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After all, "just saying no" to premarital sex, important as it is, is not the heart of the gospel. The heart of the matter is saying yes to God. Maybe we often rely on shame and fear because it's hard to believe that people would say no to something as tantalizing as sexual pleasure if they didn't stand to lose something extremely valuable such as honor, the affection of family and church, or even eternal life. If people knew they were loved, no matter what, and that God and God's people would have their backs even if their own sin is the cause of their troubles, wouldn't they just sin freely because grace abounds? Perhaps some would, but even then, love can be a kindness that leads to repentance. Others may find the real reason to reject immorality: not for fear of shame, disgrace, or hell, but for love of the right and the good. Right loving—full of compromise, compassion, and companionship—is the best encouragement for right living.

Jenell Paris is professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Messiah College and author of The End of Sexual Identity and Birth Control for Christians.

Related Elsewhere:

This article is a response to Matthew Lee Anderson's "Why Churches Shouldn't Push Contraceptives to Their Singles."

Earlier Christianity Today articles on contraception include:

Weblog: Are Artificial Contraception Foes Anti-Sex? | The New York Times Magazine looks at the contraception wars (May 5, 2006)
A Hard Pill to Swallow | How the tiny tablet upset my soul. By Agnieszka Tennant (Nov. 8, 2005)
Unwanted Interruptions | Why is our culture so hostile to children-inside and outside the womb? An interview with theological ethicist Amy Laura Hall (June 22, 2004)
Has Natural Birth Control Been Proved Impossible? | Don't believe the media reports, cautions the author of Birth Control for Christians. By Jenell Williams Paris (July 15, 2003)
Make Love and Babies | The contraceptive mentality says children are something to be avoided. We're not buying it. By Sam and Bethany Torode (Nov. 12, 2001)
'Be Fruitful and Multiply' | Is this a command, or a blessing? By Raymond C. Van Leeuwen (Nov. 9, 2001)
Mourning the Morning-After Pill | Ever since the introduction of the birth-control pill, "liberated" Americans have hankered after still more spontaneity: they have wanted a "morning-after pill" to baby-proof their relationships. A Christianity Today editorial (Apr. 7, 1997)
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