Or at least some of the reasons, anyway.
Pop-star Jordin Sparks (American Idol 6, “Sparkle”) made it public that she was taking a vow of chastity and waiting until marriage to have sex, but in an interview earlier this year, the singer seemed to have a change of heart, saying: "I don't wear it [purity ring] exactly everyday anymore, but I always have something there. When I was 13, my mom spoke to me about purity and waiting for marriage…at the time I was like, 'Sure that's great,' but I can't say what's gonna happen a couple of months from now. People grow." It looks like Sparks may be joining the club of starlets (ex. Britney Spears) who took a pledge of abstinence in youth and later made a different choice. There are a number of different reasons why abstinence pledges are reneged on, but 2 factors are age and motivation for the pledge.
Across the country, religious (many faiths discourage pre-marital sex; it’s viewed as a sin) and some school-based organizations have abstinence programs in which pre-teens and teenagers take formal oaths to remain chaste until marriage and/or don a symbolic ‘purity ring.’ It’s my personal theory that teenagers, especially in this day and age, are too young and immature to take such a vow. 1st, teenagers, individuals who are completely supported by others and viewed as children by the law, should not be having sex either way, but that’s a different conversation. 2nd, you set a young person up for failure when you ask them to make a decision that’s going to affect their adult life. At 13, 14 or 15, you’re being asked to make a decision that will affect you when you’re 23, 24 or 25? That’s unreasonable. That’s partially why so many college students have difficulty choosing or sticking with an academic major. At 18, you’re making a career decision for the REST OF YOUR LIFE? Considering that most high school students don’t have any in-depth preliminary help discovering what career fields might be of interest to them and what’s required to successfully attain employment, making that choice at 18 seems particularly ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with explaining the benefits of abstinence to young people or promoting the concept, but encouraging them to make a public declaration that they may be shamed internally or externally for breaking later may be the wrong approach.
One’s motive for chastity is a strong predictor of whether or not that person succeeds in keeping their pants on. Growing up in a fairly conservative Christian environment, I noticed the people who had additional reasons besides religion for waiting until marriage to have sex were the most successful in abstaining. In anything, most people need a strong interest or personal motivation to succeed. Motives affect effort and focus. Not doing something simply because an authority (in this case, God) told you not to is simply not good enough, principally when it doesn’t appear that there’s immediate consequences for disobeying the authority. For me, I don’t like the idea of multiple people being able to say they’ve had sex with me and they know what it looks like, smells like and tastes like. You can’t get any more intimate with a person than sex; I’m sharing and revealing a very personal side of myself. It isn’t just a way to a great orgasm; it’s a spiritual bonding act. Therefore, I’m keeping my cookies in the cookie jar until I get married. If you’re not good enough to marry, you’re not good enough to have my body. God could send me a burning bush (a reference from the story of Moses in the old testament of the bible) saying I could have pre-marital sex tomorrow and I would still wait. That’s just me.
While I’m on the subject of youth, Christianity and chastity, in some communities of faith, teens are almost taught to not even think about or discuss sex until marriage. You can’t effectively curb or control your sexual desires if you don’t understand what your triggers and weaknesses are. If one is sexually suppressed, they’ll likely struggle to handle being confronted with sex or a tempting situation. There are healthy, productive and safe ways to explore, discuss and learn about your sexual energy WITHOUT having sex. Youth ministers need to create an atmosphere for honest and open dialogue if they expect their horny teen parishioners to keep their “V-cards.”
As for Jordin Sparks…it’s always disappointing when a public figure decides (or in this case, contemplates) to renounce a chastity vow because I feel it feeds the notion and stereotype that abstinence promises are ones to be broken or are impossible to keep. When she mentioned her initial reaction to chastity at 13 and compared it to now with “people grow,” it implied that abstinence is like Trix cereal: it’s for kids and when you mature and “grow,” you don’t do it. This is going to sound harsh, but let’s be real- unless you have a new set of religious views or found your reasons for choosing abstinence shallow, deciding to have sex in your 20’s after being ‘pro-purity’ for 10 years (so pro-purity she brought attention to herself by saying on national television at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards: “It's not bad to wear a promise ring…because not everybody –guy or girl– wants to be a slut."
) is not the result of “growth” or a philosophical epiphany, it’s because you want to have sex. Assuming Sparks’ new “revelation” comes as she’s been dating singer Jason Derulo since late last year, I shake my head at the thought that all it took was for her to be sprung on a guy to dump a long-held belief.
When opposing homosexuality, some in the Christian faith use rather extreme and contemptuous tactics. Use of these tactics have resulted in a deep, ferocious social divide, violence, a negative stigmatization of Christians and the spread of stereotypes about the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender). For some of those who believe that homosexuality is a sin denounced by God, they think they’re supposed to angrily attack the concept, when the bible teaches of no such approach. The following article was written by Lasheena Allgood, contributing writer.
There are a lot of opinions and beliefs that are colliding in today’s society. As a true Christian, you want to be able to stand up for what you believe the Bible says in order to please God and show His love to the world. Some have success at living this out, while others display a self-righteous judgment, often accompanied by ignorance. Jesus gave us two things to live by: love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-32). In Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, he instructs us to “Keep reminding God’s people of these things…Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly (2 Timothy 2:14-16)”.
We find ourselves “boldly” standing for what we “heard” is right, when we haven’t studied what the Bible has to say on a topic, nor have we studied how to approach people. We waste a lot of time arguing. 2 Timothy 2:23-25 reads, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone and able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…”
A lot of people think that showing love and compassion towards someone with another sexual preference would mean that they’re compromising their own personal beliefs on the issue and agreeing with the person. There is a big difference between compromise and peaceful tolerance. As the passage in 2 Timothy illustrated, you can let a person know in a loving manner when you believe something is wrong without saying you agree with them. Before you confront someone on ANY issue, check your motives. Check your heart. Are you talking to them with the proverbial “picket sign” of judgment waving at their heads, or are you taking time to understand their plight? You should always try to gain understanding of a person’s heart and seek to confront them with God’s love and compassion in mind. If this is an issue you believe will truly put their lives in danger, it would be wrong not to tell them about it. However, confronting them in any sort of judgmental tone without truly seeking that person’s benefit makes your words and actions fruitless and those of a bigot. What is the purpose of standing in opposition to another’s actions or life without your desire to truly help them? It’s a necessary thing to take a stand for what you believe is right. However, the next time you wish to take that stand and confront someone, remember what God has told us about how to approach people with the correct words and motives. God will do the rest.-L.A.
Compromising or correctly following the Bible?
J.Says on the topic: I think part of the reason why some respond so aggressively, and sometimes violently, to homosexuals or homosexuality is because of their own personal disgust, fear or misunderstanding of the concept, NOT because of their faith. In some cases, faith is a tool used to justify behavior versus being the cause of it. Some could be atheists tomorrow and they would STILL behave the same way. Underneath all that doctrine and preaching is a deep hatred for homosexuals that is completely independent of faith and God. What angers me is that they won’t own up to that; spewing their hatred in the name of God and using Him as a scapegoat. Even if you believe it to be true that God does not condone homosexuality, it doesn’t require spiteful comments, harassment, humiliation and violence.
Nowhere in the Bible does God or Jesus designate violence and abhorrence as the proper way to handle those believed to be “sinful.” If it’s really about faith, the focus would be on the religion as a whole and what God can offer an individual. A picket sign would read “Here’s what this faith can do for you” versus “God hates you and doesn’t want you here.” Isn’t the goal to bring people to the faith? Those who act in hatred are defeating their own so-called “purpose.” I was once told that I shouldn’t be friends with those who are LGBT because I am a Christian. How am I supposed to bring others to the faith and show my “Christ-like example” if I’m not acquainted with them? I don’t know where some in the religion get the idea that we can profoundly reach people at an arms-length distance. Besides, Christian or not, I’m going to be friends with ANYONE I find things in common with that will treat me well and deliver as a peer.
On the subject of gay marriage & Christianity, I’m a firm believer in separation of church and state. This country is religiously diverse and to design laws based on ANY faith would alienate, disregard and disrespect those outside of said religion. Additionally, I think we have to be careful about what socially we allow the government to deem illegal. Not long ago, interracial marriage was illegal. If we give our legislators that kind of power, anyone they consider socially inappropriate, for any reason, could be at their feet. *drops the mic*
So, I’m at this get-together where most of the guests are from a local Christian student center near my university. There were a lot of interesting people there and I was having a great time mingling….then I came across this one international student who had been in the area for a while and was obviously an activities organizer for another Christian student center nearby because he kept plugging their upcoming events during our conversation. At first, I let him slide with it because I couldn’t knock his hustle; heaven knows I plug my blog and anything else I’m doing when I get the chance. But eventually, I started to get irritated as he kept probing me for details about what denomination I was, if I was a Christian in the 1st place, how often I went to church, etc. For example, we were talking about our career goals, and when there was a brief silence, he busted out with “So where did you go to church today?” I was thinking “WHAT THE HECK?!” Of course when I responded with “nowhere” (yes, I was bad and didn’t go), he says “Oh. Well, why not?” and I said “I just didn’t.” He started to preach a sermon, but seconds into it he stopped and said “Well, I’m not going to preach religion to you.” This was a sentence he said SEVERAL times at the beginning of the conversation. It was almost like he couldn’t help himself from going into random religious tangents. Now for me to explain why I brought this little exchange up.
The conversation reminded me of the many experiences I’ve had with campus Christian organizations and groups where it seems like the only reason they have any interaction with you is because they want you to join their group or sit in their pew. Their intention and goal is positive; they want you to become a part of a faith that’s personally brought them peace. That’s cool. That’s not my beef. My beef is with HOW they try to get you to join the faith. They get so wrapped up in trying to get you to co-sign that they forget WHY they’re doing it in the 1st place. They get so wrapped up, they forget to actually GET TO KNOW YOU. They don’t contact you or hold a conversation with you outside of a religious context. If you end up not being that involved with the organization or its affiliated church, you suddenly don’t exist anymore. Maybe if they stopped treating people like goals to be met, their member/renention numbers would steadily go up. How can you get people to become a part of a faith or find your faith interesting if you don’t know who they are on the inside, what their personal/or emotional needs are or what their background is? Campus Christian organizations often defeat their own purpose.
Their failure to get to know individuals on a deeper level often reflects and affects their worship services, as well. There’s been many a time where I heard a sermon or been to a bible study where I thought the topic was irrelevant to a college student’s life or needs. When you think something is irrelevant, uninteresting or not useful to you, what do you do? Check out and unplug. When people choose social circles and groups to be a part of, they do it based on usefulness. Wanna design a program that people will gravitate to? Want people to join your faith? Make it useful to them. How do you figure out what will be useful to them? GET TO KNOW THEM. Ok, I’m done ranting now. :)
When it comes to personal relationships (romantic relationships, friendships, family, etc.), I believe in egalitarianism; meaning being equal. When I express these views (within the context of marriage) in front of Christian women, it often starts a debate. Some feel that I seek to be “too equal” and I’m not “submissive” enough, which is displeasing to God. If you’re unfamiliar with these concepts, many have been taught that the bible instructs men to rule over their wives and make all the major decisions for the household singly. In some cases, this belief has lead to several wives being in marriages where they have no input in household decisions and have most of their needs and desires ignored. In more extreme cases, the belief has been used to justify mental, verbal and/or physical spousal abuse.
I disagree with the belief all together. I feel that the bible encourages egalitarian relationships.
Here are the two main verses that people harp on: Ephesians 5:22 and Col 3:18.
Eph 5:22 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the lord.” KJV
Col 3:18 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the lord.”
Now, based ONLY on these 2 verses, people have argued that marriage is supposed to be a dominate-subordinate relationship, because if you’re supposed to submit yourself to your husband as you do to the Lord, then that means your husband is the boss of you. That’s based ONLY on those two verses. The passages surrounding Eph 5:22/Col 3:18 indicate that husbands are supposed to sacrifice themselves for their wives as well. The bible emphasizes MUTUAL submission in all types of relationships, including marriage.
Eph 5: 21-22 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the lord.”
Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Eph 5:28-29 “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but NOURISHES AND CHERISHES IT, even as the lord does the church.”
Col 3:18-19 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the lord. Husbands, love your wives and do NOT BE HARSH with them.” NIV
Col 3:20-21 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” KJV
Col 3:22-23 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Masters, provide your slaves with what is RIGHT AND FAIR, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” NIV
(The companion verses in Ephesians are 6:1, 6:4-5, 6:9)
These passages discuss how things should be between spouses, parents/children and masters/slaves. If you notice, both sides of each relationship have responsibilities and are expected to submit in some way. In addition, there are a few things to point out: #1 Men are asked to love and sacrifice for their wives as Christ does for the church. Consider what that means: Christ offers humanity unconditional love, acceptance and nurturing. Christ endured torture, pain and anguish and DIED for the church. Men are not only supposed to sacrifice themselves for their wives, but sacrifice MORE. Men are not only supposed to love their wives, but almost provide MORE love. I’m not saying wives should be lazy or nonchalant about how much they love or sacrifice. What I’m trying to show is that God is not in support of relationships where wives are being treated as less-than subordinates or servants. Like I said, people have used Eph 5:22/Col 3:18 to justify spouse subordination. There’s no way that slaves deserve what is “right and fair” (Col 3:22), and wives do not. #2 Notice that the word “obey” is used in relation to masters/slaves and parents/children, but NOT with husbands/wives. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
1Pet 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be CONSIDERATE as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will HINDER your prayers.”
There’s a couple of things to point out with this verse as well. #1 It’s so pertinent that you treat your wife fairly, that your prayers will be HINDRED if you do not do so. #2 The verse says that wives are HEIRS with their husbands. Heirs WITH you, not behind you or underneath you; NEXT to you. #3 It says be CONSIDERATE of your wives. Being “considerate”, and as the Colossians passages indicate, being “nourishing and cherishing” does NOT involve being a monarchial ruler, a slave-driver or a boss.
I’ve seen so many Christian martial relationships in which the wife’s feelings or thoughts are disregarded or unacknowledged. I’ve seen husbands do and say things to their wives that they would never tolerate from someone else. They are not treating their wives as they would “treat their own bodies.”
The bible has been used to oppress wives, and it’s time for it to stop. Wives, know that it’s ok to stand up for yourselves and not tolerate maltreatment. God wants you to have a spouse that is going to honor and respect you and treat you as an equal partner.