The lived ethics of abstinence: Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Relationships and sex education (RSE), as set out in the UK government’s recent Bill making RSE compulsory for all English schools, should be appropriate to the religious background of pupils. This paper suggests that this appropriateness is best found by gaining the best understanding about religious young people’s lived experiences of relationships and sexuality. Our in-depth qualitative research with three Christian young men aged 17-18 from a large charismatic evangelical church in the U.K Midlands investigated experiences of romantic relationships, focusing on the ‘ethical moments’ in which the Christian ethical principles of sexual abstinence are negotiated. Through attending closely to both the theological and the non-religious discursive resources that these negotiations draw upon, we demonstrate the different ways that abstinence becomes meaningful in their lifeworlds. We conclude that a sex education based on ethics in practice might engage best with religious young people.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-600
Number of pages14
JournalSex Education
Issue number5
Early online date24 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Relationships and sex education , moral breakdown, Abstinence, sexual ethics, religion