Winner's thesis is that "Christians concerned about the rampant premarital sex in our communities need to rethink, rather than simply defend, young people's abstinence pledges."
Here's the point that I think we Christians too often miss:
Pledgers promise to control intense bodily desires simply by exercising their wills. But Christian ethics recognizes that the broken, twisted will can do nothing without rehabilitation by God's grace. Perhaps the centrality of grace is recognized best not in a pledge but in a prayer that names chastity as a gift and beseeches God for the grace to receive it.Winner's solution?
Perhaps pledges for chastity need to be made not only by the individual teenager. Perhaps we also need pledges made by the teenager's whole Christian community: we pledge to support you in this difficult, countercultural choice; we pledge that the church is a place where you can lay bare your brokenness and sin, where you don't have to dissemble; we pledge to cheer you on when chastity seems unbearably difficult, and we pledge to speak God's forgiveness to you if you falter. No retooled pledge will guarantee teenagers' chastity, but words of grace and communal commitment are perhaps a firmer basis for sexual ethics than simple assertions that true love waits.In other words, the disease is proud individualism and self-centeredness, not hormones. The solution is the grace of God and the power of the Spirit in the community of the church, not a signature on a piece of paper.