Birds and Bullwhips: Evangelist Roxanne

By Vanessa Butler

We talk with Survivor's Evangelist Roxanne about her stance on sex before marriage.

Birds & Bullwhips is a column that aims to delve into the different sides of sex and sexuality through conversations with people who are outside of the norm. For our first column, we talked with an Evangelical Christian about her views on sex outside of marriage and how her beliefs affect her stance on sex.

Sex for Christians can be a black and white topic. “The word of god is my authority,” says “Evangelist Roxy,” recent castaway from Survivor Philippines. “In Ephesians 5:22, it talks about how your body belongs to your husband, your husband’s body belongs to you and your husband is going to love you like Christ loves you.” Roxanne reached out to us in the hopes of opening up a dialogue about sex and sexuality as she self-identifies as an Evangelist Christian.

On the hit reality television show Survivor, Roxy was incredibly open about the quirks that came with her beliefs, showing no signs of shame when team members found her speaking in tongues as she praised her god for stopping the rain. A person with such dedication to their beliefs always piques our interest. We were attracted to the idea of talking with such a strong-willed Christian about sex, so we took a chance. Ultimately, we found that like any opinion held with fervor, her answers seemed prerecorded, perhaps defended so often that they had become robotic. Or perhaps not. Perhaps they were simply pre-written.

It was hard to believe that it was a conversation at all; at times it felt Roxy’s answers to the questions I had sent the day before seemed literally scripted. It seems pretty logical, actually; her beliefs, after all, rely on sharing her perception of the word of god with others.

Born in the West Indies and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Roxy was brought up in a very strict Caribbean background where the idea of talking about sex was never entertained. “I feel that people felt that it was so wrong to talk about sex,” explained Roxy. “But now that I live in the very liberal New York City, it allows me to have those conversations that let me be really open about it.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s in Theater Performance and African American Studies from Penn State University, Roxy found herself very serious about her church and her spirituality. “Within that time period I was really committed to being abstinent before I got married. During those three years, it was literally like being on an island and not eating any food for a really long time, and then all of a sudden all of the hot guys look like food. You just want to eat all of them up. I did struggle with that; it was really hard, so it was definitely a time for me to really exercise and grow in the area of self-control. But at the same time, I’m human and your mind will just wander. If you’re stuck on an island and you don’t have any food, all you’ll be thinking of is food.”

The concept of self-control is something that is thrown around a lot while talking with Evangelicals about sex before marriage. “I think that we live in a very sexually charged world and it leaves room for Christians to be able to grow and exercise themselves in terms of self-control,” says Roxy. “The reality is that we can equip people all we want with different things that are going to help them make the best decisions, but at the end of the day everyone is only going to control themselves. And as someone who serves a god that gives mankind free will, again, the reality of it all is that people are going to do whatever they’re going to do.”

While in theory it seems foolproof, the reality and struggles young adults face abstaining from sexual relations is very real and ever-changing. A study released in December 2009 noted that of the unmarried non-Christian adults surveyed, 88 percent said they have had sex; within the same survey, 80 percent of young unmarried Evangelical Christians admitted to having had sexual relations.

“Waiting until you’re married is very important due to the fact that there is such a rise in diseases and STDs. It’s great that a woman or a man can wait until they get married to have that freedom and trust in that other partner to limit themselves with getting involved with that. Again, sex is something that’s going to contribute to a husband and a wife coming close together, and outside of marriage you just don’t have that security or intimacy.”

Throughout the conversation Roxy has made clear her belief that sex is an activity undertaken by a married man and woman, but now married herself (and, naturally, having sex) she better understands the allure. “I mean, generally speaking I do believe in waiting until you’re married to have sex, but now that I’m actually married I definitely see that having sex is not just about fulfilling an urge; it’s definitely something that is bringing a husband and a wife closer together.”

Roxy’s views stand firm even when it comes to appearing on reality television shows like her recent stint on Survivor. I was curious as to why she felt it was necessary to be on a reality show since the media nowadays is so hypersexualized. Unsurprisingly, she said it was to bring televangelism to the audience in a different way. “When you think of televangelism, you see someone who has a very prepared sermon, who is behind the pulpit, dressed very neatly, talking about the word of god…But there’s something very special and drawing to all of the audience members when they are not hearing you talk about something [like conventional televangelism] but see you live it out.”

Honing a unified message to the point that it became in fact a pre-written diatribe doesn’t seem out of the question for Roxy; it actually seems pretty logical. It was obvious that we had been used as a platform for her to preach the word of the lord, but, honestly, she’s not at fault; that’s what she believes she needs to do. When asked her thoughts on Playboy and the celebration of the female form through erotic photography, Roxanne dodged the question and replied, “Well, one of the things I can say is that I’m very impressed for the most part with Playboy that they have given me this opportunity to be able to speak my mind and give my perspective about sex. For me that’s very exciting. Everything that has to do with sex within the confines of marriage, I give the thumbs-up to.”

What’s difficult about attempting to push your beliefs on others is that when Roxy says things like, “Sex is something that’s going to contribute to a husband and a wife coming close together, and outside of marriage you just don’t have that security or intimacy,” those who do have relationships other than marriage, no matter their label, know she is wrong. Sex brings people of every sexual orientation, kink and background together for reasons that are important for themselves, even if that means staying abstinent for their beliefs. But treading on each other’s ideals is nonconstructive, especially when you’re speaking to an audience that believes strongly in sexual freedom.

But in Roxy’s eyes, tapping into the Playboy demographic was a new and unique chance to spread her beliefs to those who may not believe in such right-wing ideals in a seemingly unimposing way. In Roxy’s eyes, she’s doing what she’s been put here to do.

Roxy is training to be a teacher/preacher of the word at Alliance Theological Seminary and to become a chaplain for the United States Army, and hopes to accomplish a Ph.D. in Ministry. She is also currently shopping around her upcoming wedding ceremony, as she wasn’t able to hold official nuptials, which will be featured on TV for her fans and viewers to be a part of.

On Twitter: @roxannedotcom

On Facebook: Evangelist Roxanne

YouTube: RoxanneTelevision

Photo courtesy of: @ISAKTINER

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