By Tracy Haney/Accent editor

With pop princess Jessica Simpson not giving it up to hubby Nick Lachey until their wedding night, and George Bush’s proposed funding increase of $33 million for abstinence-until-marriage programs, virginity is challenging the mainstream’s “sex sells” motto. But is it working?

Assistant psychology professor Matthew Winslow isn’t so sure.

“I don’t think it’s ever been true in our history that people haven’t had sex that much,” Winslow said. “There is probably the same number of people having sex … but now it’s a lot more acceptable to say ‘I’m going to be a virgin until I get married.'”

Winslow said “it’s really going against biology when you try to restrict people’s sexual behavior,” adding that in the 1800s it was normal for 15-year-olds to be sexually active because people were married a lot younger then.

“It’s always going to be hard (to wait),” Winslow said. “The average age of marriage is going up and up … It’s hard for most people in any era to wait until (they’re) 25 to have sex,” especially with sex everywhere in the media, Winslow added.

“There are not as many role models,” Winslow said. “Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake – these are not models of virginity.”

It is also becoming less and less important that people’s mates be virgins, according to Winslow, and factors like pressure from a partner or alcohol can have an affect on one’s decision too.

Keeping the faith

In the Christian community, waiting for marriage has always been taught to youth. Programs – like True Love Waits where young people make a pledge to God, themselves, their parents, their friends and their future mate and children that they will preserve their virginity until entering the bonds of marriage – support abstaining until marriage.

Freshman Amber Brown decided around the age of 13 to wait until marriage after a lot of her friends were making decisions to have sex, some getting pregnant.

Brown said her grandmother gave her a True Love Waits Bible, and after talking with a friend about the commitment she decided to make the True Love Waits pledge.

“I felt it was something I needed to do,” said Brown, who encourages others to make the True Loves Waits pledge as well.

Campus minister Jon Barron is in favor of programs like True Love Waits because they offer support and make people more accountable for following through with their commitment.

“I just believe what Scripture says … we’re not supposed to have sex. It’s hard to do because society revolves around sex … but with the power of God we can do anything,” Barron said.

Just say no

Wesley Foundation adviser Theodor Langenbruch agrees with Barron and suggests that students seek the support that pro-abstinence groups offer rather than giving in to the “whatever feels good” message of society.

“There are lots of resources for getting information,” Langenbruch said. “Sex is too precious a gift to be squandered away without a commitment.”

But with abstinence-only education, Winslow warns that while that type of teaching works at delaying sexual experience, studies show people end up having more unsafe sex when they do become sexually active because they lack information about protected sex and contraceptives.

According to the Family Research Council Web site, “teen birthrates have declined since the early 1990s, but the highest unwed birthrates are among those age 20-24, followed by those 25-29.”

Whether to avoid pregnancy or health risks or for moral and religious reasons, remaining a virgin until marriage is becoming more accepted in today’s society.

Winslow said, “The more people who say it’s OK (to be a virgin), the more people will say ‘OK, I’m going to do that too.'”