Our worship series on healthy sexuality wrapped up at the end of October. If you missed any of those services, you can find the sermons posted on our website. While that series was going, the High School Sunday School class was using a companion curriculum to explore the same themes that were being explored during worship.
For the last Sunday in the series, I wanted to figure out some way to bring everything back together and help the class reflect on everything we had talked about with an eye toward a bigger picture of healthy sexuality. What I came up with is my own take on an “Abstinence Pledge.” Rather than just trying to coerce the class into signing a pledge that simply promises they will not have sex before marriage, I wanted to reclaim the idea of abstinence by challenging them to think more deeply about their values and how those values inform their sexual ethics.
Using the themes of the series, here is the pledge I came up with:
I pledge to:
- abstain from any activities or thoughts that treat me or others in a way that diminishes self-worth and the goodness of the body.
- abstain from intimate relationships that do not make me feel safe or that do not help all parties grow through mutual vulnerability.
- abstain from any expressions of sexuality that do not reflect my deeply held values or that are not based on mutuality and consent.
- abstain from feelings of shame about my sexuality because I recognize that healthy expressions of desire and intimacy are holy, life-giving signs of a vibrant spirituality.
When it comes to sexuality, both what we say “yes” to and what we say “no” to ought to be reflections of our deeply held values. There is so much more that could be unpacked when it comes to healthy sexuality, but the hope was that this series would open up space for further conversations. What might you add/delete from a pledge like this? What lingering questions has the series raised for you? What does it mean to move toward healing and wholeness when it comes to sexuality?
May all of our “yes”s and our “no”s move us toward greater love for ourselves and one another and greater justice for all creation.