Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sex Education

At “Theolog,” the blog of “The Christian Century,” Bromleigh McCleneghan has posted a piece on Purity balls, which, she writes, are “...events to which conservative Christian fathers take their daughters for dinner, dancing and promise-making.” (http://www.theolog.org/blog/2008/08/purity-balls.html).
Below is the comment I posted on her piece:

Sex education is obviously necessary if we are to become responsible sexual beings, but it is not a one-time thing. Sex education must start early and continue onward – until we die, because everyone is sexual from birth to death. Because we are always sexual, all our relationships, overtly sexual or not, are part of our sex education. What do we learn in our relationships? Are we even aware that our relationships have something to teach us about sex and life?
Perhaps the basic lesson in sex education is that sexual desire is with us always, and it is not bad or sinful. The purity movement would counter desire with the denial of desire. However, among young people, this clearly doesn’t make them sexually abstinent. One study showed that those who took virginity pledges preserved their technical virginity about 18 months longer than teenagers who didn’t pledge, but they were six times more likely to engage in oral sex than virgins who hadn’t taken a pledge. They were also much less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Disease rates between those who pledged and those who didn’t were actually similar (“Students of Virginity,” “New York Times” magazine, March 30, 2008.)
It seems to me that a better approach to sex education and the sexually responsible life is to teach that sexual desire should be managed, not somehow eliminated. Of course, managing sexual desire is a tall order, especially for young people, but there are helpful approaches: Be as conscious as possible of the presence of desire. The goal is for the person to be in charge of the desire, not the reverse. Attempt to envision the outcomes of various courses of management. Be aware that not to act is to make a decision. These approaches can be more easily implemented if possible options can be discussed with trusted, nonjudgmental family members and friends. It follows that family and friends should listen and help clarify options, rather than demand courses of action or threaten dire consequences. Of course, Paul (or someone writing in his name) describes this approach beautifully in I Corinthians 13. Too bad that Christians so often fail to heed this advice.

1 comment:

Franklyn said...

The Church has cleverly used sex and the denial of sex in a larger context. Most religions want the followers to give up something, usually something basic, either entirely or for designated periods. This sets them apart from competing relegions but also established their authority over their followers lives. Sex and food must be viewed in this context.