When many Christians hear stories like that of Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory High School which had planned to hand out condoms at their high school prom, there seems to be a tremendous temptation to overreact. We get this picture in our head of school administrators forcing condoms in the hands of unsuspecting young people with the purpose of enabling them to have sex freely. We live in a sex saturated culture and we hear stories like this and we feel that our schools must be willfully embracing that culture and stamping approval on premarital sex. A little bit of empathy would go a long way in sorting out the true motives behind current trends in sex education.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that abstinence before marriage is the clear teaching of Scripture. I have a 10 month old daughter and as she gets older, I intend to clearly teach her that sex is a wonderful and sacred thing that is to be enjoyed inside of marriage. My wife and I will teach her that the safest way to have sex is in the context of a committed marriage. My wife and I intend to be the primary teachers of our children in terms of sex education–we won’t expect any institution to bear primarily responsibility for that charge.
Thus, when I hear about plans to hand out condoms at a high school prom, there is part of me that wants to be angry as I wouldn’t want a school contradicting me as a parent. To be fair, Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory seems to recognize this on some level as they repealed their plans. But let’s take a moment and consider what might motivate a school to do something like hand out condoms on prom night. If we would take the time to carefully consider such motivations, we might find that we share something in common with those who promote a more liberal approach to sex education.
There are two primary motivations behind giving condoms to teenagers: preventing teenage pregnancy and the spread of disease. While condoms do not provide comprehensive protection against either of these, we can all agree that hindering teenage pregnancy and the spread of disease are good things. Teenage pregnancy, in particular, is not just bad for the girls who find themselves pregnant (they are often ill equipped emotionally, financially, and physically to have a child), but it is also bad for society as a whole. More teenage pregnancies mean more children being raised by parents (and often just one parent) who are ill equipped emotionally, financially, and physically to raise a child. That is not, by the way, an argument for abortion but an argument for good stewardship of society. There are millions of teens who aren’t getting the kind of sex education in their homes that my wife and I plan to give our daughter–many are receiving very poor sex education if any at all. As a citizen and as a Christian, that should concern me. I don’t mention all this to say that more condoms in our public schools is the answer, I merely want to highlight what motivates such practices in our schools.
As a Christian, I believe that God designed sex to be practiced and enjoyed inside of marriage. I also believe that man is not inherently good. I believe that man is enslaved to sin (Rom. 6) and in such slavery “it is impossible” for man “to please God” (Rom. 8:7). Thus, I not only believe that teenagers can’t abide by God’s design for marriage, but I also believe that apart from Christ they won’t. It is only by the grace of God that any young person keeps themselves sexually pure before marriage. So when I hear stories like that of Beford-Stuyvesant Preparatory, I have mixed emotions. I know that those who would hand out condoms are trying to save teens and their potential children from avoidable pain and difficulty. As Christians that ought to be something that we at least sympathize with this side of Christ’s return when every human heart has not been turned toward its maker.