“If you love me, you’ll have sex with me.”

The first time I visited my wife at her parents’ home when we were dating I noticed she had a poster on her bedroom wall that read, “If you love me, you’ll have sex with me.”

It was part of an abstinence campaign that was meant to be an ironic play on words. The underlying message was if I truly loved her we would one day be married. Sex could wait. At that moment I knew that she had a spiritually-rooted, healthy and slightly tongue-in-cheek view of sex that would make us quite compatible.

Abstinence campaigns are often criticized by those who advocate for more “progressive” forms of sex education. They are often portrayed as being unrealistic and destined for failure. But the truth is that – with the proper message – they can and do work quite often. My wife and I are just one example.

In her new book Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns, Christine Gardner takes an in-depth look at American evangelical abstinence campaigns, comparing them with campaigns in other cultures where HIV/AIDS is more of a threat. In summary, she feels that abstinence campaigns have had a good amount of success. But she also fears that by making marriage “all about sex” we may be setting young people up for disappointment if sex isn’t great after marriage.

You can read an interview with Gardner about her new book at ChristianityToday.com.


4 thoughts on ““If you love me, you’ll have sex with me.”

  1. I have already gotten some feedback on Twitter and there appears to be some confusion as to what exactly it is I’m advocating.

    For the record, I absolutely positively do not advocate “abstinence only” education as a means of disease & pregnancy prevention. I am 100% an advocate of taking a comprehensive approach to sexual education.

    I do, however, wholeheartedly believe that God’s intended purpose for sex is as a profound expression of love and intimacy within a marriage. And as such it ought to be highly treasured and protected. Abstinence campaigns can play a valuable role in presenting that message and empowering young people to “stay the course” in pursuing this ideal.

    They’re not 100% effective. Nothing is. At the end of the day it comes down to people, emotions, opportunity and hormones. But in some cases they can, and do, positively influence decision making. I can attest to this first hand, as can several of my married friends.

  2. That’s what I got from it, and I agree.

    Sex Ed should present a more well-rounded view of sex, understanding that not everyone will practice abstinence… far from it, in fact, and those who decide not to be abstinent need to be aware of what they face when they make that decision.

    That being said, as a single woman committed to abstinence, I am very glad that I am not taking the baggage of countless past relationships into my future marriage… wherever and whenever that eventually pans out……… as much as that temptation’s been there, sure… of course it has. But I made a commitment and I’m sticking to it, and I was just glad to see that I’m not alone.

  3. Thanks for sharing!

    You’re not alone. I know several couples that have waited for their spouse. In some cases they didn’t quite make it to the wedding night; that’s certainly understandable. Point being, they saw it through to the end and have no regrets.

    Blessings to you in your journey!

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