The American SWP defends abstinence

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Dec 5 10:44:43 MST 2002

stuartwl at wrote:
> I think Lou meant to say "abstention," not "abstinence." Maybe he just
> finished reading the current Newsweek cover story on "The New Virginity"
> about abstinence-only sex education and teens who "have decided to remain
> chaste until marriage." But who knows, maybe the Barnesites are for that
> too.

No, I meant abstinence even though abstention is the "right" word. I did
want to emphasize the sterility of the position, so to speak. That being
said, Oxford does not limit the term to sexual practices:


abstinence (æbstnns).
[a. Fr. abstinence, refashioned on OFr. astenance, astinence:-L.
abstinentia, n. of quality f. abstinent-em, pr. pple. of abstine-re. See

1. a. The action or practice of abstaining or refraining; forbearance.
Const. from (of obs.).

Wyclif Num. xxx. 14 That bi fastynge and abstynens of other thingis she
traueyl hir soul.

C. 1440
Gesta Rom. (1838) i. ii. 7 Goode werkis of kyndnesse, abstinence fro
synne, and almysdede.

Hooker Eccl. Pol. (1632) v. 388 Jewish Abstinence from certaine kinds of

Dryden St. Eurem. Ess. 343 The true Devout Person breaks with
take pleasure in the abstinence of pleasures.

Arbuthnot Rules of Diet 397 There are no better rules than Abstinence
from those things which occasion it.

Trench Miracles xv. 260 Abstinence from an outward work is not essential
to the observance of a Sabbath.


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