Sometimes in the mornings when I turn on the television for our daily hit of Sesame Street, I catch a glimpse of some televangelist's program, of course only if the TV happens to be on Fox. These people amuse me with their plastic countenance and practiced rhetoric, and so for a good chuckle, I'll often watch a few minutes to see what kind of perversion of Christ's teachings they are peddling to the masses.
The other day, we happened to tune in at the end of a segment that was clearly aimed at the teen/young adult population. On the show that day was the host, two young women, and Lisa Bevere. According to my copious Google research, Lisa Bevere is a motivation speaker (or as her website proclaims, she and her husband have a "ministry".) and author who specializes in self-help books aimed at Christian women. Apparently, she was appearing on this show to stump for her latest book, Kiss the Girls and Made Them Cry. (More thoughts on the book further down.)
It didn't take long for me to figure out what the topic of discussion: sexuality and the Christian woman. When the words "Christian" and "sex" are put together, inevitably the word "abstinence" follows quickly behind. Lisa Bevere and her co-horts were extorting the notion of "purity" in young women of the Christian faith. The two younger guests were there to share their experiences and testimony about how wonderful being abstinent is, and as I listened to them talk, it became clear that one of the women was taking the concept of "waiting until marriage" to a very stringent level. She was waiting to have her very first kiss until she exchanged vows with her future husband.
Growing up in the non-denominational Christian church, I am very familiar with the whole True Love Waits bullshit. It was shoved down my throat as a teenager, but never had I ever heard of a girl or guy taking such extreme measures to ensure her/his purity. (And before anyone gets snarky, she was a reasonably attractive woman.)
Herein lies my big beef with the way that the non-denom/evangelical Christian church deals with sexuality, namely the demonizing of non-marital sex and any activities (ooooh, heavy petting!) that could lead to non-marital sex.
I do believe in a holistic view of sex, that it exists not just in the physical realm but touches aspects of our emotional and spiritual selves. Read the Kama Sutra; it's not just about those wacky Indians and their gymnastic positions. Ascetics from a variety of faiths have eschewed the physical pleasures of the body in order to obtain spiritual enrichment. I certainly have respect for the people I've know who chose to remain virgins until their wedding nights; it's a level of commitment that I find commendable.
But I don't think it is a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Unfortunately, the majority of the Christian church thinks it should be, which is where I feel we are failing the kids who grow up in the faith. We are not teaching them a healthy view of sex and sexuality because no one wants to find the middle ground between a free love orgy and a chastity belt.
I was taught to believe that to engage in sex outside of marriage was impure and drove a wedge in my relationship with God. Waiting until marriage, as I told my youth minister once, seemed like utter nonsense because why should I wait for something that would never happen in the first place. (The joke's on my fifteen-year-old self. Ha ha ha.) Besides, sexual purity for God's sake didn't seem work very well in real life. I knew a lot of "good Christian" girls who ended up pregnant before they hit twenty. Then there were girls I knew who believed that as long as it wasn't vaginal sex, they were free to engage in everything else from the Bootie Time Playbook. This rationalization not only seemed hysterically absurd, but completely missed the whole point.
So back to Ms. Bevere and her book. According to some of the less flattering reviews I read on Amazon, she seems to regurgitate the antiquated notions of women as sexual victims and of the passive female sexuality (HA!). And that by remaining pure for God you will be granted, by divine intervention, a princely husband with whom you will have happy sexytime for the rest of your life. Okay. Whatever.
Still I am curious to read her book, especially in conjunction with Forbidden Fruit and The Abstinence Teacher (for a little fiction vibe) and to participate in a a discussion about these books with other adult women raised in the Christian church. I'd love to know the opinions of women with similar religious backgrounds, how they feel about the way we were raised to view sex, and whether or not we ultimately embraced or rejected those teachings. Sexuality is a subject that seems to be relegated to only the "Don'ts" within the walls of the church, and that's a shame.
Finally, Miss Never Been Kissed. If her sincere desire is to wait until God sends her Mr. Right, then she might be onto something. Because honestly, if she can find a man who, despite a deep affection for and attraction to her, can keep his lips off of her until the ordained moment in a wedding ceremony, he might just be her Mr. Right. Until then, I remain skeptical.
And, c'mon, kisses are fun! 412 Griffin Ave Kissing Booth, anyone?