The Soapbox: Why Russell Wilson & Ciara’s “No-Sex Vow” Weirds Me Out

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson recently did an interview with Pastor Miles McPherson at San Diego’s Rock Church in which he not only confirmed that he has been dating pop star Ciara, but that the couple has vowed to go about their relationship “Jesus’s way” by abstaining from having sex until marriage. Wilson says he got the message directly from God:

“I met this girl named Ciara, who is the most beautiful woman in the world. She’s the most kind person, the most engaging person. I could probably learn more from her … everything that I could ever want.

And so I’ll never forget: She was on tour, she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror. I was sitting in the dressing room, and she was getting ready to go, about 15 minutes before she went on stage. And she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Right now?’ He goes, ‘I want you and need you to lead her.’

So I told her right then and there, what would you do if we took all that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?”

Wilson then went on to clarify what, precisely, he was referring to doing “Jesus’s way”:

“Yeah, we’re talking about sex. For me, I knew that God had brought me into her life to bless her and for her to bless me and to bless so many people with the impact that she has, that I have. We’re not gonna be perfect, by any means. Life’s not perfect. Nobody’s perfect, but he’s anointed both of us, and I know that he’s calling for us to do something miraculous, something special.

I said to her, and she completely agreed: ‘Could we love each other without that?’ If you can really love somebody without that, then you can really love somebody.”

The quarterback concluded that we should all pray for the couple, since abstaining isn’t easy.

Of course Wilson’s publicized revelation is being lauded by the conservative Christian right, which should surprise no one. There is nothing conservative America loves more than a football player, except a football player who espouses Christian ideologies. Just look to the commercial success of player Tim Tebow to underscore that point. To be clear, I don’t personally believe there is anything wrong with using your beliefs to garner support from fans. People need idols and they enjoy idolizing stars who share their belief system. All the power to a public figure who is unafraid to stand for what he or she believes in, even if I happen to disagree.

However, what is problematic is the sexist tone in Wilson’s interview, one that is rather ubiquitous in Christian ideology. The fact that the QB believes that he should “lead” multimillionaire Ciara, who has managed to not only maintain a successful career for over a decade, but has also dedicated herself to charity work with several organizations that combat hunger and support at-risk/disadvantaged youth, cancer patients, and music programs –including Stand Up to Cancer, Save The Music Foundation and City Harvest – speaks volumes. His “the man leads” speech is rooted in the pervasive sexism in Christian culture that constantly polices female sexuality — and I don’t just mean intercourse.

To elaborate on that point, here are a few screenshots taken from a Facebook post from the Christian Broadcasting Network, breaking the news about Russell Wilson’s no-sex agreement with Ciara:

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Though chastity is a guideline to be followed by both men and women, the responsibility of safeguarding that “promise to god” typically falls squarely on girls’/women’s shoulders. Everything from chastity belts and purity balls, which are geared towards specifically protecting female purity, to these comments confirms that men and women are regarded differently by conservative Christianity, their “roles” and “duties” rigidly defined. A woman’s duty, primarily, is to protect her chastity for (and even from) her future husband. Hence, the constant policing of women’s clothing, sexuality and behavior.

For Ciara and her new beau, this truth is particularly worrisome, considering the pop star has built her empire on, yes, her talent, but also showcasing her “goodies.” Part of the singer’s appeal, not to mention her marketing strategy, is her body and sexuality, and the dance moves and clothes which flaunt them. How, precisely then, can this couple successfully ascribe to doctrine which outrightly prohibits and condemns that sexuality? These two realities, in my opinion, seem rather irreconcilable. Guess we’ll see…