Lessons from a Christian Advice Columnist March 24, 2008

Lessons from a Christian Advice Columnist

Susie Shellenberger is no Dan Savage.

She writes the advice column for Brio, a Christian girls’ magazine.

Here’s a recent question posed to her:

Dear Susie:

OK, I have a boyfriend, and I kind of want to have sex with him, but I sort of don’t want to because I know it’s wrong. He told me if I wanted to, he’d do it. But he’ll also wait for me if I don’t want to. I don’t know what to do.

I’m not knocking the girl’s abstinence. That’s her choice. And the guy seems pretty decent. He doesn’t sound like he’s pressuring her. He’ll go along with what she says. Personally, it doesn’t sound like she’s ready for sex. So she shouldn’t do it. But she damned well better know where some protection is. Just in case.

End of story.

What advice would you give the girl?

Think about it…

Then read the first line of what Susie wrote:

Are you kidding me?

Susie’s advice: Dump the evil boy.

Are you kidding me? If you know it’s wrong, why are you even questioning this? God created sex for marriage and marriage only! Sure, you’ll have the desire to be sexually involved; that’s how God wired you. But have you heard of delayed gratification? In other words, WAIT UNTIL MARRIAGE!

You may want a piece of chocolate cake, but if dinner will be served soon, hopefully you’ve learned to delay gratifying that desire. You may want an iPod so bad you can’t stand it. But if you don’t have the money, are you going to steal it? Or will you delay that gratification until you have the money?

If you have any common sense at all, you’ll walk away from this guy. You say he’ll wait. Until when? Until next month when you finally give in? Any guy worth anything at all WON’T be saying, “I’ll have sex if you want to, but if you don’t want to, I’ll wait.” No. A great guy will say, “You’re wanting to have sex? Then you’re not the girl for me! I’m waiting until marriage!”

Good luck with those future relationships, little girl… you shameless, sexually-ambivalent little girl… how dare you let your biological chemistry influence you! You’re a fundie. Don’t you know you’re not allowed to have doubts about anything?

Fundie Watch has a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of the entire response:

Sure, you’ll have the desire to be sexually involved; that’s how God wired you.

Oh, yes, God put that desire in you, but said “No touchy! Naughty naughty!” Weren’t there similar practices used in the Dark Ages as a form of torture? Your God must be a real dick.

But have you heard of delayed gratification? In other words, WAIT UNTIL MARRIAGE!

Yes, we’ve all “heard” of delayed gratification. Just like I’ve “heard” of clamping high voltage electrodes to my nuts, but I don’t see much point in doing that either.

It’s also hypocritical that Susie is so harsh to that girl when she responds so differently to a girl who got knocked up.

And just in case you’re not disturbed enough, check out this question from the same column as she-who-wonders-about-getting-it-on:

Dear Susie:

I haven’t started shaving my legs yet, and I’m not even sure I want to! God didn’t talk about hair removal in the Bible, so I’m thinking it might be a sin to remove the hair on my legs. Does the Brio staff encourage shaving legs?…

(via Fundie Watch)

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  • Shalini

    Sex is fun, and the theistarded faitheads should just get over it, or remove themselves from the gene pool. Giving that pile of dung as advice is mental and emotional abuse of the highest degree, and people like that deluded dumbfuck Susie-Whatever should be used as lab rats in scientific experiments.

    (Sorry, I’m in a foul mood right now.)

  • ProudSinner

    I had a subscription to that magazine as a young teen, and I think of that advice column every time I hear the song One Of Us. Someone had sent in a modified version of the lyrics that I’m very grateful I can’t remember.

  • Kevin L.

    This Susie Shellenberger just may be one of the most contemptible fiends to ever communicate through the written word.

  • Mriana

    Well, that’s one girl who will probably never get married if she takes that advice. If she can’t trust him when he says he’ll wait, then she will never learn to trust at all. That Suzie is only teaching her not to trust. He might wait until marriage or he might move on. Whatever the case, they are young and there is plenty of time, but if they give in, they will hopefully remember to use a condom. It doesn’t mean they are bad people though.

    They need to get far away from this Ms. Suzie-{does not]know-it-all

  • Jen

    Mriana, my reaction was completely opposite of yours. The first thing I thought was, “This girl is going to get married straight out of high school.”

    I was never impressed by the wait-for-marriage types who had sex at the same time the rest of us did, just within the bonds of holy teenage marriage.

  • Mriana

    If you weren’t impressed, then you probably didn’t continue dating that person. That’s what I was thinking at least.

  • Skywalker

    Is this woman crazy. She gives some bad advice. The guy sounds like a alright guy for this time. Hell, lets get real here. Teens are having more and more sex and they are only getting younger and younger. The best advice I could give is, make sure your ready for one thing and wear a condom, oh and get on the pill. It is very hard to abstain from sex.. trust me.. it ain’t an easy road to take and it is a very lonely road I have found out..

  • Ada

    I don’t have a problem with the advice to wait until marriage. Is that really such a horrible thing? The problem is with beating the poor girl over the head with the advice. “Are you kidding me?” is never a good way to start giving advice. This was clearly an honest question, and it deserves a respectful answer.

    The fact that it’s hard to abstain from sex doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, and I would most definitely not suggest this young girl go on hormonal birth control when her body hasn’t even figured itself out yet! But if this woman is serious about getting teens to wait until marriage, I figure she’ll have a better response by presenting arguments for why that’s such a good idea. And at least a few of those shouldn’t boil down to “God said so.” Really, such arguments do exist.

  • Richard Wade

    So y’know like my stupid boyfriend Brad is like totally a horndog, an’ last night I was just doin’ a hummer on him as usual and y’know he’s like all over me all the time and I sorta like it but he’s sorta Christian so he’s like “I wanna have sex but I’ll wait if you don’ wanna yet.” So I’m like “Uh, what–ever.” but y’know like my stupid parents would totally freak out with the Jesus stuff if I ever did it y’know, like my pervert old uncle calls it “hide the salami” I mean how gross is that? He’s like a million years old anyway so what—ever. Anyway I’m like sorta Christian too y’know I mean I’m not a slut or nothin’ so I’m like whataya do, so I wrote this lame letter to Dear Susie at brio an’ I like sign my name “Perplexed” ‘cause that was stupid Mr. Gordon’s stupid vocabulary word last week, an’ I’m like “Hey Susie I sorta wanna do it but y’know my boyfriend’s like giving me the choice to wait which is kinda both really gay and kinda cool too, so y’know I don’ know what ta do. An this be-otch Susie comes back in my face with all sortsa shit about “Are you kiddin’ me?” an’ says like God made me horny but like he wants me to wait anyway and she gives me shit about not bein’ able to “delay gratification” and whatever like I’m some kinda little baby an’ then worst of all the be-otch tells me to dump my boyfriend just “cause he’s even talking about it and like his givin’ me the choice is like some kinda lie! So I’m thinking like “fuck you be-otch,” then I look at her picture at the top of the page an’ she’s got y’know this totally diesel dyke hair an’ I’m thinkin’ “Ohhhh! So thaaat’s it! She’s like this lesbo freak who like hates guys an’ gets hot on girls so of course she wants me to dump him and probably tells all girls to dump their boyfriends y’know? So I went right over to Brad’s house an’ I’m like “You’ll wait for me?! Fuck that shit! I’m gonna wait for you if you don’ wanna yet! An’ he’s like “What the fuck?” So we had this big fight an’ then we made up and made out and we like ended up y’know doin’ it on the hood of his truck an’ it was okay but y’know now I’m like thinkin’ “What the hell was the big deal?” What–ever.

  • ash

    Dearest Richard,

    #1 we all love you
    #2 but lay off the crack, m’kay?


  • Paul

    Richard Wade, girls as described by you do exist, but they don’t ask adults for advice. Congratulations to you for placing all teenagers into an ugly and inaccurate stereotype. 😐

  • Mriana

    😆 ROFL! You’re so funny Richard.

    Paul, laugh! He’s satirizing the article Hemant posted, not all teens. That is what makes it funny. So laugh! 😆 Or be a party pooper. Whichever.

  • I wrote an article about why it’s stupid to wait until marriage to have sex:


    Here’s a quick summary:

    1. Woohoo! Sex is fun! It’s normal! It’s natural! It’s good exercise. It makes you feel good. It cures headaches. It’s better than chocolate. And it’s (usually) free!

    2. You wouldn’t marry someone before getting to know if they can balance a checkbook, whether they are a neatnick or a slob, or if they put the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothbrush. So, why would you marry someone when you don’t know if they are a sensitive or good lover?

    3. It’s almost unheard of for people to marry in their teens these days, and few marry in their early twenties. In fact, many people put off marriage until their 30s, some decide not to marry at all, and gay men and lesbians are not allowed to get married in most states in the US. Are these people, like the character in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, supposed to abstain from sex for their entire lives?

    4. Sexual repression is not healthy for people or for society.

    And I was an abstinence practicing born-again Christian until I was in my late 20s. It was really stupid and contributed greatly to the retardation of my emotional growth. In my twenties I had to deal with emotional issues I should have dealt with in high school. From my experience the main reason kids buy into this stuff is that they are afraid to grow up, so they use the black-and-white morality of fundamentalism to give them an excuse to avoid the complex world they are entering in puberty.

  • Paul

    Oh, OK. 🙂

  • Kathryn

    Not to mention that girl’s probably gonna disregard Susie’s answer anyway, because it’s so harsly written. I know I would 🙂

    Seriously, I thought we were past abstinence-only sex ed?

  • Amy

    I DO appreciate the fact that she did not give the reader that wanted to go to cooking school the advice of “Oh, you will serve your husband well some day!!!” :

    “Dear Susie:
    I’m totally into cooking! I love to be in the kitchen trying new stuff, and I’ve decided I want to go to culinary school after high school graduation. But I don’t know how I can use that to serve God. I want to be doing something to glorify Him, but how can I do that with cooking?

    Future Chef

    Dear Future Chef:
    I love your letter! God can use any talent or skill for His glory! Who knows? God may use you to treat traveling missionaries when they pass through your church, or He may use your cooking as a way to open the door to sharing your faith with someone in a restaurant who’s blown away by what you’ve prepared!”

  • the Shaggy

    Dear Susie:
    I’m trying to figure out world religions, but very little about them makes any sense to me. I also have a hard time believing that more than half of the world is going to burn in hell for eternity because they don’t acknowledge Christ as their Savior.


    Dear Searching:
    I recommend you read the books The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. He’s an award-winning journalist who’s a former atheist. When his wife became a Christian, he was determined to prove Christianity was a big hoax. In his research, however, he discovered just the opposite. I encourage you to get the student versions of both books. An easy read and very easy to understand.

    Oh sigh. She’s not even giving related advice.

  • Susan

    Dear Susie:

    I haven’t started shaving my legs yet, and I’m not even sure I want to! God didn’t talk about hair removal in the Bible, so I’m thinking it might be a sin to remove the hair on my legs. Does the Brio staff encourage shaving legs?…

    Somebody has WAY too much time on their hands.

  • the Shaggy

    Dear Wondering:
    If your youth group is an outreach, why wouldn’t you want to go? Jesus is all about outreach! I’d think you’d want to be a part of something bigger than yourself and your few close friends who study the Bible together.

    Why is it important? Outreach is one reason. Fellowship with a variety of other Christians is another. Spiritual growth, Christian social activities and discipleship are other reasons it’s important.

    Love the State. Give to the State. Become the State.

  • QrazyQat

    Well, that’s one girl who will probably never get married if she takes that advice.

    Oh, she’ll get married alright, just not to a nice guy like her current boyfriend. Maybe one of those wife-beating (but it’s okay cause he’s Christian) football players. Maybe some other nutcase. Just not to a nice guy like she has right now.

  • Karen

    Ugh – that stinks. Doesn’t surprise me, however. Brio is a “ministry” (i.e., one of myriad commercial product lines) of Focus on the Family, uber-conservative James Dobson’s organization.

  • Maria

    I’m in a pretty angry mood, so I’m just going to come right out and say how I really feel. That suzie person is nuts and shouldn’t be writing advice columns. I really hope that girl doesn’t listen to her. That being said, she’s free to give bad advice. I just wish no one would listen to her. Denying sexuality is ridiculous. Hopefully there will come a time were few to no people will listen to people like this “columnist”.

    That being said, people who go around saying things that sound dehumanizing like “let’s use her as a lab rat” sound just as bad, even if it is meant as a joke. It’s not funny IMHO.

  • Jen

    I have changed my mind. She isn’t going to get married young. She’s just going to have butt sex.

  • Haha! I used to read that magazine religiously!!

  • Wow, I had no idea I had such illustrious readership! Lots of people read this blog, FA, so you’re kind of a big deal.

    Thank you for highlighting my article. I’m extremely flattered and I’ll be sure to return the favor in the very near future.

    Keep writing! Your stuff is great!

  • Indigo

    I strongly suspect that this letter was made up as a way of hammering home morality points. (Similar to a lot of advice letters in a lot of teen magazines, really.)

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