October 17th, 2008


Obstinance-Only Education

Whenever I hear people (usually conservative Christians) talk about the need for teaching abstinence in schools, I have to think, "Is there really anything to teach? Surely everyone knows how not to have sex!" It's sort of like Nancy Reagan's anti-drug campaign. Kids know they CAN say no to drugs; it's just that a fair number of them don't WANT to. Theoretically, I guess part of the point is in trying to get people not to feel pressured into having sex (or taking drugs), but is anybody really going to listen to their health teacher or pastor in this respect?

The other problem I have is when people act like marriage is some kind of magic line in the sand. Don't have sex before you're married, but once you've walked down the aisle, you pretty much have to. Now, I can understand recommending that people not have sex outside of a committed relationship, as there are a lot of risks associated with promiscuity (although, of course, many of them can be reduced with the proper precautions). But there are plenty of couples who have committed relationships without marrying (including gay couples, who aren't allowed to get married in many parts of the world), and other people who rush into and out of marriage without much (if any) real commitment. I don't think deciding when two (or more; I'm not inherently opposed to polygamy, even though I'm not inclined to try it myself) people are committed enough for sex should be up to church OR state. Some religions prohibit sex outside marriage, but even then, is it really the marriage license itself that's important? Maybe the IRS and the insurance companies need that kind of proof of commitment, but would an omniscient being? I'm certainly not bad-mouthing marriage (hey, I AM married), but I don't believe there's any magic involved in it.