Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    News Flash: Teens Still Having Sex

    This Washington Post story confirms what many suspected:

    A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration's social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.

    How else might we have spent the $176 million/year that this program cost? Actually, I'm not surprised by these findings. My bet would be on parents, peers, and church as the greatest influencers of sexual behavior (or the lack thereof) of teens -- not schools and government programs. Just last night, the topic of sex came up with the older students at youth group. One of the guys said "This whole topic is really confusing. It's hard to know what to think when it comes to sex and our religion." He's right. It's hard to look to bibical texts, particularly the gospels, and find much of anything relevant to say to youth about sexual behavior, particularly when we go out of our way to make Jesus into a celibate do-gooder who apparently never had a sexual thought in his whole 30+ years. And don't even get me started on the sexual ethics of the Hebrew scriptures! So, what's a good youth minister to do?
    (Blogger Andrew Sullivan has more commentary on this issue here.)



    Benjer said...

    I completely agree with your point that parents, peers, and the church influence students' decisions regarding sex more than government programs. In fact, most studies confirm your bet: parents are still the biggest influence in students' lives--for better or for worse.

    I do think that the bible does speak to sexual ethics. However, you are right--there's no nice little 12-verse passage which we can build a sex-education program around. A biblically-based abstinence program is possible. It needs to be grounded in good study and not gloss over the tough issues.

    I do have to say I'm disappointed in take of the article. It found that one abstinence-only program was partially ineffective at preventing teenagers from having sex (at least it didn't cause more kids to have sex than the other program), and yet the closing quote the author chose to use was "Abstinence-only was an experiment and it failed." It's always good to have one's bias antennae up (whether the author s for or against one's own opinion).

    SilyGoober said...

    It seems to me that sex ed is something that grows out of a deeper study...a study into the nature of humanity and how God views us...and in turn how we view others...trying to teach about sex without also addressing the fullness of God's love is very difficult...we are trying to equate sex and murder, but I don't think that's working too good...just a thought...graceandpeace...

    Brian said...

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses. After some more thinking on the issue, I can see how you could build a program on sexuality around such spiritual principles as self-giving love, respect for all God's children (including one's self), resisting idolatry, etc.