Then there are those who do have sex, like Jill, a Wheaton College grad who lost her virginity in the Billy Graham Center. The college administrators, experts at acting in loco parentis, might be shocked. After all, they've put their students in sex-segregated dorms, sent Elizabeth Elliot to lecture them on purity, told their students to be good till marriage, and washed their hands of the matter. Little does Wheaton know that some of its dorm rooms house evangelical whores.

So, what to do, if not turn a blind eye? In the first place, evangelicals might attempt to have an honest conversation about sexuality. We might aim for a discussion of scripture that investigates what the Bible has to say about sex, rather than assuming what it says. (I suggested sexuality as a theme for a 20s-and-30s Bible study group at a nearby evangelical church and was laughed out of the room--a response that might lead the cynic to wonder just what evangelicals are afraid of. If, indeed, the Bible is so straightforward about the evil of premarital sex, surely it wouldn't hurt us to spend six weeks rehearsing the theme.) We shy away from discussing sex because, like most other matters in our highly atomized, individualized culture, we think of it as private, off-limits--all evangelical-speak must be above-the-waist.

But sex is sometimes a community matter too, especially when one's community is the body of God. In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he writes: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

As the Anglican theologian John Macquarrie observed, "We must avoid the mistake of thinking that because human sexuality is personal, it is also private." Macquarrie went on to say that sex has any number of social ramificiations--sex leads to babies, babies get property, and so on. But Christians have an additional reason to worry about sex--what I am or am not doing in bed affects my relationship with God as much as what I do in church does, and it's the job of my sister in Christ to hold me accountable. The problem isn't that Sarah made my sex life her business. It's that her evangelical vocabulary left her with nothing to say but "whore."

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