On a news show the other day, a woman I’d never heard of, who was labeled as a “women’s rights activist”, was asked by the host, isn’t it in society’s best interest to discourage teenagers from sexual activity? Never mind for now how we do that – that’s a topic for further discussion. But can’t we all agree that discouraging teenagers from having sex is a good thing? The women’s rights activist replied, “It doesn’t matter if we encourage or discourage teen sexual activity; they’re going to have sex anyway.”
Did you hear what she said? “They are going to have sex. Period. No point in explaining to them the value of waiting or the dangers of indulging. They cannot or will not hear what we say. They cannot or will not understand even if they do hear. They cannot or will not control their sexual urges even if they do understand. They are going to have sex anyway.”
I don’t think that’s what she meant to say. I think she meant to say that there are some kids that are going to have sex anyway, no matter what we do. And because of that, we need to make sure those kids know how to protect themselves from the dangers of their behavior. We must make explicit sexual education and condoms available for those kids.
Okay, perhaps I’ll concede that. But I will add this: There are also some kids who are willing and capable of hearing, understanding, and applying teaching on abstinence. In fact, there are some kids who desperately want to hear that they can get have a great relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend without sleeping with them, that they are not doomed to follow the foolishness of the crowd, that there are ways to maneuver the land mines of a sexually charged society and end up with the kind of relationship they instinctively want to have. They want to be taught how to do what they're convinced is the right thing, because they don't know how to do it now. We must offer abstinence education for those kids.
And I get frustrated at the people who insist that abstinence education is only the domain of the church. Why do we assume that only "religious" kids would be interested? That the only teenagers who could ever have an interest in dating without going all the way are those who have been taught by their parents or church that they should do this?
Why do we assume that saving sex for marriage is a value we cannot present in a public school without stepping on people’s liberty? We present values about exercising, abstaining from alcohol and drugs, eating healthy, staying in school, going to college, volunteering in your community, recycling, voting . . . we teach all sorts of values in the public schools. We're not afraid of offending the obese by teaching their kids how to eat healthy. We're not afraid of offending the high school dropouts by teaching their kids the importance of staying in school.
But sexual abstinence we can't touch. I really don't get it.