"I can be a woman of faith and also be sex-positive," the Alabama native tells PEOPLE

By Aili Nahas
August 01, 2019 11:00 AM
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In the last few months, Hannah Brown has undergone painful breakups and a broken engagement, but the 24-year-old star of The Bachelorette says the criticism she faced over her decision to have sex on the show was just as painful.

“It’s been really tough,” says Brown of the “slut shaming” she’s dealt with since speaking publicly about having sex while on a date with suitor Peter Weber. The admission came after contestant Luke Parker questioned the possibility that she would or had been intimate, initially telling her that it would affect his ability to stay in the relationship.

“I believe a lot of the same things Luke does” says Brown. “Physical intimacy is emotionally binding. But there are lots of different sins. And for Luke, [sex] was the thing that made me not worthy to be his wife. And as he continued to talk to me, it just made me more angry.”

“I was not trying to say that it’s okay to live a life of sin and just call out to the name of Jesus,” she continues. “But I’m a human being and Jesus still loves me.”

  • For more from Bachelorette Hannah Brown, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
THE BACHELORETTE
Hannah Brown
| Credit: Peter Yang
HANNAH BROWN, PETER
Hannah Brown and Peter Weber
| Credit: John Fleenor/ ABC

But the former pageant queen says she never intended for her physical intimacy to be a talked about subject.

“Did I really think that everyone was going to know about my sex life?” she asks. “No. Was it a jab at Luke? Yes. Did I speak in a moment of anger? Yes.”

Brown says she was devastated when the criticism continued off-camera, namely on social media.

“I have been told that I misrepresent being a Christian,” she says. “And that has been soul-crushing. My faith is very important to me.”

THE BACHELORETTE
Credit: Peter Yang

Now, Brown is using her platform as an opportunity to break down stereotypes and judgments when it comes to sex.

“I live my life by certain standards…and [I have] a moral compass,” she says. “The conversation about sex can be hard for people to talk about and can make women and men feel a sense of shame. But I can be a woman of faith and also be sex-positive. And I am not going to stop talking about the things that I believe in.”