The New Yorker has an interesting article on teenagers and sexuality, particularly teenagers with an evangelical background. The article claims that red states have more abstinence-only programs and a higher number of teenagers who make promises to not have sex before marriage. Surprisingly, perhaps, these (socially-conservative) states have higher rates of STD’s and teenage pregnancies than more liberal blue states. The author claims that evangelical-protestant teens, due to the sexual education they receive, are less likely to use contraception. Using contraception may suggest to these teens, and others, “that they are looking for sex.” Finally, the article states that the age at which individuals marry may be the “pivotal” difference between red and blue states—data suggests that red state couples marry earlier and have greater divorce rates.
For the past several years, the church I serve has been creating programs and ministries that specifically address teenage relationships and teenage sexuality. We recently received a grant to partner with sixteen other churches and help them develop (over the next two years) their own programs and ministry that will focus on teenage sexuality and relationships. I tend to think the article is correct in its observations. What do you think?