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The title is a memorable line from the movie Mean Girls, where the gym coach is teaching sex education (see the video below). Whether by design or not, it demonstrated the ineffectiveness of both extremes of teaching kids about an extremely important topic.
Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die. Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up . . . Just don’t do it, promise? OK, everybody take some rubbers.
I like how it skewered both ends of the spectrum. Repeating the Nike hybrid of Just (Don’t) Do It won’t be effective without some guidelines on avoiding temptation and more, and passing out condoms like that is an implicit and explicit message that you expect kids to have sex outside of marriage (in addition to giving them a false sense of security).
Of course I endorse chastity and the abstinence of any sex acts outside of marriage as the ideal for everyone. It is the only proven way to avoid pregnancy, disease, and emotional damage (and, if you are one of those religious types, the only way to obey God).
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
They should also emphasize the most recent statistics demonstrating that those who finish high school and don’t have sex outside of marriage are extremely unlikely to end up poor, whereas if you do the opposite you are very likely to be poor.
They should teach girls the lines that guys often use and how to respond to them, for example:
- Male: If you loved me you’d have sex with me.
- Female: If you loved me you wouldn’t pressure me to have sex with you.
They should teach guys the lines girls use as well. I know of one young man whose girlfriend recently broke up with him because he wouldn’t have sex with her.
But the abstinence / chastity message should include simple but effective ways to avoid temptation. Too many people have good intentions but put themselves in situations that inevitably lead to compromise.
They should also coach you on how much your actions regarding sex are influenced by:
- What you view
- What you think about
- Who you spend alone time with
Contrary to stereotypes, I have no issue with schools teaching a balanced sex education program, provided it is thorough and fact-based. Birth control options are real and it is acceptable to discuss them, provided the whole story is told and the schools don’t distribute the condoms or other birth control themselves and don’t facilitate the abortion process.
For example, truly comprehensive sex education should teach the following regarding birth control pills:
- They are X% effective at preventing pregnancies (but the data must be given for different demographic groups, because discipline and effectiveness tends to be lower for younger and poorer women).
- They offer zero protection against STDs
- They offer zero protection against emotional issues
- There are possible side effects
More considerations and possible elements of a truly comprehensive sex education program:
- Surveys demonstrate that married couples have the most satisfying sex lives.
- It is absolutely ridiculous for schools to dispense birth control. It sends the implicit and explicit message that you expect kids to have sex and that the adults say you should use birth control. Guess which message they will listen to and which one they will ignore?
- Hey parents, how about supervising your kids? Giving kids unrestricted time alone with the opposite sex is virtually guaranteed to turn out badly.
- Teach the truth about the “hookup” culture, where kids barely know each other and have sex. Girls participating in “hookups” are basically acting like free prostitutes. They have all the risks of pregnancy, disease, crushed self esteem, etc., but they aren’t making any money! Somehow they convinced themselves that they are proving their equality by acting like guys do. And of course there is the associated drug and alcohol abuse required to numb their minds to what they are doing. Sad.
- How Sex is Like Duct Tape (great illustration about chemicals, bonding and the pain of out-of-wedlock sex)
And of course, Christians can teach their children about God’s plan for sex and how great it is when used as designed.
The primary problem isn’t what one class teaches in one part of its curriculum in high school. Whether you use the falsely titled “comprehensive” Planned Parenthood type curriculum or that of the abstinence groups, the whole thing is doomed to fail if kids aren’t supervised, aren’t equipped to say no, aren’t given support by parents and just wallow in the sewer of our sex-obsessed culture.
When I pointed out problems of sex ed on one post I got this answer in reply:
The problem is that people screw.
My reply to him:
How Zen-like ;-).
Yes, and people steal. And lie. And don’t study in school. And do drugs. And drink alcohol and drive.
So do we give up educating them that abstaining from these and other behaviors would be wise?
Do we let them escape from consequences when they do the behaviors?
Do we just focus on making is safer to do these things? “If you are going to drink and drive, be sure to have an air bag in the car.”
Fortunately, one commenter saw the light:
I think Neil’s point was that no matter the sex ed, the rest of culture undoes it.
That sums it up nicely.
Update: A couple links from Luke with helpful statistics. Leave more in the comments section if you’ve got ’em.