Don’t Believe the Hype: Keeping It 100 About Abstinence

Let’s set aside our inhibitions and have a real conversation about sex, relationships, and abstinence.

Despite biblical teachings (1 Thessalonians 4:3), tons of people would argue that, in today’s society, it’s almost unrealistic to think that anyone would wait to have sex until marriage. The world we live in today tells us that abstinence is an antiquated practice or that no one in their right mind would marry someone without determining whether the sexual chemistry is there first. The list goes on and on, but luckily, some people out there still advocate for waiting until marriage to share something so intimate with their future spouse.

Before we really dive in, I would first like to point out that there is, in fact, a distinction between abstaining from sex and just not having sex. A person might not be sexually active for a variety of reasons. However, abstinence is defined as an intentional and deliberate action to refrain from sexual activity; it is making the decision to save all sexual acts until marriage.

In her book The Naked Truth: About Sex, Love and Relationships, abstinence advocate Lakita Garth says that “abstinence is the art of self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification.” I get it. You’re probably thinking, Who wants to work that hard for something that is supposed to bring you pleasure? But Garth reminds her readers that there is, in fact, a wonderful reward in the end.

“The fact is, the happiest sex lives are found among those who wait until marriage to have sex,” Garth says. “Those who wait are richly rewarded.”

Waiting to have sex has so many benefits, but here are a few points to start:

Abstinence is more common than you think.

Studies show that only 3%, or 1 in 30 Americans, waited until marriage to have sex. Sure, this number sounds a bit disheartening, but if you stop to think about just how many people that is, it’s not too bad. In fact, that figure means that about 10 million people in America, as we speak, have abstained until marriage. And of course, these stats are even greater within religious groups.

Secondary virginity is a real thing.

Yes, secondary virginity is “a thing.” More and more singles have made the decision to rededicate their lives—and bodies—to God by abstaining from sex. Regardless of their past, they made the decision to start over and choose abstinence even though they initially made the decision to be sexually active in the past. It’s no secret that having sex before marriage has its own negative consequences, including unplanned pregnancy, higher chances of being a single parent, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the list goes on and on.

In fact, studies show that 40 percent of children were born to unwed mothers, with nearly two-thirds of those mothers under the age of 30. Nine million new cases of STDs are reported among teens and young adults each year. And regardless of whether you have experienced these negative consequences, making the decision to be a secondary virgin means you can look forward to a future free from exposure to these previous hazards. After all, who has time to stress about an unplanned pregnancy or STDs?

The Wait” is so worth it.

Making the decision to be abstinent is so much deeper than the physical. It provides the opportunity for your relationship to become stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s the beauty in sharing something so intimate with your spouse and the idea of knowing that you are both truly committed to one another.

Hollywood couple Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin wrote an entire book on the power of abstinence in The Wait. In addition to being more spiritually and emotionally grounded, the couple is open about how amazing sex can be with your partner after making the decision to abstain until marriage. “There is nothing wrong with sex and sexuality,” the couple says in a recent interview with Essence magazine. “God created both for the enjoyment of married couples.”

The intimacy that happens within one’s marriage is much greater knowing that sex is something that is only shared between you and your spouse. It’s definitely the icing on the cake.

Can you think of a better option?

Let’s face it, you might have already tried other options besides abstinence, and none of them have worked. Then again, you might be one of those people who made the decision to be abstinent from the very beginning and chose to stick with it until your wedding day. Meagan Good actually chose the former and initially opted to do it her way instead of God’s way. “God had let me make my mistakes,” she says. “Now it was time to do it [His] way.”

In a society of instant gratification, abstinence certainly doesn’t seem ideal for today’s couples, especially people who are seriously attracted to one another. However, I think we all can agree that waiting to have sex until marriage just might be the best decision of your life.


Did you catch Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday? Check out what they had to say about the benefits of abstinence below:


Is it unrealistic to expect people to wait to have sex before marriage? Share your thoughts below.

DeVon Franklin on Abstinence in Relationships

OWN Network has brought us self-help from Iyanla Vanzant via her show “Iyanla Fix My Life;” life lessons from some of today’s most influential celebrities and public figures such as the late Maya Angelou, Whoopi Goldberg, Cicely Tyson via Oprah’s Master Class; and now the network brings us “Help Desk” via, you guessed it, a desk. On this new series journalist Gotham Chopra, the son of Deepak Chopra, hosts and introduces some of the world’s top “thought leaders” to everyday people in order to help answer the heavy-hitting questions of life. In a recent episode DeVon Franklin, the Hollywood producer and Seventh-Day Adventist pastor who married actress Meagan Good took a seat at the Help Desk to help a young woman who desires to abstain from sex until marriage.

28-year-old Fallon has been with her boyfriend for six months and they are sexually active, but she realizes that she now wants to abstain from sex in their relationship. She sees this move as trying something new since, in all of her previous relationships, she never abstained from sex. Therefore her question to Franklin is how she should broach the topic with her boyfriend and journey toward abstinence after time as a sexually-active person. Well she came to the right person. Franklin and Good pledged to abstinence until marriage and the couple is working on a book entitled “The Wait” about how they kept that pledge during their courtship. Thus Franklin rose to the occasion and offered Fallon some tactical suggestions and words of encouragement based on his experience. Watch the video to see what he says.


Do you agree with his advice? What might you add or subtract?

Catch Help Desk on the OWN Network every Sunday at 12PM EST.

Abstinence = Epic Fail

On February 10, 2012, rapper Too $hort posted a video on, a hip-hop website, where he gave “Fatherly Advice” to middle-school and high-school boys on sexuality. The disgusting, misogynistic, dehumanizing, and graphic nature of his comments do not bear repeating here, but his comments made me wonder about the consequences of reducing sexuality to merely a physical concept in the absence of virtue. Thankfully, the video was removed and Too $hort offered an apology for offending people. The rapper, however, offered no apology for the way in which he advised young men to touch the bodies of young girls.

The whole episode reminded me that I am not convinced that Christians do a good job of telling young people what to do with their bodies other than say “no” to them. As a result, I am beginning to wonder if abstinence programs are even helpful for developing moral maturity. While abstinence rightly places sexual intercourse within its proper context — marriage — it fails to construct a moral theology of the body. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for Christians to return to teaching chastity.

Some of the early teachings on chastity date back to church Fathers like Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 A.D.) who made a serious case for bodily self-control (some argue he went too far). The teaching has faded, but some contemporary authors continue to make a case for chastity. For example, Duke Divinity School scholar Lauren Winner sought to reintroduce the ancient subject for a postmodern generation in her 2006 book, Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity and Bible teacher Paul Tripp offers a challenging perspective on the reality of sex and commitment in his 2010 book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

For the sake of brevity, the Roman Catholic Catechism provides a useful and succinct introduction to chastity that is helpful even if one does not agree with Catholic doctrine (I will adapt the teaching in this article). The Catholic teaching begins with the recognition that we are sexual beings whose “physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life.” That is, the mutual support between the sexes is lived out as we recognized are complimentary need for mutuality.

The vocation of chastity, then, is defined as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.” Chastity as a vocation does not require that one divorce one’s body from one’s passions but that one strive for maturity in the virtue of self-control — a skill needed before and after marriage (Prov. 25:28; 1 Cor. 7:5; Gal. 5:23; Titus 2:6; 1 Pet. 5:8). In fact, “the chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. … Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” What develops and matures young people in their moral reasoning and virtue is the conscious and free choice to use one’s body for the good. Not simply to say “no” to sin but “yes” to holiness (Deut. 7:6). Moreover, we are not to be mastered by any sin but are called to intentionally pursue holiness (1 Cor. 6:12). Abstinence does not teach this virtue.

For Christian young people, the knowledge of one’s union with Christ, a commitment to obedience to God’s commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, fidelity to prayer, and a daily requesting and reliance on the Holy Spirit, and so on, gives one what is needed to inaugurate one into the vocation of chastity. The active work of the Holy Spirit enables us to permeate the passions and appetites with mature moral reasoning that is consistent with what the Bible teaches.

“Self-mastery is a long and exacting work,” says the Catechism. “One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life. The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.” Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of freedom. Our union with Christ in the pursuit of chastity enables us, then, to be fully human. Chastity leads those who practice it to become witnesses to their neighbors of God’s fidelity, loving kindness, and the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The call to chastity is simply a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Chastity is for everyone.

All baptized men and women, single or married, are called to the vocation of chastity. Sexual wholeness is living according to God’s articulated design for human beings and applies to married couples and singles in the same way. Abstinence does not teach this. As a man who can relate to sexual temptation (Heb. 4:15), but who never sinned against His call to a chaste life, Jesus Christ is the perfect example of living out the vocation of chastity.

Growth in chastity includes the reality of failure, repentance, and renewal. This is why the gospel and work of the Holy Spirit is so central to the sustaining of such a vocation and why it is unsustainable in the best possible way outside of one’s union with Christ. Chastity is violated with things like adultery, pornography, rape, sex outside of marriage, sexual abuse, and so on.

In the end, if chastity were a dominant teaching in urban America, it would not only address sex before marriage but would create a culture of sexual virtue that honors God, best fits with how God designed human beings to live, and would serve as a powerful example of what is means to live knowing God’s Word is true. Abstinence education is well intentioned but fails to develop young people into morally mature followers of Christ. True love does not wait. True love loves God and neighbor by saying “yes” to God’s better way (Matt. 22:36-40).

Finding Your Voice and Feeling the Vibes: An Interview with Kierra Sheard

Finding Your Voice and Feeling the Vibes: An Interview with Kierra Sheard



Kierra, you are also one to speak into young women at the same time too. Does that come from the family?


I think it does. And just from what I’ve seen, my father and my mother, they are spiritual leaders, spiritual advisors. And my mother, like it’s funny you’re asking that because I just got off the phone with her and we’re planning our women’s weekend. For my mother, I think it comes from her sisterhood. We’ve seen the Clark sisters do their thing musically. But I think her bond and her desire for, you know how you are about your siblings, I want my sister to win. She has one brother as well, but he’s much older. So having that connection and always wanting to see your sister win and seeing what you and your sisters can do together and how you can empower other women and then me seeing what my mom and my aunts have done. And then here I am. I’m like, I have a brother, but I can make a community of sisters and I’m important to them. So I absolutely think I draw that from, I can call my family, my bank, I draw that from that bank as well. I think just from my personal experiences with relationships and having best friends. I’m sure you’ve probably heard it where women will say, “Oh honey, I can’t get along with women.” And then “all I can get along with is men.” And then it’s like, well, if you find the right woman that you connect with, you really can get some answers. And we even see it biblically, where we see women drawing from the well, we see both Mary’s coming together from different aspects of life. And then we saw what they did with Jesus. We see Esther, we see Ruth and Naomi, so when you read that and you believe God’s Word and also you experience a liberating relationship from a sisterhood that may not be biological, but it could just be covenantal. If you know what I mean? You just want to give [it to] the world that so that they can see it, because the world has kind of demonized relationships and they’ve put so many labels that are associated with toxicity. And it’s like, if only you’d get in touch with the God ordained relationship, you’d see how powerful it is. I think I’m pulling from the familial bank, but I’m also pulling from my spiritual bank to create these things that are women’s empowerment.



And your newest book, Kiki Finds Her Voice, how did you find your voice?



I found my voice again from my family. So I’m going through school and I’m talking about it in the book. I wanted to sing an R&B song and I was trying to fit in with the girls there. And I knew if my mom or my dad found out that I was trying to sing, you know, an R&B song about getting weak in the knees or the boy being mine, I knew they would have just, you know, shut it down. And my mother surprised me and she said, girl, you ain’t singing that song. This is inappropriate. You know, and I talk about it in the book. And just going through that journey…it felt like I was being embarrassed. For adults, it feels like an attack when it’s actually accountability. And I think that is what my mother was doing, holding me accountable and redirecting me to purpose. And literally that day changed my life. It set me up for my debut. And I found my voice and became a voice for a generation and connecting so many listeners to the Gospel by way of singing. And that’s how I found my voice.



Your last book, The Vibes You Feel, where were you at when God told you to write the book?


Oh, man, that’s a good question. So the vibe you feel is actually just from everyday kinds of situations. I don’t even know how to explain it. That’s such a good question. Where was I at? I was everywhere. I was just living if I could just say that.



Why has it resonated so with girls and women?


Yeah, I don’t know what the call is. I know it’s a call. It’s a heaven call. Because I know that I have a responsibility to the age group that are in their 20s. I don’t know what that is. But so what’s funny is that I went through a space where they annoyed me so much. I was just so annoyed with ages 20 to like 30. And I’m only 36. And I think it went, I think the frustration came from me wanting to pour into young women as I’ve been poured into. And I saw how helpful it was for me. And I remember myself in my 20s, where I was on the brink of knowing it all, but also honestly saying in myself, you don’t know it all. But I found those advisors that I could connect to and relate to that I felt comfortable with being a student and didn’t feel like I had to do a match with them if that makes sense. It was that and then all of the wrong decisions that I made in my 20s. I made some bad decisions in relationships. And then being a PK (Pastor’s Kid), they say they’re like the worst kids. It’s like you got some PKs who are that kind. But you have some who are like, “well, actually, I really do want to live like Jesus.” But I do have a side to me that I think everybody else may have as well. So that’s where I was in that place, though. It’s a conglomeration of those experiences of me, you know, just kind of walking through life and then seeing the essence in valuable and God ordained relationships versus relationships that I was trying to make work. And I often ignored God’s voice, but also would say, I don’t hear God. And it’s like, no, you hear him, you just don’t hear him the way that you think you’re supposed to hear him. And so that’s what you get from the book. It’s literally me evolving in my relationship. And over the course of time, just collecting data like; “my gift of discernment is actually far more on than I thought.” And it was like that in my 20s. But I just kept doubting myself. But that’s where I was. And that’s why it’s a book. But even with me then growing to love the generation that I’m responsible for that are in their 20s; it’s like, this is why I connect with you so much because I know it. I get it. I’ve been there. And I know how it feels to feel like you have so much to do, but you don’t know which steps to take and you’re brilliant.



When you hit send on The Vibes You Feel, did you feel like you said it all? Did you feel like, okay, this is ready?


Yes, I did feel like it was ready. The only challenge that I honestly faced was trying to make sure it didn’t sound so much like another memoir. Because I still wanted to give God and his scriptures. So yes, though, because it is so many good moments in there that really happened. Even with my working relationship with me trying to find like a personal assistant, it was like, this person is good, but they’re not called to be your personal assistant. They’re not bad. And it was things that I could pinpoint. If you know what I mean. And I just kept misplacing people. It was like, you’re called to be in their life before a season and not for this space. And I couldn’t play victim because I knew. So, the book is basically me, talking about my work choices. It’s me talking about my relational choices when I was dating. It was like, you knew this guy was no good, but you kept trying to make it work. People prophesied to you, and you even saw bad habits. So those stories were true, and it actually happened. And that’s when I saw God talking to me. So that right there was when I was like, “yeah, this one is the one.” And I really hope more people get a chance to read that book because I really think it is a blessing for a lot of young people, for sure.


So Jordan [your husband], can we talk about him for just a minute? What is it like? You guys are definitely in love. So how do you find a Jordan?


That’s a good question. I remember a lot of people saying marriage takes work. And I heard them. I’m a good listener. Like I listen and I take the note. But when I got in it, I said, oh, baby, this take work. I don’t know if you can put that in writing. It takes work. And you know, I think it also takes even a village for the married couple. I always say the village is not just for the child, it’s for the adult too. And you got to have people around you two who can even see sometimes what’s going on. They can even see your bad days, but they don’t charge it to your marriage and what your entity is called to do in the earth. And that contributes to the days when you must choose to love, if I can say it that way. But Jordan is amazing. He’s an outstanding man. And I think what makes what makes marriage possible with this man of valor is his heart. His heart is always what push through. So if I were to tell [a young woman] what to look for, it is to do what my mama told me, make sure that man loves God more than he loves you. Because when you can’t get them, God’s gonna get them. And literally, when I couldn’t get certain memos to my husband, I just say, “you know what, you get it God.” I go in my room right here in my office, and I would cry and say, God, I need you to do it. And I’m sure [my husband’s] done the same for me. And then I think to just making sure you have a friendship. So, I also tell young women, I’ve done it both ways and not with my husband, but I’ve done it both ways as in I was out of the will of the Lord. And then I did it God’s way. And I saw why he says don’t have sex before marriage, because it’ll blur the lines and you can’t see what you need to see to make a good choice for marriage. You’ll just make a choice off of an attachment and how you feel. Jordan and I, we went through a process of abstinence, and we lived before the Lord, we prayed, and that made all the difference. So that’s what I would tell a young girl, make sure you get his background too, you know, and pray and ask the Lord, give me somebody that loves [God] because I need them to be convicted if ever they decide to do something that ain’t right. And so that’s how Jordan and I are doing. We’re doing really well though, we’re loving each other, we’re growing together, and we’re willing to just love each other and have fun. The other day we were arguing, we just started laughing like, this is stupid. So, we’re even growing to laugh and argue.




The Church and Marriage: Why Can’t We Talk About Sex?

The Church is supposed to be a haven for people.

It is often said that the church house is like a hospital, and the believers are the patients searching for healing. If you believe that to be at least somewhat true, then I think we should talk about what spiritual services are—and are not—being provided in the church.

We often talk about how to deal with finances, sickness, employment issues, death of loved ones, and even relationships, but one of the things that we rarely, if ever, talk about in church is sex.

Of course, the church has a biblical interest in advocating that sexual relations occur within the confines of marriage. However, church folk have gotten so good at phrases such as, “just say no,” “not until you’re married,” and “save yourself for that special someone,” that when Christians do get married, especially young couples, some may find that members of the church are at a loss for words about what to tell them when they have questions about sex.

So many people, especially young people, who wait until marriage to have sex get to their wedding night, honeymoon, and beyond and have no clue on what a healthy, sexual relationship with their spouse looks like. (And that’s not even considering the weird, sexual comments and questions that church people do feel strangely comfortable discussing. I can’t tell you how many times church folks have asked, “So when are you all going to give us some babies?”…as if our children will be theirs. It also seems as if they should dictate when we should have offspring and as if when my wife and I do decide to try for children – which involves sex – is any of their business! But I digress…)

Plenty of married couples have problems in their sex lives and want to talk to their pastor about it or have a forum about what sex means for their Christian walk. But, too often, neither the pastor nor the church want to talk about it.

Believe it or not, sexual intercourse could be considered a holy act between a husband and wife. Sex has the power and potential of drawing the bride and groom closer to one another and to create life. If that isn’t holy, I don’t know what is.

So why should the church have responsible conversations about sex? Here are a couple of reasons:

Sex is natural. It doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

Too often when people try to bring up sex, the inclination is to tell them to stop talking about it because it’s “taboo,” “dirty,” “fast” or (worst of all) “unholy,” and it quells a much-needed conversation. However, these conversations need to be had – or avoided – at the appropriate level and age of those in question, including teens.

The church has to realize that if we’re not educating teenagers and young adults on godly principles about sex, then someone somewhere is educating them about sex. And, more than likely, God has nothing to do with their teaching.

We do married couples a disservice when we avoid talking about sex.

Many church people have no problem talking about and encouraging married couples to have babies, but they like to pretend that the magical decision to start a family comes without sex. Well, it doesn’t.

In fact, many would argue that sex is just as much a part of the list of marital issues as budgeting, child-rearing, career conflicts, intimacy, not spending enough time together, bad habits, and other common marital problems. Of course, sex conversations, like all other marital conversations, should be initiated by the couple. However, if they have an issue that they raise with other members of the church community, we should be willing to tackle it—including sex.

Ultimately, sex is one thing about humanity that I don’t imagine will go away anytime soon. (And if it did, we’d be in trouble.) God created and ordained sex as a blessing for married couples and we shouldn’t shy away from that. Another thing that I don’t think will be going away anytime soon is sin. Yet, I think that the church needs a reminder that sex itself is not sinful. Sex is blessed and ordained by God and too often we foolishly conflate sex with sin and we shouldn’t.

Why do you think sex continues to be a topic that’s off limits for married couples in the church? Share your thoughts below.