Making Chastity Sexy

Making Chastity Sexy: The Rhetoric of Evangelical Abstinence Campaigns

Christine J. Gardner
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppqsn
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  • Book Info
    Making Chastity Sexy
    Book Description:

    Even though they are immersed in sex-saturated society, millions of teens are pledging to remain virgins until their wedding night. How are evangelical Christians persuading young people to wait until marriage? Christine J. Gardner looks closely at the language of the chastity movement and discovers a savvy campaign that uses sex to "sell" abstinence. Drawing from interviews with evangelical leaders and teenagers, she examines the strategy to shift from a negative "just say no" approach to a positive one: "just say yes" to great sex within marriage.Making Chastity Sexysheds new light on an abstinence campaign that has successfully recast a traditionally feminist idea-"my body, my choice"-into a powerful message, but one that Gardner suggests may ultimately reduce evangelicalism's transformative power. Focusing on the United States, her study also includes a comparative dimension by examining the export of this evangelical agenda to sub-Saharan Africa.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95055-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abstinence, AIDS, and Evangelicals: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    The walls pulsated with the rhythmic thump-thump-thump of a song from the popular recording artist Usher. Strobe lights flashed across three large screens on the stage. Green lasers probed the darkness, and fake fog felt its way across the floor as eight hundred hormonal teenagers poured into the room. Nothing says rock concert quite like lasers and fake fog, except that this was a sexual abstinence event hosted by Silver Ring Thing in the chapel of an east coast Christian college. “Sanctified, Not Skank-tified,” according to one girl’s T-shirt.

    My research on the rhetoric of the evangelical sexual abstinence campaigns...

  5. CHAPTER 1 From Abstinence to Purity: The Changing Tropes of Chastity
    (pp. 22-40)

    There is nothing like a pregnant teenage daughter of an anti–comprehensive sex education politician to thrust sexual abstinence into the national spotlight. Within days of the 2008 selection of the relatively unknown Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be the running mate of John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, the campaign announced that the governor’s seventeen-year-old unwed daughter, Bristol, was pregnant.

    Two months after giving birth to her son, Tripp, Bristol Palin decided to claim some of the spotlight to tell her own story. In one of the more awkward television interviews in recent memory, the Fox News personality...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Of Purity Rings and Pop Stars: Using Sex to Sell Abstinence
    (pp. 41-62)

    MTV is not the first place one would expect to find the message of abstinence. On the other hand, an abstinence event is not the first place one would expect to find the message of great sex.

    A week after the high-octane Silver Ring Thing event in the Boston area in 2004, the message that sex is great traveled from a college chapel to a more sexualized venue. A video clip of Josh and the “sex is great” chant, along with interviews with Silver Ring Thing staff and volunteers, appeared on the program “Sex, Votes, and Higher Power,” part of...

  7. CHAPTER 3 “Someday My Prince Will Come”: The Fairy-tale Narrative and Female Power
    (pp. 63-87)

    Abby Jenkins dreamed of her future husband. Even as an eighth-grader, she knew what she wanted and wrote down a list of qualities she believed essential in the man she would someday marry. But no one at her middle school or, later, her high school or even her church met her standards. “So I chose not to date anyone,” she said, “because I knew I needed to hold out for that incredible prince that God had for me one day.”

    In college Abby met a cute guy named Dylan, who one day asked her out on a date. Abby initially...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Disciplining Sexuality: How American Evangelical Youth Are Committing to Abstinence—and Sticking with It
    (pp. 88-112)

    In MGM’s 2003 sharp-witted feature movie releaseSaved!about teenage angst at the fictitious American Eagle Christian High School, the evangelical abstinence movement takes a beating. Pastor Skip, the desperate-to-be-hip school principal, instructs a sex education class, “It’s all about populating the planet, and good Christians don’t get jiggy with it until they’re married.”¹

    Attending the class is Mary, a senior, who slept with her boyfriend because she had a vision of Jesus as she was nearly drowning in a swimming pool. In the vision Jesus instructed her to have sex with her boyfriend to save him from homosexuality. As...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Fractured Fairy Tale: When True Love Doesn’t Wait
    (pp. 113-142)

    Monica Bonneville, twenty-two, captures attention when she walks into a room. With her Bettie Page bangs and vintage emerald green tulle party dress, Monica doesn’t look as much like the homecoming queen as the homecoming queen’s bad-girl rival. She is short and curvy, with a sparkling smile and a quick laugh. Her dark red hair, black liquid eyeliner, vintage black patent kitten heels, and candy apple red lips and nails complete the retro-glam look. She looks more like a modern-day pin-up model than a sales clerk at a children’s clothing store.

    Monica looks hot, and she knows it. Her fashion...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Fearing God, Not AIDS: Abstinence in Africa
    (pp. 143-167)

    For the American evangelical Bruce Wilkinson, addressing the AIDS pandemic in Africa came as a call from God: “God ripped open our chest, took out our heart, dug a hole in Africa, put it in, covered it with soil and said, ‘Now, follow your heart and move down to Africa.’ ”¹ His sudden interest in Africa came as a surprise to many. Wilkinson, founder of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, achieved national attention in 2001 as the author ofThe Prayer of Jabez, which topped both secular and religious book charts to become the fastest-selling book of all time. In...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Condom Conflict: Saving Lives or Promoting Promiscuity?
    (pp. 168-183)

    Franklin Graham is no stranger to controversy. Graham, the head of Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical relief and development agency, is the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. In an interview withChristianity Todaymagazine, Franklin Graham recounted an invitation he received from the former ambassador Richard Holbrooke to offer a benediction at an AIDS fund-raiser in New York City. Graham recalled that he asked if he could say a few words to the audience; Holbrooke agreed, so long as Graham did not “attack homosexuals.” Graham’s pledge to help save the lives of the millions infected with HIV was met with...

  12. CHAPTER 8 What’s Not So Great about Great Sex
    (pp. 184-196)

    The camera pans behind the South African studio audience as the American evangelical pastor and best-selling author Bruce Wilkinson walks across the stage to the glass-topped podium. “Welcome to Hope for Africa, a faith-based response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Wilkinson says to the camera. The session is one in a six-part video series hosted by Wilkinson and broadcast across South Africa to equip church leaders in HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

    A striking feature of the studio set for the program is the stage, which is in the shape of a large red AIDS ribbon. Significantly, the ribbon is turned on...

  13. APPENDIX: List of Campaign Leaders
    (pp. 197-198)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 199-220)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-234)
  16. Index
    (pp. 235-249)