My Soapbox for the Week

Last night I watched Eli Stone. I’m not sure if it was the most recent one because of my beloved Tivo. Anyway, it was about a girl who got expelled from school because during an Abstinence Only assembly she played “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael.

George Michael heard about this and wanted Eli Stone (he’s a lawyer in case you don’t watch the show) to represent her.

The whole thing ended up being that the girl felt like Abstinence Only is not really education. Some of her friends had contracted STDs and one got pregnant because they believed the ridiculous claims that condoms don’t work and girls who have abortions are more likely to commit suicide.

The principal said they had no other course of action because the government only gave them money for Abstinence Only. The girl was touted as a hero. The government as religious zealots (yes, “separation of church and state” was mentioned).

Now, I will step onto my soapbox.

What in the heck?! A teenager and George Michael give us statistics and the “facts” about Abstinence Only education? There are so many things that were just WRONG (not immoral, although there was that, too), just wrong and illogical.

I understand the argument that Abstinence Only glosses over “safe sex”. But since when do teenagers pay attention and follow anything safe? Can you really imagine a 14 year old girl who is about to have sex with her 16 year old “partner” and they are in the throws of making out and she says, “Oh wait. Let’s get a condom.” And he’s too excited to stop and ignores her. Is she going to stop him and remind him of the statistics she learned in her Safe Sex class? I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to happen!

When I was in college, I worked at an outlet mall. One of the teenage girls I worked with was dating a guy probably 5 years older than her. She told me that she confronted her brother about having unsafe sex with his girlfriend. The brother asked, “Do you always use a condom?” She said, “PRACTICALLY.” I almost laughed in her face. Practically?!

I just don’t understand why Abstinence Only can’t be considered education. Not to mention it makes the millions of people who do practice abstinence before marriage seem silly and immature. Which is not the case. I’m one of them.

When I was in college I took a speech class and because I’m a decent public speaker, I got good grades in there. But the only speech I got a 100 on was about abstaining from sex before marriage. I gave some examples of people in my family who had kids out of marriage and how their lives where affected–not just by the kids, but in other areas of their life, too.

In this speech class, we made comments on every speech we heard and gave it to the speech maker. I remember several of the notes I received said things like, “I know from experience that what you say is true.” Or “I’ve been thinking about sleeping with my boyfriend, I’m so glad I heard your speech first.”

I always remember this, and I say it now because those were real people. Not lawmakers or educators trying to make a pc class. Real people who had been affected by sex when they weren’t ready for it.

One of my favorite quotes sums up quite nicely what I believe about sex:

Strong desire is like a river. As long as it flows within the banks of God’s will—be the current strong or weak—all is well. But when it overruns those boundaries and seeks its own channels, then disaster lurks in the rampage below. –James Dobson, Sr.

So yeah, for me it’s a moral issue. But I also think it makes good logical sense. I just don’t think teenagers need education about how to have a better sex life.

***updated***

Wow! Thanks for such great open and honest comments! I’m loving this conversation. I just wanted to link to another abstinence-only post I wrote sometime last year. It has a few actual statistics and then my “plan of action” for bringing up my children to protect their bodies and sexuality.

Comments

  1. Preach it, girl!

  2. I couldnt agree more.

  3. I agree with you.

    I, too, did not have sex until I was married. I’m 33. I’ve been married almost two years. Waiting was the best decision I could have made.

  4. It’s good to know there are some other people out there who waited until they were married. I am amazed that people find it amazing that my DH and I waited until we were married.

    It was 100% worth it.

  5. It’s a little scary… having a 17 year old daughter who is serious with her boyfriend. I remember the pressure that came especially in a long term relationship, but nothing good comes of it. I have a pretty open line of communication with her and really hope that they wait. I also know that I have to be a little careful about how much unsupervised time they have, although I know if it’s going to happen it will… but when there is too much time alone sometimes things just go too far. I feel like I’m writing a book Amanda, and can’t decide whether or not to backspace the whole comment… if you read it I didn’t btw :)

  6. I first had sex when I was 17.

    I got pregnant at 21 with my first baby (we now have three children and have been married happily for nine years).

    My mother basically tossed a few pamphlets on my bed when I was in the 4th grade and said, “Don’t make the same mistake I did.” She was 17 when she had my older sister. That was the extent of “the talk.”

    Sex education in school consisted of learning about our reproductive parts – that’s it. I don’t remember ANY discussion about safe sex OR abstinence.

    I think teenagers could benefit from both. And it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the school. If it is a moral issue, it’s your (the collective “your”) obligation to teach your child about your values as a family. Do I want my own children to have sex at 17? Heck no! You can bet I will emphasize that waiting is best. However, I would also like them to be prepared for when they DO feel they are ready.

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t bat an eye at my 20-year-old child having sex (especially if she is away at college and I have no physical control of boundaries). At that point, I think it would behoove a parent to educate about birth control options, STD’s, HIV, unintended pregnancies, etc.

  7. AMEN, AMEN, and AMEN! I am one of those who waited until marriage too, and I am proud and thankful for that! I have long been a proponent that not only do we need to warn of the dangers of having sex outside of marriage, but we also need to shout from the rooftops the benefits and blessings of waiting, of having no regrets, and of being able to give your spouse the most wonderful gift you can give to them. Teenagers (and the rest of us, for that matter), are constantly bombarded with messages about sex, and I believe we need to be actively involved in our children’s lives, telling them what GOD says about sex and of the adverse effects of disobeying. Obviously we need to give them information on reproduction, etc. as they are ready. But I feel like we are arming our children to do battle in a war that would ought to be doing our best to keep them OUT of until the proper time, which IS marriage, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. I love the quote by Dobson at the end of your post.

  8. I agree. And I want my children to learn about sex from ME not the public education system. That being said, my parents did not talk to me about sex. At all. I was left to learn from SS Teachers, Youth Ministers, Health class, and my friends. Do you know who I listened to the most? My friends. Bad idea.

    I grew up in the Bible Belt & when we talked about sex in the classroom, it was all about abstinence. They gave the obligatory spill about safe sex & blah, blah, blah… but we all went to church together (teachers and all) so we knew what the right thing was.

    I seem to be writing my own post here. Sorry! Just to sum it up, I wish they didn’t even have to address it in the education system, but many parents, even Christian ones, even ministers, do not talk to their kids about it.

  9. I didn’t see the show but I find it comical that there was an actual table meeting about it’s topic, and that people thought this was a “good” idea…

  10. I fall into the same category as bee. I was never talked to about sex AT ALL. It was such a mystery to me and like bee, I learned the majority of it from friends. I so would have rather heard it from my mom. I know these days when it’s time to talk about it to my kids, I’ll probably be too late because the media will have already taught my children. That scares me A LOT. And when we do talk about it, it will be totally based around abstinence. My dh and I did not wait till we were married and if I could take that back, I would. We were each others first and only’s, and so I’m very proud of that (I know he is too). I absolutely agree that the show last night was wrong. A million times wrong. And right there is an example of the media teaching our children. It’s so so so sad. Do the people in control of the media not have kids? Do they really want this crap shown on tv? I don’t get it, but that’s another subject, I suppose . . .

  11. I just had to come back and comment – I’ve been following the thread (and I’m definitely in the minority as far as sexual experience goes). About the show, I live on the East Coast where Eli Stone shows at 10PM. I don’t know about your kids, but my kids are in bed by then! Eli Stone is geared for adults, which is the reason why it’s on after kids should be in bed. I don’t think the producers of the show are insensitive to kids or family values, but they are playing to a certain demographic. I’ve never seen the show, but I know I would turn it off if I didn’t like it.

    Another thing, I don’t think premarital sex is wrong (my opinion only). Certainly I feel that some people are better equipped to handle the emotional and sometimes physical aftermath and if I could take back my first time, I most definitely would!!

    My husband (not my first) is 12 years older than I am. He was close to 33 when we first met. He was not a virgin, and I don’t think any less of him because of it, nor do I live under the opinion that he did wrong in God’s eyes. I respect the decisions he made prior to our meeting.

    One of my husband’s best friends is 42 and still single. I can’t imagine being 42 and still a virgin (again, just me), and I don’t believe he is. At this point in his life, however, marriage is not something he is thinking about, and it may never be. I can’t fault him for still wanting a sexual relationship with someone.

    Bee said of her experience about learning of sex, “we all went to church together (teachers and all) so we knew what the right thing was.”

    I think she should ammend her statement to say that what was the right decision for her may not be right for another. In my opinion, there is no “right” or “wrong.”

    Again, I am not condoning teenage sex, nor am I’m not condoning one-night stands or meaningless sex. But I think that two consenting adults can have a meaningful relationship that involves sex outside of marriage and it not be “wrong.”

    As far as my kids are concerned, they will hear about reproduction from school and sexual relationships from me. I will talk about abstinence, but I will not tell my children that the “right” thing to do is wait until marriage. I cannot dictate their adult life. What I can do, however, is stress our family values and hope beyond hope that they listen and at least wait until they are in a solid relationship (hopefully until they are 25 – LOL!)

  12. I had the tv on while writing a post and Eli Stone happened to be on after the show I actually watched. I left it on out of laziness. As soon as I realized what the show was about, I turned it off.
    I find it laughable that a teen and George Michael were the writer’s choice of good authority.
    I waited until I was married at 25. It can be done. And it is so worth it. I plan on stressing those facts to my children when the time comes. I also plan to use the Bible as my authority, not little girls and rock stars. I mean, Yikes!

  13. Wow. Come Lord Jesus, quickly come. My husband and I both waited, and we know that is what His Word tells us to do. I am so frightened of raising children in this world today…

  14. i agree. thanks for this.

  15. chaostimes3 says:

    My husband and I were also ones who waited. We both had friends who didn’t and got pregnant. We both were raised in the church although I don’t ever remember being taught that premarital sex was bad either from my parents or at church, I just knew, for me, that it was. My sex education consisted of a seminar in the 4th grade that mostly talked about the reproductive stuff. I did get a bit in high school but tended to tune it out as I knew it wasn’t an option for me. I chose to take a Human Sexuality class in college, a private college and it was interesting. My husband and I had strict, thick walls around us while we dated, we wanted to make sure we didn’t do as our friends did, we didn’t want to end up pregnant before we were married. We probably shouldn’t have had such thick walls as our honeymoon was pretty funny in the inexperience area. But, we are thankful we did, we are thankful that we can honestly tell our kids that we waited and it was the best thing we have ever done. We compare it to chocolate cake…you don’t know how good it is until you try it and then it is hard not to have it again and again. Just my two cents worth and hopefully this isn’t too long winded.

  16. Obviously abstinence is the best choice when it comes to safe sex. There isn’t any such thing as safe sex unless you’re just not having sex, but I am definitely against abstinence only sex ed. Teens are able to make thier own decisions, however bad and to not provide them with the education on how to be protected if they do make the choice to have sex is naive. I know that my life would be different had my parents provided birth control- they refused and I was terrified to get it on my own, because I thought that they would find out- even at college age. Thus, I had a baby at 19. I will stress abstinence to my kids, but I will also make sure they know that I will provide them with any birth control/condoms/etc. they need.

  17. Usually I stay out of these conversations but I felt the need to voice a few things…

    First, you write in your post “I just don’t understand why Abstinence Only can’t be considered education.” I can only speak for myself but I certainly think abstinence should be taught… it’s the “only” word that I have a problem with. Any other medical, health issue we want our children to be fully informed about. We expect educators to teach our children to know not just that lung cancer is caused by smoking, but all of the effects of lung cancer, the treatments for it and ways to prevent it. But it isn’t the same with sex, because morally people view it as completely different than any other physioligically act.

    Second, you call into question teenagers’ judgement using the excuse “well, they won’t use our adivce anyway so why give it to them? Might as well just keep them ignorant.” That argument has been used to marginalize and oppress people all over the world for many years. Working as a college professor I come into contact with people not much older than the individuals you are talking about and I will personally vow that they are much more savy and intelligent than your comment gave them credit for. One way to be sure that a 14 year old and 16 year old don’t use a condom is to not tell them about them or where they can get them.

    Next, several of the commenters have harpooned the tv network for airing such a program because it might negatively affect their children. So, on one hand you’re saying that it is your responsibility as parents to control what your children do and don’t know about sex (and therefore it should not be discussed in school) and on the other hand you’re saying that it is the television producers’ responsibility to protect your children from sexual content, not yours in screening what your child watches.

    And finally, I am completely for parents educating their children about sex and life choices. However, having worked as a juvenile probation officer I know first hand that many parents don’t even provide the most basic essentials for their children, let alone sit down and have hearts to hearts with them. I would much rather live in a society where these forgotten children are educated by teachers and other adult authority figures rather than by their peers. Children who can make it out of the juvenile justice system (aka turn 18) without having a baby (or more) themselves are infinitely less likely to show up in the system as parents of delinquent children. I would love a world where all parents look out for the best interests of their children. But that is not the world we live in.

  18. Whew! Guess that was my soapbox for the week too! Sorry… it’s easy for me to get wordy! :)

  19. September says:

    I grew up in a Christian home and attended both Christian high school and college. I have very strong opinions about the fact that young people should be thoroughly educated about sex, the responsibilities and consequences, as well as what measures would need to be taken to have sex responsibly. You can teach abstinence, but it can only be a part of the picture. My husband and I watched that episode and were discussing the abstinence issue afterwards (we met at college and he had a similar upbringing to mine). I feel that the show hit the nail on the head with the assertion that abstinence has to be a choice–as in, young people must have all the facts and abstinence is a conscious decision that is made. Too often abstinence within the Christian community is taught as a fait accompli as dictated by their social network and family and not as a decision that the young person makes for themselves and is personally committed to.

    Out of my small Christian high school an average of 50% of girls were pregnant within a year of graduating from high school–these were girls who for the most part were raised in Christian homes and heard the abstinence only message on a daily basis. At my Christian college the health center staff were not allowed to even discuss birth control options or dispense condoms unless the student was married–this is just a bad idea in a rural campus 1/2 an hour from any other civilization to speak of. However, they were free to dispense pregnancy tests at will.

    I don’t agree in teaching teens about sex with the assumption that they will have sex, but clearly abstinence only isn’t working either. There has to be a solution somewhere in the middle that gives young adults the whole picture and assumes they have the self-respect and moral fiber to make the right decision.

  20. Wow! Great topic. Here’s my 2 cents:
    I was not a virgin when I married. I sincerely pray that both of my children are when they marry.
    Forget the physical consequences of my choices. Let me say the emotional consequences have plaqued me more. When I had sex with someone, not only did I invest my body, but I gave him my heart. And just how many hearts do I have to give away? One. And that one should have been saved for my husband ONLY.
    God certainly has redeemed the years I lost in this area. He has forgiven me, and my marriage is great.
    I will forever tell young girls that abstinence is the best way to live their lives. No STDs to deal with, no rumors going around about what they might have done, no shame, no regret. Only life. And the most wonderful present to give to their future husband.

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