Over at Christian website CNSNews.com, they're all in a kerfuffle over how mean the judges and host of American Idol were to poor Bruce Dickson, a 19-year-old from Bastrop (about half an hour from here) who, when asked to tell something about himself, admitted that he had never even kissed a girl.
"What?" Randy Jackson asked. "On purpose?"
"On purpose," Dickson said. "On my wedding day, that will be my first kiss."
Jackson's advice to Dickson after the judges sent him packing: "Go kiss some girls."
Simon Cowell, eyebrows raised, told him: "Avoid Ryan (Seacrest) on the way out."
Seacrest himself ended the segment featuring Dickson with these words: "Maybe next year he'll come back less a boy and more a man."
Dickson, of course, didn't take the ribbing well and went into full persecution mode.
"I respect women and don't think of them as a sexual object, and I'm the freak?" Dickson said.
Dude, fer fuck's sake! There's such a thing as being a sleazebag who sexually objectifies women...and then there's kissing a girl, something that is widely done by most heterosexual males at some point in their developmental cycle, and is not only not considered disrespectful (unless you're forcing it upon an unwilling kissee) but entirely healthy, normal, and — you'd better sit down for this — fun to boot!
I cannot help but notice that there's a big distinction to be made between the idea — perfectly sensible and sane — that you are the master of your own body and it's up to you what happens to it, especially sexually, and the way in which Christianity reframes and sells this message, heaped with great globs of guilt and fear-mongering designed to make young people think the proper way to confront their budding sexuality is to consider it "sinful," and suppress it until the magical day of your wedding, at which point everything bad about your body becomes good and holy and you can touch your pee-pee without fear of a lightning bolt up the back door.
There's a healthy way to promote abstinence, and it's not the way it's promoted in Christianity. Rather, what Christianity sells are some bitterly unrealistic expectations of marriage. I mean, what do Christians think they're protecting here? Do Christians really believe that if they remain virginal — and not just virginal, but refrain from any physical contact with the opposite sex at all — until holy matrimony, that this will have some kind of talismanic effect upon their marriages, rendering them perfect and idyllic in every way? No arguments, no financial strain, 100% contentment and happiness, and angelic obedient children? Well, it wouldn't be the first foolish thing Christians have chosen to believe, I suppose.
If you're looking for reasons why the divorce rate among Christians is so much higher — especially among Bible Belt Baptists — than any other demographic group, you might look to these "sexual purity" programs. These aren't about giving young people healthy, sex-positive messages that incorporate abstinence at all. It's about plugging this concept of "purity," which comes, naturally, with the inevitable view that failure to live up to purity's criteria means that you are impure and probably in danger of hellfire and damnation. Attaching the baggage of sin to sex is a recipe for some pretty debilitating neuroses.
Of course, a Christian reading this would offer the obvious false dilemma as a retort: "So what, I should just go out and have sex with everyone I see?" No, just be aware that your sexuality is part of you, and a good part of you, not something the Devil scotch-taped to your crotch in order to lure you into a fall from grace. Realize that part of acknowledging and growing in your sexuality means that it's something you control. The choice to take command of your body and not engage in sex until you're emotionally ready for it is a rational decision, and shouldn't be one based on hangups over your body and fear of God's punishment.
As for young master Dickson, well, if he finds it hard to get over Ryan Seacrest's taunts, I suspect he can always find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on over at Clay Aiken's place. Malicious rumors suggest he's not all that into kissing girls either.