Friday, September 21, 2012

How NOT to Write About Abstinence

If I had read Waiting till the wedding night- getting married the right way (posted September 14) a few years ago, I would have agreed with it, thought "yeah, I'm definitely not having sex until I get married", and moved on with life without noticing anything wrong with the article.

Without noticing all the judging. Without considering how it might come across to people who disagree.

The writer blatantly says he is judging people who disagree. "We did it right. Feeling judged? I couldn't care less."

And the reason I might have read that and thought nothing of it is because I'd never heard the other side. I didn't grasp that REAL PEOPLE believe that it's normal to have sex without being married, and they have reasons for that, and a lot of those people are my friends. In mainstream American culture, abstinence is generally seen as silly.

And yes, Christianity told me about that- so many warnings about "the world does it this way"- but "the world" always felt like some big vague thing way out there somewhere, maybe on TV- not real people I might actually interact with, who have real lives and real reasons for believing what they believe.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but it is clearly a trap. Image source.

So when I read that article, I thought maybe the author doesn't know how it comes across. (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.) Maybe a lot of Christians (including me) are sheltered and don't realize how the things we say or believe get interpreted by our friends/ random strangers on the internet.

And how does it come across? Well, look at some of these responses: Redditors on r/TwoXChromosomes are angry and call him out on his judging. Jezebel mocks the article. Bloggers point out the flaws and hypocrisy of Christian purity culture and share about their own relationships, which are apparently "the wrong way".

And my response? I agree with a lot of what this guy believes. But I also see how it was received by the citizens of the internet, how they were hurt and offended and angry, and I agree with them too.

I plan to not have sex until I get married. (Haha, I refuse to use the term "waiting". I'm not "waiting" for anything- my life is awesome right now, thank you very much.) And I have a lot of reasons for that, based in Christianity and logic and my emotions, and I think it's a good decision. I think it's a good decision for me and other people too, and I'm happy to explain why, and I'm happy to listen to people's concerns about sexual compatibility and such. If we disagree, I'm not going to say "I'M TOTALLY JUDGING YOU" and tell them how much I pity them for ruining their life by making such a bad decision.

There's no need to judge. Virginity does not make you superior to anyone else. Instead, how about we present the reasons for and against having sex before marriage, listen to different points of view, and respect that people may have good reasons to disagree?


  1. Thank you for writing this. I'm in theory an atheist which is honestly besides the point. When people find out that I have no beliefs, they assume I'm the worlds biggest sinner. So it's difficult for me to hear from people of faith often on topics such as this, as they are too busy looking down at me (or waiting for me to turn into the spawn of Satan or something insane). I really respect you for understanding that people make their own decisions in life, and to respect that. It's refreshing and fantastic! So thank you, for not shoving ideas down anyone's throat. My thoughts on the whole matter- there's a lot more behind the character and nature of a person other than their sexual history, and as long as people have their hearts in the right place, who am I to judge or say anything against them?

    So thank you, from an atheist who believes in the good of the world, and that my sex life is entirely my own to judge, not anyone else's.

    1. Wow thanks! I definitely want to respect other people's beliefs/points of view, because they have real reasons for believing what they believe. Way too often Christians just judge without really understanding the other side at all.

    2. Christians along with the rest of the world. The world just needs some tolerance, love and hugs.

  2. I'm curious as to what your thoughts are regarding this topic and homosexuality. As a gay man, I'm frequently looked at as though I have three heads when I mention being abstinent; as though I'm a second class citizen (not that I didn't get those looks to begin with for who I am, but hey). I mean, there are six explicit prohibitions against homosexuality in The Bible- yet there are several hundred regarding straight relationships. By contrast, there is the whole Song of Solomon thing, but I'm not getting into that. I'm just curious about how you feel this applies to someone in a same-sex relationship.

    1. This is an interesting question, and I don't feel qualified to answer. :) My first thought would be that both gay and straight Christians shouldn't have sex outside of marriage, and for non-Christians, I can't tell them what to do (though I think in general it's a good idea not to have sex unless you're in a committed relationship). And then there's the question of what the bible says about gay marriage being okay or not, which Christians disagree on, and I wrote about that here.

  3. Beautifully stated. I'd say more but I'd just keep repeating myself, only with different words :)

  4. My first reaction to that article was to want to judge him right back. Thanks for the refreshing honesty (as always). And thanks for the Admiral Ackbar reference, as well. I giggled.