Danielle Bean, a wife and mother of eight, is editorial director of Faith & Family magazine and author of My Cup of Tea, Mom to Mom, Day to Day, and most recently Small Steps for Catholic Moms. Read more of her blogging at Faith & Family Live and DanielleBean.com.
Oprah Winfrey, the daytime television guru who encourages viewers daily by telling them they have the power to achieve any goal they might set for themselves, questioned Bristol Palin’s goal of abstaining from sex until marriage in a recent interview:
“In a Jan. 22 interview, Oprah criticized Bristol Palin, the teen daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, for recently telling In Touch Weekly that she was pledging abstinence until marriage. ‘I kind of bristled,’ Oprah began, ‘when I saw this—where you said, ‘I’m not going to have sex until I’m married. I can guarantee it’ ... I’m just wondering if that is a realistic goal. I think teaching responsibility, teaching, ya know, a sense of judgment about it, but is that a realistic position?’”
Bristol was unmoved by Oprah’s questioning, saying that abstinence until marriage was a good goal for all young women to have.
“But when you make the statement ... you don’t think you’re setting yourself up? Is that a realistic position?” Oprah pressed.
Bristol answered, “It’s a realistic goal for myself.”
I find Oprah’s “realism” here so old and tired. I wonder if there are any other goals a young woman could set for herself that would elicit this kind of “bristling” and “realism” from Oprah?
Going to college? Becoming president? Curing cancer? Go for it! But don’t kid yourself into believing you might be capable of doing something as difficult as abstaining from sex until you are married.
I’ll bet Bristol had big plans and dreams for her life that did not include becoming a mother at the age of 19. Seeing premarital sex as risky behavior with potentially devastating consequences shows maturity, not naïveté. Every one of us should applaud and encourage a young woman like Bristol Palin who dares to put chastity and life-long goals ahead of her hormones.
Apparently, though, the advice anti-abstinence types would offer young women like her is: Dream big! As long as those dreams don’t include anything unrealistic like waiting until you are married to have sex.
They can keep their advice and realism. I’d rather my kids put their faith in a different kind of “public figure” anyway:
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13