Friday, December 11, 2009

I finally figured it out, part 2

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post. The United Methodist Church's position is for "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness." That, of course, is a position I support. The only mention I can find on a position regarding sex education is some brief lines in the church's stance on pornography which says: "Children, youth and adults need opportunities to discuss sexuality and learn from quality sex education materials in families, churches and schools. An alternative message to pornography, contained in carefully prepared age-appropriate sex education materials that are both factual and explicit and portray caring, mutually consenting relationships between married adults, is needed." What that actually means I think is open to debate.

I know that Pastor Joel did have thoughts about whether to talk about condoms in last week's message on World AIDS Day, but he decided that in the age of AIDS, condoms have to be talked about openly and honestly and that means they must also be talked about from the pulpit. I have two daughters so I can assure you that I want them to know that abstinence is the expectation, but I also know the reality of life and so I want them to know what they need to know about sex as well, including protection not only from pregnancy but also from sexually transmitted diseases. Having had numerous friends and acquaintances die of AIDS this hits close to home.

Education is always the best tool and I believe abstinence only programs simply don't work, either for drugs or for sex. We need to give kids the most information we can with the hope that they will make the right decisions, but with the knowledge that if they don't do what we would like that they are not doing things that will damage them for the rest of their lives, or kill them. The other problem with some abstinence only programs is that sex is portrayed as something dirty and disgusting that "good" people (especially girls) don't do, oh except with the person you love the most. What sort of a message does that send?

Let's be honest. The more we tell teenagers not to do something, the more curious they become in wanting to do it. That's what teenagers do and what being a teen is about. However, that does not mean we have a laissez faire attitude and let them do whatever they want; but let's provide them all the information and then set the bar of where we want the behavior to be and give them the skills and the trust to make the right decisions. Kids know when we are lying or trying to deceive them and when we do that they shut out everything else we try to tell them and discount everything that had come up before that.

In our conversation with the God Squad last year I was amazed at some of the questions they asked, not only that they didn't know some of the answers, but also in their desire to know more information. They do want parents and their church to have a say, and they will listen to us more than we believe they will.

For a good, and scary, look at the modern state of teen sexuality I recommend Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp.

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