Abstinence Or Orgies: The Eternal Dilemma

The subject of abstinence-only-until-marriage “education” seems to be rearing its ignorant little head again.

In Abstinence-Only: Stop The Madness! I wrote about my reasons for opposing abstinence-only programs. One of my reasons is that they are thinly-veiled religious programs to promote an ideology which encompasses ignoring and even lying about the facts regarding condoms and other forms of contraception.

I said it then, and I say it now, aside from religious ideology, there is no basis for teaching abstinence only until marriage. I invited readers to enlighten me; to give me one measly little logical reason to reserve sex for marriage.

To date, no one has been able to do so.

I’ve been given reasons to abstain which I agree with. I’ve been given reasons to abstain until adulthood which I agree with. And yet, despite efforts both here and on other forums, no one has been able to explain the mystical power of marriage contracts that allegedly protects against unwanted pregnancy or STDs.

Before you decide to take me on and show me the error of my ways, I recommend reading the comments section under the above-linked post. It could very likely save us both a lot of time.

While I want to avoid getting too long-winded and repeating every point I’ve posted on the subject, there are a few things I would like to address again.

The first is the apparent confusion towards those of us who want to provide comprehensive sex education for our children. You see, there are a lot of people who seem to think that it’s the same thing as telling our children to go and have all the sex they possibly can as if it’s all or nothing, abstinence or orgies, with no other possibilities.

Some people seem to sincerely believe that there are only two options we can give our children in regard to having sex: to have none at all, not ever, or to have indiscriminate sex any time, any place, with anyone at all. It’s really a rather bizarre and disturbing train of thought, isn’t it?

This subject seems to generate some pretty weird questions, too: “So, when you’re telling your son how wonderful sex is, do you plan to also tell him that sex can lead to pregnancy and STD’s? Huh? Huh? Do you? Huh?”

Well, garsh! I don’t know. I mean, in the context of talking to my child about sex, it hadn’t actually crossed my mind to mention pregnancy and STD’s. Good thing I’m surrounded by geniuses who can remind me that I might want to mention that little tidbit somewhere between buying his condoms and taking him to cruise the red-light district.

Engage your brains, people! You’re posing this ridiculous and redundant question to someone who consistently emphasizes the importance of teaching kids about condoms and other forms of contraceptives! In what context would these things be discussed, if not in the context of discussing pregnancy and STD’s?

“Look at these pretty red condoms, Honey! This should really put her in the mood!”

“Oh, let’s get these pills! They look just like smarties! And be sure and tell all the boys! They’ll start beating down your door!”

Of course I’m talking about pregnancy and STDs! Good grief! The fact that you’re even asking this only serves to confirm what I’ve suspected all along: that you’re not reading all the words, or you can’t or won’t comprehend them.

And people always seem so earnest in their questioning. Why, just this morning I logged in to find this little gem:

Are you going to teach your son also, that if he gets a woman pregnant to make sure he is a father figure in that child’s life for the rest of his own life? Are you going to teach him to take responsibility for one night stands? Are you going to have these discussions with him?

I hope you will.

Nah, I thought I’d just hand him a box of condoms, point him toward the nearest brothel and wish him the best of luck.

You really should read the rest of that comment as well as my response, if only for the entertainment value.

Once again, for the record: I have no intention of encouraging my son to have sex. I have consistently stated that I will encourage abstinence, first and foremost. But I will not treat sex like it’s something shameful, and I absolutely refuse to promote the lie that marriage contracts are more effective than condoms in guarding against STDs or unwanted pregnancy.

I can guarantee you that when the time comes for my son to make the decision of whether or not to have sex, he will be able to do so based on complete and accurate information. And you know what else? If he has doubts or questions, or just needs to talk, I’ll betcha he comes to Mike or me. Unfortunately, those parents who shut the door on the communication with their No sex, end of discussion mantra won’t be able to say the same.

I wonder where their kids will go looking for information.

Posted by Lottie – Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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15 responses to “Abstinence Or Orgies: The Eternal Dilemma

  • saintpaulgrrl

    Acuurate information about sexual activity and behavior, and all the attending issues of pregnancy, contraception, and STDs, is necessary information for every person past childhood to have. It’s kind of like reading the Owners Manual for the human reproductive system so you know how it all works and what the cause-and-effect of certain activities may be.

    Going hand in hand with that are open discussions and parental *example* of ethical and responsible decision-making to guide the appropriateness of the “when and with whom” sexual dilemmas. It’s a win-win combination for all concerned! The Guide to Ethical Decision-making and the Owners Manual are not mutually exclusive or opposing pieces of Life’s curriculum. They are equally important parts of the education to guide one’s experience with human sexuality.

    Good post, Lottie.

  • Lottie

    Excellent comment, Bonnie. I love the way you put this:

    The Guide to Ethical Decision-making and the Owners Manual are not mutually exclusive or opposing pieces of Life’s curriculum.

    Bingo! Very well stated and oh so true. I may need to quote you one of these days.

    Thank you!

  • Terra

    Wow, I never thought about this subject in this context before. Heaven has always come to me with questions about sex (she is 14 – 15th on the tenth of December.) The first time was horrible, she had spent the night at a friends house and they had seen some ummm inappropriate things on the moms cell phone (several years ago.) They asked that mom about it (it was a piece with some oral sex involved), and she told them oral sex causes throat cancer… It was an interesting conversation to say the least.

    Anyway, if that doesn’t make you laugh and then feel a bit confused there is something wrong with you. It was at the time VERY stressful though. Anyway, I hope the schools that my children attend never try this abstinence only education it won’t work. I am not old enough to have forgotten, what I did or what I felt. Yup, I had sex ed and yup I had a child as a teen. However, I didn’t take this stuff near as seriously as I should have and I don’t want my daughter(s) to make those same mistakes… So that is where I come in.

  • truthwalker

    Well put. And I want to throw out something else. Role modeling.

    I will admit it: I’m not a great husband and father purely because I love my wife and daughter.

    When, after a long day at work, I am happily doing the laundry, it’s not because I love my family, though I do. I am whistling as I work because I am thinking of the effeminate, spikey frosted hair, loose pants degenerate who going to be weighed and found wanting because of the standard of behavior my daughter’s primary role model has set.

  • dam

    Great post. I’m totally with you! I can’t imagine there are parents who won’t discuss sex with the kids. I think making sex seem dirty or forbidden just makes things worse for kids.

  • Lottie

    Terra: I don’t allow my son to attend the abstinence-only “education” sessions. Not only do I mark “not allowed” on the form, I send a letter explaining precisely why and email the director of the program with the same explanation and links to sources like the FDA, CDC and other organizations who are fighting for comprehensive sex ed.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Truthwalker: Absolutely! As Bonnie also mentioned, parental example is vital.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Dam: It’s definitely hard to imagine. And I totally agree: treating sex like it’s shameful only makes matters worse.

    Thanks for stopping by again. I’ll head over to yours in just a little bit.

  • gfish

    Technically speaking, if everyone abstains from sex until marriage without divorce as an option and only has sex with one person in his or her entire life, it would cut down on STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Both people would have virtually no chance to pick up an STD directly and as they would be forever locked with another person, they wouldn’t be able to mess around and contract an STD somewhere else. And with no ability to get an abortion or contraceptives, there will be no such thing as unwanted babies. If they were conceived and carried to term regardless of the parents’ needs and concerns, they must be wanted!

    So if somehow you can override about 2 million years of genetic programming and the essence of human nature, you don’t care about trapping tens of millions of people in loveless, sterile marriages and you can somehow police unhappy men and women sneaking off and having sex with each other and all underground medical procedures, then the idea of abstinence until marriage education could work.

    Some people seem to sincerely believe that there are only two options we can give our children in regard to having sex: to have none at all, not ever, or to have indiscriminate sex any time, any place, with anyone at all.

    People who believe that are parroting what they hear from those who aren’t above using ridiculous hyperbole to reach their goals. If they can’t reason with their skeptics (because their position is unreasonable to start with), they’ll try to shame them and invoke a slippery slope argument.

    “We don’t teach kids abstinence and next thing you know an epidemic of sex starved children with sexual compulsion will sweep across the nation in an orgy of youthful lust. There will be drugs and alcohol and unborn babies will be murdered so their abused unwed teenage mothers can go have more sex…”

    Cue foam at the mouth…

  • Lottie

    So if somehow you can override about 2 million years of genetic programming and the essence of human nature, you don’t care about trapping tens of millions of people in loveless, sterile marriages and you can somehow police unhappy men and women sneaking off and having sex with each other and all underground medical procedures, then the idea of abstinence until marriage education could work.

    You know, this is the best argument for abstinence-only-until-marriage “education” I’ve ever heard. Pretty sad, huh?

    Great comment! Thanks for posting it.

  • efilyzarcym

    First I have to tell you: I LOVE this post (and the other, as well) – – I had a great time reading both the posts and the comments!!

    Second, although, I am in total agreement with you, I would like to take a crack at the “marriage only” question:
    1) I think that teaching children abstience, until marriage, reinforces a NO SEX EVER argument. ‘Cause we all know that once you actually get married, the sex dwindles down and can eventually become non-existant.
    2)Since being married makes sex “legal” and no longer has the “thrill” card attached, it takes all the fun right out the window. And sex isn’t suppose to be fun, is it?
    So, whatcha think? Did I nail that argument, or what?

    Phew, alright, now to how I REALLY feel: I have “the” talk with my chilren when I sense they “need” it. Prior to “the” talk, we have LOTS and LOTS of discussions about all sorts of topics which include touching on the topic of sex. If they have a question, I answer it honestly.
    Without writing a book, but giving enough info to make this relevant:
    I had “the” talk with my daughter when she was in the early months of her 12th year, because she was showing signs of NEEDING this talk. More recently, my son and I had the talk when he was almost 14 – – less ’cause he “needed” it, more ’cause he was at the age I thought was the latest appropriate time to do this.
    With both children, I stressed my reasons for abstinance – – mostly related to those emotional things tied to a decision of this magnitude….essentially I told them that if they choose to make ADULT decisions, they needed to be prepared for ADULT consequences….and the first one is just the act of having sex….let alone the OTHER things that can come as a result.

    I think it is similar to teaching abstinance when it comes to drinking, smoking, driving cars – – you know, anything that has some sort of “requirement.” Kids want to experience things – – it is how we ALL learn – – and giving them the tools required to learn without UNNECESSARY hurt is, in my humble opinion, the best course of action.

    One final thought, all of my children are very open with me – – they ask questions and are not afraid that I will judge them based on what they say. We have averted many “disasters” because of this.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    I could write a whole post of my own on this topic and may just do so, but I just wanted to say that I, too, agree that abstinence is the best course of action for adolescents. Why? Not because they aren’t married but because they are adolescents! Sex with all of its far-reaching potential consequences — like conceiving a new human being, for instance — is best kept within the context of responsible, adult relationships, be they marital or otherwise. And I think kids should know the rationale for this position upfront rather than glossing over the real issue with “Just don’t do it until you’re married” — almost guaranteed to cause a reactionary, rebellious stance at some point.

    Responsible, ethical decision-making and taking responsibility for one’s actions is something that should be taught within the family in every aspect of a child’s life, from pre-school on up in age-appropriate ways. Then the issue of sexual abstinence until capable of handling the consequences becomes a non-issue because thinking in terms of responsible behavior is an ingrained part of life and just makes sense in this context.

    But people can’t make informed decisions without the background and the knowledge they need to do so.

  • Lottie

    Heidi: Same here. My son talks to me about a lot of things that he says his friends are afraid to talk to their parents about. My practice has always been to give the best age-appropriate response I can to any question he asks. This has always been something of a challenge since he started asking questions at a very young age.

    When he was just four years old (eep!) he started asking where babies come from. He had several friends whose mothers were pregnant. He knew there was a baby in there, and he wanted to know how it got in there. I felt that it was a bit early to start explaining the details of intercourse, so I told him that mommies and daddies snuggle up really close together; so close that tiny little parts of them that you can’t even see get mixed together and start growing into a whole new person.

    It was an honest answer that satisfied him at the time, and I was able to build on it later when he was ready for more detail. I think this approach keeps the lines of communication open. My son has always been able to ask me questions without fear of judgment, and he knows he can count on a truthful answer.

    Bonnie: Those are my thoughts as well. I stress abstinence for the same reasons. Like you and Heidi have both pointed out, a lot of responsibility comes with being in a sexual relationship. And as you mentioned, responsible, informed decisions cannot be made without the knowledge and information on which to base those decisions.

    You said it all so eloquently, I can’t think of a thing to add.

    Thank you both for commenting on this. It’s a topic of great interest to me and I enjoy discussing it.

  • Terra

    You are totally distracting me from what I need to be doing Lottie (you know working on my finals). Anyway, I am not married and will never be married. I live the married life but need no proof of my commitment. I am in a relationship with a man, that I have been with for twelve years (I say the man part because most people assume otherwise). I do not begrudge those that want marriage, but it isn’t for me… On that note if I told my children to wait until marriage I guess I would be a hypocrite to the highest level.

    The arguments here are wonderful, and I appreciate them. I never thought of the abstinence only argument in this light. Only in the “if they do it” they will be more protected with a condom and birth control then they will without it…

  • Lottie

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your own personal choices.

    Interesting you should mention not begrudging others who choose marriage. I just finished a post along those lines that will go up tomorrow. I completely agree with that point. Of course, being married, I would! Haha…

    Thanks again for commenting. It’s always good to hear from you.

    Now go and hit the books! 😉

  • thehun

    Damn… I am sad I missed out on this discussion 😦

    I knew a girl in my freshman year of college whose room-mate had never had any sex ed, presumably abstinence only. Turns out this gal ended up fooling around with her boyfriend during a visit home during spring break.

    There wasn’t any intercourse, but apparently he ejaculated on her stomach. She was afraid the seamen would impregnate her by going though her belly button.

    It is horrible that there are many in the abstinence-only crowd who tell their kids that sex is horrible.

    Like the example above, some of them will end up trying to do it anyway (an mentioned earlier, we are hard wired to do so). It’s going to feel good which means that they will find out their parents are liars.

    Also shown in the example above, this abstinence-only also makes them deplorably ignorant.

    So if you want your kid to have twisted sexual attitudes, be ignorant (and a laughing stock), and to think you are a liar… by all means go for abstinence only.

    ok… on the the next post.

  • Lottie

    So if you want your kid to have twisted sexual attitudes, be ignorant (and a laughing stock), and to think you are a liar… by all means go for abstinence only.

    I agree! I especially like the point you made about our kids thinking we’re liars. I want my son to trust me; to know that he can come to me with anything and and that he can count on an honest answer even if I have to say, “I don’t know”. If he doesn’t trust me, he’ll stop coming to me. I shudder to think who he might turn to then.

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