Stop Shaming Sex and Stop Shaming Abstinence

October 1, 2023
Lately, I’ve been reflecting on a thought related to sex and shame—it’s simple but I think worth sharing:

We shouldn’t shame people for enjoying consensual sex, but equally, we shouldn’t shame those choosing to abstain from sex.

I aspire to advocate for people’s freedom to live authentically, without societal, familial, or religious pressure and manipulation. But this must apply to everyone, regardless of whether they align with my specific personal convictions.

As many know, I apologized for and withdrew my book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, as I no longer agree with its central message or promote the restriction of sex only being within marriage. However, I will defend individuals’ rights to have differing views and choose to hold those beliefs.

What I oppose are attempts to control others using shame and coercion.

My book erroneously suggested that there’s only one divine approach to relationships, emphasizing abstinence, strict gender roles, and courtship over dating. It constrained people’s freedom to explore various options, to figure out what they themselves wanted to do with their bodies, and used religious authority to cement one perspective. Especially for teens, dissent meant apparent disobedience.

Regrettably, my books and many churches leveraged shame to enforce conformity.

As the discussion on the harms of purity culture grows—a conversation I support and wish to expand—it’s important that we avoid shaming those opting for abstinence until marriage. Mocking or ridiculing people for their convictions is wrong and counterproductive.

Here’s the world I’d love to work toward: one where we stop labeling each other as sluts and prudes, stop glorifying or demeaning virginity, and stop invoking shame around how people do or don’t want to have sex.

Let’s foster open, honest dialogue. Let’s respect each other. Let’s allow room for change of heart. Let’s embrace “live and let live.”

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash