keep the pledge are less likely to use contraception when they break their pledge and have sex. A 2009 study published in the magazine Pediatrics uses the data to compare pledgers and non-pledgers who share similar characteristics and found that after five years the pledgers were just as likely to have had sex as the non-pledgers. Other studies find that the sexual behavior of virginity pledgers does not differ from that of closely matched nonpledgers, and pledgers are less likely to protect themselves from pregnancy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/abstinence-only-exposed-a_b_1737130.html

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