In the ’90s, CCM was into two things: U2 and not having sex. Also, goatees. And ska. OK, CCM was into a lot of things in the ’90s, but having already covered that in detail elsewhere, this list will be devoted to CCM’s many admirable attempts to make sexual abstinence look fun.
A lot could be said about sexual abstinence, but let me state for the record that I bear the True Love Waits movement no ill will whatsoever. This is not about trashing the virtues of waiting till marriage, nor mocking people who are committed to doing so. This is about ranking CCM songs about keeping your pants on, so let’s get down to it.
Whatever you do, I beg of you, please do not skip the final video, which is the most incredible thing I’ve seen on the Internet in months.
7. Barlow Girl: Average Girl
Waiting to have sex until you’re married is long, frequently frustrating, full of temptations to just give up and a needling curiosity about whether or not it’s actually worth it. In that way, it is much like listening to “Average Girl” by Barlow Girl. When you pledge to wait until you’re married, you are definitely rewarded by having sex with someone you love. Sadly, there are no such rewards for listening to “Average Girl.”
6. Rebecca St. James: Wait for Me
If Madonna and Alanis had an ’80s baby and that baby was raised in the good truth of the Lord, she may have ended up as Rebecca St. James, who became sort of the patron saint of the abstinence movement in the ’90s. This song suffers from some overproduction and RSJ’s weird habit of squeaking at the end of too many notes, but it gets points for being sort of heartfelt and vulnerable—closer to a love song than an abstinence anthem.
(Also, the guy she ended up waiting for is in Foster the People. A win for everyone.)
5. Superchick: Barlow Girl
OK, apparently, the Barlow girls who wrote the decidedly below-average “Average Girl” were the actual inspiration for Superchick’s song called “Barlow Girls.” Very confusing. It’s hard to tell just how tongue-in-cheek we’re supposed to take the line “Boys think they’re the bomb ‘cuz they remind them of their mom,” but assuming it’s supposed to be at least a little bit self-aware, it’s kind of funny.
4. LaRue: Always Be
LaRue never got the credit it deserved—a late ’90s brother/sister duo with a knack for catchy, Replacements-y melodies just this side of eerie. “Someday” isn’t strictly speaking about keeping it in your pants, but it is a love song about a future husband, so let’s be serious.
As with St. James, Natalie LaRue eventually found the hypothetical man in question. Let us hope the same happy fate befell whoever put together the excellent, pining, unofficial music video above. (But it is not even close to being the best music video on the list. Just you wait, you won’t believe your eyes.)
3. Trin-i-Tee 5:7: My Body
I’m actually kind of feeling this song? It’s very groovy, and while you could definitely accuse Trin-i-Tee 5:7 of being a pretty blatant Destiny’s Child rip-off, you have to give them credit for writing a pro-abstinence song that actually feels like it came from this reality (a dude trying to get fresh in a car) and for rhyming “pressure me” with “celibacy.”
2. dcTalk: I Don’t Want It
Now, let’s not put too fine a point on it: This is a masterpiece. I’m not being ironic. If you’re going to write a song about not having sex, could you possibly write a better one?
I love everything about it. I love that every verse is a monologue in which a guy tries to calm down a girl driven mad with desire. I love the rap verse, just as I love all of TobyMac’s rap verses. I love the line, “Safe is the way they say to play but then again safe ain’t safe at all today.” This is more than just one of the great pro-sexual abstinence jams of the ’90s—it’s one of CCM’s great jams of all time.
But it’s not the best pro-abstinence jam of all time. Not by a long shot …
1. Michael Sweet: Ain’t No Safe Way
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I started this list, I firmly believed dcTalk’s “I Don’t Want It” would be the number one slot. It just didn’t seem possible to top. But I’m glad I did a little research because what on earth. Words fail me.
What’s your favorite part? The opening skit, in which a wanton seductress lures our hero to the bed of iniquity with a condom? Which he takes in slow motion? (“Where’d you get that?” “Schooooolll.” “YOU’RE KIDDING.”) The part where Michael Sweet—formerly of Stryper—airdrops himself onto the hood of the car to talk them into waiting with the power of rock? The line “Abstinence rules?” Or the screen flashing “CONDOMS 85% EFFECTIVE. 15% DON’T” in the background?
There are many favorite parts to pick from, and there is no wrong choice here, unlike having sex, which is definitely the wrong choice, unless you want Michael Sweet to parachute into your attempted tryst and blast your eardrums with the erection withering force of rock and roll. It rocks harder than a solid 90% of the jams you’re liable to hear on the radio in 2015. I love it so much. I’ve just been listening to it over and over, letting the force of virginal rock wash over my body like tidal waves of purity.
I admit, I started this list as something of a lark (per the inspiration of Sarah Galo, to whom I am indebted), but now that it’s led me to Michael Sweet’s “Ain’t No Safe Way,” it’s become one of the most important blogs I’ve ever written. I only hope it improved your day as much as it improved mine, and remember, true love waits.
I’m getting lots of submissions of songs I’ve never heard before and definitely deserve a placement on the list. That place is here!
1. Lust Control: The Big “M”—Strictly more about masturbation than sexual abstinence, but I’ll include it here because W O W. The line “sexual sin is a sin against your own body” is so anti-punk rock that ends up maybe being the most punk rock thing of all?
(Thanks for the tip: Greg Rhodea!)
2. Carman: America Again—At first, I was sort of surprised Carman didn’t make this list, but as Carman aficionados know, his songwriting tends more towards Braveheart fanfic than sexual purity. But his song “America Again,” which is less a song than a spoken word tribute to manifest destiny, does feature a line condemning condoms in schools. We’ll add it to the list.
(Thanks for the tip: Sarah Gallo!)