Cause for Concern (Abstinence Ed)

The U.S. policy debate concerning the most appropriate and effective type of sex education for school-age youth has raged for the past fifteen years. Parents are very concerned about how sexuality, the most intimate of human subjects, is taught to their children. Yet, schools are clearly making an exception to the normal health education standards in the way they teach sex education, which tells us there is an ideology or cultural shift influencing the teaching of sexuality education.

The standard for health education in public schools is risk-avoidance. Whether the topic is illegal drug use, alcohol use, weapons, bullying or nutrition, the expected standard is abstinence from unhealthy behaviors. For instance, it is not acceptable to teach students what specific type of alcohol to drink to become less intoxicated. Nor is it acceptable for students to be taught about community drug dealers who may have safer drugs for them to buy. Risk-reduction is simply not acceptable teaching in health education. Students are taught to avoid the activity all together so they can avoid the risks associated with the behavior.

But, when the teaching of sexuality is concerned, exceptions are frequently made. Teaching risk-reduction in sexual behaviors is acceptable and often promoted in public school systems where students are taught how to use condoms and contraceptives to decrease the risks associated with being sexually active.

One of the key reasons for this deviation may be that a person's understanding of sexuality is often interwoven with their religious beliefs. And in the western world today, there is, at best, a dislike for Christianity and a general rejection of Christian religious heritage and beliefs. All beliefs and religious practices are easily discussed and accepted within the public square today except Christianity. And, since orthodox Christianity includes the concept of abstinence-outside-of-marriage, the two are often equated and rejected as one and the same.

It does follow that the foundational academic institutions, which for the most part are liberal, would ban any hint of Christian morals. But, this argument is a good disguise and excuse to allow one school subject to be taught at a lower standard than all other health topics.

Abstinence education is not exclusively a Christian standard; it is primarily public health prevention, which requires risk-avoidance. With all of the physical, mental, emotional and social risks associated with early sexual debut and multiple sexual partners, there should be no deviation from teaching risk-avoidance.

When we remain sexually abstinent outside of marriage, we are not risking life-long consequences. The ability to delay gratification is difficult, but we will not suffer disease or death by taking this step. Youth will be able to reach goals and dreams without physical infections, diseases or pregnancies clouding the possibilities of success and prosperity. It's vitally important to teach children and young adults about healthy sexuality; one of the most rewarding aspects of the process is being able to watch one's children face the future with hope and promise.

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Next in this Series: Our Position (Abstinence Ed)