Listening to the Remarkable Elizabeth Smart

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After reading Carl Trueman's post on "A New Christian Crime," I saw some on-line videos of Elizabeth Smart's response to the escape of the abducted women and was blown away by her courage and grace.  I then read her remarks about the role that abstinence training had in the shame that she felt.  Carl is right to be frustrated about how those remarks are being used in the media to smear all such training (link).  At the same time, we can only be heart-broken by what actually was said to Ms. Smart and the effect it had on her.  While we will be frustrated by the media use of her remarks, let's not fail to listen to Elizabeth Smart herself.

Here is the full quote that comes from her remarks at Johns Hopkins (see video): 

"I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence," Smart told the panel. "And she said, 'Imagine you're a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that's like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times, you're going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?' Well, that's terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought, 'I'm that chewed-up piece of gum.' Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that's how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth. Your life no longer has value."

Christians should be horrified by this kind of teaching.  How far it is from the Bible's actually teaching about purity, redemption, and grace!  Let's make sure that any abstinence training in our churches does not include this kind of dangerous rhetoric.  We should not be surprised that such instances are being used to shame our otherwise laudable efforts in this direction.

Posted May 15, 2013 @ 12:30 PM by Rick Phillips

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