Why are Americans still promoting abstinence only programming and pledges?

Full Disclosure: I took the “True Love Waits” pledge . . .  and kept it.

According to the the Washington Post, youth who take abstinence pledges are as likely to have sex (including oral, and and anal) as those that do not. This study is an expansion from previous studies – that have reported the same thing –  because it compares youth who have similar views on sex with one another rather than simply taking a blanket analysis.

The new analysis, however, goes beyond earlier analyses by focusing on teens who had similar values about sex and other issues before they took a virginity pledge. . .

The findings are reigniting the debate about the effectiveness of abstinence-focused sexual education just as Congress and the new Obama administration are about to reconsider the more than $176 million in annual funding for such programs.

“This study again raises the issue of why the federal government is continuing to invest in abstinence-only programs,” said Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “What have we gained if we only encourage young people to delay sex until they are older, but then when they do become sexually active — and most do well before marriage — they don’t protect themselves or their partners?”

Washington Post

We spend 176million dollars annually on abstinence only programming? Are you serious? Why is the government paying for this? Why are my tax dollars going to this? It is not that I don’t believe in abstinence before marriage. I just don’t think that tax payers need to dish out money to promote values, which  not everyone shares, when there are other things to pay for. I can’t structure a mass transit system, or create a park system, but I can surely teach my child about sex and God’s intentions for our relationships.

What matters are the values that we instill in our children. Not whether they take a pledge or not. Youth say and do anything, positive peer pressure is not bad, but it is usually only effective in immediate situations not attitudes and values. I was a virgin when I got married, but it wasn’t because I took a pledge it was because my parents had taught and modeled a proper sexual ethic.We mustn’t strive to stop premarital sex, we must cultivate a healthy, Christian sexual ethic which includes, understanding issues of premarital sex, martial sex, sexual orientation, sexual health,  sexual speech etc.   As Christians we strive to be Holy not simply to not to be overt sinners.

When the government and organizations take the place of parents, we get in pay the cost in more than tax dollars. We trade programs for relationships. Honestly, if Christians want to make a societal change, fight the sexual culture of TV, Movies and Music. But really, Christian parents, the best thing you can do is be the parent. Don’t let your 12 year old (or teenage) daughter buy Britney Spears’ new album, don’t ignore the sexual content of artist like Soulja Boy Tell’ Em

Parents stop what you are doing, stop being busy, stop being afraid, and teach your kids about sex.

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more! And ironically, Ethan works for an abstinence education non-profit, lol! But we both feel like it is more helpful to teach kids reality.

  2. Wow, I didn’t realize how much government money is being spent on abstinence-only education. Disturbing. I think you’re right on in your call for parents to teach and talk to their kids.

    Did you read the New Yorker article “Red Sex, Blue Sex” that came out in November? It was interesting on a number of levels, but one of the things I found most fascinating about the “True Love Waits” concept is that if 30 percent or more of the students in a school make the pledge, it starts to really fall apart. Students want a special identity, which is further proof that many of them are making the promise for the wrong reasons.

    Ultimately, I think we need to teach our kids more about promise-keeping than promise-making. In other words, we need to help them think these things through, from many angles, rather than just push them towards often-unrealistic promise-making.

    (You probably read my posts on this topic, but just in case you missed them: http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/?p=145

    • Kristin, Yea, I think you are right about needing to teach promise-keeping rather than promise making. Humans, as a whole, are naturally at Covenants – look at the Biblical precedent -, we must reclaim being true to our commitments.

      I did read “Red Sex, Blue Sex” it brought up important issues and , I think, the danger of mixing a political party with faith.What I think is really important is just that parents teach a healthy sexual ethic to their children. The Bible is sexual, it deems sex as a good thing. I think that Christians have let the conservatism of being counter-cultural determine our values rather than scripture.

      A particularly interesting book for me – because I am in school to be a College/University Administrator – is “Sex and the Soul”. Essentially the book – written by a non-Christian – points out the students at Evangelical Christian Universities are considerable more sexually healthy than those that are not. She also points out some concerns with Evangelical schools, but those concerns are trumped by what she sees and non-Evangelical schools. It is a good read and good evaluation of collegiate sexual culture.

    • Blair
    • December 31st, 2008

    Beautifully written!!

    • Brandon House
    • January 17th, 2009

    While I completely agree that we could be using our tax dollars more effieciently, I do also believe that someone has to do it. As a teacher I have been placed in the position to be a counselor, health care provider, teacher, mother, father, policeman, and everything else under the sun. This is all simply because parents won’t teach and take care of their kids. Therefore they will never know unless there are programs set in place to inform them. Biblically are we allowed to let our brother wallow in sin when we know the right path? Are we our brother’s keeper? Though making a pledge is not going to prevent them from making bad desicions, I think the education BEFORE taking the pledge holds the same value as what your parents taught you in your adolecent years. Yes Christians should be fighting the sexual culture. But is this not fighting that same culture?

    • Brandon House
    • January 17th, 2009

    Maybe instead of implementing programs to teach our youth about abstinance, we should implement more programs to teach parents how to instill values in their children.

    • I like that idea. I think working on this is complex and thee is definitely no sliver bullet.

      This is really where churches, in my opinion, have fallen short. Sex as been so taboo that there has been little worthwhile conversation in the pew, in programming, in relationships, and as a result in the home. Churches need to be equipping their community and their congregation with the skills needed to talk about a biblical sexual ethic. For those young adults who have no parents in the picture, or insufficient ones, Christians in their neighborhood (which is probably the first issue) need to step up and be mentors and parental role models. I also think that Christians can work with non-Christian organizations that wish to promote a sexual ethic that is congruent with the bible.

      I also think that education about abstinence and contraception is necessary because although I think they should, not everyone has the same values as me. I don’t necessarily like this option, but I think that if we want to lower the number of abortions, and STDs that this is important.

      Yea, I think fighting a sexual culture has to do both with what we allow to be presented – both to ourselves and our children, but also what personal values we instill. I think many Christian and not are allowing the media so solely dictate what is sexually proper rather than counteracting that with parental guidance.

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