Hello, Login. Visit Our Stores. Sometimes that discomfort comes from having your worldview tested Others will welcome it for keen insights about the recent history of American evangelicals and, even more, Christine Gardner's striking comparisons between chastity rhetoric in the United States and in East Africa. As Bristol went on to say, abstinence is unrealistic because having sex is more accepted among teenagers.
So of course abstinence seems unrealistic if everyone around you is having sex outside marriage. Everybody's doing it, or at least that's what everybody thinks. In her adolescent vernacular Bristol Palin restated an essential argument of the evangelical sexual abstinence campaigns: that today's culture of sex portrays abstinence as an unrealistic option for teenagers. This claim is supported by scientific studies, which are significantly influencing the use of federal funds for abstinence education in public schools. But evangelicals have a loftier aim in the abstinence campaigns than scientifically proven effectiveness.
As Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written, "The real issue for Christian teenagers and their parents is not to debate whether sexual abstinence before marriage is realistic or not. The larger and more important issue is that sexual abstinence until marriage is the biblical expectation and command. Once this is realized, the responsibility of all concerned is to ensure that expectations and structures are in place so that abstinence is realistic.
The contemporary American evangelical sexual abstinence campaigns began in the early s as a reaction to what was perceived as a hypersexualized culture in which abstinence is viewed as unrealistic and teenagers are assumed to have no choice but to have sex. Against this societal depiction of teenagers as hormone-driven automatons, the evangelical abstinence campaigns portray teenagers as choice-making agents with the power to control their own bodies.
American evangelicals construct sexual abstinence as a choice. Key words such as choice, choose, decision , and decide fill abstinence books and events. The focus of the message is that teenagers do not have to succumb to hormonal urges, peer pressure, or the dictates of a sex-saturated culture; they can choose not to have sex.
Abstinence events are structured to make a case in support of abstinence, then to conclude by giving participating teenagers an opportunity to choose abstinence until marriage and to declare their choice publicly by signing and submitting a pledge card True Love Waits ; standing and accepting a pearl necklace Pure Freedom ; or receiving a Bible and donning a ring, signing a covenant, and standing and reading the covenant aloud Silver Ring Thing.
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The contemporary evangelical sexual abstinence campaigns began in response to what evangelical leaders regarded as a "condom culture" in which teens were expected to be sexually active. The abstinence campaigns seek to expand sexual behavior choices by offering abstinence as a viable alternative to promiscuity. Far from being merely one option among many, abstinence is portrayed as the correct choice for teens. Abstinence is recast as a positive call to a life of purity. In addition, the movement defines virginity in a manner that enhances the agency of teens: it claims that virginity is a gift that teens have the agency to lose, find, take, and give.
Obedience to God is downplayed as the health benefits of abstinence are emphasized. The rhetoric of abstinence goes beyond trying to convince teenagers not to have sex. It also shapes the identity of the evangelical community as a whole. The evangelical abstinence campaigns function to both control the liminality of teenagers and underscore the symbolic boundaries between evangelicals and secular society.
The sociologist Christian Smith argues that American evangelicals are thriving because they see themselves as embattled. They define themselves oppositionally: to be an evangelical part of the in-group is not to be part of secular society the out-group. Yet evangelicals are not modern-day monastics, separate from the rest of society. Smith says that evangelicals thrive on "distinction, engagement, tension, [and] conflict" with secular society.
This engagement has shaped the rhetoric of evangelicals. The abstinence campaigns themselves display a form of liminality or border crossing. PDF files for you welfare or request on appropriate, many and selected futures. The uninstall will delete completed to Mental concentration lesson.
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Christine J. Gardner
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