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Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Chastity Error

While much of today's society would like to provide condoms to high schoolers (or earlier?), there is still a segment that preaches chastity. Oh, sorry ... abstinence. Sounds right. You know, "No sex before marriage; no sex outside of marriage." Because, you know, it's biblical. Oh, and it's right. So it's "Abstain!"

The success of this message appears to be failing miserably. Pastors and even chastity preachers seem to be collapsing in a puddle of sexual sin. How can someone like a Josh Duggar who has been raised in a "don't touch before betrothal and don't kiss before marriage" home and made his "ministry" a largely "avoid sexual sin" ministry end up on the horribly losing side of this approach? I suggest that the approach is wrong.

"Oh, good," some will say, "he's finally seen the light that abstinence is wrong." Not what I said. I said the approach was wrong. What is the standard approach? "You should avoid sex before marriage because it's bad for you." Here's from the Abstinence Works website:
Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) Abstinence Education realizes that "having sex" can potentially affect teens not only physically (STDs and pregnancy) but also, as research shows, can have emotional, psychological, social, economic, and educational consequences.
Indeed, that's the name they give it -- "Sexual Risk Avoidance". So the idea is "avoid sex before marriage because it could hurt you." And they'll tell you about sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, socioeconomic risks, psychological dangers, harm to the children, all that good stuff. The message? "Be afraid; be very afraid."

In Scripture, this is the message as well. Or, at least, part. "Flee from youthful lusts," Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Rom 13:14) Sexual sin, in fact, appears to have a unique position in the hierarchy of sin. It alone is listed as a sin against your own body. "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." (1 Cor 6:18) So, yes, run from this one; it is dangerous. But that's only half the story, and it seems as if the abstinence-only side is missing this other half.
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (Prov 5:15-19)
How often do you hear that message? Is it wrong to be drunk? Well, apparently not if it's drunk on the love of a wife. You see, one half of the warning is "That sin is dangerous; avoid it", but the other half is, "There is so much better available." The sin calls for you to satisfy an itch, but God offers a lifelong satisfaction. Are you really going to be satisfied with a momentary pleasure when you can have a life of blessing?

Eve's approach didn't work. She put up hedges around the problem. "God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" (Gen 3:3) No, He didn't. No mention of "don't touch it". Warnings are not sufficient. They're helpful, but incomplete. Moses in the Psalms prays, "O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Psa 90:14) Yes, there is real danger in violating God's instructions. He should know; He's the Maker. But there are real joys in following His commands. Miss that aspect and you lose half the story. Like so many are today.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think you might find this article from a Catholic viewpoint interesting in this regard. They are pointing to the Duggars, which are actually just applying Gothardism, but it is another viewpoint about wrong-headed ideas about chastity.

Stan said...

Glenn, are you agreeing or disagreeing with either the Catholic article or mine? Do you see a mistake in the approach?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think you have two different approaches, and of course yours is the best. But my point was that the article demonstrates a problem when you use the wrong approach, as do those who follow Gothard. They pretend, almost, that desires don't exist and must, and if they do exist, well you don't have the self-control to resist. It all becomes so legalistic with too many rules when you ignore what Scripture says.

Stan said...

Got it. Thanks. (I didn't catch the "Gothardism" in their view, but you appear to be more familiar with it than I am. I am surprised, however, to hear of a connection between "Gothardism" and Catholicism.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

What was surprising was that a Catholic site addressed it, since Gothardism and Catholicism don't normally connect.

If you aren't familiar with Gothardism, it's most likely because you aren't familiar with much homeschooling, since that is where it took over. Very cultic and legalistic nonsense.

Stan said...

Actually, in my youth I attended multiple "Basic Youth Conflicts" and even the Advanced course. Took what was useful. Discarded the rest. Lots to discard.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Yeah, very little useful except what common sense told ya!