Q & A: Bristol Palin on Abstinence after Levi
Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far
June 21, 2011
272 pp., $18.69
Bristol Palin's launch into the public eye came quickly after her mother's own entrance into the public arena. Her out-of-wedlock pregnancy came under scrutiny after Senator John McCain chose former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. In her new book, Bristol Palin writes about waking up in a tent and being told by her friend that she had lost her virginity after a night of drinking. She spoke with CT about Christians' approach to abstinence, and her plans post-Levi.
You have said you hate the word "abstinence." Are you concerned by any abstinence messages that Christians have put out?
The word abstinence scares off young adults just because it is so textbook and so structured. That word causes them to lose interest in whatever someone's talking about.
In your book, you described premarital sex as a sin. Do you worry that by calling it a sin, it might distract non-Christians?
You know, it might, but for me I do think of it as a sin. And, if that distracts other readers then I'm sorry, but that's what I believe.
Do you think Christians should change their approach to helping young people deal with the pressures to have premarital sex?
I think the media plays a huge role in premarital sex. There's so much pressure placed on kids, and there's so much that's talked about. I think that it needs to be talked about. It needs to be brought up more that it's not all that great. Why would you want to risk being a teen parent?
A few years ago you said abstinence for teens isn't realistic. Do you still believe that?
You know, that quote was taken out of context. What I was trying to say is it's not realistic for everyone. I know that it's not realistic for every single person. But for me, my sisters, and my family, I believe that that's the right way. It's realistic for a lot of people but certainly not 100 percent of the population.
You wrote that your parents gave you a purity ring. Do you think purity rings and abstinence pledges are effective?
Absolutely. I know lots of girls, lots of girls whose parents gave them abstinence rings and they held true to their word. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of having premarital sex, but from that I have a beautiful child and he is just the light of my life. So I did get blessed with that, but I did disobey my parents and I regret that.
I've heard some complaints that Christians try to make abstinence "cool," when maybe it should not be cool, maybe it should be hard to practice. What messages should Christians be sending?
I just think that they need a different approach to it, a younger approach. If you look at the Candie's Foundation, their approach to teen pregnancy prevention in general is funny. It's fit for regular teens.
In the early portion of your book, you said your virginity was stolen when you were drunk. You recently said that you wouldn't call what happened to you date rape. Why are you hesitant to use that phrase?
I definitely think what happened was bad. But I think that if I had thought it was at all date rape, I wouldn't have dated Levi on and off for the next four or five years. It definitely wasn't date rape or anything like that.
For other women who face similar circumstances and don't remember losing their virginity, how would you help them understand the seriousness of their situation? Do you wonder if not applying the term "date-rape" to your own situation might minimize the gravity of the issue?
If it is rape, of course people need to go forward and report that and seek guidance and help for that. But my situation was definitely not rape. And I use the term stolen as an analogy of "losing my virginity" because that's what it felt like. I'm not talking about that specific night, I'm taking about virginity in general. Having my innocence essentially taken away, it did feel just stolen. I'm just saying it wasn't what I hoped or thought it would be.