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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Every week, at this time, we try to go behind closed doors for a conversation about sensitive topics that many of us have a hard time talking about. Today, we're going to talk about a new push for celibacy. Why? Well, Thanksgiving is over. It's time for holiday parties, mistletoe, cozy nights at home. All of this maybe leaving some of you singles out there, well, feeling a little lonely, maybe slightly tempted to, shall we say, hook up.

Well, Dr. Lindsay Marsh says don't do it, not just because your health may be at risk but also your spirit. Dr. Marsh is the founder and president of a program called Worth The Wait, which promotes abstinence until marriage. The principals of Worth The Wait are based on her book, "The Best Sex of My Life: A Guide to Purity." And she joins me now at our Washington studio.

Welcome. Thanks for coming.

Dr. LINDSAY MARSH (CEO, Worth The Wait; Author, "The Best Sex of My Life: A Guide to Purity"): Thank you, Michel, for having me.

MARTIN: The slogan for Worth The Wait is: Sexual purity with contemporary style and urban class. So that means say it out aloud I'm a virgin and proud, or…

Dr. MARSH: Yeah. That - I mean, that means that you can keep your flavor, keep your style and your finesse, be yourself, live life to the fullest. And, I mean, I think so many times, Michel, we have this idea of what a virgin is or what somebody that's celibate should look like or, you know, what they represent. And a lot of times it's the frumpy, sad, you know, person that nobody really likes because, well, they are virgin because they never had the opportunity to get some, I mean, if we're going to be real about it.

And so, sexual purity with contemporary style and urban class is Worth the Wait's logo and it's really what we represent. Because everybody that's a part of the team is, I mean, living life, excited about life, fulfilling their dreams, walking in their purpose and, you know, they're fly. They're gorgeous men and women. I mean, they're excited about the…

MARTIN: You are pretty cute. I'll just verify that for people who can't see you, you know.

Dr. MARSH: But I think it's important that we should…

MARTIN: But do you need a program for that? Why isn't that just a matter of personal discipline, personal choice, connecting with the right people and keeping you on your own track? Why do you need a program for that?

Dr. MARSH: You know what, Michel, because it's not taught anymore. People aren't learning that in their families and some - well, some families. They're not learning it in some churches. They're not learning it in schools, certainly. They're not learning it, you know, at the family reunion and in the locker room. They're certainly, not learning when they get to college. I mean, in most times, once you hit high school that's, in general, too late.

But what I'm finding is that if we promote it - because what's happening is that people are being socialized by what they see in videos, what they see in movies, what they see from, you know, certain images, stereotypical images that may perhaps to be in hip-hop and in different places. And so if we don't teach it, people level - or live at the level in which they're thought. And so I think it's important that we, you know, instill it at a pre-teen, teenage, college student level and for the people who have perhaps made mistakes, let them know that you can recover from a poor choice. You can be restored. You can be renewed in this.

People on my team are not all virgins. They are people that are living celibate lifestyles that was after years of, you know, being sexually involved or even perhaps having abortions or having children out of wedlock.

MARTIN: You are an anesthesiologist by training and that is, in fact, how you continue to sort of earn your living. So I'm curious, because you actually, you've also had medical training, you've had scientific training. I'm curious about the use of the word purity…

Dr. MARSH: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: …which strikes me as - and you are also a minister, so you are entitled to sort of speak your values regardless. But I'm just curious about the word purity…

Dr. MARSH: Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: …as oppose to, you know, why that word? It seems laden to me.

Dr. MARSH: I think because we sometimes need to actually draw a line between what it means to be abstinent or celibate as oppose to what Worth The Wait and the Worth The Wait revolution promotes which is sexual purity, because I find that a lot of times people can say, oh, well, I'm not having sex, but they're involved of a lot of things that are pretty sexually charged.

MARTIN: And you encourage people not even to masturbate, not to engage in any…

Dr. MARSH: No pumping.

MARTIN: …kind of pumping. You know, all this stimulating behavior.

Dr. MARSH: Exactly.

MARTIN: All right.

Dr. MARSH: Also humping, bumping, grinding, oral sex, masturbating.

MARTIN: What about kissing?

Dr. MARSH: None of that. I mean - and I speak to this, Michel, not as just somebody that preaches it but also somebody that lives what I'm sharing with this young people and so.

MARTIN: But why?

Dr. MARSH: Because I think it's important that when you look at even, and I'm going to actually go to the physician side right now, but even if you look at the HIV and AIDS rates here in a place like the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., how it's become such an epidemic and especially plaguing minority women. And especially in minority cultures, abstinence is not taught at all.

MARTIN: But you can't get HIV by kissing.

Dr. MARSH: Well, the thing about it is that - if we'll be honest - kissing and humping and bumping and grinding and thing like that are things that actually lead to the sexual behavior. I mean, if I'm going to speak to the minister side, you know, there's a scripture in Proverbs that says, you know, can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned. And so it's interesting that, you know, even with all the sensory nerve endings in our lips and our fingers tips really how God has designed us. Once we get started, we're not supposed to stop. We're not supposed to interrupt that process. There's a flow. And God is sex - sex is God's idea. And it's a wonderful phenomenal idea. However, we are not designed to get started and stop.

MARTIN: Okay. Do you - I have to ask and you've been so open. I appreciate that. But I have to ask, do you have a boyfriend?

Dr. MARSH: I don't have a boyfriend.

MARTIN: And is your chosen stance an obstacle to that or you just haven't found a person?

Dr. MARSH: Well, I definitely desire marriage and children one day and I desire, you know, to find that person. I haven't found him yet. So the search still continues but, you know, I would like for him to find me. So I think it will be us finding one another.

MARTIN: Is there an obstacle of being celibate, being abstinent? When you put that out there, do people go, oh, I don't think so.

Dr. MARSH: No. Not really. I think that - I think it can be surprising but believe it or not, Michel, there are so many people that actually live in this lifestyle that it's actually people are coming out from, like, behind, you know, places where they've been hiding. Like, oh, my god, I didn't know there was like a thousand of you guys that are living sexual peer. So if you go to my Web site, iamworththewait.com, there's a page of testimonies of people from all over the country, of all different ages that are living in this lifestyle so.

MARTIN: Men and women?

Dr. MARSH: Men and women, absolutely. And there's men and women on my team, as well, because I think Worth The Wait is something that we definitely need to promote among our men, as well as our women.

MARTIN: Dr. Lindsay Marsh is president of Worth The Wait. It's a program that promotes abstinence. She's the author of "The Best Sex of My Life: A Guide to Purity."

Thanks so much for speaking with us.

Dr. MARSH: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And happy holidays to you.

Dr. MARSH: You too.

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