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Old 07-16-2007, 07:26 PM   #1
Dagobahn Eagle
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What's up with traditionalists and comprehensive sex ed?

Note: This thread is based on a locked thread in Kavar's Corner - the original thread went off-topic and was locked.
Recent discussions online have caused me to wonder what's up with certain people and comprehensive sexual education and condom usage. Now, first of all, we all know - well, the enlightened ones of us do - that condoms are effective, and that it would be safer to use them than not to even if they werent, as poor protection is of course being better than none. In addition, most of us know that comprehensive sex ed - that is, teaching how to use condoms and the like in addition to teaching abstinence - actually lowers the rate of STD infections as well as teenage pregnancies. I may be redundant when I point out that a reduction in the latter also naturally reduces abortion rates. Abstinence-only education, on the other hand, serves to increase the amount of sex teens have, not to mention that they fuel speculation, urban legends, and other misconceptions as information is withheld from teens just as it becomes relevant and important to them. To put it short, comprehensive sex education works towards its purpose, abstinence-only sex education works against it.

So my question is, why are so many people against comprehensive sex ed when it's the best method? Obviously some of it comes from ignorance, especially when the reluctance comes from moderates, but I've been discussing this online, and I've gotten various other theories. From the supporters of abstinence-only sex ed I've heard the good old anectode about how it's reminiscent of telling a thug not to rob a bank, for then to provide him with a gun. I've been told that the rules of certain texts from the Bronze Age text dictates that the inferior abstinence-only system must be used, lest absolutes are broken. But I haven't gotten close to what I feel is a real answer.

From those who oppose abstinence-only sex ed, however, I've gotten some interesting replies (this when I asked the question at the FSTDT forum (edit: link now points to thread in question) - unfortunately their forum is currently down). The theories are that it's part of the fundamentalist sex control trend, or that it's part of how fundamentalists consider sex Sin and thus do not want to speak of it (the comparison to bank robbery certainly gives some additional merit to this claim). It's also been suggested that since sex is not a religious action, it is discouraged by those who don't want people to have fun besides Church activities (and that it's thus part of the trend of declaring everything from Harry Potter to cartoons and whatever 'Satanic').
References
Sexual education - missing something by Population Connection
'Abstinence Only' Sex Ed Ineffective by ABC News
Effective Sex Education by Advocates for Youth
Scientific study of sex education by Wikipedia


Last edited by Dagobahn Eagle; 07-17-2007 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 07-18-2007, 04:47 PM   #2
Achilles
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I will confess that I'm not familiar with any abstinence-only arguments that don't have a foundation in religious dogma. This isn't to say that they don't exist, only that I'm not familiar with them.

The most common rationale I've encountered sounds something like this:

"The [insert name of holy text here] says that sex should only take place between one man and one woman and only after they are married. Sex is unnatural and unholy and should only be undergone for reproductive purposes. Therefore any additional discussion regarding sex is unnecessary because if everyone follows the rules, there is no problem. Anyone not following the rules has sinned and deserves whatever they get (unwanted pregnancy, slow painful death by disease, quick painful death by public stoning, etc)."

The gorilla logic is sound, even if it is gorilla logic. Too bad is so heavily rooted in foolishness.
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Old 07-19-2007, 12:20 AM   #3
Jae Onasi
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The concern, at least in a lot of evangelical circles, is that comprehensive sex ed gives the message that 'sex outside of marriage is OK, everyone's doing it, just use a condom and go at it like a bunch of humping bunnies'. Sex outside of marriage isn't condoned in Christian faith for a variety of reasons besides just 'God said so,'--sex with multiple partners contributes to increased risk of STDs and even in a single partner relationship there's the risk of unwanted pregnancies, among many other things. Condoms don't prevent either STDs or pregnancy 100%. The only thing that's 100% effective in preventing the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies is abstinence.

The problem with abstinence-only programs is that unless it provides alternative activities for students, it ignores the fact that a. teens are horny and b. humping like bunnies can be darn fun. Just telling someone 'don't do it til you're married [because if you're Christian you'll burn in hell]' doesn't work well when you're cuddling with your beloved and have your hormones hijacking your brain. The evangelical community sometimes assumes that teens are going to have the same level of wisdom, maturity, and understanding of delayed gratification as adults, and that's not always the case. Saying to a teen 'don't do that' is pretty worthless without a good explanation and offering alternative activities to 'hooking up'.

The other obvious problem with abstinence-only programs is that at some point a lot of people are going to get married, and newlyweds really need to know how babies get made/not made so they can make appropriate arrangements for birth control (or lack thereof if they want kids right away). They need to have good information on that before the wedding night, not after.

While I agree with my evangelical brothers and sisters on the importance of abstinence education (primarily for medical/social reasons rather than just religious in my viewpoint), I disagree with them on it being the _only_ discussion of birth/STD control for the reasons above. Abstinence shouldn't be given lip-service in a comprehensive program, but it shouldn't be the exclusive program, either.


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Old 07-19-2007, 05:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The concern, at least in a lot of evangelical circles, is that comprehensive sex ed gives the message that 'sex outside of marriage is OK, everyone's doing it, just use a condom and go at it like a bunch of humping bunnies'.
That's a misperception actively promoted by the evangelical christians.

Sex outside of marriage is ok. No, everyone is not doing it (and that's ok). If you are going to do it, be safe by taking *all* of the necessary precautions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Sex outside of marriage isn't condoned in Christian faith for a variety of reasons besides just 'God said so,'--
'Jesus said so' and 'the pastor said so' also fit under this category.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
sex with multiple partners contributes to increased risk of STDs
Unprotected sex with multiple partners can contribute to increased risk of STDs. Being born to a mother with STDs can also contribute to increased risk of STDs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
and even in a single partner relationship there's the risk of unwanted pregnancies, among many other things.
Correct condom use is nearly 100% effective against pregnancy. Correct use of a condom combined with other preventative measures (such as spermicide, consistent use of birth control medication, etc) makes it pretty much impossible to accidentally get pregnant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Condoms don't prevent either STDs or pregnancy 100%.
All by themselves? No. I don't think anyone will debate that point. Is "comprehensive safe sex education" limited to condom use only in your mind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The only thing that's 100% effective in preventing the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies is abstinence.
Yep, that's true. I think that abstinence-only is a completely unrealistic expectation to set, specifically in regards to gov't funded public health policy. You tell young human mammals, their bodies changing in order to be prepared for the natural act of reproduction, are being told that sex is bad, masturbation is evil, and that abstinence is the only way to go is a recipe for disaster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The problem with abstinence-only programs is that unless it provides alternative activities for students, it ignores the fact that a. teens are horny and b. humping like bunnies can be darn fun. Just telling someone 'don't do it til you're married [because if you're Christian you'll burn in hell]' doesn't work well when you're cuddling with your beloved and have your hormones hijacking your brain. The evangelical community sometimes assumes that teens are going to have the same level of wisdom, maturity, and understanding of delayed gratification as adults, and that's not always the case. Saying to a teen 'don't do that' is pretty worthless without a good explanation and offering alternative activities to 'hooking up'.
Wow. Kudos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The other obvious problem with abstinence-only programs is that at some point a lot of people are going to get married, and newlyweds really need to know how babies get made/not made so they can make appropriate arrangements for birth control (or lack thereof if they want kids right away). They need to have good information on that before the wedding night, not after.
Well said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
While I agree with my evangelical brothers and sisters on the importance of abstinence education (primarily for medical/social reasons rather than just religious in my viewpoint), I disagree with them on it being the _only_ discussion of birth/STD control for the reasons above. Abstinence shouldn't be given lip-service in a comprehensive program, but it shouldn't be the exclusive program, either.
Hence the term "comprehensive"
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Old 07-19-2007, 11:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Wow. Kudos.
Points awarded to Jae and Achilles for the LOL.

I'll just offer an anecdote. I went to a private Catholic High School and the sex education they taught covered everything about contraception -- effectiveness rates, the pros/cons of each method, etc. In providing this instruction, they made also explained the church's views in what I recall a very objective manner. The Catholic church sees sex as having two purposes: for conception and to bring greater unity between a husband and a wife. Sex before marriage is a no-no. Extramarital sex is a no-no. Homosexual sex is a no-no. And any contraception use other than the "rhythm method" is a no-no.

All of the auxiliary church information was dished up in the manner as the sex education itself. No proselytizing involved. Just the facts of the matter.

So this demonstrated to me how easily religious instruction (not preaching) can be provided right alongside sex education. Teaching the two is not a contradiction -- you can learn what a church says and you can learn about modern technology. The more educated you are, the better your capacity for making responsible decisions.

It seems to me that the religious sects that would rather suppress this discussion do so out of fear that they will "lose their flock to sin". What about the notion of having some faith in your own religion?! Provide the instruction and, if your religious teachings are truly meaningful, you won't need to fear secular educational topics like this.

Finally, coming from a non-theocratical social viewpoint, if there's any place for a church vs. sex education power struggle it should only be in a private educational institution. There is really no place for this debate in public schools.
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Old 07-24-2007, 04:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk102
So this demonstrated to me how easily religious instruction (not preaching) can be provided right alongside sex education. Teaching the two is not a contradiction -- you can learn what a church says and you can learn about modern technology. The more educated you are, the better your capacity for making responsible decisions.
But isn't this a mixed message, just like they (some) claim that it is a mixed message to have sex education? It just seems to me this is like saying, "Here are all the technical methods you can use to make sex safer and help prevent pregnancy. Oh, by the way, if you decide to use anything we just talked about you are wrong and will burn in hell for all eternity for doing so."

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Old 07-24-2007, 06:02 PM   #7
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Nah, they let the priests say that. The world is full of mixed messages.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Here are all the technical methods you can use to make sex safer and help prevent pregnancy. Oh, by the way, if you decide to use anything we just talked about you are wrong and will burn in hell for all eternity for doing so.
Hardly more mixed than learning about their beloved hero Joshua slaughtering every last man, woman, child, beast and tree in Jericho after learning a certain commandment.

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